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Mike Doonesbury: At my high school, a “doone” was a clueless sort, a doofus whose innocence conveyed a kind of grace. If you leave out the grace part, that was Mike. In the early strips, his emotional development wasn’t just arrested; it sometimes appeared to reverse course. With such an inept start, who could have foreseen that he would eventually evolve into the Richie Cunningham of the strip, the group’s designated grown-up? Anarchy without resistance becomes tedious, so Mike’s sensible, cautionary admonitions to the other characters have become indispensable—even as they usually go unheeded.

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September 12, 1973

Click strip to enlarge

June 7, 1991

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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.

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