Trudeau: Strips about Alex Doonesbury becoming lead character are ‘a bit of a head fake’

Doonesbury | Think Progress
This past Saturday, Mike Doonesbury, who's been the main character of Garry Trudeau's comic strip since it began in 1970, faced readers to announce his daughter, Alex, would become the strip's center. "Hi, folks! Have you noticed how much the strip seems to center around Alex lately?" he said, sitting across from his daughter. "Well, that's because it's Alex's time -- and turn! I'm officially turning over the reins to her!"

This comic appears with the permission of Universal uClick.

Reached by email, Trudeau said the strips are "a bit of a head fake -- as you'll see, Alex doesn't actually replace her father as the titular character."

But while the strips don't formalize a change in direction, they are an acknowledgment that Alex and her peers have become more fun to track than the foundational characters. Doonesbury's original animating idea -- that it's inherently interesting to watch a generation come of age -- is just repeating itself.

Since Saturday's announcement, Alex Doonesbury has been on a tear in the strip, "Freshening the stale, aging hippie vibe" on Monday and debating which characters will stay and go under her regime on Tuesday.

Writing in Think Progress, Alyssa Rosenberg salutes Alex Doonesbury's ascendency, however brief her reign. Alex is "one of the best female characters, of any age, in any medium," Rosenberg writes. Among Alex's charms:

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.

Related: Politician zinged in Doonesbury says "I don't even read the newspapers." (Maine Today Media)

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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