Doonesbury Decades: A Timeline Of Turning Points

Nov. 13, 1976: Joanie Caucus and Rick Redfern spend the night together

While working on the congressional campaign of her University of California, Berkeley law school roommate Virginia Slade, Joanie Caucus was interviewed by East Coast reporter Rick Redfern. A memorable weeklong wordless slow-mo pan of dailies ended with the couple in bed together — a strip that more than 30 newspapers chose not to print. MIT students picketed The Boston Globe with signs reading, "Joanie, we forgive you." Marriage, a son, and long careers in the nation's capital followed.

Garry Trudeau

May 21, 1977: Joanie graduates from law school

In 1974, urged by one of her day care charges — "Dare to be great, Ms. Caucus" — Joanie applied to law school. Accepted by Boston University, Georgetown, Golden Gate State and UC Berkeley, she chose Berkeley. When Joanie's class graduated in 1977, a mortarboard on an empty seat marked her spot, and Trudeau delivered the commencement address. The San Francisco Examiner reported that Caucus received a job offer from a Southern California law firm. Instead, she took a job working for Rep. Lacey Davenport, and she later served in the Justice Department.

Garry Trudeau

Jan. 1, 1981: The 53rd hostage ("the bald spy") is released in Tehran

One of former Ambassador Duke's boldest exploits involved parachuting into Iran on behalf of Universal Petroleum in a doomed attempt to restore the flow of oil out of that country. His capture and sentencing to death by firing squad led to many months of ominous absence, during which time his presumed death played havoc among his associates on the home front. When 52 American hostages who had been held in Tehran by militant Islamist students for 444 days were finally released, a 53rd hostage — "the bald spy" — was also given his freedom.

Garry Trudeau

Nov. 29, 1988: Alex Doonesbury is born live on cable TV

The marriage of Mike and J.J. did not fare well during their years on Manhattan's Lower East Side: J.J. reveling in the art scene, with club installations and performance art; Mike struggling with his career as an ethically compromised adman. But their separation was interrupted when Mike saw J.J. giving birth, live on cable TV, and rushed to her side. The arrival of daughter Alex reunited them amid the shock of parenthood, which was only somewhat ameliorated by employing the services of nanny Zonker Harris.

Garry Trudeau

Nov. 4, 1996: Mark Slackmeyer outs himself live on air

Former student radical Mark "Megaphone" Slackmeyer, who famously covered Watergate on the campus radio station, smoothly segued into a long career in radio, culminating with his NPR interview program, All Things Reconsidered. Although he had privately come to terms with his gayness several years before in the strip, it was during an on-air interview with conservative pundit and future spouse Chase Talbot III that Mark accidentally outed himself.

Garry Trudeau

May 1, 1997: Mike Doonesbury's second marriage, to Kim Rosenthal

When one of the Mike's Summer Daydream sequences turned out to come true, the strip's ur-character found himself ensconced in Seattle's coffee culture, working for college pal Bernie's computer company. An unexpected romance with brilliant young bug-checker Kim Rosenthal (familiar to longtime readers as an orphan airlifted out of Vietnam in 1974) followed its bumpy course to a family business (with the way-capable Alex) and a family. Naturally, ex-wife J.J. introduced an element of chaos into Mike and Kim's wedding ceremony, an event which Alex participated in with unrestrained enthusiasm.

Garry Trudeau

April 21, 2004: B.D. loses a leg in Fallujah

Few developments in the strip have had greater impact than B.D.'s being blown up by a rocket-propelled grenade near Fallujah in April 2004. Readers found themselves unexpectedly moved by his loss of a leg — and his ever-present helmet — and for months posted moving testimony on the Doonesbury website's Blowback page. For six years, the strip has tracked his journey of physical and psychological recovery, as B.D. has revealed himself to be one of the strip's most complex and transformed characters. Two books about his journey, The Long Road Home and The War Within, raise money for Fisher House.

Garry Trudeau

April 10, 2009: Alex meets Toggle

TBI (traumatic brain injury) is the signature wound of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, and when Spc. Leo Deluca (aka "Toggle") was blown up by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, he began a journey of recovery that has brought out the best in B.D., his former commander. Key to Toggle's engaging story is an improbable Facebook romance born out of a shared love of alt music — with a whipsmart MIT techie named Alex Doonesbury.

Garry Trudeau



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