Potent Stuff . . .

I’ve been reading Doonesbury longer, continually than any other cartoon strip, since very soon after it made its national syndication debut back in the early ’70s. There are things about the strip that I can’t stand (the floating icons for the presidents, anything having to do with Mister Butts, Gary Trudeau’s periodic sabbaticals, mailcalls and dream sequences, etc.), but Trudeau has been writing about his characters so long and so well that they’re very three-dimensional to a longtime reader.

So this week’s sequence with B.D. being injured in Iraq is really intense stuff for the comics page, and I applaud Trudeau for tackling the issue of “why don’t we see the wounded” in this way. Today’s strip was an amazing piece of art and drama: the first thing you note in the third panel is that you are seeing B.D. for the first time ever (at least I’m pretty sure it’s the first time ever) without his football/army helmet on . . . and only then does your eye drift down to the bottom of the panel, where you see that he’s missing his left leg. Definitely the most powerful, potent and provocative development in the strip since Mark came out of the closet. Three cheers for Gary Trudeau for taking on such difficult issues with such aplomb.

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