“A Doonesbury Special”

[.puz] [PDF] [Solution]

We interrupt our regular weekly puzzle for an exciting feature: A Doonesbury Special!

Full disclosure: Garry Trudeau and I lived together for the first 18 years of my life. The puzzle features 18 Doonesbury character answers, so this one is for the real ‘toon-heads. Feel free to direct blowback to Garry’s Twitter feed (or mine).

And if you’re like me, you take your crosswords like you take your cartoon strips… in the paper. So check out the funny pages on Sunday, June 28th, for the hardcopy. Spoilers below…

Typically, crossword puzzles have a theme that comprises the 4 or 5 longest across answers. But since we wanted this puzzle to be a satisfying, crunchy solve for Doonesbury readers, we decided to forgo tradition and cram it full of as many intersecting D’bury character names as we could.

And if this exercise is generating a bit of déjà vu, it might be because dad and I co-authored a comics-themed New York Times crossword two years ago.

Back in August of 2016, I received my 10th straight rejection out of 10 puzzles submitted to Will Shortz, editor of the Times crossword. Within days, Will ran back-to-back puzzles referencing my father and his cartoon strip. Clearly I was being trolled by the only two men I knew whose names appear in the newspaper every damn day.

So I set about taking my revenge: a comics theme puzzles that would conspicuously NOT reference Doonesbury or Garry Trudeau. But… I couldn’t make the grid work. It was probably for the better, as Will would finally accept one of my puzzles within a couple of months, and I put the revenge grid aside. After my wounded pride had healed some, I emailed Garry a copy of the unfinished theme idea, wondering aloud if he couldn’t maybe possibly take a whack at it.

Within a week he emailed me back a perfect interlock, and three months after that Will accepted it. They were going to run it as part of their Celebrity Constructor series and as such–in a final appropriate twist of irony–they’d be printing Garry’s name first.

If you happen to be both a Doonesbury fan *and* a regular crossword solver, drop your name in the email field at the top of this page for a fresh Rossword Puzzle every Sunday. And be sure to solve my return to the Arts section in Wednesday’s Times puzzle, which I co-constructed with my dear friend and grid wizard Amanda Rafkin.


29 thoughts on ““A Doonesbury Special”

  1. I needed a magnifying glass to read in Minneapolis paper. I got most answers but stuck on 13 across and 14 down.

    • 13 across, I cheated. Who would know that??!! 14 down, it’s a fair one and kinda cute and funny!

  2. Because it was so small in my paper, I decided to do it here. That was a serendipitous decision! Nice job creating a great puzzle!

  3. Been reading Doonesbury since 1974 – did pretty well on the puzzle and had a lot of fun doing it! Great way to end my weekend, thanks!

  4. Big Doonesbury fan and fan of your dad since the early ’70s! My FB profile picture is last Sunday’s strip. Great to “meet” you, Ross. You’re a funny guy.

      • Oh, that is so interesting, Ross. Well, I refuse to believe it. I’ve gotten a huge kick out of him from day 1. Sid Kibbitz, for example, Only an innately funny person comes up with that hysterical and meaningful name! Back in the ’70s, I was so taken by the strip that I’d cut it out every day and save it and did that possibly for 20 years! My collection got giant and I finally recycled them when I realized I could buy a book of them. I love knowing that Garry Trudeau’s kiddo is a chip off the old block in terms of smarts, coolness, and humor! (big fan of your mom, too!)

  5. Wish the Orlando Sentinel printed it so it could be read! it was really small and impossible to read. They seem to do that with Doonesbury a lot!

  6. Great puzzle, Ross! What a fun way to reminisce about the amazing characters in a strip I’ve been reading since i was in high school. All the best to you and your family!

  7. I learned to read from Doonesbury back in about 1972 when my mom would read the funnies in the newspaper. Didn’t understand most of it (I was about 4) but I learned to love the strip. I only read it sporadically after the hiatus in the ’80s, so I was surprised to have recognized as many of the characters as I did. Great puzzle!

  8. We’ve enjoyed reading this strip together since we were pregnant at the same time as Joanie and Rick. We even went to a party dressed as them. Thanks for all the laughs and thought-provoking commentary.

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