Book #4: 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective


Begun: 1/12/2011
Finished: 1/16/2011
Format: Hardback
Rating: 4/5 (purely for physical difficulties reading the damn thing)

When I was a junior in college, I spent fall break at the home of my ex-boyfriend Peter, where I proceeded to suffer a horrendous allergy attack and spend most of my stay prone on the nearest flat surface.  Peter had a pretty complete set of the various Doonesbury collections starting at the very beginning.  I read them all.  In fact I think I came into possession of some of them somehow.

Anyway.  Doonesbury always reminds me of college because of that, and also because it was a joke among my college friends that our friend Jon looked like Mike Doonesbury (which he kinda did, right down to the suspenders).  I’d lost track of the strip over the years, but when I saw this 40th anniversary retrospective on sale at the Zon I knew I had to have it.  And it is a mammoth gargantuan item of epic scale.  Kinda hard to read, actually.  I had to prop a pillow on my lap, and even then, the strips at the top of the page were a bit uncomfortably far from my eyes, but the volume is too heavy and unwieldy to hold up without assistance.

My only gripe, though.  Representing about 13% of the strip’s total length, the anthology hits up all the major plot threads from the very first strip up through June of 2010.  Some of the major characters feel underrepresented (Mark Slackmeyer seems to have gotten the shaft but good) but overall it’s a nice summation of the strip’s sometimes confounding interconnected stories and vast cast of characters.  The center of the book is a double fold-out with a truly mind-boggling chart of all the characters and how they’re interrelated.  Interspersed with the strips are a two-page spread for each of the major characters, their origins and how Trudeau sees their evolution.  It would be a great introduction to the strip for someone new, even if it left them feeling like they’d missed a lot, but longtime readers would appreciate it as well.

I wonder if Peter has it.

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