Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Doonesbury: BD's PTSD

If you missed it, Gary Trudeau ran an exceptional series of strips for Doonesbury not long ago. If you haven't been following the strip for a while, the strip's most staunchly conservative character, B.D. (they guy who previously always wore a helmet), lost part of his leg in Iraq. In addition to dealing with physical therapy, B.D. has been struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He's reluctantly been seeing a vet counselor, Elias (Trudeau provides links for vets seeking similar services). Trudeau's managed to broach some very delicate subjects with great sensitivity and humour. It's easy to argue the humour makes the subject matter more palatable, but striking the right balance with the humour is anything but easy.

This latest storyline, on PTSD, starts up on April, Monday, 4/17/06, but really takes off with the Wednesday strip, running for two weeks up to Saturday, 4/29. There's a related stand-alone Sunday strip the next day, 4/30 (it won the WaPo humour columnist Gene Weingarten's Comic Pick of the Week).

Personal note: Once upon a time, I wanted to be a cartoonist or comic book artist, and even took a few no-credit classes as a kid in the summer at the Smithsonian. Walt Kelly's Pogo for me is still probably the pinnacle for its blend of great artwork, good gags even a kid can appreciate, and deeper sophistication for adults. His political satire on McCarthy remains one of the triumphs of the medium. But Doonesbury is without question one of the all-time greats. Trudeau was in the running for a Pulitzer for a moving, tasteful AIDS-death storyline years ago. I hope the Pulitzer board recognizes his work soon.

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