Picks and Pans Review: The People's Doonesbury and in Search of Reagan's Brain
These collections summarize Garry Trudeau's comic strip: sometimes bitingly hilarious, sometimes tedious. The People's Doonesbury (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, $19.95) reprises in hardcover the strip from 1978 through spring 1980 and includes funny sequences skewering disco, PEOPLE, Iran, Jerry Brown and talk shows. Both it and the softcover Reagan's Brain (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, $4.95), however, dwell on the witless suntanning subplot Trudeau drags out when he's desperate, the way The Dukes of Hazzard uses car crashes in lieu of plot. Peagan's Brain, strips from 1980 and 1981, has very little on Ronald Reagan, past pompous TV correspondent Roland Hedley calling the brain "a storehouse of images of an idyllic America, with 5¢ Cokes, Burma Shave signs and hardworking white people." In his notes in The People's Doonesbury, Trudeau compares himself to Richard Pryor and Lily Tomlin and snipes at competitor Charles Schulz, explaining there are no Doonesbury-endorsed products "because there's no logical connection between my character and a lunch box...unless, of course, you find the logic of the profit motive irresistible." The same self-righteousness showed up in his May commencement address at Maine's Colby College, where Trudeau decried cynicism in American society. Nobody, in fact, exploits cynicism more than Trudeau. "I'm like Don Corleone," he writes, with less humor than he intended. "I've got a business to run."