Written by Devin Flanigan
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The comics strip Doonesbury was originally created by Garry Trudeau, a Yale University undergraduate, who sought to parody the political world in a smart and intellectual way. When it first premiered in newspapers, Doonesbury seemed like a radical departure from the standard comic format. Indeed, most comics back then focused on what we might now call "sitcom situations" and ignored the larger political issues of the day.

Many people accuse Doonesbury of having a liberal bent, and Garry Trudeau makes no secret of his political allegiances. Yet the comic strip manages to be more than just a polemic outlining a rigid ideological perspective. It is a biting satire and a lightning rod for discussions on the broader cultural level. Furthermore, to the benefit of all of us, it has inspired a generation of brilliant comics that push the envelope of their medium.

Doonesbury and Its Successors

Shortly following the advent of Doonesbury, Berkeley Breathed first presented his great comic masterpiece, Bloom County, which starred Opus the Penguin as a lovable loser mired in a fantastical world of jackalopes, political schemers, and junior hackers. Unsurprisingly, Berke Breathed and Gary Trudeau shared a rivalry. To this day, the two men harbor warm, yet competitive feelings towards one another.

Gary Trudeau drew upon real-life friends and associates to populate his Doonesbury world. As the characters have aged, and as the American political discourse has evolved, Trudeau has redrawn his intimate landscape to reflect the times. As Trudeau provided comic relief from the malaise of Vietnam and Watergate, today's Doonesbury offers pointed satire of current political realities and absurdities.

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