April 20, 2004


Garry Trudeau has bravely sacrificed a cartoon limb in the war against terror:

A main character in the "Doonesbury" comic strip will lose a leg while fighting in Iraq.

In Monday's "Doonesbury," B.D., a football coach-turned-soldier, was injured after being reactivated in the Army at the end of 2002, following a losing football season.

Later this week, he will wake up to find his left leg amputated, according to Universal Press Syndicate, the strip's distributor.

"Doonesbury" creator Garry Trudeau said he wanted to illustrate the sacrifices American soldiers are making.

Hook Trudeau up to a polygraph and watch those needles fly! In other cartoon news, take a look at John Spooner’s latest. It might almost make sense if, instead of depicting the vehicle formerly occupied by Rantisi, it showed any of the many civilian victims of Hamas suicide attacks. There’s your “Hamas piece process”, John.

Posted by Tim Blair at April 20, 2004 05:43 PM

Good God. Until now I didn't realise that 'wounded' meant more than 'slight scratch, tended to by pretty nurse in pastel surroundings'. Lucky escape, really, since my lack of a) imagination and b) stylishly left-wing sympathies had me on my way out the door to rape a Girl Guide. Phew! Thanks for putting me back on the straight and narrow, Gary, you sanctimonious cunt.

Posted by: David Gillies at April 20, 2004 at 06:00 PM

I meant Garry, you sanctimonious cunt.

Posted by: David Gillies at April 20, 2004 at 06:04 PM

John Spooner? Wasn't that the name of the famous Reverend who kept on mispronouncing phrases?

The Reverend Spooner, looking at the work of his namesake, might well have called him a 'shining wit', eh?

Posted by: TimT at April 20, 2004 at 06:11 PM

Good grief...what hypocrisy. As if we need someone like Trudeau to remind us about the sacrifices our troops have made. Did he have to choose between this or doing a strip about evil babykillers bombing a mosque of innocent worshippers?

Posted by: Big Dog at April 20, 2004 at 06:15 PM

Here is a better cartoon. A Navy officer from Yale awards himself a purple heart for a scratch not received from enemy fire. Then, the young officer collects two more Purple Hearts from wounds so slight, they leave no permanent marks.

Dramatically, this officer abandons his command to avoid combat and has someone else finish his job. The cartoon finishes by having serious people consider said Navy officer very brave, a great war hero and Presidental material.

To farfetched for a cartoon I guess.

Posted by: perfectsense at April 20, 2004 at 06:47 PM

Anything having to do with why there's fighting is too complicated for propaganda. Soldiers have to be pathetic or suffering.

If there was a reason, you might get enlistments instead. ``I want to be like that.''

Posted by: Ron Hardin at April 20, 2004 at 07:17 PM

Trudeau did have a go at John Kerry in an earlier - much earlier - strip.

I used to kind of like Doonesbury.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at April 20, 2004 at 07:32 PM

What is the big deal about drawing someone losing a limb? It's not in itself an unrealistic portrayal of something that happens from time to time in Iraq.

Posted by: Andjam at April 20, 2004 at 07:48 PM

DArn. I was hoping he'd have killed the character off. A mere limb loss isn't enough to assuage my Bloodthirst™.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at April 20, 2004 at 08:26 PM

PS: the reason people are pissed off, Andjam, has I think to do more with how irritating it is when cartoonists get sanctimonious -- and when people in the comedy business in general get the "do-gooder" bee in their bonnet and decide to drop all the "frivolous" light-hearted comedy or political satire or whatever because they want to lecture us mere mortals, the viewers or the readers, on some Important Real-Life Issue. This is a special disease of the sitcom writer -- many a tv sitcom has jumped the shark by having one of its main characters get cancer or something. Just think of All in the Family in its latter years, or most of M*A*S*H, and so on. The comics page, at least here in the states, has been going through one of these phases, and it's made that section nearly unreadable. (Note: the comics section used to have strips that were dramatic in nature, like Brenda Starr -- a soap-opera-ish one, and Prince Valiant, but I haven't seen any of those since I was a teenager, at least in any paper in Florida.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at April 20, 2004 at 08:35 PM

What a coincidence. In my current favorite comic strip, Get Fuzzy, a storyline has just begun in which the main character's cousin has lost a leg in Iraq. Get Fuzzy has been a non-political strip up until now, so I have no way of telling which way the creator will try to spin the story.

I'm experiencing that trepidation you get watching your favourite actor/musician/artist on a talk show just before they start talking about politics. Please, don't be an idiot...

Posted by: Bruce Gottfred at April 20, 2004 at 10:46 PM

Non-political? As much as I love Get Fuzzy, there was a series a while ago about an "anti-ferret Constitutional amendment" that was annoying as hell.

Posted by: Robert Crawford at April 20, 2004 at 10:56 PM

You were annoyed by that series? Annoyed as hell? You must spend much of your time that way because it was a pretty gentle, subtle satire. If you hadn't been following the news you wouldn't even have realized it was a satire at all. The kinds of satire I can't stand are those in which the creator has such little respect for his readers and so feels he must club you over the head with it to make sure you get it. Unfortunately, this is where Trudeau has gone in the past few years.

Posted by: Bruce Gottfred at April 20, 2004 at 11:43 PM

Hey, how did the Coach get back on active duty? He must be 60 by now.

I liked Doomsbury, for about 4 hours back in 1974 because I was stuck on a car trip and had nothing else to do but read his pathetic drivel. A stoner who's trying to learn photosynthesis? Hilarious.

Posted by: Doc at April 21, 2004 at 12:13 AM

Whoa!- more deviation from the party line here.

People are getting killed and maimed in Iraq and no one has a reason why anymore?

Andrea, you'd better delete this comment too.


Posted by: Dingleberry at April 21, 2004 at 01:25 AM


Hey, how did the Coach get back on active duty? He must be 60 by now.

That's what I was wondering.

Andrea, have you seen Sylvia lately? Man, I used to love that strip. Now she goes all political on us every once in a while. And it's not even funny political. I swear, one of these days she's just going to have a single panel with the word "Ashcroft!" in it, and that'll be the whole joke.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at April 21, 2004 at 01:37 AM

I stopped reading Doonesbury a long time ago when I got tired of the nonstop preachiness. If Trudeau wanted to use B.D. to illustrate The Great Evil of Amerikka, why a leg? Why not that stupid helmet? I mean, make the sacrifice meaningful.

Posted by: Rebecca at April 21, 2004 at 02:52 AM

I used to think Doonesbury was funny back in the '70s. I'm no longer sure if it ever really was funny or if I was just an idiotic teenager back then.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at April 21, 2004 at 03:10 AM

FWIW, my local paper, the Reno (NV) Gazette-Journal, carries Prince Valiant on Sundays. No Brenda Starr, though.

Posted by: Bruce Lagasse at April 21, 2004 at 05:02 AM

I found my Dad's old Doonesbury books when I was 12 or so, and recall really liking them. There wasn't so much sanctimonious anger, and they were actually funny fairly often.

Trudeau has soured and grown strident and desperately righteous in his old age. It's really stunning to look at how he portrayed Vietnam in comparison to the current war.

Posted by: Russell at April 21, 2004 at 05:03 AM

And another thing, more specifically related to this particular issue: Fuck you, Trudeau.

Using BD as an example of how you care so much about what's happening to soldiers puts the lie to your bullshit. BD has, for the last ten years or so at least, been an example of the ignorant, gung-ho, "My country, right or wrong!" caricature that you love to associate with those idiots that vote Republican. You only care about these soldiers as props in your personal morality play, you fucking jerk.

Posted by: Russell at April 21, 2004 at 05:07 AM

What the hell are you talking about, Dingleberry?

/troll feeding

Posted by: Matt Moore at April 21, 2004 at 05:14 AM

Doonesbury. Darling of the liberal intelligensia. Not thought provoking. Not entertaining. And certaining not funny compared to this or this.

Posted by: BC at April 21, 2004 at 05:24 AM

You were annoyed by that series? Annoyed as hell? You must spend much of your time that way because it was a pretty gentle, subtle satire.

I read comics for humor; I read a comic about talking cats, dogs, ferrets, and ad agency dweebs who went to "Lowe Tech" for escapist humor. If I wanted an editorial, I'd read the editorial pages. If I wanted news, I'd read the front page.

Based on the latest series, I'd say Conley took the lack of feedback from the ferret-amendment series to be approval for more editorializing. Only time will tell if he'll become yet another in the ranks of Trudeau and Hart -- editorial cartoonists on the wrong page.

Posted by: Robert Crawford at April 21, 2004 at 05:26 AM

since calvin and hobbes ended i have no reason to even glance at the comic section.

when i was a kid i too thought Doonesbury was kind of funny, in a subversive, not so funny, not the Peanuts way - now i realize how dumb i was.

Posted by: hen at April 21, 2004 at 06:23 AM

speaking of editorial cartoons and michael moore, see the latest Cox & Forkum at http://www.coxandforkum.com/archives/000320.html

Posted by: kevin at April 21, 2004 at 06:37 AM

You guys weren't dumb for liking Doonesbury back then. Trudeau was a comic-strip writer for his time (like Berke Breathed was for the 80s).

The problem now is, that time has passed, but Trudeau hasn't. He's part of that generation that can't seem to leave the party already. They're still fighting Vietnam, and they're still persecuting Watergate/Nixon. It's nostalgia at its malignant worst.

Posted by: Steve in Houston at April 21, 2004 at 06:38 AM

The only reason they havent killed "Mark Trail" is the greenie theme. Funny, hunh? Even hard working, family loving Joe Palooka has been erased from Scranton, PA...

Posted by: Joe at April 21, 2004 at 06:44 AM

When Beatle Bailey loses a leg - WOAH - THEN i'll be impressed!

Posted by: Joe at April 21, 2004 at 06:47 AM

Bruce Gottfred wrote:

Get Fuzzy has been a non-political strip up until now, so I have no way of telling which way the creator will try to spin the story.

You must have missed the strip last year where the dog held a big "Don't Bomb Iraq!" sign.

I kind of liked the strip before that; it's unfortunate when cartoonists go all Jean d'Arc.

Posted by: Sarah at April 21, 2004 at 06:56 AM

I'm still waiting for Trudeau's funny, funny satire on mass graves. Bet I'll be holding my sides and wheezing. Also, I foresee the one where innocent Iraqi women and children are raped in front of their male relatives. That's a hoot. Andjam and I can both get a real giggle out of it. Then, off course, the one where Uncle Duke uses chemical weapons on thousands of people during an hallucinatory event. Hoo, boy. The possibility of serious yucks from the current war is all but endless for a talent like Trudeau.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at April 21, 2004 at 09:19 AM

Not to be outdone, Boondocks writer/artist/50 Cent impersonator Aaron McGruder plans to have that one kid lose the use of his afro.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at April 21, 2004 at 09:35 AM

Actually, the sign Satchel had said "DONT BOM IRAK", but who's keeping score...in any case, Satchel is notoriously non-confrontational, so that's in keeping with his character...Bucky, as I recall, was for bombing everything and everybody...and Rob has been know to wear t-shirts and sweatshirts that say "Marines" and has a "Semper Fi" sticker on his fridge...wo we'll see how this plays out.

Posted by: Brian Swisher at April 21, 2004 at 10:09 AM

Trudeau was funny at first. But then he went political -- I recall that happening about the height of the Vietnam war protests. For a while, he was semi-fair, i.e., he slammed left and right more or less equally. But he went left fairly fast. I dropped him for that reason.

I still read him now and then, though, just to remind myself why I stopped. You know, like deliberately stepping in dog crap to remind me why I shouldn't.

I'm still waiting on Get Fuzzy, though. If it continues the downward spiral, I'm deleting that bookmark.

Posted by: JeffS at April 21, 2004 at 10:12 AM

Brian: ???

Posted by: Jim Treacher at April 21, 2004 at 10:16 AM

Most of us cartoonists were dropped on our heads as children (self included), and the majority of cartoonists are about as politically savvy as Silly Putty.

If Get Fuzzy can carry an entire strip on really bad Bucky/Haliburton pun ("Haliburmese"), you've got to read it with a very generous eye to not know which side of the artist comes down on. Especially since Bucky tends to be the example of bad behavior in the strip.

Posted by: Sortelli at April 21, 2004 at 11:54 AM

Yeah, and the cat is evil and nasty, whereas the dog is cuddly and sweet. Therefore only twisted weirdos who get off on death and destruction could endorse any kind of bombing campain.

Speaking about irritating comic strips, how about "La Cucaracha"? It has all the lazy, insulting political snarkery of "The Boondocks," the artistry of "Cathy" and the joke quality of "Family Circus."

Posted by: Sarah at April 21, 2004 at 12:24 PM

I stopped reading Doonesbury when Trudeau's alter-ego, Mike, started banging young Asian girls. Reading an aging boomer's desperate mid-life sex fantasies during my morning danish 'n' coffee just got too creepy.

Posted by: Dave S. at April 21, 2004 at 01:57 PM

That's true about Bucky in Get Fuzzy, Sortelli. I do enjoy that strip. But I also enjoyed Doonesbury as much, before it became so slanted. So much that most US papers moved it to the editorial page. Mallard Fillmore is unabashedly conservative, but it still is entertaining, not totally political, so that it is usually still found with the other comics.

I hope that Get Fuzzy stays away from politics, it's good. But it wouldn't be the first strip to stray from mostly entertainment into pure politics.

Posted by: JeffS at April 21, 2004 at 02:00 PM

I've always enjoyed Get Fuzzy; even when it does start to stray into lefty leanings, it's still funny because it is absurd in its presentation. If it does start to go the way of Doonesbury/The Boondocks, though, I'll be disappointed. The Boondocks is probably at its best when lampooning the culture it comes from; even if he is a liberal, it's clear MacGruder despises the mockery of education that is prevalent throughout much of black popular culture in America today, and I have to give him credit for that. However, when his main character starts repeating Democratic talking points, well, time to move on.

Posted by: Big Dog at April 21, 2004 at 04:30 PM

Actually, I've never liked Mallard Fillmore either, and I've never seen it outside an opinion page. I think it's even more boorish and heavy-handed than Doonesbury, myself.

I'm going to side with Sarah on "La Cucaracha" too.

PS: Andrea, if there is anyway we can edit our posts, this lysdexic person who sometimes leaves important out of posts would appreciate

Posted by: Sortelli at April 21, 2004 at 04:45 PM


Well, I am besiad auobt Malrald Flilrmoe; I lvoe the way he can go plalctiiloy icnrorcet. I've seen him bsah Bsuh, but do so in a mroe, wlel, pforsesnoial manaer. On the oehtr hnad, he deos lvee to go atefr Krery & Knendey, so you hvae a good pnoit trhee.

Posted by: JeffS at April 21, 2004 at 05:01 PM

I think Trudeau is just trying to save money by using less ink. He's been known to have invisible characters ya' know. Greedy goddam captialist cartoonist.

Posted by: Fat Cracker at April 21, 2004 at 06:11 PM

Preview is your friend, guys!+

Posted by: Andrea Harris at April 21, 2004 at 08:41 PM

Trudeau ought not to stop at half-measures: instead of BD losing a limb, have him kill off the entire cast over a week. The civilians, being stateside, will all have to succumb to suicide bombers, which may require quite a stretch of the story line, but that doesn't seem to bother Trudeau. The only downside is that it will end the strip. Wait, did I say "down"side?

Brain freed and mind working,

Posted by: TK Moore at April 22, 2004 at 01:17 AM

Sorry Treacher: I should know better than to try to write while half asleep...

Anyhow, the sign in question occurred during a "Get Fuzzy" strip of some time ago. The guys were going to a ball game and, as they were about to leave, Rob asked them if they had their signs ready. Satchel was painting a sign that said "DONT BOM IRAK" and Rob had to tell him, "Uh, not, not that kind of sign."

I see this as the cartoonist being true to the character's nature. Satchel is so non-confrontational that, in one strip, he couldn't bear to get his bean bag chair back from Bucky, who had appropriated it for his dead fish (long story). Rob tried to chide Satchel into action by saying, "Aw, c'mon, what are you, French?" Satch replied, "But the French model seems to show that eventually someone will do the work for me."

Likewise, Bucky is an aggressive little bugger, but I don't see him as "evil". Nor is he intended to be. And, to paraphrase Freud, sometimes a cartoon cat is just a cartoon cat.

With Rob, the human, I notice stuff around his apartment that's almost subliminal, like the "Semper Fi" sticker on his fridge, that does not indicate a reflexive anti-military stance -- in fact, just the opposite. From time to time, you will see Rob wear a "Marines" t-shirt or sweatshirt. Since the artist made a conscious decision to include these, what would that suggest?

I'd wait to see how the current storyline plays out before I make any blanket condemnations.

Posted by: Brian Swisher at April 22, 2004 at 04:14 AM