Friday, June 21, 2013

Recycled Doonesbury: Second Thoughts on a Gilded Age

1990, first edition, from Andrews and MacMeel
G. B. Trudeau
Recycled Doonesbury: Second Thoughts on a Gilded Age
Original price $12.95, purchase price $6.95
Worn paperback

I don't have the post-hiatus collection from 1987, Doonesbury Deluxe, so it was a big shock to see how much the series had declined after (for me) a five-year gap.  Things do pick up around '88 (Quayle of course helps) but it's borderline shark-jump at first.  The two biggest problems I had were, one, too much of characters I don't care about (no, please, no Duke & Honey wedding!), and two, OOC characters I do like.  With the latter, the decline and reconciliation of Mike & J.J. was the worst.  You've got Mike (already unhappily married) considering an affair with Nicole (who's lost her H as well as her glasses), and then J.J. leaving him, while pregnant, when she finds out, and then them getting back together after she gives birth on cable.  And then Zonker becomes their almost criminally neglectful babysitter.  (Meanwhile, Mike's future wife Kim is ironically foreshadowed when he makes up some names of women he could've cheated on J.J. with during their estrangement, while the real Kim, who should be about 15 now, is shown graduating as high school valedictorian.)  Incidentally, J.J. and Honey used to be college roommates, but they meet on Trump's boat as if for the first time, sloppy.

Also, I always found Max Headroom annoying, so I wasn't amused when Trudeau crossed him with Reagan.  Mr. Butts (product of Mike's guilt over a cigarette campaign) is more successful.  With Butts, and some of the U.S.A. Today humor, you can definitely see a change in Trudeau's art style, a bit better, though not enough to balance the decline in writing. 

The '80s revival party Mark (still ostensibly straight by the way) hosts is a nice bit of nostalgia, including for the revival parties for the '60s and '70s, back in the day.  The '80s were hard on a lot of people, and Trudeau and his characters are no exceptions.  I skipped 1993's Portable Doonesbury, and ended up getting 1998's Bundled Doonesbury used.  Shark-jump or not, the fun was starting to end for me.

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