The Story of a Generation

More

Click on an image below to see comic strips and information about that character


Image credit: All strips from 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective, copyright 2010, G.B. Trudeau (Andrews McMeel Publishing)

Doonesbury began life as a simple sports strip. It featured a single character—B.D., a knuckleheaded college quarterback who presided over a team of talented but infantile subordinates. The narrow focus worked fine as a campus one-off in the Yale Daily News, but a few weeks in, there arrived an offer of national syndication. To court the attention of that larger audience, I was encouraged to broaden the strip and assemble a diverse cast of peer characters.

Also see:


"The Least We Can Do"

Michael Kinsley offers Boomers a way to repay their debt to America.


"What Do the Boomers Owe Us?"

An expert panel discusses the cover story and the generation's legacy, with responses from Michael Kinsley.

It was an opportune time to do so. In 1970, many banners were afield, many movements afire. The young had upended society. And since so much of the action was playing out on college campuses, I decided to stick with the undergraduate scene I knew. At first, the core characters in Doonesbury stayed put, happily hunkered down at Walden, the cozy commune that housed them. After more than a decade, I finally hit the reset button, dislodging the cast from its bucolic surroundings and sending the characters off into a world more responsive to the passage of time. The tribe fanned out across the country, and their lives were repopulated with mates, friends, associates, and (whoa!) children. Thereafter, I tracked their quotidian lives as they played out against a shimmering scrim of cultural and political context. Despite the strip’s reputation for perishable topicality, the 14,000 strips that compose Doonesbury thus far aren’t really about the defining moments of the modern age; they are, rather, a loosely organized, crowd-sourced chronicle about how it felt to live through them.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Garry Trudeau created the Doonesbury strip in 1970. He’s the author of the forthcoming book 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective, from which this article has been adapted.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In