Tuesday, August 24, 2010

18. And That’s My Final Offer! (1980)

This collection overlaps with the previous book and reprints 124 daily strips from:
June 18 1979 to July 7 1979
July 23 1979 to August 4 1979
August 27 1979 to December 29 1979
*August 6-26 were repeat weeks.
14 strips from these blocks are not included (see comment for list).

This book again juggles the order of the strips around, in order for the first three weeks of Duke’s latest misadventure can run with the rest of the saga. This time out, Jim Andrews hires Duke to go into Iran and make a payoff to an operative named “Dipstick” in order to keep the oil flowing during the chaos of the Islamic Revolution. Naturally, it is a disaster.

Duke’s caretaker Zeke Brenner is finally seen on-panel on June 25, and it is later established that he’s the fiance of the newest major addition to the cast: Joanie’s daughter J.J., who looks up her mother after she had split seven years previously. Joan Jr. begins her undergraduate career at Georgetown, rooming with Honey. After Zeke has Duke declared dead, Zonker, who’s found the White House quite unconcerned what might have happened to the former US Ambassador to China, has to fly out to Colorado to take care of his estate.

In national news, Rosemont Indiana is hit by a major media event as candidates for the 1980 election, and hundreds of reporters, descend on the town. Dr. Henry Kissinger releases an enormous book, and the Seventies come to a spectacular end with a Revival Party at Walden.

(As the 1970s end, so does this format for the blog... when I resume, I'll just be detailing the printed stories and not determining what was excised. Too much work! Bleah!)

17. A Tad Overweight, but Violet Eyes to Die For (1980)

This collection overlaps with the next book and reprints 124 daily strips from:
Jan 1 1979 to June 16 1979
July 9 1979 to July 21 1979
32 strips from the period are not included (see comment for list.)

As the 1970s draw to a close, international politics become more important to the strip than in recent years. Trudeau starts things off with the brilliant tactic of moving Honey to Dr. Kissinger’s class at Georgetown. Unfortunately, most of their headbutting plays out in the Sunday strips, but this book contains a few choice moments. In Southeast Asia, Viet Nam invades Cambodia (or is it Kampuchea?) and China invades them right back, keeping Ambassador Phred quite busy at the United Nations.

The book’s title comes from a week of strips tweaking John Warner, who began a three-decade career as US Senator from Virginia in January, and who was at the time married to Elizabeth Taylor, she of the “violet eyes to die for.” The book’s back cover suggests that Virginia Republicans were incensed by the mocking – neither Lacey nor her husband, who threatens to stay in the car, are much impressed by their new Senate colleague – but Trudeau is pretty even-handed doling out the harshness during this period. Warner doesn’t get it nearly as roughly as Ted Kennedy and the political “cult” in Massachusetts that Roland spotlights in an ABC News special, and California governor Jerry Brown really takes it on the chin for weeks. Carter’s Secretary of Symbolism, Duane Delacourt, returns to resign from the White House and move to California, sharing a flight with Zonker, to work with Brown’s “Mellow Mafia” and investigate – slash – announce, not a candidacy, but a context for his candidacy.

Duke’s time as the Redskins manager comes to an ignoble end. He briefly entertains a plan to murder the team’s owner in Miami, but flies home to Colorado instead. A whole week of this is cut, but we do learn that his wife has divorced him before the NRA recruits him to testify on behalf of gun owners before a Senate judiciary committee. Another week cut from the book has Ginny and Clyde trying to provide a little support for an unemployed friend.

Other stories for the other regulars include Jimmy Thudpucker retiring from the music industry in order to return to school, and Boopsie posing for Playboy’s “Girls of the Ivy League” feature, much to the overprotective Zonker’s horror. Interestingly, the gang’s alma mater has still not formally been named as “Walden College” at this point. It’s likely that Trudeau was just quietly treating the place like Yale and simply not naming it at the time, but I suppose we can retcon Walden as being the smallest of the Ivy League schools in the Doonesbury universe.

Friday, June 25, 2010

16. We’re Not Out of the Woods Yet (1979)

This collection reprints 124 daily strips from June 26 1978 to Dec. 30 1978
37 strips from the period are not included (see comment for list.)

After several years, Trudeau finally found something to do with Boopsie. In one of the era’s most delightful sequences, she takes a two-week trip to Graceland on the first anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. From here, Trudeau finds a real voice for the character as a great way to comment on celebrity trends. Also among the Walden regulars, Mike and Zonker visit Studio 54, and Zonk takes Kirby, his often-confused teammate, under his wing as the bespectacled receiver tries to find his place in the era.

In Washington, Duke finds complications besetting his tenure as manager for the Redskins. In a week’s sequence cut from the book, we learn he’s not paying much attention to the NFL’s regulations on gambling. That he’s not paying any attention to their regulations on steroids and dexedrine is a given, but he has plenty of complications, as Lava-Lava Lenny makes a suspicious number of tackles, and a linebacker, Eddie, popped to the eyeballs on speed, clotheslines two quarterbacks. This prompts his assistant Riley, the fifteen year-old nephew of the owner, to go to the papers. Interestingly, the last line of the September 16 strip had Riley threatening to “go to the feds,” but this was changed to “papers” for the book.

Of course, the biggest complication of all comes when Duke attends a reception for Chinese students at Georgetown and learns, on November 9, that Honey has come to the States. He hasn’t entirely figured out that she’s in love with him – there’s some question as to whether he ever does – but nor does he ever figure out how to get away from her.

Also in Washington, Joanie’s old law school nemesis, Woody, gets a job with the House ethics committee, earning $6000 more a year than her. Much of the Washington material is cut from the book, including an entire three-week sequence in December where Rick is assigned to figure out just how in the world all the incumbents involved in the Korean scandal managed to get re-elected in the midterms, but we do get a couple of weeks of Roland hosting an ABC special on the Camp David summit, Cabin Fever: Footpaths to Glory.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

15. “But the Pension Fund Was Just Sitting There” (1979)

This collection reprints 124 daily strips from Jan. 9 1978 to June 22 1978
18 strips from the period are not included (see comment for list.)

After fourteen editions in the original size, the books get their first makeover. These colorful versions are an inch wider and just a hair taller, and each is labelled on the front as “a Doonesbury book.” Simultaneously, the first fourteen books were reissued in the new packaging, each as “a Doonesbury classic.”

In current events, Dr. Kissinger’s students at Georgetown, Barney and Mr. Weinburger, join a protest against the Shah of Iran, whose wife appears at a New York dinner in her honor. A mellow lifestyle and biorhythms are keys to happiness; Dan Asher becomes a regular visitor to WBBY, principally in the Sunday strips, to talk about keeping it laid-back. The Post assigns Rick Redfern to White House detail, following President Carter to Lagos because Rick’s physical, intellectual and emotional waves are all scheduled to peak there. Rick meets Roland Burton Hedley Jr., his future partner in the Press Corps, on March 30. TV programming wunderkind Fred Silverman moves from ABC to NBC, just in time to take credit for a new “jiggle” sitcom called Spa, whose teenage starlet appears fully nude in each episode.

Uncle Duke’s been unemployed for about a year. He earns a little money lecturing at colleges like Walden, but finally finds some stability putting his sports medicine background to use as the new general manager for the Washington Redskins. The team has already traded away its first six rounds of draft picks; Duke’s strategy is to raid the players’ pension fund to acquire free agent “Lava-Lava” Lenny, whom we met when Duke was governor of Samoa, from the Detroit Lions.

Phred becomes Viet Nam’s new ambassador to the UN. He meets two friends also representing the third world nations who will appear sporadically for the next few years, Victor (Benin) and Eddie (Togo), and they all enjoy listening to the sultry-voiced French interpreter on UN channel two.

At Walden, Mark has actually dropped out of school to devote time to WBBY and earn some money and make contacts bartending at reunions. He meets his father at the Class of ’43 shindig and resumes his well-intended efforts to reconnect with him. Later, he gives the booth over to Zonker while he goes to Washington to interview Lacey Davenport about the Korean scandal. At the time, the House was in no rush to investigate ethics complaints against congressmen, including Speaker Tip O’Neill, for their involvement with a South Korean businessman, Tongsun Park, who had been throwing enough money around in Washington to raise eyebrows. On Friday, June 16, two panels of the strip were given over to a coupon intended to be mailed to Speaker O’Neill’s office, cheekily urging some action and information. The strip was hugely controversial, and really got under O’Neill’s skin.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

14 B. The Doonesbury Special (1978)

I’m afraid I haven’t had the pleasure of watching the lone Doonesbury animated special, which aired on NBC on Sunday, November 27 1977, as a lead-in to Rankin-Bass’s cartoon adaptation of The Hobbit. The film, which was seen by an audience of about 18 million, was directed by John and Faith Hubley. John passed away while the film was in pre-production. It was later released on VHS and laserdisc, but has never been seen on DVD, apart from bootlegs, and has been out of print for years.

The companion book, released the following January, features the script of the film along with stills from the finished piece along with production art and designs. Hardcover and paperback editions are available.

While the daily strip tied into the special by having Jimmy Thudpucker get ready for an appearance on TV’s Midnight Special in the six days leading up to the broadcast, the film’s story actually takes place about three years earlier in the continuity, with Joanie still living at Walden and working at the day care. Some of the exchanges between Jean, Ellie and Howie (“Simone de Beauvoir’s got your number, Slim.”) are verbatim from the original strips.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

14 A. Doonesbury’s Greatest Hits (1978)

According to the entry at Wikipedia, this collection contains 516 daily strips published Jan. 7, 1975 to Dec. 10, 1977 and 80 Sunday strips from Jan. 26, 1975 to Dec. 25, 1977. An editor estimates this as 55% of the printed material from the period.

As noted in the entry for book nine, “Speaking of Inalienable Rights, Amy…,” this treasury completely goes against the industry standard and actually restores some of the material that had been cut from the earlier, smaller books. Of course, they did this while at the same time chopping out material which did previously appear in them, but it remains quite remarkable to me that almost the entire two-month 1975 sequence of Uncle Duke in Samoa is available in print here, and not in a smaller book. Does anybody know of any other comic strip collection that has done this? There are also other small restorations here and there, including a Friday, July 29 1977 strip of Zonker and Duke in the southern California desert, slowly realizing they’ve been duped into a land fraud scheme, which had been cut from book fourteen.

The collection includes a genuinely fascinating foreword by William F. Buckley Jr., who had performed the commencement speech for Trudeau’s graduating class at Yale, and had never heard of Doonesbury before being surprised by the standing ovation that Trudeau received from his fellow graduates when his name was called.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

14. “Any Grooming Hints for Your Fans, Rollie?” (1978)

This collection reprints 124 daily strips from:
July 4 1977 to October 15 1977
October 24 1977 to January 7 1978
*October 17-22 was a repeat week.
32 strips from the period are not included (see comment for list.)

If you want to read a Doonesbry book that really defines the 1970s, this is the one. Joanie starts the book working hard for the Congressional Ethics Committee, and is later called on to sub for Lacey in a debate against Phyllis Schafly about the ERA. Mark interviews an expert on the new craze of jogging, Zonker explains the Panama Canal Treaty to the football team, and the wannabe serial killer “Son of Arnold and Mary Lieberman” pesters Jimmy Breslin for tabloid media coverage.

Just to keep things very topical, Jimmy Thudpucker cuts some new songs and frets about his forthcoming appearance on the syndicated music series The Midnight Special. His nervousness about appearing on TV for the first time came the same week that the animated A Doonesbury Special aired on NBC. More about this in entry 14B.

As for the regulars, Uncle Duke has a scheme to extract laetrile, a substance used in shady cancer “treatments” of the period, from apricots and buys a farm, only to find himself on the receiving end of a land fraud scheme. He lands on his feet and starts working the college lecture circuit. Mike and Zonker move back into their old dorm, McClatchey, roomsitting for their friend Richard Hendrie. It’s there that they again cross paths with Roland Hedley Jr., who’s now a correspondant for ABC Wide World of News, and Zonk once again completely flummoxes him about barbituate use on campus.

This time out, the book’s editors saw that it was mainly the political stuff that failed to make the cut, and not stories with the regular cast. Some storylines are chopped entirely, but these are all Carter White House weeks starring Duane Delacourt.

One final note on this period: Duke’s caretaker, Zeke, was introduced in a Sunday strip, July 24th. Zeke appeared in two further Sundays in 1977, but didn’t make his way to the dailies until 1979.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

13. Stalking the Perfect Tan (1978)

This collection reprints 124 daily strips from Jan. 3 1977 to July 2 1977
32 strips from the period are not included (see comment for list.)

This book isn’t a very strong ones for fans of the original cast. B.D. is nowhere to be seen, Mark gets two truncated weeks bartending the college reunion (where it is revealed that Universal Petroleum’s Jim Andrews is a classmate of Lacey Davenport’s), and Mike watches TV. A week-long sequence where the commune is snowed in is cut entirely.

Mostly, the action is still centered around Joanie and Rick. He takes a five-month job at People magazine and has to spend two weeks at a seminar for celebrity gossip while Joanie finishes her collegiate career and graduates from law school. They move back to D.C. and Rick resumes his position at The Washington Post while Joanie gets a job from Lacey as a counselor on the House Ethics Committee.

In other stories, Jimmy Thudpucker and his wife Jenny have a baby. Jimmy is shown to be a good pal of Bob Dylan, who becomes a character via off-panel voice. Henry Kissinger, who’s been seen both in the flesh and an off-panel voice in the past, takes a new position at an unnamed college – revealed in 1978 as Georgetown University – teaching a political science seminar. This brings two new characters into the rotation. We learn very little about them. The nervous one who keeps interrupting Kissinger with questions is named Barney Perkins; his laid-back friend with the moustache’s last name is Weinburger. Another new character is Carter’s Secretary of Symbolism, Duane Delacourt.

In China, Uncle Duke has a few last weeks of triumphant silliness – he’s mostly on the Sunday pages during this period – in which he finally learns that Honey has been taking liberties with her translations of his speeches, and that he’s being replaced as US Envoy by Leonard Woodcock. In a huff, he storms back to California and looks up the Harrises, where Zonker is spending his fourth summer on the “Cocoa Butter Circuit” of competitive tanning. The other fellow on this book’s cover is Cornell, an old buddy who comes to visit Zonker and talk up EST, and also, in a strip cut from the book, to borrow Zonker’s coke spoon.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

12. As the Kid Goes for Broke (1977)

This collection reprints 124 daily strips from June 28 to Dec. 31 1976
36 strips from the period are not included (see comment for list).

The major storyline in the book is the California congressional race. The incumbent Democrat, Ventura, who had previously beaten Ginny in the primary, is caught in a hotel sex scandal by Washington Post reporter Rick Redfern, who makes his first appearance in the strip on July 1. Rick flies out to cover the race and meets his future wife, Joanie, on August 22, but unfortunately that's a Sunday strip. Jimmy Thudpucker continues campaigning for Ginny, recording a single, “Ginny’s Song,” with the help of some top sessioners. The B-side is a disco remix. In the end, the opposition vote to Ventura is split between Ginny and Republican Lacey Davenport, whom everybody had overlooked for years. Lacey had first appeared in a one-off strip from 1974, reprinted in book seven.

Ginny drops out and asks her supporters to back Lacey, who wins with 63% of the vote. Joanie and Rick finally hook up after weeks of teasing the night after the election. The incredibly famous sequence from November 11-13, where Trudeau spends three days panning across town, ending with the shot, reimagined on the book’s cover, of Joanie waking in Rick’s arms, was hugely controversial and was apparently not printed by several newspapers.

In other storylines, Bernie gets a couple of weeks’ spotlight after several years in the background, visiting Scotland to search for the Loch Ness Monster. Zonker returns to college after the campaign and somehow gets back on the hapless football team, 0-7 this season, after missing two months of classes, and Uncle Duke, still in China, contracts appendicitis and later spends four weeks (heavily truncated in the book) learning how to read Shanghai’s political wall posters in order to help his wagers against other foreign consuls about the power vacuum in the wake of Chairman Mao’s death.

A two-week sequence from September, in which Democratic strategists arrive in Plains, Georgia to prep Jimmy Carter for his debates with Ford, and to get grifted at the lemonade stand by Amy, is not cut entirely, notably pruned down for print, from twelve strips to just four. Another interesting change for the book comes from Lacey’s post-election interview with PBS host Adam Paine. The reprints on The Bundled Doonesbury show him with a white jacket, but this was zip-a-toned black for this book. Then again, The Bundled Doonesbury features a 1974 Phred strip in place of the July 12 story of Dan Rather investigating the Ventura sex scandal, so who knows?

The book also cuts two strips that establish Tina Tibbit, the woman in the Ventura scandal, posed for Playboy, leading to a reference later in that week where Lacey acknowledges that she’s looked at men with lust in her heart, notably the 1929 Yale rowing crew. This is a playful and timely jab at Carter’s similar admission in the October 1976 issue.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

11. An Especially Tricky People (1977)

This collection overlaps with the previous book and reprints 124 daily strips from:
Dec 22 1975 to Jan 24 1976
Feb 16 1976 to June 25 1976
19 strips from these blocks are not included (see comment for list).

There are two major storylines in this book, the first dealing with Uncle Duke’s time as ambassador to China, where he meets Honey Huan on January 22 1976. Honey hasn’t quite fallen hopelessly in love with Duke yet, and is at present the only person in China who can understand what the heck Chairman Mao is saying.

The second major storyline deals with Ginny’s campaign for the US Congress. She has able assistance from Joanie, Andy, Clyde and Zonker, who flies out to help the campaign, and from Jimmy Thudpucker, who plays a benefit concert, but she’s annihilated in the primary by the incumbent congressman Ventura, only taking 4% of the vote. At the end of the book, she’s considering her options as an independent candidate.

In current events, Ginny also takes over Mike’s position as the character who watches public figures make idiots of themselves on television, in this case California governor Jerry Brown, and Stephen Weed, the former fiancee of Patty Hearst. While mostly forgotten today, Weed spent most of 1975-76 giving one press conference or another, and is probably more responsible than any one person for informing the stereotype of laid-back Californians needing haircuts, media attention, and a break from those bad vibes, man.

Kim Rosenthal, now about 18 months old, is in the meantime channeling the sound bites of Georgia governor Jimmy Carter, and driving her parents to distraction with one down-home homily after another.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

10. You’re Never Too Old for Nuts and Berries (1976?)

This collection overlaps with the next book and reprints 124 daily strips from:
Aug. 4 1975 to Dec 20 1975
Jan. 26 1976 to Feb. 14 1976
14 strips from these blocks are not included (see comment for list).

This book again shuffles content between what should have gone here, if these were done completely and chronologically, and what ended up in the next book. It looks like there was a little logic to it. The skipped storyline – the first chunk of the epic with Duke as the new ambassador to China – ran for a full four weeks, but the editors only had seventeen pages left at the end of this book, so they brought forward the three week series where Joanie meets and falls in love with Andy Lipincott, and Ginny decides to run for congress, cutting one of those 18 strips for space reasons.

The rest of the book is very Uncle Duke-heavy, as he continues his domination of the strip. He’s forced to temporarily leave Samoa after Rolling Stone takes his name off the masthead, and is reassigned to the Cher-and-Gregg-Almann Bureau, but quits the magazine after oil is discovered in Samoa. After hefty negotiations and bribes, he sells the mineral rights to Jim Alexander and Universal Petroleum for a reported $500 million.

The other major storyline sees Zonker’s father turning up at the commune after his wife leaves him. This leads to another three-week flashback to the days of Zonker’s colonial ancestors Nate and Amy, reflecting the contemporary fight for the ERA, and to Zonker forcing a reconciliation between his parents after Mark takes his dad out partying.

Also in this book, Scot Sloan resigns as the university’s chaplain. Nobody but Mike seems to care, and even he botches the speech at the testimonial dinner.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

9. “Speaking of Inalienable Rights, Amy…” (Mar. 1976)

This collection reprints 124 daily strips from Dec. 23 1974 to Aug. 2 1975
69 strips from the period are not included (see comment for list.)

This is certainly one of the more unusual Doonesbury collections. If you were following along from a complete archive, you’d suspect that the major storyline in this book should have been Uncle Duke’s tenure as Governor of American Samoa. The character, who first appeared in four July 1974 strips, returned just before Christmas and immediately took over the strip, first waking and recovering from a month-long drug-induced coma, then spending two weeks making life miserable for his neighbor John Denver and for the editor of Rolling Stone, then somehow wrangling his appointment to the government job. His new aide MacArthur meets him at the airport on January 16, and most of the next two months were spent in Samoa dealing with sacrificial volcano virgins and other disasters, almost none of which made it in, nor did any of the follow-up strips in the spring and summer, where Duke plans an invasion of Australia and siezes a cruise ship in order to get a response from the US military.

The industry standard for the large format books from most newspaper comics seems to be to only reprint some of the material that made it into the smaller books. Whether you’re looking at Fox Trot or Calvin & Hobbes or Get Fuzzy, the typical treasury edition contains about 80% of the contents of two smaller books. Interestingly, however, most of the Samoa sequences, excised from this book, were dusted off for the second treasury, Doonesbury’s Greatest Hits, appearing there in collected form for the first-ish time. Many of the Samoa strips were reprinted as illustrations in Tales from the Margaret Mead Taproom, a book co-written with Nicholas von Hoffman, which I'll come back to after I finish the main feature text.

Forgotten Duke fact: At this point, he’s married to a woman named Sandy, who never appears on panel, but appears, from her long-distance dialogue, to be a really nice person…

What does make it into the book? Zonker and his plants, a government scheme to ease unemployment stress with federal film nights, lots of Phred and the re-education of new Communist Party members after the fall of Saigon, Mark convincing Benjy to take some liberal arts classes, and the introduction of future major player Kim Rosenthal as an orphaned infant.

The book’s title comes from the final twelve strips in the book, a two-week sequence where Zonker’s ancestor Nate Harris and his wife Amy deal with life in colonial Massachusetts, joining the minutemen and considering the Declaration of Independence.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

8 A. The Doonesbury Chronicles (1976)

According to the entry at Wikipedia, this collection contains 501 daily strips published Oct. 26, 1970 to Dec. 20, 1974 and 79 Sunday strips from Dec. 27, 1970 to Dec. 22, 1974. An editor estimates this as 38% of the printed material from the period.

For thousands of readers, this was the entry point into 1970s Doonesbury, and even though it is woefully incomplete, this was a phenomenally popular book which went through about two dozen printings and is easily found in just about every used bookstore on the planet. Even though it only contains just over a third of the material from the first four years, it’s still a very good starting point.

8. Wouldn’t a Gremlin Have Been More Sensible? (Dec. 1975 [?])

This collection overlaps with the previous book and reprints 124 daily strips from:
June 4 1974 to June 15 1974
July 1 1974 to July 12 1974
July 29 1974 to December 20 1974
22 strips from these blocks are not included (see comment for list).

Trying to guess the logic about why storylines were included, excluded, skipped, or shuffled out of sequence from one book to the next is usually a fool’s errand, but you can make a pretty good guess about this one, in part. The sequence from July 1 to 12 is the one where Zonker accompanies Joanie to California, and looks up his Uncle Duke, who makes his first, fleeting appearance here. By keeping these in the same collection as the subsequent stories of Joanie, her new rommate Virginia (“Ginny”) and her hopeless dolt of a boyfriend, Clyde, it forms a more satisfying read.

On the other hand, that logic doesn’t apply to moving the second series of strips about Czar Simons from the previous book, where they should have appeared, to this one. The character is retired from the strip after the June 4-15 strips.

While Uncle Duke doesn’t get much screen time here – only four strips, just enough for him to make an impression as a Hunter S. Thompson parody and exit stage right – we do meet two new, very young characters of Rufus’s acquaintance, Bobby Matthews and Malcom DeVeaux, aged seven and dealing with the effects of bussing.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

7. Dare to be Great, Ms. Caucus (June, 1975)

This collection overlaps with the next book and reprints 124 daily strips from:
Dec. 26 1973 to May 31 1974
June 17 1974 to June 29 1974
July 15 1974 to July 27 1974
Aug. 12 1974
36 strips from these blocks are not included (see comment for list).

The major storyline reprinted in this book is Joanie’s long wait to be accepted into law school. She finally gets the good news that the University of California has offered her a place. Zonker, though heartbroken that she’s leaving the commune, accompanies her… but wait, that was the first of July, and those strips were held over to the next book.

Other major storylines include Mark meeting up with a trucker and helping him organize a demonstration in Louisville, Kentucky over gasoline rationing. This leads to a confrontation with the Energy Czar, “Bill” Simons, who brings an end to the energy crisis simply by declaring it over. Personal to Glenn Beck: yes, the US government had czars in 1974.

Roland B. Hedley Jr. is introduced, at this point working for Time. He interviews our heroes about college life, leading to Zonker’s surprise appearance on the magazine’s front cover in a feature story about “The New Hedonism.” This is one of my all-time favorite Doonesbury storylines.

There are several curious omissions from this book. A six-day storyline about the university’s “Conference on the Mid-East Crisis,” in which Mark debates a fellow student, Ollie Amen, is excised, as are the first, fleeting appearances of Universal Petroleum CEO Jim Andrews, some time before he crosses paths with any other characters, and years before he was shown to be friends with Phil Slackemeyer. Most bafflingly, B.D. does not appear in this book even once. All of his appearances, including an argument with Zonker about the phone bill during a far-too-short “state of the commune” meeting in March, and four days’ debate with Mark on his radio show in defense of Nixon, were cut.

Left in, happily, is a strip from May 15 which introduces Lacey and her future husband, Dick Davenport, as old-timers enjoying their class reunion. The characters would be revisited and developed some time later.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

6. “What Do We Have for the Witnesses, Johnnie?” (Jan. 1975)

This collection overlaps with the previous book and reprints 124 daily strips from:
June 14 to June 30 1973
July 16 to Sept 15 and Sept 22 1973
Oct. 2 to Dec. 13 1973
Dec. 17 to 21 1973
16 strips from these blocks are not included (see comment for list).

The major storyline, which takes up most of the second half of the book, concerns Phred bringing 300 Cambodian refugees to the US after his sightseeing expedition to that nation goes awry. The refugees become status symbols for the various congressional wives who take them in.

Other key moments in this book include Zonker’s arrest for pot possession in California, the introduction of Alice, not yet homeless, as a regular barfly in a pub where Zonker works as a summer job, and Mike getting lost for three days in the woods while camping. That actually happened to an old friend of mine in Idaho.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

5. Guilty, Guilty, Guilty! (June, 1974)

This collection overlaps with the next book and reprints 124 daily strips from:
Jan. 8 1973 to June 13 1973
July 3 to July 14 1973
Sept. 17 to Sept. 29 1973
Dec. 14, 15, 24 and 25 1973
38 strips from these blocks are not included (see comment for list).

Key moments in this book include Joanie’s divorce from Clint, the arrival of a former POW to the campus as a freshman, and Mark’s first stint as a DJ on WBBY. The famous strip about John Mitchell which gives this collection its title originally appeared on May 29, 1973.

Storylines excised from the book include the birth of Rufus/Thor’s sister, Norma Jean – Mike is her godfather – and a sequence in which B.D. returns home to force his father, recently unemployed, to quit watching repeats of Mannix and Star Trek.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

4. Call Me When You Find America (Oct. 1973)

This collection reprints 124 daily strips from June 28 1972 to Dec. 29 1972
34 strips from the period are not included (see comment for list.)

Obviously, the key sequence from this book is Mike and Mark’s road trip and the introduction of Joanie, whom they meet in Denver. Henry Kissinger is shown as an on-camera player – Mark takes him to lunch at a Washington McDonald’s – for a five-day sequence. When the character returns as a lecturer later in the 1970s, he is an off-panel voice only, as is standard for celebrities in the strip.

At present, I have a 1976 Bantam edition of this book, which seems to replace the previous Popular Library reissue editions. Interestingly, this book is the first to correct Trudeau’s idiosyncratic “goodby” with the modern “goodbye.” The Doonesbury Flashbacks CD-ROM packaged with The Bundled Doonesbury book shows that the original strips were still using the old-fashioned spelling when they appeared in newspapers.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

3. But This War Had Such Promise (June, 1973)

This collection reprints 124 daily strips from Dec 27 1971 to June 27 1972
33 strips from the period are not included (see comment for list.)

As the cover indicates, the bulk of this book deals with B.D.'s time overseas. Key moments in this collection, therefore, include the introduction of Phred and the founding of Walden Commune, which happens while he's in Viet Nam.

This book was later repackaged as two titles under HRW’s Popular Library imprint, “Bravo for Life’s Little Libraries” and “I Have No Son.” These books are reformatted to only contain two panels per page. This is the last HRW edition to be split in such manner for many years.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2. The President is a Lot Smarter Than You Think (1973)

This collection reprints 124 daily strips from June 5 1971 to Dec 25 1971
51 strips from the period are not included (see comment for list.)

For a second time, entire storylines were axed from the book. Left behind in this collection are a series where Zonker, who is introduced in this book, is replaced on the football team by a character called The Tree, and one in which Mark films a documentary about all the characters.

Future presidential candidate and “gorgeous preppie” John Kerry is an on-camera participant in three strips. In 1971, he had completed his military service in Viet Nam and was touring the country with other vets to protest the war.

This book was later repackaged as two titles under HRW’s Popular Library imprint, “The President is a Lot Smarter Than You Think” and “Don’t Ever Change, Boopsie.” These books are reformatted to only contain two panels per page.