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Doonesbury: The War Years - Peace Out, Dawg! and Got War?

G B Trudeau
G B Trudeau

In Peace-Out, Dawg: as 9-11 shakes the Doonesbury world, many of its denizens are drawn inexorably toward Ground Zero—Mike to attend a memorial service for a former employer; B.D., reactivated for crowd control and celebrity tourism; Marcia Feinbloom to hit on fire-fighters; and Zonker to deliver potent fruitcakes to weary rescue workers. Those on the home front are no less affected by events: "I no longer care what Madonna had for breakfast," laments Boopsie, proof positive that Everything Has Changed.

Half a world away, in Al-Qaeda Qountry, a burka-clad Roland Hedley is captured by a freelance warlord, then wounded by a can of Spam during a massive friendly food drop. Feyzabad Station Chief Havoc’s effort to rescue the downed journalist speaks well for the new, improved CIA, which has somehow managed to parlay its "massive" intelligence failures into cult status on the nation's campuses. How else to explain Jeff Redfern’s new internship with "Acme Imports"—and his sudden affinity for shaken-not-stirred libations?

Meanwhile, former inside trader Phil Slackmeyer watches from his deathbed as the effort to smoke out evildoers expands to include the entire management team of Enron. Prominent among them is "Jimmy Jack Jumbo" Andrews, head of over 400 Caymans-based businesses, who calls his old friend to ask the question on many an ex-exec’s mind: "What’s prison like?" And back at the White House pressroom, NPR attack-dog Mark has questions of his own, like, "What time will you be launching the cover-up?" and "Will there be a lunch?" Yes, excavating Enron’s smoking crater will be a long and dirty job—even if the president barely knows "Mr. Lay," the disgraced CEO with whom he exchanged 350 letters. As Dubya assures us, "I did not have political relations with that man."


In Got War?: as Doonesbury shifts to a wartime footing, the strip's major players find themselves pre-positioned for the coming cakewalk. Weekend warrior B.D. leaves the Fighting Swooshes of Walden in the care of acting Coach Boopstein, returning to the sands of Kuwait as Camp Blowback's Public Affairs Officer. Among his charges: Roland Hedley, veteran of a gruelling combat training program designed to keep media folks from getting capped. Offshore, the irrepressible Morale Officer Lieutenant. Tripler goes live ("Good MORNING, regime—changers!") to lift the ship-bound spirits of his pre-swarthy charges, while offstage, Viceroy-in-Waiting Duke prepares to answer empire's call.

Stateside, Mike takes up a flanking position on the sofa to log some serious CNN time, while the Reverend Sloan girds his loins for peace: "Look for us on TV—we'll be a million strong." Marching to the beat of a different cause, Zonker's old surfing mentor tries to enlist Z in a desperate fight to liberate Left Coastal access. Protests Zonk, "What can I do? I am but one dude!" Meanwhile, Jeff Redfern is but one CIA intern, yet he manages to launch a Predator drone and, using basic Nintendo training, knock out an Al-Q ammo dump. Also taking a hit, Trent Lott, busted for giving props to segregation. "I was trying to say I was down with the hood!" he backpedals, realizing too late that Mr. James Crow has finally left the house.

With Alex declaring eco-jihad on SUVs, and Elmont launching a daily assault on coherence as on-line blogger "Jenny McTagart, Girl Pirate," it's hard to see a peaceful world ahead. But Jimmy Thudpucker can. Waging war on the recording industry, he and other file sharers have a vision of ultimate change de regime: "The suits die off, and Pepperland will be free again."


Gramercy Books, paperback, 304 pages, published September 2006


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