Cartoonist Garry Trudeau has entertained millions with his Pulitzer Prize-winning strip "Doonesbury," but he never expected it to be his career when it started 50 years ago, he says in an interview with his wife, "CBS Sunday Morning" anchor Jane Pauley, to be broadcast December 2.
"It was more or less an accidental career," Trudeau said. "It didn't seem to me that I was going to be bound to this thing, for any extensive period of my life – and here it is, 50 years later."
To mark the 50th anniversary of the famed cartoon strip, Pauley and Trudeau traveled to where it all began, at Yale University, when Trudeau was a 20-year-old college student. It's also where his work is now housed in the Doonesbury Archive.
It is the first time Pauley has interviewed Trudeau since they married in 1980.
They also visit the football stadium where, while sitting high in the bleachers, Trudeau got the idea that would change his life: a comic strip centered around a guy named Mike Doonesbury and a cast of characters, one of them inspired by Yale's then-quarterback, Brian Dowling. It was initially called "Bull Tales," and he approached the Yale Daily News about running it.
"I cooked up this idea and renamed Brian 'B.D.' in the strip," Trudeau recalls. "I came up with a half-a-dozen strips and took them to the managing editor, and he said, 'Sure, we'll print anything.'"
From there, Trudeau's accidental career as a cartoon chronicler of the culture took off. Soon, the strips were syndicated to more than 2,000 newspapers. It was also featured on the cover of Time magazine. And it earned Trudeau the Pulitzer Prize, the first for editorial cartooning awarded to a cartoon strip.
Over the past half-century, "Doonesbury" has been a political and social touchstone for the times. One person who did not catch the "Doonesbury" wave early was Pauley. "I never saw 'Doonesbury' 'till after I met you," she reveals in the interview.
"I imagine even now half of your audience watching this go, 'Really? She married a cartoonist? She could've done so much better,'" Trudeau said with a laugh.
Trudeau, 70, said his career has evolved over time, as has the industry around him.
"I'm part of the crowd that started out in one profession [and] finds themselves in a very different place," Trudeau said. "I don't recognize my industry. I think I'm what they call a legacy strip. It's like a legacy band, you've been around forever. And it does give you a certain amount of job security. I'll probably stay in newspapers. But I'm only going to be around as long as newspapers are. I'll be one of those guys who turn out the lights."
"Sunday Morning," hosted by Jane Pauley, is broadcast on CBS Sundays beginning at 9:00 a.m. ET. Executive producer is Rand Morrison. "Sunday Morning" also streams on CBSN beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET and repeated at 1 p.m. ET, and is available on cbs.com, CBS All Access, and On Demand. You can also download the free "Sunday Morning" audio podcast at iTunes and at Play.it.
For more info:
- Doonesbury (Washington Post)