Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Oct 24 - Trudeau article - Weingarten chat followup

I just snipped the four questions that related to his interview with Trudeau - to see the whole chat, follow the link.

Chatalogical Humor aka Tuesdays With Moron

Gene Weingarten
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 24, 2006; 12:00 PM

Baby Woman: Gene,

Thanks for running my comment yesterday. I did not know that Joanie was named after the National Women's Political Caucus, though it makes sense. (My mom was active in it around the time I was born.) So ­­ while in no way encouraging insubordination ­­ what else did you leave out? BTW, I'm a huge fan of "A Prairie Home Companion," too, so I was thrilled to hear that Trudeau is friends with Fred Newman.

Gene Weingarten: Joanie Caucus was modeled after a real person in Trudeau's life.

If you recall, Joanie arrived at Walden Commune after having jettisoned her husband and family one day. Complimenting her on her cooking, her husband had said to his friends "I think I'll keep her," and Joanie broke his nose. Then split.

So, it turns out that Trudeau had an aunt who did that, almost exactly. Suburban wife of a banker. Walked out of a car containing her husband and kids, and never came back. Lived in communes, and an Indian teepee in Oregan, called herself "Sasha Wildflower."


Trudeau: So you are doing a profile of someone you clearly admire. How do you avoid sinking into hagiography? Do you ask yourself, "How would Pat Buchannan view this subject?" Do you try to empty your mind of any preconceived notions?

Gene Weingarten: This is in reference to my cover story Sunday about Garry Trudeau, someone I do, indeed, admire.

It was a problem. The way you deal with it is you keep an open mind, make negative judgments where they are appropriate, but don't go out of your way to seek negativity for "balance," because that's unfair in its own right. Garry made this very hard because he is, in fact, a terrific, unassuming, gracious, brilliant guy.

In the end, I decided the most honest way to deal with it was to acknowledge it in the story: I like the guy a lot. I'm sure plenty of people feel it WAS hagiography.


When I knew Garry was a genius: In 1976, he did a strip showing Joanie's phone ringing in her empty bedroom. As if in a movie, the camera panned out her window. Next day, a pan across the rooftops of the town. The next day, a pan into Rick's window, where Rick was sleeping and Joanie was lying awake next to him. I clipped them, pasted them together, and put them in a scrapbook. 1976.

Gene Weingarten: Yes, this was one of his most famous sequences. As a sign of the times: Many papers pulled it, because it seemed to be endorsing unmarried sex. One conservative writer said that it seemed to him that the sex Joanie and Rick had was "joyless."


St. Paul, Minn.: I'm reading Maus right now with some friends. And got wondering after I read your Trudeau piece ­­ what's the difference between a novel like Maus and comics like Doonesbury. Is it just the difference between a novel and a short story (or something like that) or is it more? Thanks.

Gene Weingarten: A novel and a short story is close, sure. In Doonesbury, various storylines are progressing in a parallel fashion. He revisits each, for a week or two, every few weeks. So actually, that is kind of novelistic

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