Saturday, April 24, 2004

This week's 'Doonesbury' strips have been a fascinating turn for one of my favorite, long-running comics. In them, the character B.D., who has been serving in Iraq, was wounded and, it's been revealed, lost his leg. It's a dark turn for a "funny" strip but also well in keeping with "Doonesbury," which hasn't shied away from controversy over its 30+ years, taking on everything from AIDS to Alzheimer's to Vietnam, and somehow making us smile in the process.

This week's strips definitely arouse passion -- some papers, as always happens when a comic dares to say something, have pulled or edited the comic.

"Doonesbury" is a strip I've loved for years. Its liberal message has alienated some, but even when the strip has coasted, which it has a lot lately, I've fondly enjoyed the rich characters Trudeau created, characters like B.D., whom over the years of the comic have almost begun to seem like family to some of us.

There are too few worthwhile comic strips on today's newspaper pages. Many are neutered nonsense or strips like "Family Circus," "B.C." or "The Wizard of Id" that should've ended years ago. "Doonesbury" is not always a fine example of beautifully drawn craft, but I defy anyone to find another comic that makes more news or raises more tempers than this one. And that, in the end, is what a good comic should do.

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