Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Doonesbury's Greatest Hits: A Mid-Seventies Revue

1978, undated later edition, from Holt, Rinehart and Winston
G. B. Trudeau
Doonesbury's Greatest Hits: A Mid-Seventies Revue
Original price unknown, purchase price $7.95
Worn paperback

As with the earlier collection, Doonesbury remains more interesting and likable than funny.  I could've done without so much of Zonker's "Uncle" Duke, but at least his adventures in Samoa and China give him good foils.  Joanie continues to be the most changeable character, finishing up law school and then going to work for the winner in a congressional campaign that Joanie's roommate runs in.  She also finds love with reporter Rick Redfern, after a false start with a gay friend.  As elsewhere, Trudeau handles gay issues with respect and humor.  Zonker, Mike, Mark, and B.D. continue to be perpetual college students, which Trudeau lampshades a bit.  Interestingly, Mike's second wife, Kim, is introduced as a Vietnamese baby orphan adopted by L.A. Jews in 1975, although retcon would later reduce their age difference.

As I noted in my earlier review, this "mid-seventies" collection (actually covering 1975 to '77) is more pop-cultural, with not only Rick humiliated by his stint at People magazine, but Mark shifting to lighter topics on his radio show, such as jogging.  Still, such issues as racism and feminism are further pursued, sometimes in tales of Zonker's 18th-century ancestors, tying in with the Bicentennial.  There's no question that Mr. Harris is the star of the strip at this point, with not only the front cover but illustrations introducing each year, as well as being either focus of his own plot threads or support in the plot threads of others, including his talking plants.  The title character doesn't seem to do much beyond answer the phone and watch TV.  Not only is Nichole fading out as a character, but B.D. and Boopsie are given very little to do, separately or together.  Rock star Jimmy Thudpucker and his pregnant wife Jenny are much more prominent than many of the original characters.  Luckily, at this point anyway, the second team is equally interesting.  We'll see how I feel about the next collection, which finishes off the Carter years.

This is my 500th review, so it's time to update the stats.  As of A Child's Garden of Graffiti (1971), we had

1 F
3 F+s
2 D-s
5 D's
10 D+s
15 C-s
21 C's
73 C+s
126 B-s
101 B's
37 B+s
6 A-s

We did get a new F+, but no more D-s or D's.  There's a new D+, another C-, and 5 more C's.  There are 30 more C+s and 38 more B-s, but only 17 more B's and 6 more B+s.  I said at the time, "I haven't seen an A- since Right Ho, Jeeves (1934).  Hopefully that will change as we get deeper into the 1970s."  And indeed in 1973 there was another A-.

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