Cartoonist Garry Trudeau is the center of controversy again. The Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist has turned over most of tomorrow's "Doonesbury" comic strip to a guest artist, an airman stationed in Saudi Arabia. So far, one paper has pulled the strip. And the spokesman for the cartoonist's syndicate said it's bound to generate angry reaction from readers.

"It is my understanding that he has an underground following," said Trudeau last night of his guest artist, an accomplished cartoonist who goes by the name "Zorro." "He's been using a pseudonym because it is his assumption that his work is not meeting the {approval of} superiors. But I don't think it is a dark secret about who he is. When I talked to someone at the Pentagon recently, they mentioned that they knew of him."

The work of Zorro, single-panel cartoons titled "Living in Purgatory," recounts in gruesome metaphors the daily frustrations servicemen have faced since arriving in Saudi Arabia last August.One features a scrawny serviceman loaded down with mail and packages, shouting, "Great news! The Post Office found your mail!" only to find his comrade dead, hanging from a light cord. Another shows a serviceman slowly roasting over a charcoal pit in the desert sun, as Saddam Hussein watches.

A panel by Trudeau introduces Zorro's work tomorrow.

"I know {Trudeau} has criticism from readers about his work, {such as} 'What do you know? You're not over there,' " said Lee Salem, editorial director for Universal Press Syndicate. "I think this is his answer: 'I may not, but here is someone who does.' "

Zorro tried but failed to get his strips published in the Desert Defender, a Central Air Force Command newspaper published at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Va. The newspaper is distributed in Saudi Arabia.

Trudeau first came across Zorro's work a few months ago. "Another serviceman sent it to me," said Trudeau, "and when I told him I was interested in seeing some more, Zorro contacted me directly."

Trudeau said Zorro is a member of the Air Force stationed at Central Command.

They have not spoken on the phone.

Salem said the syndicate received the strip on Dec. 24 and that he called Trudeau immediately.

"I was concerned by the timing of it," said Salem, because "when {the cartoons} came in, the prospects for peace were greater." But he said he ran the strip with the belief that war was imminent, and "it would hold up if we went to war."

Trudeau said he would like to run more of Zorro's work, "but I haven't heard from him for nearly a month."

Salem said Zorro will not appear in the next six weeks' Sunday columns or the next two weeks' dailies.

Salem said only one paper, the Naples (Fla.) Daily News, has pulled the strip.

Trudeau, who just celebrated his 20th anniversary as a cartoonist with the syndicate, is no newcomer to controversy. In 1985 several newspapers dropped a sequence criticizing Frank Sinatra. In 1984, after he took a two-year sabbatical, critics said Trudeau had lost his edge.

Not so, said Salem. "He still has the edge. No question about it."