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Doonesbury and the Art of G.B. Trudeau Hardcover – November 2, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Trudeau began creating comic strips as a lark while at Yale in 1968, paying mischievous tribute to the university’s star quarterback Brian Dowling, hence B. D., a Doonesbury stalwart, and one of many characters based on real people. Trudeau’s clever if slapdash college strip caught the eye of an editor at an up-and-coming news syndicate, and the audacious Doonesbury (“doone” is “preppy slang for a well-meaning fool”) debuted in 1970. As his fame escalated, along with the controversies his topical strip ignited, the wizard of Doonesbury became “notoriously private.” Comics expert Walker’s disclosure of Trudeau’s artistic process, therefore, is fresh and riveting, and it is a thrill to see Trudeau’s never-before-published pencil drawings, from which Dan Carlton, Trudeau’s dedicated “inker,” has worked all these years. A comic saga like no other, Doonesbury, intelligently funny and profoundly human, is unceasing in its evolution as Trudeau explores the self, relationships, the zeitgeist, and war, from B. D.’s service in Vietnam, to nearly 250 strips about the Gulf War, and B. D.’s loss of a leg in Afghanistan. This inside look at Trudeau’s on-demand creativity, daring and caring satire, and compelling cast of more than 60 nuanced characters induces new and intensified appreciation for this phenomenal endeavor, a fun-house mirror to and intrinsic part of American culture. --Donna Seaman


"Lavish . . . an eclectic romp by a scion of a great cartoonist family ("Beetle Bailey," "Hi and Lois") and one of America's foremost comic-strip historians."—Cullen Murphy, Vanity Fair
(Cullen Murphy Vanity Fair)

"There are few books that I unequivocally state should be on every cartoonist's book shelf, but this is one of them. Anyone wanting to better understand cartooning at the level of an American master should own this book."—Alan Gardner, The Daily Cartoonist

(Alan Gardner The Daily Cartoonist)

"Doonesbury and the Art of G.B. Trudeau provides a rare glimpse of the artist's original drawings and sketches."—Chip Kidd, Rolling Stone
(Chip Kidd Rolling Stone)

"A must-have for every Doonesbury devotee."—Connecticut Magazine
(Connecticut Magazine)

"Handsomely produced and eminently readable . . . a sheer joy."—Tom Tomorrow, Yale Alumni Magazine
(Tom Tomorrow Yale Alumni Magazine)

"[A] rare book . . . presents the artwork in an elegant, high-quality format and adds considerably to what we know about the artist. Brian Walker is an ideal chronicler."—Christopher Arnott, New Haven Advocate
(Christopher Arnott New Haven Advocate)

"This is the mother of all Doonesbury books . . . beautifully assembled . . . easily the gift book of the year for folks who've been sentient over the past 40 years."—William Kowinski, North Coast Journal
(William Kowinski North Coast Journal)

". . . elegantly chronicles how the strip's graphic aesthetic evolved."—Michael Cavna, Washington Post
(Michael Cavna Washington Post)

"An elegant collection."—John McMurtrie, San Francisco Chronicle (Holiday Books selection, Comics/Graphic Novels category)
(John McMurtrie San Francisco Chronicle)

"Eloquent, well-researched and honest. . . . Walker is a masterful storyteller."--Catherine Ramsdell, PopMatters
(Catherine Ramsdell PopMatters)

"If you're a fan of Doonesbury, without question you need to own this book."—Mike Rhode, Washington City Paper

(Mike Rhode Washington City Paper)

"This is a fine introduction to Trudeau and a delight for those who are already familiar with and appreciate him."—K. Marantz, CHOICE
(K. Marantz CHOICE)

"The first book to assess the art of the Doonesbury strip, its impact, and the way Trudeau's style has evolved over four decades."—Book Passage
(Book Passage)

"A handsome, heavyweight volume. . . . Walker chronicles it all with care."—Jonathan Richards, Pasatiempo
(Jonathan Richards Pasatiempo)

“‘Walker’s book offers an in-depth view of the Pulitzer Prize-winning comic strip…Trudeau’s work in 1983, also examines the creative process and Trudeau’s evolution as an artist.’” —The New Haven Register

(The New Haven Register 2010-10-25)

"To call it satire is only half right. 'Doonesbury' has taken on all the topics you'd expect- from vietnam to Iraq, from drug use to gay marriage. But satire has a short shelf life.'Doonesbury's big heart and moral compass are what give it staying power."
—Cullen Murphy, Vanity Fair
(Cullen Murphy Vanity Fair)

"This comprehensive book is a beautiful addition to any Doonesbury fan's collection."—Jessica Harrison, Desert News
(Jessica Harrison Desert News)

Finalist for the 2010 Connecticut Book Awards in the non-fiction category
(Finalist Non-Fiction category Connecticut Center for the Book 2012-06-08)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1st edition (November 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300154275
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300154276
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 1.1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,762,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fans already know this implicitly, but comic strip creators rarely get the respect they deserve as true artists. Many thanks to Brian Walker for putting together a sparkling gem of art, insight and background on one of the best there has ever been. At last, nerdy art lovers, like this reviewer, are allowed to behold preliminary sketches, original strips and other artful goodies we aren't generally privy to see from Mr. Trudeau. Young Garry's early artwork and art class drawings most certainly reveal a real artist and high caliber "drawer." Whether pencil, ink or paint, this book shows us a very unique, accomplished artist in many disciplines.

The strips behind the scenes man, inking assistant Don Carlton, is also featured. His crisp and elegant inking style is what has helped make the art of Doonesbury jump off the funny pages all these years. Inking the pencil art from faxed copies, of all things, shows the level of artistry involved on his part.

The book also serves as a superb point of reference (eBay here we come) for many of the excellent Doonesbury products produced over the years, many created to benefit literacy programs through "The Great Doonesbury Sellout," among other projects.

Like Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes and sorely too few comic strips, Garry's characters are fully fledged and real. There's something quite spellbinding when an artist arranges a few lines and words just right and the end result provides us with living, breathing friends. What an incredible art form, a comforting and rare gift from a master.

Thanks Garry and Brian for presenting us with an extremely fun, very well designed, 261 page Trudeau treasure trove of info and art.
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Format: Hardcover
Brian Walker investigates the way Trudeau's style has changed through the years and what his influences were. This also includes Trudeau's other works, magazines, illustrations, posters and additional products. Trudeau and some of his collaborators comment in the text. This book gives a well rounded look at the creation of the comic and even of the times in which it was created.

The book starts with a biography and family history as well as the start of his career. Original drafts are shown as well as many of the strips through the years, with a sentence or two explaining when the strip was done and what was relevant about it in that time period.
There are as many pictures and illustrations as text analyzing Doonesbury and Trudeau to 2009 and Obama's first White House dialogue strips.

A list of books by Trudeau and other media is included as well as an index.
For Doonesbury fans, those interested in comics or even those who wish to explore the late 20th century this is an worthy of note and well organized and intriguing book.
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Format: Hardcover
If you took all the active comic strips that have been around for decades, virtually all of them are pale shadows of their former selves. Garfield, Blondie, Family Circus: they all may be institutions, but they are not that great. There is only one exception to this rule, and that is Doonesbury. Why this is the case is amply demonstrated in Brian Walker's Doonesbury and the Art of G.B. Trudeau.

Walker (the son of Mort Walker, creator of two other institutional strips, Beetle Bailey and Hi & Lois) has written several books on comic strips and is something of an authority on their history. In this book, he takes us through the history of Doonesbury which started its syndicated run in 1970 (prior to that, it was only published at Yale). At first, the art was crude, but the characters offered deeper satire than typically found on the comics page.

Yes, strips like Pogo and Lil Abner may have had political satire, but Trudeau used real political figures, not thinly veiled parallels. As biting as the humor could be, he still centered his strip around the characters: at first, the key foursome of B.D. (the conservative football player), Mark Slackmeyer (the campus radical), Zonker Harris (the easy-going hippie) and the title character, Michael Doonesbury (the eternal loser). Eventually, many more characters would join the cast and the key characters would evolve and develop depth (except, of course, for Zonker, whose chief quality was that he was incapable of real change).

And that's the key difference between Doonesbury and B.C., the Wizard of Id or Heathcliff: Doonesbury changed over the years. The characters changed, the art changed and there were even bits of seriousness mixed in with the humor.
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