G. B. Trudeau's Doonesbury has tracked and explored 40 years of American culture through six wars and eight presidential administrations. Now, we're excited to announce that you can enjoy this beloved comic strip on Kindle Fire.
When 40 was published in print form in 2010, the book tipped the scales at just under 10 pounds. The sheer heft of it, along with the sturdy slipcover; the fine, coated stock; and an unusually intoxicating new-book smell, commanded attention. And when a trailer truck packed with 1,300 copies was hijacked during a cross-country run, I was secretly thrilled that discerning thieves had thought 40 worthy of a heist—and that the book would soon be showing up on the street at people’s prices.
No such luck. The unloaded truck was eventually located on an interstate off-ramp, presumably abandoned in disgust. I’ve tried to imagine the reaction of the hijackers’ supervisor when he broke into the trailer and discovered 13,000 pounds of Doonesbury where palettes of hi-def TVs should have been. Let us hope no one was hurt; it was an honest mistake.
Still, after all that excitement, you’d think that the digital reimagining of 40 would be a letdown. Not so; we can now invite more people to the party. I’ve come to appreciate that many readers prefer to forego the risk of herniation while picking up a book—no matter that the risk is slight if you push up from your knees and have someone spot you. There was also the problem of where to display the book once consumed, as standard bookshelves could not accommodate it. We briefly considered shrink-wrapping it with four attachable legs, but then worried it might bump us into Amazon’s Home and Kitchen category.
Clearly the answer lay in rendering the collection in ones and zeros. And to further facilitate the reader experience, we divided the book into four easy pieces—each covering a full decade’s worth of strips. Everyone has a favorite decade, although let’s face it, it’s never the ’70s. Especially in my case. Not to wave the reader off, but my opening decade was filled with the uncertain stops and starts of a rank amateur learning his craft in full public view. I was wildly unready, but as the syndicate salesmen assured me, that was the point. The young had hijacked the culture, and with that standing, our voices—raw, impassioned, ungovernable—were in high demand.
Besides, all journeys need a beginning, and the early wheel-spinning is part of the fun. To paraphrase the Dead, it’s been a long, strange strip, and if 40 comprises the long of it, it ought to retain the strange as well.