BD, a main character in the comic strip “Doonesbury,” lost a leg Thursday, fighting in Iraq.
In the April 19, 2004 strip, the character B.D., a football coach-turned-soldier, was injured after being reactivated in the Army at the end of 2004. In Wednesday’s strip, he woke up to find his left leg amputated. This serious battlefield injury comes thirty-six years after Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau inked BD to life.
Trudeau answered a few questions from MSNBC:
MSNBC: Why did you decide to send your character to Iraq?
Trudeau: During times of war, I’ve always placed a character in the thick of it. It’s usually B.D. because he’s sturdy and he doesn’t overthink things. It was obvious by early 2003 that we would be going into Iraq, so I deployed him as a media embedment officer at Camp Blowback.
MSNBC: Why did you choose to have the character get seriously wounded and lose a leg?
Trudeau: As of last Friday, Centcom was reporting 3,630 wounded soldiers, with 642 of those just in the last two weeks alone. Suffering is a fact of war, but it seems our troops have been paying a particularly high price as of late. It seemed a good time to acknowledge and honor their sacrifice, and to show what it means to an individual life to endure such a grievous wound.
MSNBC: Any particular point you are trying to convey to your readers?
Trudeau: War has consequences that shouldn’t be hidden from view. I want to illustrate what it means to have one’s life permanently altered by a disabling wound. Since this is not within my own experience, I have to proceed with humility and care. I’m sure people will let me know if I’m getting it wrong.
BD’s loss of his leg has elicited many moving e-mails from Doonesbury fans around the world. To read the varied emotional reaction, go to: www.doonesbury.com. The strip runs in 1,4000 papers in the U.S., and has had a history of addressing difficult topics since Trudeau started it at Yale University in 1968. According to Kathie Kerr, of Universal Press Syndicate, five characters in Doonesbury have died since the beginning of the strip and one other wounded (Ray Hightower) in the first Gulf War.