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Doonesbury: The Original Yale Cartoons
posted April 16, 2007

imageCreator: Garry Trudeau
Publishing Information: Andrews & McMeel, softcover, 1971 and a billion reprints thereafter, the one I have is $2.25
Ordering Numbers: 0836205502 (ISBN)

This is an early Andrews McMeel offering that dates far enough back it features an "and" in the publisher's name, maybe a "Sheed" in front, when they had divisions like Alligator Books. It may even be described as sort of a proto-Andrews McMeel book. It comes in a funny size, 7X6 inches, which actually feels and looks nice for collecting a four-panel daily in strict 2X2 panel arrangements. A reprint of strips from Trudeau's pre-syndication run at Yale, complete with foreword by one of Trudeau's professors, the novelist Erich Segal, it's a reminder of just how big Doonesbury hit the newspaper market for it to cause a scramble for such crude work back in order to satisfy the feature's extremely passionate audience.

Much of the work in Doonesbury: The Original Yale Cartoons remains funny, which maybe isn't a surprise, and a lot of it is concerned with the apolitical issues of winning football games and getting over with women (I'd kill for a Sam Smooth cameo in today's strip), which probably would be a surprise to some people. Trudeau's figures look like twisted-together pipe cleaners, but they're animated and lively in some weird way, which is no small feat. You can see how working with a campus feature freed him from constrictions on language and dialog that were beginning to haunt slicker, syndicated work. I particularly enjoy the football huddle sequences he did back then, because they run so far against the grain of Trudeau's stereotyped concerns and they also capture perfectly the absurd nature of the only sport that asks you to hold hands and talk things over between bouts of beating the crud out of one another. In all, this is a nice little addition to any comics library, and you should be able to find it for less than $5 at library sales and through one of the used book services.