Garry Trudeau: One “Comic” Alum!

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Garretson Beekman “Garry” Trudeau is an American cartoonist, best known for the Doonesbury comic strip.  Trudeau has also worked in television and theater; he is the creator and executive producer of the Amazon Studios political comedy series Alpha House. 

While a Davenporter at Yale, Trudeau began contributing to the Yale Daily News. This led to the creation of Bull Tales, a comic strip parodying the exploits of Yale quarterback Brian Dowling. This strip was the progenitor of Doonesbury.  While still an undergraduate at Yale, Trudeau published two collections of Bull Tales: Bull Tales (1969, published by the Yale Daily News) and Michael J. (1970, published by the Yale Record). After graduation, he did postgraduate work at the Yale School of Art, earning a master of fine arts degree in graphic design in 1973.

Soon after Bull Tales began running in the YDN, the strip caught the attention of the newly formed Universal Press Syndicate. The syndicate’s editor, James. F. Andrews, recruited Trudeau, changed the strip’s name to Doonesbury, and began distributing it following the cartoonist’s graduation from Yale in 1970. Today, Doonesbury is syndicated to 1,000 daily and Sunday newspapers worldwide and is accessible online in association with The Washington Post.  It chronicles the adventures and lives of an array of characters of various ages, professions, and backgrounds, from the President of the United States to the title character, Michael Doonesbury, who has progressed from a college student to a youthful senior citizen over the decades.  The comic was created in the counterculture of the ’60s and ’70s, and is frequently political in nature.  It features characters representing a range of affiliations, but the cartoon is noted for a liberal viewpoint.

In 1975, Trudeau became the first comic strip artist to win a Pulitzer, traditionally awarded to editorial-page cartoonists.  He was also a Pulitzer finalist in 1990, 2004, and 2005. Other awards include the National Cartoonist Society Newspaper Comic Strip Award in 1994, and the Reuben Award in 1995.  In 1993, Trudeau was made a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Trudeau has received 35 honorary degrees, and has been called “far and away the most influential editorial cartoonist in the last 25 years.”



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