‘Doonesbury’ dives back to the beginning during Trudeau’s hiatus

By From page A6 | March 04, 2014

We’ve all been warned: Be careful what you wish for.

Last summer, Garry Trudeau took an extended leave from “Doonesbury” to write and produce “Alpha House,” an Amazon Instant Video comedy. Starring John Goodman, this political satire about four Republican senators sharing a house in Washington ended in a raucous finale last month that viewers applauded. The show’s a bona fide hit, and that’s where the warning comes in.

Trudeau has released this statement:

“To my delight, Amazon Studios has recently decided to move forward with another season of ‘Alpha House.’ It’s a wonderful opportunity, but as I discovered last year, the demands of producing the show are considerable, and my efforts to return to the daily strip while we were still in production had to be abandoned.

“This time, the Sunday releases will continue, and we’ll be making Flashbacks available on a daily basis. With 43 years of material to draw from, there are still some 13,000 strips that haven’t been seen since they were originally published.”

Beginning today, the “Doonesbury Flashback” daily cartoons will take readers back several decades to the early years of the comic. Starting in the 1970s, we’ll revisit the stories that put “Doonesbury” on the cover of Time magazine and made it the first comic strip to win a Pulitzer Prize for cartooning.

“In selecting the strips for this retrospective journey, we’re going deep, literally back to Day One,” Trudeau says. “Revisiting four weeks of strips from every year of syndication, I hope to hit many ‘Doonesbury’ high points, focusing on how the characters (more than 75 of them) got involved with one another.

“Since their lives have always been bound up in the events of the day, it should be a kind of déjà vu for my peers, and maybe a ‘What were you people thinking?’ for newer readers. I hope all of them will enjoy the trip.”

Trudeau will continue to write fresh new Sunday strips, but we think Enterprise readers will enjoy this “deep dive” during the rest of the week into the era that made “Doonesbury” one of the most read comics in newspapers.

“There’s no way of knowing how many seasons of ‘Alpha House’ lie ahead,” Trudeau says. “I could be back drawing ‘Doonesbury’ full-time in the fall. In the meantime, I’m grateful for the forbearance and past support of our longtime newspaper clients, and hope that I’ll still be welcome in their pages when I return.”

Enterprise staff

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