Doonesbury at 40: The Book

Garry Trudeau’s iconic comic strip, Doonesbury , was born in 1968, during the height of the Vietnam War, when Trudeau was a student at Yale. From the start that war and its legacy was a part of the comic strip, mainly in form of one of the main characters,   B.D. , the Yale football player who had fought in Vietnam, and Mark Slackmeyer, one-time campus radical.

The strip, which began in the Yale student newspaper and then was syndicated in 1970, still appears in tons of newspapers, and Trudeau contributes daily to his web site,

Trudeau in 1975 became the first comic strip artist to win the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning, and has been inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. VVA presented him the President’s Award for Excellence in the Arts at the National Leadership Conference in Tucson in 2006.

“We’re honoring Garry Trudeau for being one of the most important creative voices of the Vietnam War generation, ” VVA President John Rowan noted at the time. “An important part of that includes his accurate, compassionate, yet humorous, portrayal over all these years of B.D., the strip’s Vietnam veteran character. It’s been a good thing for Vietnam veterans and for Americans in general to follow B.D. and the other Doonesbury characters of our generation from their adolescent days to today.”

Since Doonesbury’s 1970 debut, Garry Trudeau’s cartoons have been collected in nearly 60 hardcover and paperback books. The latest, 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective (Andrews McMeel, 695 pp., $100), is the granddaddy of them all. It contains a long essay by Trudeau, followed by 1, 800 of the strips (there have been some 14, 000 altogether), with other commentary by Trudeau.

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