The Story of a Generation

The cartoonist Garry Trudeau discusses his characters and how they've grown up, in a passage adapted from his book 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective.

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.

Click strip to enlarge

September 12, 1973

Click strip to enlarge

June 7, 1991

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

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