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.