Beta-fresh answers, uploaded occasionally
Lets face it, our favorite comic strip is often obscure or inconsistent, and key characters are sometimes left stranded for years. Long-suffering readers are within their rights to demand some clarification. Use the "Ask GBT" form to email us your questions, and we will answer those we can on the Blowback page, and also archive the answers here.
Ah, good ol' Mr. Butts. I was glad to see him in the strip on Sunday, selling cancer sticks to the kids. What a nut. I actually have the ashtray that's pictured in the second-to-last panel, which was part of the Great Doonesbury Sellout, based right here in Sausalito. How about you run an FAQ series about Mr. Butts' very first appearance in the strip, which I think was about a zillion years ago. Thanks!
Close. It was 1989. Duke was the skipper of Donald Trump's yacht, J.J. was painting murals in the vessel's bathrooms, Honey was post-Tiananmen China's #1 Most-Wanted Hooligan, Andy Lippincott was still alive, and Mike was working in the World Trade Center, struggling to build a career as an ad-man. ENTER MR. BUTTS.
While we're at it, check out "Mr. Butts Goes to Washington" -- a 1995 public service announcement produced by Harry McCoy for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. As McCoy notes, he quit smoking shortly thereafter. And here's the ashtray. Butts has appeared in the strip many times over the years, and on beach trashcans in Santa Monica, California, helping publicize the city's anti-smoking ordinance. He appeared on the cover of the Journal of the American Medical Association, served as spokescigarette for the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout, and had his name used as a pseudonym by an anonymous source who sent 4,000 pages of incriminating documents which were used in legal action against the tobacco industry, as chronicled in The Cigarette Papers.
Duke's China gig coming to an end means you've skipped past the first of Rick Redfern's career humiliations, when he was forced to take a job writing for People in order to stay with Joanie on the West Coast. Can we please revisit his agony?
Certainly. We are happy to share "People Who Write for People" a strip set from 1977 that even manages to intersect with the Duke and Honey storyline. Read it, and imagine Rick weeping, HERE.
Great to see Jimmy T. in this week's Classics series. In recent weeks the strip has been re-visiting Ginny Slade's 1976 Congressional campaign. I'd love it if you could please revisit the storyline in which JT wrote and recorded a song to support Slade's candidacy. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, check out this YouTube video, which shows an actual record player spinning the real-world 45 of "Ginny's Song." According to the sleeve (shown on the video) it was produced by Steve Cropper and David Foster, and featured a bunch of kick-ass musicians (including Cropper, Foster, Jay Graydon, and Keth Moon) who recorded as The Walden West Rhythm Section. It was later included on Jimmy's "Greatest Hits" album, which came out a year before Jimmy made the cover of the real-life Rolling Stone. There have been a lot of moments where Doonesbury kind of spilled over into the real world, but I think "Ginny's Song" was probably one of the first. Thanks!
Not only are we happy to queue up the "Ginny's Song" storyline, but we'll lead into it with the benefit concert Jimmy threw for Virginia Slade as well. Rock on!
The wordless strip that ran on August 22nd was a true classic. As I recall, it was at the end of a multi-day slow pan, a piece of work that was absolutely beautiful although it contained no characters until the final reveal. In my humble opinion this series was a highpoint of toondom. Any chance we could see the whole thing?
Of course. The August 22nd Classic strip originally appeared on November 13, 1976, and showed Joanie and Rick in bed together (at the time neither was married). Over 30 papers dropped it, including the Boston Globe, which was picketed by M.I.T. students with signs reading, "Joanie, we forgive you." The Bangor Daily News blocked out the final frame, replacing it with the weather forecast ("Fair, cold, highs in the 30s.") "When I first saw it," the editor of the Huntington Herald-Disptach told his readers, "I thought it was two guys in bed." The three-day wordless sequence is included in its entirety in our extended look back on a night (and a strip) to remember.
Okay, my tastes may seem a little weird, but as long as the strip is wallowing in the 70s, I would love it if you would please revisit the whole Energy Czar caper, which took place during the 1973-1974 oil crisis/embargo, and gave Mark a chance to revisit his glory days as an activist. It also involved the ancient and dying art of hitchhiking. Can do?
Can and shall. Your wish is our command. Read it HERE.
When I saw Duke's denunciation of John Denver in the recent Classic, it reminded me that there's always been bad blood there; it's come up more than once in the strip. Care to give us the backstory?
Certainly. The conflict has its origin in the mountains of Colorado. It was born in the summer of the strip's fifth year...
I can't help noticing that there was a certain air of foreshadowing in the strip back when Ray oversaw the handing over of Iraqi security concerns to the local military. With the announcement of US troops returning to take on certain levels of security in the country, could we please take a moment to return to that first day of Iraqi security (or lack thereof)? I seem to remember it was during the World Cup as well...
The Ray Hightower sequence your excellent memory has referenced appeared in the summer of 2010, and was followed by a Mel-and-Roz-packing-up-the-helos series a year and a half later. You can read both HERE.
Speaking of Time magazine (in today's Daily Briefing), it looks like you are skipping past the storyline where Roland writes about the Walden communards and puts Zonk on the cover. How about revisiting that, with the memorable "Peyote and clam dip" line?
A few weeks ago you featured the famous strips about Mark Slackmeyer's radio show and Watergate, but I'd love it if you would also re-spin some of the other really early "Marvelous Mark" stuff, when he was just starting out. As I recall, there were a lot of dedications, including one to Bertrand Russell.
A request we are happy to honor: The future-legendary NPR star first took to the Walden airwaves on WBBY in February, 1973.
I'm enjoying the Classic Doonesbury strips, but wish they weren't going by so fast. You are skipping all kinds of good stuff -- like Zonker getting busted, for example. Could you please revisit that? I'll ask a few more times if it helps.
Once is enough. You've asked; you shall receive. Just click here.