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.
Out of respect for the quality of the submissions received, we have upgraded the consolation prize -- an original strip signed by a top studio intern -- to an original strip signed by her supervisor (GBT). The second place winner will receive a fully-autographed copy of Got War?, the latest Doonesbury tome. Third place gets you a genuine Duke swizzle stick.
Only-partly-judgmental souls that we are, the DTH&WP staff has not been able to agree on a runner-up. But we have managed to winnow an overwhelming harvest of prose down to three striking submissions. We leave it to you to make the final selection by voting for one of these finalists in the current STRAW POLL.
Next up on FAQ: A generous sampling of Bush Guard Service contest submission.
FIRST RUNNER-UP (original of the 2-26-04 Doonesbury strip, signed by G.B. Trudeau):
I can't verify Bush's
presence in Alabama, but as a dental professional I am intrigued with his dental records. Generally, an
individual with a large bank account doesn't have any missing permanent molars without receiving a fixed
bridge (#3 is missing, yet no bridge is placed between #2-4, #2 has a crown, but #4 only has a three
surface restoration). The American public needs to see his posterior bitewings from 1973 and a current
series of bitewings to better judge the authenticity of the information provided.
-- Barbara Vanderveen, Galt, CA
SECOND RUNNER-UP (signed copy of Doonesbury collection Got War?)
I were together during those months on a mission so secret it's taken years of therapy for me to
remember. We were on board an alien vessel during the time in question, emissaries of the Pentagon on a
successful mission to obtain "mental weaponry" far in advance of anything the Soviets had. Our memories
were then wiped clean, except for the deepest recesses of the unconscious. I weep for the president's
struggle with this trauma, and am coming forward to share my pain in interviews, book contracts, and the
like. God bless America.
-- Matthew Wills, New York, NY
THIRD RUNNER-UP (fully-branded Duke swizzle stick)
I am an employee of the Nigerian government
Toastmaster's Club. I am in hiding while rebels loot my country. In 1972 I was a colonel in the Alabama Air
National Guard and flew many aircrafts. I was Bush's wingman. I was with him for his dental exams. I
warned him against medical physical exams. You must keep this in strictest confidence. If you wish to
pursue this business venture, then I shall need your fax and baking preferences.
-- Dr. Abdula E. Fraudena, Lagos, NIGERIA
Note: Management apologizes to those contestants whose testimony does not appear in the following sampling. In some cases, recent FCC rulings were an inhibiting factor. Essays over 10,000 words in length were not posted out of respect for those using dial-up modems. Special thanks to everyone who offered to sweeten the kitty. If we'd had a winner and all of you had followed through, the USO would have received an additional $16,590. If you would like to contribute directly, write to: Edward Powell, President, USO World Headquarters, 1008 Eberte Place SE, Suite 301, Washington Navy Yard, D.C. 20374.
The strips are about sacrifice, about the kind of shattering loss that completely changes lives. In B.D., I've placed a central character in harm's way, and his charmed life takes a dramatic turn on a road outside Fallujah. In the opening panels, he's in shock, hallucinating, with voices cutting in and out. Medics call this time the golden hour, that small window of opportunity when lives are most easily saved. B.D. is medevaced out, and in the third strip, the point of view is reversed, revealing just how grievous his wound really is. We also see his hair, its presence almost as startling as the absence of his leg.
What I meant to convey is that B.D.'s life has been irrevocably changed, that another chapter has begun. He is now on an arduous journey of recovery and rehabilitation. What I'm hoping to describe are the coping strategies that get people through this. There is no culture of complaint among the wounded -- most feel grateful to be alive and respectful of those who have endured even worse fates. But for many, a kind of black humor is indispensable in fending off bitterness or despair, so that's what will animate the strips that follow.
I have to approach this with humility and care. I'm sure I won't always get it right, and I'm also sure people will let me know when I don't. But it seems worth doing. This month alone, we've sustained nearly 600 wounded-in-action. Whether you think we belong in Iraq or not, we can't tune it out; we have to remain mindful of the terrible losses that individual soldiers are suffering in our name.
As to the unfortunate coincidence of the last panel's artwork (drawn in April) with the recent grisly tragedy in Iraq, Trudeau shares your chagrin: "Most Sunday sections are prepared five to six weeks in advance, and today's strip was unfortunately overtaken by events. To 'hand someone his head' is a common expression, not normally associated with actual violence. I regret the poor timing, and apologize to anyone who was offended by an image that is now clearly inappropriate."
Those newspapers around the country who print their Sunday sections late were offered a substitute strip.
--Ken Luer, LA, CA
Are you aware that NY Newsday is censoring the strip? The name of Tenet was removed from the strips of 6-9-04 and 6-10-04.
-- Larry S., NY, NY