200610230302Perhaps the most in-depth profile ever of DOONESBURY’s Garry Trudeau appeared in this weekend’s Washington Post magazine, with an emphasis on how the story of B.D. losing a limb in Iraq has reenvigorated the strip and brought Trudeau closer to vets.

IF YOU DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT GARRY TRUDEAU, AND YOU PROBABLY DON’T, it’s because he has done his best to keep it that way. With the exception of the time in 1980 when his island wedding to America’s sweetheart, TV personality Jane Pauley, turned him into a sullen bridegroom hounded by paparazzi in boats and helicopters, Trudeau, now 58, has managed to remain comfortably obscure. Aside from a couple of semi-recent TV interviews, he’s had almost no public presence for three decades. Considering the extraordinary reach of his comic strip, and the role it has had over the years in analyzing, reflecting and even helping shape American culture, he may be the most famous unknown person.

It turns out Trudeau is — brace yourself — a nerd who likes to enthuse about Walt Kelly. Yes, not so different from you and I. Read the whole thing–Trudeau has been doing–for him–an inordinate amount of press of late, perhaps to draw attention to his new blog and his work with Iraq vets.

We’re also reminded that strip cartoonists seem to be, by nature, the most reclusive creative types, the occasional Aaron McGruder aside. They just like to sit at home and draw.

It’s interesting to compare to the new generation of webcomics cartoonists. We don’t know how much they like to get out of the house — a god bit from what we’ve seen — but they certainly enjoy communicating directly with their public. Another shift in the paradigm.


  1. First photo I have ever seen of Trudeau. His resemblance to Mike Doonesbury (or, rather, vice versa) is startling – especially the eyes.

  2. For what it’s worth, I saw him speak a few years ago at UC-Berkeley. Interesting talk, and when I went up afterwards to complement him on getting computer/geek topics right, he was quite nice and open to discussing things. Still have a business card he gave me around somewhere.