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  • Lance Mannion
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Milo Johnson


James Wolcott

You know ever since the Daily News dropped For Better or Worse, I feel as if I'm really missing out.


I totally agree Mannion. When it first started I felt like it was out of nowhere. Plus because there are so many characters, they only get highlighted in fits and starts and it seems weird and totally out of place.

Oh, and Walcott, from my quick scan of the funnies while I do the crossword, you're not missing anything in For Better or Worse.


I agree with Claire about FBOW (or, as they call it at Comics Curmudgeon, "FOOB"). It's now basically a bunch of whining about the life of a retro housewife with a brat of a son and a sexist, clueless husband. It may have had a bit of Erma Bombeck-esque "fighting in the trenches with you" humor about it back in the day when it originally ran, but now it just reads like the self-inflicted suffering of a doormat and martyr stuck in a past that the rest of us have moved on from. Tiring, and not funny at all.

Chris The Cop

Strrrrrrrrrrretch, Mannion. Says more about your expectations for Trudeau's cartoon in general and Alex in particular than about where he's taking their relationship. Forced? No. Maybe a little fish out of waterish, but who knows? I can think of scenarios where a brilliant, sensitive MIT student might get sick of the self-obsessed nerds that would populate an elite school and like a war veteran, even if he lives in a trailor.

Rather than being his reward, maybe she's proud of Toggle's service---like Trudeau was proud of the military in the first Gulf War---and wants to see what else is there, besides selflessness.



Trudeau's been doing a wonderful job with the vets. BD's and Melissa's PTSD strips have been frightening in their psychological realism. But Toggle's story has been more about BD than about Toggle himself, so it was surprising when Trudeau started treating him as if he was a main character. I don't think he is much of a character, he's an issue, while Alex has been coming close to taking over her father's old place as the heart of the strip. She doesn't need Toggle to be a rounded character. Toggle's only role now is what comes from his attachment to her. This subplot doesn't serve either of them very well. Has nothing to do with the military angle.


I hear you, Lance. I have no problem with Trudeau taking the Toggle storyline in this direction, or any other--as long as the storyline is interesting. So far, Alex-Toggle isn't.

And anytime you're getting accurately compared to FOOB, it's time to holler for rewrite.


Lynn Johnson quit doing weekend cartoons, so her syndicate started rerunning some of her old stuff, mixed in with her new stuff. Then she finally retired completely, so the syndicate is rerunning the whole strip from the beginning. I think its pathetic, just a money grab that will ruin whatever positive memories I ever had from this strip - the Ellie and John of the 70s are too dated to work now.

Chris The Cop


Your points (and writing) are as usual, thoughtful and well-reasoned, but I think we're talking past each other here.

I don't really see the FBOW similarities, mainly because Doonesbury is just so much funnier and when it chooses to be, more poignant, even when it potentially strays into FBOW 'territory.'

Lawrence Fechtenberger

Actually, plausible couples are rare in DOONESBURY. B.D. and Boopsie, yes, and maybe Joan and Rick, but the rest? Mike and J.J.? Mike and Kim? Ginny and Clyde? Mark and Chase? Generally, in this strip, characters pair off not because they are the types of people who would become couples in real life, but because Trudeau thinks the contrast between them will generate jokes, or because it keeps the strip a little less cluttered to bundle them together.


mannion, sometimes you are just insufferable. it's just like a book-- if you don't like it, put it down. otherwise stick with it and see where it takes you. or are you reading trudeas's mind now?


Oh, Elbruce, right back at ya -- if you don't like this blog, feel free to leave! For my part, I enjoy reading Lance Mannion's commentary, and if he has some comments to make about Doonesbury, that's just fine.
I also have been pretty disappointed in Doonesbury lately. The phrase "phoning it in" comes to mind.

That Fuzzy Bastarrd

I go back and forth on Alex/Toggle. You're right that their relationship seems to come out of nowhere, but I can imagine it retroactively becoming plausible. I think what gets to me is that there's just no friction over their incredibly different lives. I'd be fine if we saw them work past that, or even be mutually excited by it, but as it is, it just seems like their experiences separately, their experiences together, and their relationship are all in separate boxes.


If you think this inappropriate Alex/Toggle romance is hard, how did you feel when Dick Tracy's son Junior actually married Moon Maid?


Personally, I think Trudeau finds himself in the very place FBOW: how do you extend the brand to a new generation?

Let's face facts: Mike, JJ, Zonker and so on had their run and yes, they can still make points, but the world has grown beyond them and Walden Pond. That Mike votes REPUBLICAN now is a telling point, and that Alex calls him on it is pretty notable. That characters have started dying regularly speaks to me that Trudeau realizes he is going to have to start putting a younger spin or risk running out of characters.

I wager...not a lot, but I wager...that Trudeau has a major surprise in store for us with regard to Toggle, who has arguably the stupidest name of the entire character set, and therefore is expendable.

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