A sync crossover

Andréa noted these two rerun strips appearing on the same day last week. Not exactly the usual synchronicity, where two comics make the same joke or take up the same (unexpected) topic. Rather, one is making a direct reference to the other.

This Boondocks comes at the end of a week series in which Grandpa expects Huey to help out with household chores, specifically mowing the lawn, and Huey likens this to illegal child labor practices and even to slavery. Here he returns to the child labor idea, and brings in the example of American companies using exploitative practices, including child labor, in their overseas facilities or those of their suppliers. And what is his news source? Another comic strip!

Here is the week of Doonesbury on this theme, concluding with the one appearing in rerun on the same day as the Boondocks above.


  1. Unlike the Zippy/Dilbert “feud” some of you were documenting earlier this week, this was more like he was calling on Doonesbury as an authority.

  2. I read Doonesbury a bit in high school, but then didn’t get a paper while I was in college in the late 90s, so I missed most of these recent reruns. It’s been nice to see some of the important events. (A few years ago Trudeau reran the strips from 1975 where baby Kim was airlifted out of Saigon!)

    Kim’s stereotypical Gen-X cynicism and aloofness was moderated pretty quickly, it seems.

    Anyway, this Boondocks is from two years after the Doonesbury story. I’m surprised that it made enough of an impact to be considered as an allusion two years later. Was Trudeau the first to put a spotlight on the working conditions in Nike’s Asian factories? (Mike certainly seems aware of the issue in the Tuesday strip.)

  3. I quit following Doonesbury’s daily reruns a long time ago, but this week I just happened to catch the strip for May 10th, which shows the connection between the two features even more:

    P.S. Some poor soul at GoComics cast doubt upon Tiger’s affiliation with Nike, and was promptly swamped with a flood of evidence.

  4. Yes, the story in Doonesbury continued past the ones shown in the original post here. Here are the next three:

  5. I discovered that when you read Doonesbury in the great big multi-year story arcs, it is actually a completely different thing than the daily strips. I got one of the big anniversary collections from the library (Doonesbury 40, over 1800 strips), and reading that gives a whole different perspective on the characters and their flaws, and the compassion (yes! really!) Trudeau has for them. Mike is a deeply flawed character, which you wouldn’t think seeing him as the protagonist and title character, with his snarky comments and knowing attitude — there’s actually a lot of pathos there, and he is an anti-hero, if anything. BD, despite appearing to be a two dimensional strawman, actually has a huge narrative arc and character development, and if anything, appears to be the real protagonist of the strip. It was amazing what emerges when you read the strips in bulk, and not just ha-ha gag-a-day strips, and it gives you a whole new appreciation of Trudeau and what he is doing (and to what extent he is aware of what he is doing). The disconnect I think happens from the reader’s expectations, you expect the characters in the strip to be the heroes, the ones doing things and taking action — the good guys — and in fact what emerges is that they are all, like most of us, just reacting to the world, and any growth or character development takes a long time to accumulate. These strips here are an example; we expect Kim, the hero, to come marching in and liberate her cousin, and fix things, but it’s actually more realistic than that, Kim is just learning things she didn’t know, and having to figure out what to do, what they mean, on the fly, and over time. It doesn’t help that Trudeau presents things as if they were obviously black and white, simple, one-sided, when his characters are actually multifaceted. I think that’s why a lot of people can’t stand Doonesbury, the characters seem so snarky and holier-than-thou and preachy, especially in the purposefully abbreviated and simplistic one sided milieu they often appear in, but I have come to realize that this a purposeful artistic choice to make it seem as if the world is so simple. In situations in my own life where in retrospect the issues where obvious and very clear, at the time, I was stumbling and very unsure of myself, even in those instances where I did end up doing the right thing — it’s only looking back that I could choose to portray the event as me acting heroically and knowing just what to say — but that wouldn’t be an accurate portrayal. Reality is murky; our recollections are often distortions portraying us as the wise, always right heroes; Trudeau seems to choose the other extreme: the situations are simple, his characters seemingly think they know what to do and what to say, but the are actually just reactive, powerless, and flawed, and this is irritating when the situation seems so clear.

    Case in point: the situation here for Kim is fairly simple: her cousin is making less working here than can be used to buy enough food for a day. Unless she’s being held against her will, you have to wonder why she chooses to work there. You also have to wonder why Kim isn’t helping her: $1.60 a day?! Cousin, quit your damn job right this second, here’s five hundred bucks I have discretionary spending money, that’s your wages for a year!
    But Kim doesn’t do that, she does a more realistic slow learn, but against the backdrop of the simplistic situation (ie: the complexity of the exposition doesn’t reflect the complexity of the character development), this causes a dissonance that leads to your being annoyed.

    (Who’da ever think I’d being writing apologia for Doonesbury?)

  6. his characters seemingly think they know what to do and what to say, but the are actually just reactive, powerless, and flawed“.

    Pretty true to life, then.

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