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!
Roland getting his hands on the new Palin book reminds of of the time the strip leaked a bio of Nancy Reagan. Can we please revisit?S.D. | Creating the Strip | New Rochelle, NY | September 14, 2011
The episode you recall was not actually a "leak." GBT obtained first serial rights to Kitty Kelley's unauthorized biography of Nancy Reagan, and in a series that began on the book's pub date Mark and Zonk read excerpts and discussed it on "All Things Reconsidered." You can tune in here.
This week's storyline about Trff crashing with Duke for 134 days reminded me of the time Zonker, in his trippy wig, overstayed his welcome at a castle in England. Can we revisit please?S.B. | Storyline | Menlo Park, CA | August 12, 2011
Indeed, Duke is not the only Duke to have had his hospitality taken advantage of. We are pleased to revisit Lord Z's four-month residency in Scotland, as painfully chronicled in this 1988 series.
Hey, seeing Jim "Obscene Profits" Andrews sure takes me back. Can we please get a Flashback of Andrews and Duke plotting to free the Iranian hostages? I seem to remember Duke saying "I see you've got a phone and everything." Thanks!Brian Corby | Storyline | New York, NY | July 01, 2011
You're welcome. We are happy to flash you back to the summer of 1979, and the planning of the operation that led to Duke becoming known as "the 53rd hostage."
Despite the insecurities Alex has displayed in the current storyline, didn't she and Drew generally get along as roomies?Kris K. | Characters | San Jose, CA | June 09, 2011
Indeed they did. Alex's first months at MIT were pretty rough academically, and her friendship with Drew was instrumental to her survival in Nerdville.
I enjoyed Zonker's line about Linus today. A long time ago there was another Schulz reference in the strip, with Snoopy's doghouse. Can you please dig that up?Camille | Storyline | LA, CA | May 21, 2011
With pleasure. The Peanuts shout-out you are thinking of appeared on January 9, 1997. Enjoy.
It's been an intense few days with so many TV flashbacks to 9/11. How about an FAQ Flashback to what was going on in the strip back then?Paul M. | Storyline | New York, NY | May 03, 2011
Good idea. Let's revisit that game-changing era with a series that begins at Ground Zero.
I'm glad to see that Lord Zonker is attending the Royal Wedding this week. If memory serves, he was also at the marriage of Lady Di and Prince Charles, right?Ben D. | Storyline | Syracuse, NY | April 25, 2011
Alas, in 1981 the Prince of Inner Space had not yet become the Viscount St. Austell-in-the-Moor Biggleswade-Brixham. But five years later he was invited to attend the marriage of Prince Andrew and Sarah "Fergie" Ferguson -- a sojourn which involved not only high-class cultural clashing, but also a breathtakingly brief brush with romance, as chronicled in this 1986 series.
Seeing Trump back in the strip reminds me of the series many years ago when J.J. was hired to paint murals on The Donald's yacht, and taught him to pronounce "trompe l'oeil." Trump's whole "I may run for president" performance has been covered in the strip before, has it not?Jack Cerf | Characters | Chatham, NJ | April 19, 2011
Twice! Twenty-four years ago, when this 1987 Trump "trial balloon" series ran, Mike and J.J. were still married and living on the Lower East Side. The Trump 2000 presidential campaign banged up against that of former Ambassador Duke -- who, as it happens, was serving as captain of the Trump Princess during J.J.'s 1987 noe-rococo loo project.
Doonesbury is almost as old as I am (I was born eight months before it launched in October 1970) and I’ve only recently discovered that I love the strip. I have been reading all of it, from the beginning. I am wondering why there are no strips in the archive between January 2, 1983 and September 30, 1984. Is there any way I can see these missing strips?
Kandy Smith | Creating the Strip | Poplarville, MS | April 06, 2011
Unfortunately the answer to your question is “No,” but there’s an interesting explanation. On January 2, 1983 Doonesbury ceased publication as Trudeau began an unprecedented 18-month sabbatical from the strip -- causing, among other things, the Wisconsin State Assembly to issue a declaration pleading for “public calm in the face of this grave crisis."
In the recently-published 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective GBT commented on this transitional period:
"For the first twelve years, the core characters in Doonesbury stayed put, happily hunkered down at Walden, the cozy commune that housed them as they faithfully failed to age out of college. Finally, in 1984, I took a sabbatical and hit the reset button. The strip’s static universe lurched into real time, dislodging the cast from their bucolic surroundings and sending them to join secondary characters such as Duke, Lacey, J.J., and Zeke, who had been growing up in a parallel universe more responsive to the passage of time."
The details of what transpired among the various Doonesbury cast members during this period were chronicled by Trudeau in Doonesbury: A Musical Comedy (with music by Elizabeth Swados), which opened on Broadway in November 1983. The strip’s return to syndication on September 30, 1984 was heralded on the cover of Life magazine, and the accompanying story provided status updates on the main characters. Trudeau later referred to this period, during which he wrote the Broadway show, a political cabaret called Rap Master Ronnie, and two screenplays (and had two children with his wife Jane Pauley) as “the most interesting two years of my life.”
When I heard that Liz Taylor had died I immediately remembered that she was in Doonesbury once, but I can't remember when. When?K. Berg | Characters | Aptos, CA | March 23, 2011
When John Warner of Virginia, then married to the legendary actress, was elected to the U.S. Senate, Congresswoman Lacey Davenport and her husband Dick attended a soiree honoring "Senator and Mrs. Elizabeth Taylor," as recounted in this series from January 1979. Although the Warners were furious at the time, and GBT was censured by the Virginia Assembly, we revisit this small annoying moment for Ms. Taylor as our way of honoring her larger-than-life life.