Recent FAQS


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.

Q: The banner line in the 6/4 Sunday strip reads, "In Memoriam since April 23, 2005." Supposedly a tribute to our fallen heroes. All fine and dandy until one reflects on Trudeau, his politics and his motivation. Certainly it isn't out of respect, because this way-left-of-center commentator has shown he is anti-military, anti-Republican and anti-President Bush...So, what's the point?
-- W.M. Benton, Fort Collins, CO | Out There | June 20, 2006
A:For many readers, Doonesbury has long been something of a Rorschach test -- they see in it what they are predisposed to see. Case in point, those who detect an antimilitary bias in the strip. It may interest -- if not confuse -- these critics to learn that if GBT has such a bias, the military itself has failed to notice. During the first Gulf War, the Pentagon organized a touring exhibition of the Doonesbury war strips, and during Trudeau's visit to Kuwait, where he met hundreds of soldiers, he was awarded certificates of achievement by the Ready First Brigade and the 4th Battalion 67th Armor, which made him an "honorary Bandit for life". More recently, the DOD, USO and VA have all worked closely with Trudeau on the strips depicting B.D.'s wounding in Iraq, and last December, Walter Reed Army Medical Center presented him with the Commander's Award for Public Service, the third-highest civilian award given by the Army. GBT's collection of B.D. strips, The Long Road Home, with a preface by Senator John McCain, benefits Fisher House, the on-campus facility for the families of wounded warriors. (A follow-up book, The War Within, is planned for this fall, also to benefit Fisher House.) And in July, Trudeau will be honored by the Vietnam Veterans of America with this year's President's Award.
Q: I'm a fairly new reader and would appreciate some background. What exactly does a kid like Jeff Redfern do for the CIA?
-- B.Y., Portland, OR | July 07, 2006
A:For the past several years Jeff has been training up with the Company as a student intern. It hasn't been pretty. Check out this graphic account of one of his misadventures serving with Kabul Station Chief Havoc.
Q: I'm enjoying the current flag-burning series. How about revisiting some of the strips that addressed the same subject during previous attempts to pass the anti-flag-burning Amendment? I particularly remember one about the difficulty of legally disposing of a comic strip version of the Stars-n-Stripes. Thanks!
-- Phil G., Redding, CA | Storyline | August 03, 2006
A:We are happy to offer you this link to three all-American Doonesbury classic Sundays, including the "Marvelous Mark's Konundrum Korner" strip to which you refer. Enjoy!
Q: This week's strips have been a minor revelation -- Mike Doonesbury has a mother? Who knew. Why haven't we heard about her before?
-- E.A., Portland, OR | Characters | August 16, 2006
A:Actually we have, though it's been a while since she made an appearance in the strip. In the interest of introducing relatively recent readers to a passel of Mike's Oklahoma kith and kin, here is a 1981-82 series in which he journeys home to The Sooner State, followed by a 1985 series in which The Widow Doonesbury testifies before Congress.
Q: The strip often refers to B.D.'s tour of duty in Vietnam, a war which ended before I was born. What actually happened to him over there?
-- Gary B., Soquel, CA | Characters | September 02, 2006
A:Although B.D. received purple hearts in both Vietnam and Iraq, his experience in regard to the former was significantly less traumatic than in regard to the latter, as this B.D. in Vietnam sampler shows. Younger readers may be surprised to learn that among the many hats Zonker has worn was one labeled "Press". Until recently, the former reporter himself was unfamiliar with this portion of his resume.
Q: Re: this week's "King George" strips. GBT did this once before, in the Nixon era. I remember the punchline "Tricia, however, looks forward to becoming a princess," or something like that. Could you please give a link to those archived strips?
-- Mary, Port Moody, B.C., CANADA | Storyline | September 15, 2006
A:A timely question, which we are happy to answer in the affirmative. The series you refer to concerned purloined IT&T memos which revealed a plot to crown Richard Nixon. The scandal was uncovered by young Rufus Jackson, Mike Doonesbury's precocious tutee, and made public by Zonker Harris. Herewith a link to the 1972 episode known as THE ZONKER PAPERS.
Q: What's up with Ray suddenly being married again? After the first Gulf war, his wife left him, and when he returned to Iraq, he was talking about having been through two divorces in the intervening time and being glad to be back in uniform. There's been no mention of him going back to the States to get a new wife -- so when did he get married again?
-- Susanna Thomas, Philadelphia, PA | Characters | October 06, 2006
A:Vast portions of the Doonesbury universe remain mysterious, even to its creator. In regards to Ray's matrimonial vitae, here's one possible scenario: Post Gulf War I, after he and Tina divorced, Ray and May dated for a while but split up. Ray married someone else, but after that union dissolved, Ray and May got back together and subsequently married -- either before he deployed to Iraq, or while he was home on leave. We hasten to add that we in the FAQ conning tower just made that up, and other scenarios are equally plausible. The point is, Ray and May being married is not technically an inconsistency -- a huge category in Doonesbury. In any case, we appreciate the opportunity to focus on Mr. Hightower's past, and are pleased to share with you this 1991 series about his rough re-entry after GWI, and a series from 1993, at which point Ray and May were dating, and Ray and Des had begun sparring.
Q: Didn't Kim go to MIT, just like Alex?
-- Pam D., Seattle, WA | Characters | October 26, 2006
A:Yes. After Mike moved to Seattle and went to work at Bernie's Byte Shack, he began courting co-worker and future wife Kim Rosenthal. Kim's MIT experience came up in this early conversation, and then again, and then again later, as her step-daughter prepared for college.
Q: The recent Garry Trudeau profile by Gene Weingarten in The Washington Post Magazine was generally pretty good, but the author slipped up on a detail. After noting that B.D. had hit on Celeste at the Vet Center, he claims that cheating on Boopsie "hasn't happened to our knowledge in 20-plus years of an eccentric but strong marriage." But what about Gulf War I, when B.D. hooked up with an officer on an R&R ship?
-- Ron Telford, Philadelphia, PA | Characters | November 15, 2006
A:Not to be Clintonesque, but said affair took place before B.D. and Boopsie's actual nuptials. On the other hand, it did occur -- and during the 20-plus years they've been together. Thank you for your attention to detail.
Q: Mark and Chase are getting divorced? Whoa, I didn?t even know they were a couple. How did I miss that? Clearly there were some too subtle indicators that I glossed over.
-- Bob M., Seattle, WA | Characters | November 15, 2006
A:Some indicators are more subtle than others. Case in point, this relatively unsubtle series on Mark and Chase?s nuptials.