the catastrophic mistakes of the last decade, it
is now aggressively seeking the opportunity to
CC: Who do you envision is your audience
Trudeau: It’s never been entirely clear to me
who my audience is—I meet readers of all
sorts of ages and backgrounds—but I’ve
always assumed it was largely my generational
cohort. The strip is a kind of diary of the
baby‑boom experience, and I suspect it still
resonates best with my peers.
CC: How does one keep a strip current in a
real-time, Twitter age of breaking news and
Trudeau: I don’t try. The strip rolls out more
than a week after I write it, so I’m at a 100‑news‑
cycle remove from Ashton Kutcher’s latest
insight. As has been true throughout my career,
I’m only current in the most general sense.
Doonesbury’s topicality is mostly an illusion,
heightened by appearing in the only section of
the paper that’s still mostly non‑topical.
CC: Have you thought about how the strip will
end? Would you allow someone else to continue it?
Trudeau: No. It’s not a traditional gag strip,
so you can’t just plug in another artist. As
with many of the newer strips, the voice in
Doonesbury is informed by a personal sensi‑
bility, hard to replicate in any recognizable
form. As to how it will all end, I have no idea.
It will depend on what’s going on in the strip
at the time, and I rarely plan more than a week
or two out.
CC: How would you describe your current relationship to your characters?
Trudeau: Thankfully, I have none. I never
think about the characters when I’m not
actively imagining their stories. Most writers
don’t. Remember, we routinely do unspeakable
things to our creations, put them in jeopardy,
cause their lives to fall apart, break their
hearts—things you don’t do to people you love.
It’s hard enough navigating real relationships
without worrying about your imaginary pals.
CC: The Washington Post once called you “the
most famous unknown person.” How do you
assess that characterization?
Trudeau: I suppose they meant I was well
known as an artist but unknown as a person‑
ality. If that’s still true, then my plan worked.
At the end of the day, reputation is all that
really matters. I’m fine with being unrecog‑
nized in restaurants. C
Richard Deitsch has written for numerous
magazines and is currently working on his
Unlike those of many comic strips,
the characters in Trudeau’s world
of Doonesbury have aged, evolved,
had children, served in battle and
been wounded, and some characters have even passed away.
OCTOBER 2010 The Costco Connection 33
The Costco Connection
40: A Doonesbury Retrospective, will be
available at most Costco locations and on
Costco.com at the end of october. Members
can pre-order on Costco.com now.