Recent FAQS

FAQs

Beta-fresh answers, uploaded occasionally

Lets face it, our favorite comic strip is often obscure or inconsistent, and key characters are sometimes left stranded for years. Long-suffering readers are within their rights to demand some clarification. Use the "Ask GBT" form to email us your questions, and we will answer those we can on the Blowback page, and also archive the answers here.

Q: Could you please make the TOTAL RECALL coupon (to recall Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger) from the 9-28-03 Sunday strip available on your site in a larger, printable format? I'd like to mail one in -- and also forward it on to my friends.
-- W.H., LA, CA | Storyline | December 04, 2003
A:The DTH&WP is pleased and proud to do its part to help keep California's new tradition of way-participatory democracy alive by providing this supersized copy of THE COUPON in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.
Q: I'm hearing a lot about the new HBO TV show K Street and about how it mixes real actors with people in the political world playing themselves. Didn't GBT do this already? I seem to recall the 1988 campaign had Michael Murphy on the trail. I'm not hallucinating again, am I?
-- Patty, Pacific Palisades, CA | Out There | October 27, 2003
A:We can't speak to the hallucination question, but it sounds like you definitely saw Tanner '88. Written by Trudeau, directed by Robert Altman, starring Michael Murphy and Pamela Reed, with appearances by Bob Dole, Gary Hart, Bruce Babbit and others, this earlier HBO series has been acknowledged as a source of inspiration by K Street creator Steven Soderbergh. Tanner '88 won a special jury prize at Cannes, and is occasionally available in VHS format on eBay.
Q: Is there a new Doonesbury book coming out soon? It seems about time for our annual fix, but there's been no mention of it on the DTH site.
-- Laura Lynch, Lawrenceville, NJ | Out There | October 17, 2003
A:Our silence on the subject is an egregious oversight which we hasten to correct. This fall's annual Doonesbury collection, Got War? is indeed in the house. The warehouse, that is. And copies have probably arrived by now in your local bookshop. Members of the Quality Paperback Book Club will have a chance to order by snailmail, as Got War? and Peace Out, Dawg! are joint main selections of the Quality Paperback Book Club.
Q: I was surprised to see a California recall poll that shows Zonker doing very well. Is he running for governor after all? I thought he missed the filing deadline?
-- T. Runyan, Firebaugh, CA | Characters | October 08, 2003
A:Zonker's enthusiastically-intended candidacy was indeed cut short by a technicality But this poll confirms your report, and may indicate that Zonker retains strong write-in support. If Californians want a non-groping, ex-surfing nanny as their next governor, Zonker is their man.
Q: Would you please do something about the Miami Herald's new comics-page design, which compresses Doonesbury 25% horizontally? The characters look like they are in a funhouse mirror. It's really offensive.
-- R.A., Miami, FLA

Recently, the Kansas City Star reformatted their comics page, and Doonesbury has shrunk. All the characters seem to be squashed like pancakes. Can they do this? When I was a kid the same thing happened in the Des Moines Register. They made Charlie Brown's head look like an egg.
-- T.A., Olathe, KS

October 06, 2003
A:While GBT was on sabbatical in 1983-84, many newspapers adopted a new standard format which shrunk the size of comic strips. When Doonesbury resumed, newspapers wishing to buy the strip had to agree to run it at its original, pre-format size. Some editors railed against GBT for "dictating" to newspapers, but Trudeau pointed out that papers had the option of not running the strip at all if they were unhappy with the size stipulation. Some papers moved the strip to the editorial page to avoid having to deal with including a larger strip on their tightly-formatted comics page.

The size requirement remains in force, though papers will from time to time forget and try to shrink Doonesbury to fit their format. We are grateful to alert readers who pass word of such aberrations along to us here at the DTH&WP. We forward them on to Universal Press Syndicate, which follows up, reminding client papers of their contractual obligation. Thank you for your vigilance!

Q: Would you please do something about the Miami Herald's new comics-page design, which compresses Doonesbury 25% horizontally? The characters look like they are in a funhouse mirror. It's really offensive.
-- R.A., Miami, FLA

Recently, the Kansas City Star reformatted their comics page, and Doonesbury has shrunk. All the characters seem to be squashed like pancakes. Can they do this? When I was a kid the same thing happened in the Des Moines Register. They made Charlie Brown?s head look like an egg.
-- T.A., Olathe, KS

September 26, 2003
A:While GBT was on sabbatical in 1983-84, many newspapers adopted a new standard format which shrunk the size of comic strips. When Doonesbury resumed, newspapers wishing to buy the strip had to agree to run it at its original, pre-format size. Some editors railed against GBT for "dictating" to newspapers, but Trudeau pointed out that papers had the option of not running the strip at all if they were unhappy with the size stipulation. Some papers moved the strip to the editorial page to avoid having to deal with including a larger strip on their tightly-formatted comics page.

The size requirement remains in force, though papers will from time to time forget and try to shrink Doonesbury to fit their format. We are grateful to alert readers who pass word of such aberrations along to us here at the DTH&WP. We forward them on to Universal Press Syndicate, which follows up, reminding client papers of their contractual obligation. Thank you for your vigilance!

Q: In Doonesbury last week Alex tried to organize a flash mob for Howard Dean at the Seattle Space Needle. Was that for real?
-- H. Jones, New York, NY | Storyline | September 26, 2003
A:Initially no, eventually yes. In an interesting case of politics imitating comic strip, Alex?s flash mob plan was immediately adopted by Deanies, who boosted it on the Net. An estimated 150 mobsters and gawkers, along with local TV news crews, showed up at the Space Needle at the appointed time. For complete coverage, check out the Seattle Times or AP story.
Q: I just saw an article on the CNN site about your 9-7-03 Sunday comic about the masturbation study. Why did you agree to send out a substitute? Do you really think newspapers have a legitimate reason to pull your comic? I'm not saying you betrayed your art, I'm just curious about your reasoning.
-- Todd B., Houston, TX | Creating the Strip | September 17, 2003
A:Actually, some of us who hold down the fort here were wondering the same thing. The quick answer is that offering a substitute was the price GBT had to pay to put the strip in play at all. This is how he explained it this week to the Sacramento Bee:

"The strip isn't really about masturbation or the prostate cancer study as such, but about the shifting nature of taboos and the inability of two adults to have a certain kind of serious conversation. It was inspired by a similar conversation I had recently with friends. The more traditional viewpoint (Boopsie's) is represented without mockery, so readers who share her discomfort shouldn't be offended. There's a laugh in there, but not really at her expense.

"Still, I understood that the mention of certain words per se would not be acceptable to some family newspapers, which is why we made the alternative strip available. This is likely a one-time departure from past practice, and it does not signal our intention to start supplying replacement strips (what Pogo's Walt Kelly used to call his 'bunny rabbit strips') every time there's a chance someone might be offended by the regular release. It's a 'South Park' world now, and younger readers are unlikely to be shocked or confused by anything they find in Doonesbury. Besides, our general experience is that most children don't understand Doonesbury in any event, and thus sensibly avoid it."

Q: Today's strip with Roland looks very familiar. What's going on?
-- S. Blue, Anoka, MN | Creating the Strip | September 09, 2003
A:Do not adjust your consciousness. You are experiencing a "Doonesbury Flashback", an aberration fully sanctioned by syndicate policy. Closely observing the much-lamented early retirement of both Gary Larson and Bill Waterson, Universal Press wisely proclaimed that every UPS cartoonist with five years or more of active duty would henceforth receive a month of downtime annually. This humane shift was nothing short of revolutionary. Whenever GBT takes advantage of the much-needed opportunity for re-charging, UPS issues a week of previously-published "Doonesbury Flashback" strips. Such is the case this week. New material will resume on Monday, June 9.

Q: Although we are pleased to be partnering with Slate, a steady trickle of e-mail indicates that the relationship has not been universally blessed:

Microsoft is the evil empire. Have you sold your soul to the devil?
-- H. Waya, Philadelphia, PA

Does the word 'ethics' mean anything to GBT? Or does it just get in the way of $?
-- M. Green

I'd rather chew off my testicles than have anything other than the barest minimum to do with that sneaky, ugly-minded bunch of misanthropes at MSN.
-- John B., United Kingdom

Out There | September 09, 2003
A:To us, joining up with Slate makes sense: we like the mag, we like the people who create it. Our shared audience appreciates opinionated commentary on popular culture and current events. Yes, Slate is owned by MSN, but GBT still controls the content of DTH&WP, and we continue to admin the site, as we have for seven years.

Those not yet familiar with Slate might enjoy THIS RECENT INTERVIEW with its editor, Jacob Weisberg (who also creates Slate's popular 'Bushisms' feature). In the piece he discusses the DTH&WP-Slate relationship and hints at special projects now still in the brain-jamming stage.