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Garry Trudeau At The Eccles Center: #SAD!: Doonesbury In The Time Of Trump

Park City Performing Arts Institute

Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Trudeau comes to the Eccles Stage this weekend where he’ll talk about his latest book, hashtag SAD, Doonesbury In The Time Of Trump. It’s a book that explores the satire of how life in America has changed under the Trump Administration. Carolyn Murray has this:

Garry Trudea has written comic strips and satire for decades. His Doonesbury character has ventured into many political and cultural life events through the years.  In the 1980’s, Trudeau portrayed Donald Trump as the perfect cartoon character telling stories of his political ambitions.

“I can’t claim any prescience whatsoever. I was just reacting prophylactically. I was saying  oh no, god no, not this guy. You know, he’d been kind of a running character in the strip. You know, he’s a natural born tune right out of the box. A Daffy Duck, you know, all the grandiosity and the strange language. So, I didn’t have to change a thing when I put him into the character.”

Trudeau won’t take credit for being able to predict the future of Donald Trump’s election as the President of the United States.

“Simply was kind of reporting and commenting on his head fakes going all the way back to “88” when he first took out those adds in the Washington Post, New York Times, Boston Globe, mouthing off on foreign policy.  But, there are these common threads that he wove together into a candidacy 30 years later. So, it wasn’t so much that I predicted it as I was just mocking his attempts. Everybody’s forgotten, he actually did run for President in 2000.”

Trudeau has evolved since the Viet Nam War in depictions of his characters dealing with the impacts of war on soldiers and families. He’s been awarded many times for the work he’s done to advance the issues of wounded soldiers. The Army invited him to Walter Reed Army Medical Center after writing strips about the Iraq invasion. He said he spent significant time there learning first hand what soldiers deal with who are recovering from war wounds.

“We had 500 thousand of our countrymen sitting in the desert. That was a big story. When the Iraq invasion happened in 2003, I had a lot of friends by that point who were able to guide me as I started writing the story of BD loosing his leg. I think the Pentagon felt that when they saw that happen in the strip, that I was actually going to write about this and I better get it right.”

Trudeau said he doesn’t think anything should be off limits when covering social and political issues.

“Years and years ago, I got into trouble for introducing sex, drugs and rock and roll into the strip because those weren’t staples of comic pages in those early years. And, it was constant frustration, there was a lot of push back and the strip kept getting bumped from newspapers. One wise editor said it doesn’t matter what you write about it, as long as you write about it with care and seriousness of purpose. You know, that kind of got my attention and since then I’ve never not written about something.  And, I’ve never thought that editors shouldn’t edit. I’ve never called it censorship. If they feel that their community standards are such that certain material is inappropriate for them, that’s their job. They say no to things going into their paper every day.”

Garry Trudeau is at the Eccles Center on Saturday evening. The show starts at 7:30. Tickets are available at Ecclescenter.org