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‘Doonesbury’ character will lose leg in Iraq

Gary Trudeau's comic strip features B.D., a coach-turned-soldier, getting injured in the war this week.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A main character in the “Doonesbury” comic strip will lose a leg while fighting in Iraq, one of two strips published this week that feature soldiers getting injured in the war.

In Monday’s “Doonesbury,” B.D., a football coach-turned-soldier, was injured after being reactivated in the Army at the end of 2002, following a losing football season.

Later this week, he will wake up to find his left leg amputated, according to Universal Press Syndicate, the strip’s distributor.

“Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau said he wanted to illustrate the sacrifices American soldiers are making.

“It’s a task any writer should approach with great humility, but I think it’s worth doing,” Trudeau said. “We are at war, and we can’t lose sight of the hardships war inflicts on individual lives.”

Trudeau said B.D. would learn to deal with his injury “probably the same way so many wounded vets seem to — with gratitude for having had one’s life spared, empathy and respect for those who have suffered worse, and a grim sense of humor indispensable to fending off despair.”

About 10 newspapers have called Universal Press with concerns about the strip, primarily with language the character uses after learning his leg is gone, company spokeswoman Kathie Kerr said.

The strip, which appears in 1,400 newspapers nationwide, has a long history of addressing difficult topics since Trudeau started it at Yale University in 1968.

Trudeau is not the only comic-strip artist using the war in Iraq as a backdrop. In Monday’s edition of “Get Fuzzy,” main character Rob Wilco learned that a cousin had lost a leg in the war.

Darby Conley, the strip’s author, is not giving interviews, said Mary Anne Grimes, spokeswoman for the United Features Syndicate, the strip’s distributor. She said Conley prefers to let the strip speak for itself.

“Get Fuzzy” appears in about 400 newspapers.