Beta-fresh answers, uploaded weekly
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 frequently answer some of the best!
I really enjoyed last week's series with Boopsie visiting Elvis's grave at Graceland. Her sincerity and good nature really shone. Of all the characters, I think she and B.D. have changed the most over the years, not that her crazy New Age "Hunk-Ra" period wasn't weird. How about you take us back to her very first appearance in the strip? You didn't include that in the Classics series, and it would be cool to see the young Boopsie.Stephanie | Characters | Santa Monica, CA | September 29, 2014
One thing that has always differentiated Boopsie from other adult cast members is her eyes. "The world-weary, hooded Doonesbury eye looked all wrong on her," noted GBT in 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective. "It undercut her lack of guile. The elegant little arc and dot seemed the way to go... Boopsie's eyes, of course, have remained unchanged, a sort of tribute to her enduring lack of cynicism. Not that the rest of her hasn't evolved. The spacey beach babe is gone, replaced by a fierce mama bear with sturdy values and abundant good sense." Beginning with her initial appearance in the strip on September 15, 1971, here's Boopsie as we first got to know her.
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!Stu | Characters | Sausalito, CA | September 17, 2014
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.
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?C.B. | Characters | Anderson, CA | July 03, 2014
Certainly. The conflict has its origin in the mountains of Colorado. It was born in the summer of the strip's fifth year...
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.Seamus | Characters | Mystic, CT | May 30, 2014
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.Darrell | Characters | Los Angeles, CA | May 16, 2014
Once is enough. You've asked; you shall receive. Just click here.
Seeing Ray in last Sunday's strip made me realize I don't really remember where he first came into the Doonesbury narrative. Probably during one of B.D.'s deployments? I'd appreciate it if you would please clarify.Dave Howard | Characters | Sacramento, CA | February 18, 2014
Ray Hightower and B.D. have spent a lot of time together, much of it in uniform. They met in 1990 while serving in Operation Desert Shield, during which deployment Ray was wounded when an artillery shell exploded in front of his Humvee. At war's end, both came home to California and had their marriages blow up.
The storyline about B.D. and Boopsie's daughter Sam thinking about college has got me nostalgic. Can we please revisit some highlights of her childhood? Thanks.Jerome | Characters | Anderson, CA | January 15, 2014
Good idea! Let's take a walk down memory lane. Enter here.
What? Zonker was jailed for possession? Can you please take us back in time?Alnoor Ladha | Characters | Richmond, CANADA | December 30, 2013
Indeed he was. And yes, we can. Bon voyage.
I don't remember Doonesbury ever including Santa Claus in the strip, or addressing Christmas at all. Is Trudeau part of the War on Christmas?Hank Inness | Characters | Galesburg, IL | December 23, 2013
If we didn't know better, we'd take this to be a thinly-veiled attempt (a successful one, we might add) to summon visitations by a few of our favorite ghosts of Doonesbury Christmases past. Merry Holidays!
Done. Melissa Wheeler has been featured in almost 150 strips since her first appearance in March, 2007, when she came to the VA center seeking counseling for MST (Military Sexual Trauma). You can read that initial sequence here. Her relationship with fellow-vet B.D. has been particularly interesting, and is chronicled here.