Doonesbury, the comic from Gary Trudeau, has been going steady for 40 years now. Holy crap that’s a long time.
Trudeau hit it very big, very early, making the transition from college paper to national syndication within a few months. Consider this: when he took his famous, and, at the time, unheard-of 20-month break from cartooning, he was all of 34 years old and had already been producing a daily strip for nearly 15 years. This must have astonished him as much as anyone, given the early uncertainty evident in a 1969 letter to his syndicate: “Since I have been doing Bull Tales at Yale this year and have been having a rugged time of it doing five a week, I’m beginning to fathom just how much work it would be to do six a week.” In order to lighten his workload, the syndicate put him in touch with an inker, Don Carlton, with whom he has worked for the duration of his career. This division of labor would lead to a ginned-up controversy in the early nineties, when Entertainment Weekly and the Wall Street Journal took shots at Trudeau for not drawing his own work—apparently unfamiliar with the common comics-industry practice of parceling out penciling and inking duties to separate artists. Trudeau responded wryly: “After years of absorbing the blame for the drawing in Doonesbury, it’s odd to wake up one day and find myself stripped of the credit.”
2. Trudeau talks about his life in cartoons with the BBC Newsnight’s Stephen Smith. Unfortunately, the clip can’t be embedded, but it’s definitely worth watching.
Both of these come on the heels of the 40 year retrospective published in October: 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective