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.