American cartoonist Garry Trudeau has been chronicling American life through his Doonesbury comics for the past forty years. Syndicated in almost 1,400 newspapers worldwide, the characters and their long, grounded journey throughout the years have been a notable part of the cultural canon of daily cartoon strips. Now, after watching main character Michael Doonesbury progress from college student to senior citizen, the torch is being passed–to his daughter, MIT graduate and techie Alex Doonesbury.
The Doonesbury comic strips began as a continuation of of Yale Daily News comic Bull Tales in 1968, and debuted as a daily strip in about two dozen newspapers in 1970. The strip’s often tackled political issues, and has featured a truly vast array of characters–from the President of the United States to a group of college students. Trudeau was the first ever comic strip artist to win a Pulitzer, and was nominated for an Oscar for the animated short film A Doonesbury Special in 1977.
Alex Doonesbury first started appearing in the strips in 1988 upon her fictional birth, and was given a name in 1989. Alyssa Rosenberg over at Think Progress describes the character better than we ever could:
Daily cartoon strips may not get as much credit as they ought to for shaping the cultural zeitgeist, but throughout her life, and mine, Alex Doonesbury’s been one of the best female characters, of any age, in any medium. She’s a child of divorced parents with a complicated relationship with her mother that made her mature and self-protective rather than the victim of cliche trauma, and loving, collaborative tie to her stepmother, a Vietnamese refugee adopted by American Jews. In addition to both of these women, Alex has a father who spars with her on politics, works with her on business projects, and treats her like a mature person with worthy ideas. …Alex is a computer genius without falling into sexy hacker tropes, and her skills brought her closer to her parents and all the way to MIT, a point of pride so fierce that MIT students rigged the voting to win her as a fictional fellow student. And her love story with Toggle, a disabled veteran with less education and a decidedly different family background from Alex’s own, has been part of Doonesbury’s transition into a more expansive portrait of American life.
You should really go read the rest of Rosenberg’s piece in full, but for now suffice it to say: We are excited about this. It’s a big deal in general for such a long-running, highly respected strip to shift the focus to a new main character at all; for it to be the daughter of that original main character is pretty damn cool.
(via Think Progress)