Yuge! – 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump

By G. B Trudeau (Andrews and McMeel)
ISBN: 978-1-44948-133-9 (PB)

I’ve always considered myself the bigger man in most disputes: able to see the other side and above gloating. Turns out, I’m not…

According to someone currently looking for new accommodation somewhere over the Pond, Garry Trudeau is a “sleazeball” “third-rate talent” who draws “overrated” comic strip Doonesbury, which “very few people read.”

The target of the calumny (guess who might have to look that up?) lives in New York City with his wife Jane Pauley, who “has far more talent than he has.”

For those who prefer recorded facts to illiterate, made-up gibber-jabber from the terminally biased and proudly uninformed, Garry Trudeau converted his comic strip Bull Tales – which ran in the Yale University student newspaper Yale Daily News from 1968 to 1970 – into a satirically comedic commentary on politics and contemporary society. He then managed to make it one of the most popular syndicated strips in the world…

“Starring” an everyman liberal college grad, Doonesbury debuted on October 26th 1970, consequently getting to immortalise, lampoon and pass judgement on some of America’s least finest moments and personages; casting a jaundiced eye over domestic and global events, slyly converting them into wry, trenchant comedy gold. He is despised by many conservatives and im-moderates on the Right of America’s political spectrum…

Over the years, as well as amusing millions of folks over there and around the world, the strip has aroused the ire of plenty of political, sporting and media figures – you can call them celebrities if you’re so inclined – whilst winning for the cartoonist acclaim, fame and praise from some quite unlikely sectors of the society he perpetually regards with his gadfly’s eye.

Trudeau’s strip was the first to win a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning, and he was awarded Certificates of Achievement from the US Army for strips dealing with the first Gulf War.

In 1995 he won a Reuben Award from the National Cartoonists Society and in 2006 was given the US Army’s Commander’s Award for Public Service for strips about his character BD’s recovery following the loss of a leg in Iraq.

His Mental Health Research Advocacy Award came from the Yale School of Medicine for depiction of mental-health issues facing soldiers returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Doonesbury strip proceeds in real time and his large, broad cast of regulars has aged over the decades, whilst always interacting with the causes célèbres of the moment. As such, he has made a fair few enemies through enlisting many real-world oafs and bugbears amongst his long-lived itinerary of returning characters.

Generally, these flesh-&-blood interlopers are represented by an icon – such as a waffle for Bill Clinton, a lit bomb for Newt Gingrich or a Stetson (later a Roman helmet) for George W. Bush – but that’s not always the case.

One of the most vocal – but not necessarily intelligible – targets over the years has been Donald J. Trump (usually depicted as a decadent, fat old white guy) and this superb collection gathers most of the best moments of cartoon lampoonery from three decades of less than cordial interaction.

It all begins with a Preface describing a rather fractious relationship and just why “The Donald” had to become a semi-regular in a comedy feature. The not-so-moneyed-as-he’d-like-us-to-think bully has never been slow to react to any perceived criticism, and he and his lawyers first became acquainted with Doonesbury after Trump’s original timid “Kidding, I was only kidding!” dalliance with running for President in 1987.

That came to nothing, then but the big wind kept blowing and Trudeau kept pointing out a life of hubris, bad taste and excess played out on the screens and in the headlines of the Land of the Free.

Divided into discrete decades, Trudeau’s razor-sharp wit and crushing comedy critiques are re-presented here in full colour, spotlighting the vaulting ambition, sordid deals, shady landlord practises, tawdry hucksterism, serial misogyny, juvenile sexual bragging, grotesque bullying and blind narcissism of “the most unqualified candidate to ever aspire to the White House” over the numerous occasions he almost ran for office before perpetually bottling out at crunch time.

Capping all that cartoon japery is 2016 when he finally put other people’s money where his mouth was and found himself actually in contention for the most important job in the world… one even his own bewildered, terrified party faithful didn’t want him to have…

And the best of all is that Trudeau has had an unwitting collaborator for so much of this material. Most of the baffling blather in those world balloons coming out of cartoon Donald’s mouth originated with the big orange blowhard himself…

Outrageous, alarming, more informative than any cartoon collection has a right to be and side-splittingly funny, Yuge! is a devastating tool of political instruction and character assessment which even the most deplorable basket case can enjoy, because it has loads and loads of really good, simple to understand pictures in it.

Most of us in the rest of the world are breathing Yuge! sighs of relief with only 20 days until everything changes again, but we can still buy this book as a warning for 2024. It’s the only real way to make your voice heard in a modern plutocratic democracy…
™®© 2016 G. B. Trudeau. All rights reserved.