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Who's next, Beetle Bailey?
April 21, 2004 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Trudeau removes B.D.'s helmet... and that's not all. Garry Trudeau's decision to have central character B.D. seriously wounded has riled some Doonesbury readers and, of course, many cautious newspaper editors. In the same panel as the one showing B.D.'s inury, he's pictured for the first time without his helmet. Maybe it's a gimmick, but it hit me hard.
posted by soyjoy (95 comments total)

 
Maybe it's a gimmick, but it hit me hard.

It hit me hard too. BD has been around for so long, he's almost like an old friend. It gives me just a hint of what it must feel like to know someone who has been seriously injured in the war. Just a hint, mind you, but enough to affect my perspective.

Cheers to Trudaeu, again.
posted by Shane at 10:20 AM on April 21, 2004


I agree. Seeing today's strip made an impression on me as well. A moment of significant change for one of the main characters on the strip, not to mention removing his helmet for the first time.

Drastic and attention getting for anyone who follows the strip. I think it's admirable.
posted by bullitt 5 at 10:20 AM on April 21, 2004


To provide some context for non-fans: B.D. is one of the original characters -- he actually originated in Trudeau's first strip (I'm blanking on the name -- it was a college strip), back in the 60s. B.D. has never been seen without a helmet of some sort -- football or flak.
posted by o2b at 10:22 AM on April 21, 2004


"Bull Tales" was the strip, sorry.
posted by o2b at 10:23 AM on April 21, 2004


Who's next, Bettle Bailey?

We can only hope.

Great comic, although Monday's strip was a bit confusing, as it began the storyline withe B.D. semi-conscious...I thought I'd missed a few.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:24 AM on April 21, 2004


Oops, that should be BEETLE Bailey. Either way, I'm still hoping for a low-yield nuclear weapon to wipe out Beetle and the rest of his company.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:26 AM on April 21, 2004


It's a bit too dramatic-- I think that Doonesbury is consistently decent, but I've never cared for the "Very Special Episode" story arcs. I'm not claiming that they're done badly; on the contrary, the "Andy's Dying of AIDS" was especially well done. I guess that I just never liked Mary Worth. But I did enjoy the Sunday "animal facts" Mark Trail. And yeah, taking off B.D.'s helmet after 30 years is a bit gimmicky.

Really, it's more of an issue with me because I'm the bad fan that wants consistent quality and new ideas, but I want the characters to remain static.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:26 AM on April 21, 2004


When I read the strip this morning, my eye was first drawn to the fact that his helmet was gone... and only a few seconds later did I notice his leg, down at the bottom right of the panel. Interesting visual juxtaposition of the important & unimportant "losses", and damn effective - my jaw dropped.
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:28 AM on April 21, 2004


so - is it being censored because of the expletive (which expletive? I couldn't find it) or because the U.S. population isn't supposed to find out that people get hurt in wars?
posted by Pericles at 10:28 AM on April 21, 2004


Powerful, powerful stuff. Thank you Garry.
posted by vito90 at 10:31 AM on April 21, 2004


I applaud Trudeau's decision. First of all, it shows that people get hurt and killed in war, for every casualty figure, there's a family out there mourning. Second, B.D.'s always been a weird sort of tragic play-by-the-rules and get screwed anyway type of fellow who you can't help but sympathize with in spite of yourself.

This led to some of the best Doonesbury strips: remember when B.D.'s laid off Dad's TV gets repossessed and he looks at his wife and says "Maria, refresh my memory...why exactly did we leave Poland?"

Actually, Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker occassionally shows a weird subversive streak. He was incongrously invited to be a part of Art Speigelman's Narrative Corpse project, where he contributed an acrimonious 3 panels. Good for you, Morty.
posted by jonmc at 10:37 AM on April 21, 2004


"which expletive? I couldn't find it"

It's apparently later this week, when he's being treated in the hospital.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:38 AM on April 21, 2004


Did anyone notice that in earlier comics, President Bush's Doppelganger is now an imperial Roman Helmet?
posted by plemeljr at 10:39 AM on April 21, 2004


Trudeau has a history of reminding readers of the connection between his creations and the real world. I remember a few years back, when he was spending a lot of time on some homeless characters who lived in cardboard boxes outside the white house. One day, instead of a cartoon, he actually had printed a photograph of the real-life scene on which the story was based.

I was stunned to see B.D. without a helmet today.

BTW, Bull Tales and Doonesbury are basically the same thing.
posted by bingo at 10:39 AM on April 21, 2004


Darby Conley's also developing a storyline about a wounded soldier (Rob's cousin) in Get Fuzzy this week. I thought today's was spectacular.

Monday's, Tuesday's, Today's.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:39 AM on April 21, 2004


Mayor Curley, I hear ya, but this is more than a Very Special Episode, which in sitcoms happens and then they go back to their normal dumbass tone/storyline. It's also not comparable, IMO, with The Simpsons killing Maud, which was done for no reason other than getting attention.

Like Johnny Assay, when I got to the panel I was like, who's that guy? It's B.D., right, but why don't I recognize him? Omigod, I've never seen him without the helmet! And then noticed the leg, and that hit me as though I was seeing a photo of an actual friend I'd known for 30 years.
posted by soyjoy at 10:41 AM on April 21, 2004


For clarity: What I mean by "they go back to their normal dumbass tone/storyline" is that this is a permanent injury to B.D., not something he can just "learn" from and move on.
posted by soyjoy at 10:42 AM on April 21, 2004


You're clearly on the right track Pericles - it's rare that images of injured US soldiers are broadcast here at home. The Pentagon learned that lesson the hard way in Vietnam. And as moving as a cargo plane full of coffins is, it's still very far removed from the reality of war (though never having been a soldier, I can't claim to have any understanding of what that reality actually is).

So it's admirable that Trudeau is willing to make such a statement, but it leaves me with a profound sense of disappointment: Americans should not have to rely on a comic strip to foster debate about military action.
posted by aladfar at 10:45 AM on April 21, 2004


im on the edge of my seat.
posted by Satapher at 10:50 AM on April 21, 2004


Cheers to Trudeau for having the balls to do this.
Doonesbury has always been more than just a cartoon and Garry has proved it again.

Can cartoons win Pulitzers?
posted by car_bomb at 10:58 AM on April 21, 2004


but this is more than a Very Special Episode, which in sitcoms happens and then they go back to their normal dumbass tone/storyline

And as someone who takes interest in the comics more than any adult should, I do appreciate the continuity of the strip. And I'm not taking issue with the plot (and I like the presentation and dialogue of the strips in question a lot).

Actually, I'm going to retract my previous comment, because it occurs to me how fantastic the early strips with B.D. in Vietnam were-- the letters home and meeting Phred and all of that were some of Trudeau's best work. Maybe this development will bear the same kind of fruit.

Just so long as it doesn't turn into the worst kind of comic page drama-- like he dies saving April Patterson from a river or something. That would be too much to take.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:59 AM on April 21, 2004


Amazing how I get more concerned about a comic character than the real people, thanks to the administrations success in keeping us from seeing that there are real victims. bravo, Trudeau
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 10:59 AM on April 21, 2004


Does anyone know what the initials B.D. stand for? I'm curious, because I've been reading Get Fuzzy's storyline, and the character from iraq also loses his leg and his name is William. does "B" stand for Bill?
posted by GeekAnimator at 11:01 AM on April 21, 2004


I am very struck by the fact that 2 regular daily comics are picking up the same meme: People get seriously hurt in wars.

These aren't one-frame drawn when I feel like it political cartoons, although many of those have done good work on this topic. These are strips I read everyday. There may well be other dailies with similar plots that I simply don't read.

Support our troops: pray for peace.
posted by ilsa at 11:02 AM on April 21, 2004


he dies saving April Patterson from a river or something.

Yeah, that one was kind of lame - not least because when Lynn Johnston's about to do a VSE, she broadcasts it like hell for days.

car_bomb, Doonesbury won a Pulitzer in 1975.
posted by soyjoy at 11:05 AM on April 21, 2004


Can cartoons win Pulitzers?

They can, and Trudeau won one in 1975. I think that he was the first cartoonist to receive one.

Does anyone know what the initials B.D. stand for?

They stand for "Brian Dowling" who was a popular guy and star quarterback during Trudeau's days at Yale. The character was originally just a caricature of a specific college jock.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:05 AM on April 21, 2004


Can cartoons win Pulitzers?

Why, yes, yes they can.


Damn, too slow on the preview. Trudeau was up again this year but it went to Matt Davies of The Journal News, White Plains, N.Y., according to the Pulitzer website. He was also nominated in 1990.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 11:13 AM on April 21, 2004


Today's blowback commentary for the strip is pretty compelling as well.

For over two-thirds of my life, one thing I could rely on was that if I opened the newspaper in the morning, I could recognize B.D. by his helmet. In ways that's the most daring thing you've done. You've discarded the primary token that we use to recognize one of your most enduring characters. He has another one now.
posted by grabbingsand at 11:18 AM on April 21, 2004


I sent the publisher an e-mail expressing my emphatically critical feelings on their decision, and received the following response (a form letter, I'm sure):

"Thanks for contacting us about the Doonesbury strip. I would be happy to share our thoughts with you and why we chose to release it on the web, email, fax, at the library and at our counter.

Have you seen the entire week? I think it best that you see the full week prior to our discussion.

Notice also that on the editorial page Tuesday we had a column and editorial cartoon that was critical of the US involvement in Iraq.

It is not the subject of Doonesbury, it is the content and the depictions that were unsuitable for our community at this time.

A soldier from Sterling is gravely wounded. He has severe head wounds, loss of eyesight and other complications. Our community is in the midst of fund raising drives for the family. Thrusting a battlefield scenario of maimed soldiers would be inconsiderate to the sensibilities of the community.

Thanks for your thoughts.
David McClain
President & Publisher


As I wrote back to him (for what that's worth) I find their argument totally specious--being critical of the war is not the same thing as being open and honest about its consequences. If Jason Murray hadn't been a local boy, his readers would never have known the guy existed. How is that being thoughtful of the wounded's family?

Too many papers are already following his decision in practice, if not in policy. With the numbers of wounded where they are already, if every paper with a local casualty did the same, we'd never know that anyone was even getting hurt.
posted by LairBob at 11:20 AM on April 21, 2004


(That was to the publisher of the Journal-Advocate, BTW.)
posted by LairBob at 11:23 AM on April 21, 2004


I'm not going to say all of Doonesbury is great (sometimes boring & tedious), but when it is good it is very good. And I think that Trudeau can achieve some amount of social good with an issue like this. I have great admiration that people in his world actually change, grow, become conservative (or not) and seem to kinda reflect a little of what being human is about. (take all that wi/ a grain of salt of course on the basic level it is only a comic strip). Kudos to Trudeau.
posted by edgeways at 11:24 AM on April 21, 2004


I was inexpertly moved by this week's Doonesbury. I know no soldiers, no bereaved families, and have never been called on to sacrifice for my countries.

Consciously, or unconsciously, we use fiction to explore the world around us. I applaud Trudeau for reaching out those who are fighting a tough war, serving extra-long tours of duty, and fighting in understaffed units.

Bush and Cheney actively avoided military service during Viet Nam, using political influence to stay out of harm's way. Since this war began they have distanced themselves from military funerals; they continue to place their political well-being over the interests of U.S. soldiers and reservists.

The neglect of U.S. troops and Iraqi citizens will continue, as long as well allow this war to be sanitized for us.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 11:27 AM on April 21, 2004


LairBob:
I think, as well, that NOT showing such consequences could easily be constructed as disrespectful. Just as I think NOT showing the return of wounded and dead is disrespectful. The people in question paid a high price in the service of our government which should be acknowledged publicly and openly.
posted by edgeways at 11:29 AM on April 21, 2004


We've reached the point where we get our information from fake news shows and our humility from comic strips. 'God Bless America' -- no longer a swaggering declaration so much as a cry for help. Yes indeed George, you HAVE changed the world
posted by ElvisJesus at 11:29 AM on April 21, 2004


Now it makes sense that B.D.'s wife (?), Boopsie, suddenly grew a brain (and a personality) during her most recent storyline. She's going to have a lot to deal with through B.D.'s adaptation to civilian life, and of course, his disability.

(For those who missed it, she was named interim football coach in B.D.'s absence, and canceled the football program because of a player sex scandal, and took much resulting heat, but stood up for her principles. She was previously noted for her implants and her storied career as a c-list T&A type actress)
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:34 AM on April 21, 2004


Based on past arcs, also, I'm guessing that Trudeau will use this as a way to offer all of his cast the chance to discuss the war and occupation in personal terms - imagine the dinner-table chat at Mark and Chase's, for example, and the social-realist implications for B.D and Boopsie's marriage.

I may be wrong, but isn't this the first pop-culture appearance of this topic? The depressing New Yorker story a couple weeks ago about a young amputee was the initial in-depth piece I'd seen on the human cost. I wonder if that influenced this arc.
posted by mwhybark at 11:42 AM on April 21, 2004


I look forward to Bill the Cat losing his left leg.

Maybe then Johnny Hart will have the King of ID send his knights on a holy crusade to sack Jerusalem.

It still has a long way to go to beat the old cartoon of Zero surrounded by stereotypical Vietnamese prostitutes in a brothel, not understanding what they wanted.
posted by kablam at 11:42 AM on April 21, 2004


War is hell.

I don't always agree with Trudeau's political views, but I applaud this story line.
posted by konolia at 11:47 AM on April 21, 2004


I've always thought that B.D.s helmet was about more than the helmet. It identified him as the penultimate team player, his entire identity shaped by whichever team he was currently a part of.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:48 AM on April 21, 2004


What makes this very interesting to me is that B.D. served in Vietnam and got out without a scratch. Having him wounded in Iraq is a certainly a radical departure for a comic strip character, even for Doonesbury.

Intriguing that Get Fuzzy is running a similar storyline. The two comics are worlds apart under normal circumstances but they've converged on a very real, and not at all funny, subject.
posted by tommasz at 11:49 AM on April 21, 2004


I'm not normally a big Doonesbury fan, but this was really moving. I'm thinking another Pulitzer.
posted by unreason at 12:08 PM on April 21, 2004


B.D., meet Cutter John.
posted by brownpau at 12:16 PM on April 21, 2004


i'm annoyed that i have to read this online - my paper stopped carrying doonesbury a few years ago. but they still carry frickin' peanuts reruns from 20 years ago that aren't exactly resonating with today's youth. they replaced one comic with "mallard fillmore" which seems to be a hell of a lot more political than doonesbury, but right-centered rather than leftist, and not funny to boot. it pisses me off just having it in there. whenever "boondocks" goes into a touchy subject they run old strips rather than be edgy.

and this is a college paper, for pete's sake. i'd expect this from a large newspaper company like gannett, etc. but not from my college paper. spineless bastards. doonesbury tackles a subject that is pretty big with a lot of kids on campus (i have had several servicemen-and-women in my classes, lots of them have friends/relatives overseas right now, myself included) but our paper is too afraid to run the strip.

always did like doonesbury. let's hope this story line does some good.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:43 PM on April 21, 2004


I always thought the helmet was also something of a phallic reference. B.D.'s the jock, the alpha-male character, I thought it fit.

Sort of adds another layer to the injury.
posted by petebest at 12:50 PM on April 21, 2004


And as moving as a cargo plane full of coffins is, it's still very far removed from the reality of war ...

I didn't find that picture to be far removed at all. It hit like a gut punch.

Amazing how I get more concerned about a comic character than the real people, thanks to the administrations success in keeping us from seeing that there are real victims.

How can you blame the government for your own level of concern for real victims of war? Any American with Web access can read international coverage of the conflict that isn't sanitized for U.S. consumption.
posted by rcade at 1:03 PM on April 21, 2004


What I find interesting is that B.D. chose to wear his helmets everywhere. Didn't he have one on at his wedding, for example? The removal of the helmet is not just a gimmick - it is sort of emblematic of a character who has become totally helpless. Even when the helmet was word in the face of failure, it always seemed to suggest that B.D. still had his pride, or perhaps his strength.

Symbols play an important role on planet Trudeau - witness the icons he uses to represent presidents. IMO, this was clearly intended to have some sort of deeper symbolic impact than just "Oh look, no helmet."
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:04 PM on April 21, 2004


Has President Bush attended the funeral of any American Armed Forces Iraqi casualty yet?

Trudeau has found his post-Vietnam voice. Congratulations, Gary. You do US proud.
posted by zaelic at 1:28 PM on April 21, 2004


How can you blame the government for your own level of concern for real victims of war? Any American with Web access can read international coverage of the conflict that isn't sanitized for U.S. consumption.

<sarcasm>
Well, its a good thing that ALL americans have Internet access then, isn't it.

Yep, information isn't free you know. Got to jump through the hoops, walk both ways uphill. In MY day if we wanted to see the costs of war, we had to turn on the TV. We didn't have no fancy schmancy Interweb to auto download pictures of injured and dying children ...errr.... soldiers in a country far far away.
</sarcasm>

Sorry, but the government is hiding this shit on purpose so to make the war a tidy little event that we shouldn't worry our pretty little head about. Claiming that if anyone really wants to know the truth they should have to HUNT for it is a load of crap. These planes flying the coffins home are doing so at 2am under cover of darkness in order to keep the realities of war from the citizens who are paying for the war either with their tax dollars or their lives... or both.
posted by terrapin at 1:28 PM on April 21, 2004


Get Fuzzy is covering the same territory, but I don't think it is hitting it in the same way. Fuzzy tries to milk a political chuckle out of the homecoming. Doonesbury hasn't found a lick of humor in the situation. Although in retrospect, Trudeau has been telegraphing this with B.D.'s growing alienation.

Once in a blue moon, Trudeau manages to rise above his frequently smug, and often shrill political commentary to produce something that hints at what comics as a genre could be if newspaper editors would let it. This is honestly the best Doonesbury I can remember. B.D. was not even a favorite character of mine and these three panels hit me with an emotional reaction. (Of course, Carol Lay, Lynda Barry, and Pat Brady can do it on a regular basis.) Today isn't the perfect three-panel strip, but I'm thinking it's the best I've seen all year.

Of course, there are lots of ways that Trudeau could mess this one up.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:32 PM on April 21, 2004


Whoops, it was a 4-panel.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:43 PM on April 21, 2004


KirkJobSluder, Get Fuzzy is also a comic that features talking animals so it's never going to be able to approach the same subjects as Doonesbury with the same level of seriousness. Darby Conley has offered some serious moments in the past, so there's really no telling yet where he's going with his approach.
posted by tommasz at 1:49 PM on April 21, 2004


I have a shelf full of Doonesbury books, dating back to the Yale years. (The early ones originally belonged to my parents.) I've always considered Trudeau to be the finest editorial cartoonist of his generation...perhaps any generation, considering the sheer number of years that he's stayed sharp.

This strip made me weepy. Not just because of the character, whom I've grown up reading...but because I have friends in the field, I have friends who have husbands in action...and every day, we dread hearing that something has happened to them. Every time an unknown car stops near my friend's house down the street, I check to see if uniforms are getting out of it...just as my mother did during Vietnam. (A car with uniforms in it means that someone has died...and they're coming to tell you.)

I'm very pro-military...and as such, I happen to be very anti-war. I remember being a little, little kid and watching my mother cry as the coffins were unloaded from Vietnam...I think the current regime has done the servicemen and women and the American population a huge disservice by attempting to hide the cost of the war.

The real cost is paid for with the blood and the limbs and the lives of our children, our brothers and sisters, and sometimes, our parents. And this regime would sweep that sacrifice under the table and pretend it doesn't exist.

Good on Trudeau. Good on Get Fuzzy as well. But how sad is it that the only people that tell us the truth are comics and comedians?
posted by dejah420 at 1:57 PM on April 21, 2004


I think the Get Fuzzy strips are more effective actually. The Doonesbury stuff is just 4 panels cheap for me, and dialogue Like "Not today man" seems out of scale with the very cartooned figures.

In Get Fuzzy, the story is more personal, and seems to feel like no one bit off more than they can chew. It is possible this Doonesbury stuff will lead to some more thoughtful strips ahead, but getting there is embarrassing to me. No matter what he does, I am not going to feel like I am going through this with BD. I would have been more moved by a sudden post injury appearance.

That said, I am impressed that both of them went with this theme.
posted by thirteen at 2:04 PM on April 21, 2004


thirteen - did you go back and read earlier Doonesbury strips that fill in the current story line? Go back a week and walk through the set up - Trudeau took several days to set up today's strip, and may help offset your "4 panels cheap" experience
posted by jazon at 2:35 PM on April 21, 2004


How brave, he has done something unlikely to offend his readership in the slightest. Moreover, they will applaud him for his courage and demand accolades for bravely catering to his readers. Next thing you know he will make fun of the president for being dumb.

By all means, the story of a grievously injured soldier is worth telling, but let's not get carried away with praise here. And lets not forget there are thousands more real ones, many of whom have been profiled by major media, even though we would like to believe the media is too timid to do so.
posted by ednopantz at 2:36 PM on April 21, 2004


So what's the point? War is bad? Wow, that's a pretty bold stance Trudeau is taking here. We should pull out of Iraq before any more of our beloved cartoon characters are harmed.
posted by reidfleming at 2:37 PM on April 21, 2004


Comics Journal messageboard thread.
posted by mwhybark at 2:43 PM on April 21, 2004


Damn reid, you are the world's meanest milkman
posted by ednopantz at 2:45 PM on April 21, 2004


The Photo You're Not Supposed To See.

The Bush Administration strongly prefers that these coffin photographs not be published.


who's the asshat who put "this site utilizes flash" on the Doonesbury pages? Good god.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:47 PM on April 21, 2004


tomasz: KirkJobSluder, Get Fuzzy is also a comic that features talking animals so it's never going to be able to approach the same subjects as Doonesbury with the same level of seriousness. Darby Conley has offered some serious moments in the past, so there's really no telling yet where he's going with his approach.

I don't think that it's the animals. Bloom County and Mutts also hit that sweet-spot now and then in ways that jumped off the page. Heck, Calvin and Hobbes was another one that could hit it week after week.

ednopantz: By all means, the story of a grievously injured soldier is worth telling, but let's not get carried away with praise here. And lets not forget there are thousands more real ones, many of whom have been profiled by major media, even though we would like to believe the media is too timid to do so.

I think that what makes this praiseworthy is that it is happening in two syndicated comic strips. In their own way, comic strips are the most conservative part of the newspaper. In my hometown, Doonesbury is safely isolated in the classified ads next to Mallard Fillmore, Boondocks and For Better For Worse. It seems that once every few years, Trudeau has to push that edge a bit by breaking one of the key rules.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:52 PM on April 21, 2004


ednopantz: I thought I told you to shut up!
posted by reidfleming at 2:59 PM on April 21, 2004


Get Fuzzy is also a comic that features talking animals so it's never going to be able to approach the same subjects as Doonesbury with the same level of seriousness.

Perhaps apples and oranges, but see Art Spiegelman's Maus.
posted by synecdoche at 3:14 PM on April 21, 2004



thirteen - did you go back and read earlier Doonesbury strips that fill in the current story line? Go back a week and walk through the set up - Trudeau took several days to set up today's strip, and may help offset your "4 panels cheap" experience


I have been reading daily for a long time. I meant that that sort of story is hard to unfold in 4 panel spurts. BD opening and closing his eyes ultimately meant less to me that seeing a character receive bad news over the phone is all. The illusion of time might work better when the strips are collected in a Doonesbury treasury, but I think it falls flat on a daily level.
posted by thirteen at 3:18 PM on April 21, 2004


Fleming, that carrot can still kick your ass.
posted by mwhybark at 3:22 PM on April 21, 2004


The major rules of the funny pages.

Thou shalt not kill off any reoccuring characters.

Thou shalt not show a character with a sexual relationship other than heterosexual marriage.

Thou shalt not refer to a sexual act by name.

Thou shall keep your characters in a state of arrested development.

Thou shalt not develop your characters beyond their original stereotypes, archetypes or descriptions.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:27 PM on April 21, 2004


Maybe we could wait until the storylines play out before we judge them? Just a thought...
posted by Cyrano at 3:30 PM on April 21, 2004


Sorry, but the government is hiding this shit on purpose so to make the war a tidy little event that we shouldn't worry our pretty little head about. Claiming that if anyone really wants to know the truth they should have to HUNT for it is a load of crap. These planes flying the coffins home are doing so at 2am under cover of darkness in order to keep the realities of war from the citizens who are paying for the war either with their tax dollars or their lives... or both.

I was a kid during the Vietnam war...and I lived here (outside Fort Bragg) at the time. I remember standing at the school bus stop and watching the hearses pick up the coffins (our neighborhood was right next to our airport.) I don't remember a big deal being made about any of them, but that might have been because there were so many of them, for so long.

Do we really need to see coffins to know people die? I pick up the newspaper and see the faces of the fallen -pictures taken when they were alive. That hits me much harder than a coffin ever could.
posted by konolia at 4:02 PM on April 21, 2004


Claiming that if anyone really wants to know the truth they should have to HUNT for it is a load of crap.

Did you even bother to read my comment before replying to it, terrapin? Here's a replay with a little more emphasis: "How can you blame the government for your own level of concern for real victims of war?"

Blame Bush for the American public in aggregate not being shown the true cost of war. But for an individual here on MetaFilter to claim "the president made me ignorant of war" is a joke.
posted by rcade at 4:13 PM on April 21, 2004


More adventures with high school students!

"Mr. Michaels? What are you looking at?"

"This is a Doonesbury cartoon where one of their major characters loses their leg in Iraq."

"That's stupid. Nobody has lost a leg in Iraq."

"What? There have been a whole bunch of wounded soldiers in Iraq and I'm certain that at least a few of them have lost a leg."

'Well, nobody important has lost a leg in Iraq."

---

I may weep openly.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:17 PM on April 21, 2004


How brave, he has done something unlikely to offend his readership in the slightest.
posted by ednopantz at 2:36 PM PST on April 21


good art isn't judged by how many people it offends. That's not the scale we use for that.


But how sad is it that the only people that tell us the truth are comics and comedians?
posted by dejah420 at 1:57 PM PST on April 21


i think people have always told with comedy, truths they were afraid to say in other ways.
posted by Miles Long at 4:31 PM on April 21, 2004


"Well, nobody important has lost a leg in Iraq."

I have no words. How do you do your job without going berserk and offing a few of the little creeps?

Good post. I haven't been following the comics much lately, so I would have missed this.

Personal anecdote: Once when I was working at a New Haven bookstore, I noticed with growing disgust a guy poring over the Vietnam War photo books -- you know, The BZ268 Semiarmored Attack Copter in Vietnam, warporn like that -- and I wished I didn't have to deal with him as he picked one out and headed for the register. I rang him up, he handed me his plastic... it was Garry Trudeau. Betcha didn't see that punch line coming!
posted by languagehat at 5:10 PM on April 21, 2004


For all those who embrace morbidity as depth, revel in thoughts of the entire mideast thrust into a nuclear war, with not hundreds, but millions of people, not just soldiers, but men, women and children, burned alive, blown apart, dying slow, agonizing deaths from radiation poisoning.

Carried out joyously in the name of God.

Now, even if on the off-chance these thousand Americans and others prevented that, at the cost of their own lives, doesn't that elevate them far beyond victims, to the realm of blessed saints? The noblest of souls?

When we die, who among us can claim that we might have prevented Hell on Earth? That our contribution, for better or worse, was anything at all that mattered, compared to what these people have done.

Do not call them victims.
posted by kablam at 5:35 PM on April 21, 2004


"Well, nobody important has lost a leg in Iraq."

Joey Michaels, if I hadn't read enough of your previous posts I might suspect this anecdote was made up, because it speaks so perfectly to exactly what Trudeau has done - remove the veneer of anonymity that prevails for so many people who don't have that friend or family member over there. B.D., just because he's a well-known character, is "somebody important," and that hits a lot of us that way. Of course, most of your students probably avoid Doonesbury, so it's not as though he's going to single-handedly wake everybody up or anything, but there will be those on whom it has an effect.

And thirteen, I gotta disagree on the day-to-day thing. Monday's strip also hit me, because it was unclear whether B.D. was going to die right then and there. And as a reader, I had to think, would Trudeau really just kill B.D. like that, snuff him out so quickly and callously? And if he did, what level of rage and angst would he be expressing, and making us feel over losing this character? I've thought about this war a lot - I have a relative who was in Afghanistan until recently - but this still made me think about again it in a slightly new way. And then to have the helmet/leg thing today once we were already assured B.D. was "OK," I think it was handled masterfully, and worked very well in installments.

I'd also like to point out that this was set up, purposely I suppose, by a week of frivolous college-student reruns, heightening the dramatic effect of starting off Monday with the in-medias-res panel, with us having no idea where B.D. just was, what happened, who might be responsible, anything. I think that helped it work like a sucker-punch.
posted by soyjoy at 5:57 PM on April 21, 2004


"That's stupid. Nobody has lost a leg in Iraq."
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:30 PM on April 21, 2004


The major rules of the funny pages.... and TV shows, and most major movies. Fuck, man, I can't believe our culture has been going backwards since Shakespeare.
posted by tapeguy at 6:40 PM on April 21, 2004


languagehat, soyjoy, George_Spiggott : Yeah, sometimes listening to adolescents all day makes one lose all hope for humanity. I was still reeling from the conversation when I posted my exchange with that young lady.

To balance things out, I should point out that I have many, many students on both sides of the war debate who apparently have a decent grasp of the human cost of war. Overall, the number of sociopaths in my classes is refreshingly low.

Also, I probably shouldn't have been looking at Metafilter or at a political cartoon at work, anyway.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:09 PM on April 21, 2004


I was stunned to see B.D. without a helmet today.

I was stunned to see B.D. without a leg.
posted by timyang at 9:29 PM on April 21, 2004


Another cartoonist that famously won a Pulitzer was Bill Mauldin (for 1945), who died last year. He's remembered primarily for Willie and Joe, two characters in his WW II cartoons for Stars and Stripes, although postwar he was a fine editorial cartoonist generally.

Seeing a suddenly fractional B.D. bitchslapped me so hard this morning that I didn't even note the significance of his helmetlessness. Andy's dying of AIDS didn't have the resonance that this has, possibly because B.D. is the title character. At least, I never felt like I got to know Andy the way I have B.D.
posted by alumshubby at 9:32 PM on April 21, 2004


"...For all those who embrace morbidity as depth, revel in thoughts of the entire mideast thrust into a nuclear war, with not hundreds, but millions of people, not just soldiers, but men, women and children, burned alive, blown apart, dying slow, agonizing deaths from radiation poisoning.

Carried out joyously in the name of God.

Now, even if on the off-chance these thousand Americans and others prevented that..." - kablam, you're too smart too be making an honest argument that the Bush Administration has been anything other than an utter disaster in terms of slowing nuclear proliferation.

And, Iraq has very little to do with this. Pakistan and North Korea have been the recent proliferation vectors. You know this full well. Why bullshit?
posted by troutfishing at 9:36 PM on April 21, 2004


possibly because B.D. is the title character.

Mike Doonesbury is the title character.
posted by jonmc at 9:38 PM on April 21, 2004


Sorry...brain cramp. I was thinking "B.D. Doonesbury" because I keep thinking I've read that somewhere before. Damn.
posted by alumshubby at 9:47 PM on April 21, 2004


for you late-niters:

next Doonesbury

next Get Fuzzy

I like Darby's better so far.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:21 PM on April 21, 2004


kablam -
They are victims. They've been pushed into this -- many of them are against this war and all it stands for, and are against the

There's a huge difference between supporting the war and supporting the soldiers. I think that this cartoon supports the soldiers while showing how horrible the war is.

And really, I've 'known' BD longer than I've known some of my real life friends. I've read cartoons since I learned to read, and while I may not always agree with it, Doonesbury has been one of my favorites. Really, how would you feel if someone from MeFi lost his leg while fighting in Iraq?
posted by SpecialK at 10:41 PM on April 21, 2004


Meh. Must remember to read before I push 'Post'

... are against the war and all it stands for, and are in opposition to our leaders. I think we can safely say that many people in the US don't support whatever the basis for this war is (Still haven't figured that one out...).
posted by SpecialK at 10:43 PM on April 21, 2004


I think the whole thing reeks of conspiracy.

Think about it. The doctor says "we managed to keep the knee", but if you look at the leg wound, this is clearly not the case.

Sort of reminds you of Jessica Lynch's bullet wounds, doesn't it?!
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:43 AM on April 22, 2004


Is the state of the US media really so bad that (a) people don't know that people die in Iraq, (b) newspapers censor/ pull comic strips which are left of centre, and (c) people are so perverted by Disney sentimentality that they find a comic strip character losing a leg to be *emotionially*affecting?
posted by Pericles at 1:29 AM on April 22, 2004


a) yes b) all the time c) only when that character viscerally represents potentially thousands of sons, daughters, husbands, wives, etc. And the only perversion is that its for no good reason
posted by ElvisJesus at 2:46 AM on April 22, 2004


next Doonesbury

next Get Fuzzy


Yeah, today's GF beat Doonesbury, which was very anti-climactic, but maybe put in as some kind of morale-booster to Trudeau's medic sources. I guess one of my disappointments was that I wanted to see B.D. say "Son of a Bitch!" Funny that today GF slipped in "hell" without a peep from the good-taste police.
posted by soyjoy at 7:08 AM on April 22, 2004


Pericles, do you never respond "emotionally" to fiction? If so, perhaps you have a hard time with emotions in general. I don't think our brains are built to distinguish that clearly between "fiction" and "reality." (I should add that I'm not saying there is no distinction, just that it's hard work for us to figure it out and keep it straight, and the emotional part of us doesn't have much truck with it.)

On the other hand, if you're snootily implying that comics are beneath contempt and can't possibly be compared with "real" literature (which is allowed to affect us emotionally)—enjoy the nineteenth century, and let us know when you catch up to the twentieth. Maybe someday you'll join us in 2004!
posted by languagehat at 8:06 AM on April 22, 2004


The doctor says "we managed to keep the knee", but if you look at the leg wound, this is clearly not the case.

Maybe they accidently amputated the wrong leg...
posted by five fresh fish at 9:22 AM on April 22, 2004


For all those who embrace morbidity as depth, revel in thoughts of the entire mideast thrust into a nuclear war, with not hundreds, but millions of people, not just soldiers, but men, women and children, burned alive, blown apart, dying slow, agonizing deaths from radiation poisoning.

posted by kablam at 5:35 PM PST on April 21


holy shit man, you're the one embracing morbidity. Why are you reveling in these thoughts? And what does any of that fantasy have to do with the situation at hand? i'm really confused.

Carried out joyously in the name of God.

i just realized you're talking about those darn Islam people.i get it now. For a minute there i thought...
posted by Miles Long at 11:44 AM on April 22, 2004


Here's your curse word for those eagerly anticipating it. Both strips (Get Fuzzy) did very well today, IMHO.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:40 PM on April 22, 2004


Here's your curse word for those eagerly anticipating it

Meant to add "or for those whose dailies aren't running it". D'oh.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:41 PM on April 22, 2004


Thanks, Ufez. Here are some interesting developments over today's curse word.

Tallahassee Democrat, after much soul-searching doesn't edit the strip. But the Green Bay News-Chronicle does.

So, um, what happened to this, from the top of this page?Frankly, I hope Trudeau comes down on the Green Bay paper (and any others) with a 10-to lawsuit. First, Trudeau's both in the right and in power - political cartoons are not a medium that can credibly be "edited," and he certainly doesn't need the revenue from running Doonesbury in one paper. Second, I have a feeling that the explicit stipulation above was a forceful reaction against last year's pathetic kowtowing by Zits' creators over a much milder expletive.
posted by soyjoy at 7:14 AM on April 23, 2004


I just hope that we can learn from our current situation and create a world where Billy, Jeffy and P.J. never have to suffer the same fate.

Dolly? That bitch can hang for all I care.
posted by malocchio at 11:52 AM on April 23, 2004


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