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Doonesbury is a popular comic strip by Garry Trudeau. The title comes from the name of one of the main characters, Michael Doonesbury.

Trudeau began publishing Doonesbury as a student at Yale University in 1968, where it appeared in the Yale Daily News as "Bull Tales". After being syndicated, Doonesbury became well known for its political content, usually liberal, always timely, and peppered with wry and ironic humor.

It was a pioneer comic strip which blurred the distinction between editorial cartoon and the funny pages. President Gerald Ford acknowledged the stature of the comic strip saying "There are only three major vehicles to keep us informed as to what is going on in Washington: the electronic media, the print media, and Doonesbury".

Doonesbury won a Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for Editorial Cartooning. The award was controversial in going to a comic strip artist, not a traditional editorial page cartoonist.

Trudeau also delighted and intrigued readers by showing fluency with the jargons of many fields of American speech, from real estate brokers, to flight attendants, to computer nerds, to journalists, to presidential aides.

Doonesbury delved into a number of political issues, causing controversies, and breaking new ground on the comics pages. Among the controversies and milestones:

  • During the Watergate scandal, one strip ran a "Watergate profile" of John Mitchell, declaring him "Guilty, guilty, guilty", causing a number of newspapers, including the Washington Post, to remove the strip.
  • In February 1976, Andy Lippincott, a gay character, is introduced in the strip.
  • In November 1976, when the storyline included the blossoming romance of Rick Redfern and Joanie Caucus, four days of strips were devoted to a transition from one apartment to another, ending with a view of the two together in bed. Again, the strip was removed from the comics pages of a number of newspapers.
  • In June 1978, one strip included a coupon listing various politicians and dollar amounts allegedly taken from Korean lobbyists, to be clipped and glued to a postcard to be sent to the Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, resulting in an overflow of mail to the Speaker's office.
  • In June 1985, a series of strips includes photos of Frank Sinatra associated with a number of people with mafia connections, one alongside text of President Ronald Reagan's speech awarding Sinatra the Medal of Freedom.
  • In January 1987, politicians are again declared "Guilty, guilty, guilty". This time it is Donald Regan, John Poindexter and Oliver North, referring to their roles in the Iran-Contra Affair .
  • In May 1990, the storyline included the death due to AIDS of Andy Lippincott.
  • In November 1991, a series of strips implies that former Vice-President Dan Quayle has connections with drug-dealers.
  • In February 1998, a strip dealing with Bill Clinton's sex scandal was removed from the comics pages of a number of newspapers because it included the phrases "oral sex" and "semen-streaked dress".
  • In November 2000, a strip was removed from some newspapers when Presidential-would-be Duke says of George W. Bush "He's got a history of alcohol abuse and cocaine".
  • In September 2001, a strip perpetuated the Internet hoax that claimed George W. Bush had the lowest IQ of any president in the last 50 years, half that of Bill Clinton. When caught repeating the hoax, Trudeau apologized for "unsettling anyone who was under the impression that the President is, in fact, quite intelligent."

Doonesbury has also taken the form of a stage show and an animated special.

The strip was not published during the period January 1983 through September 1984.

A typical Doonesbury strip: November 18, 2001 Sunday strip, which shows no faces or characters, just bubbles above the White House, a man, presumably Karl Rove, says: 'Sir, you've been so busy this fall, we didn't have a chance to brief you on this...'

Next frame: 'But it turned out that the missile defense program and corporate tax cuts and subsidies for the power industry and oil drilling in Alaska...'
Next frame: '...In fact, most of the items on our political agenda...'
Next frame: '...Are ALL justified by the war on terrorism!'
Next frame, President Bush: "Wow...What a coincidence...'
Next and last frame. In one bubble: "Thanks, evildoers." In a second bubble: 'They're such jerks -- if they only knew...'

People and things inspiring characters in Doonesbury


  • Mike Doonesbury[?], ex-advertising man - cofounded software start-up
  • Kim - Jewish-raised Vietnamese orphan & uber-geek - married Mike
  • B.D.[?] - (Brian Dowling) was Mike's Yale roommate - always depicted wearing a helmet
  • Boopsie[?] - cheerleader turned actress, married B.D.
  • Zonker Harris - stereotypical hippie turned nanny
  • dozens more...

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