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Nineteen seventy-six will also see a more traditional form of expression from the Doonesbury man. After the Mayaguez incident last year (the inspiration for a series in which Kissinger, as part of "Operation Frequent Manhood," sends Marines to retake a cruise ship seized in American Samoa by Uncle Duke), Trudeau flew to the South Pacific. There he contracted a malady some tourists call the Banshee Two-Step and spent several days in the hospital on his rterun. An account of the misadventure, written with Washington Post Columnist Nicholas von Hoffman, appeared in Rolling Stone and will be published on April Fool's Day in expanded form as Tales from the Margaret Mead Taproom (Sheed & Ward; $6.95).
Though Trudeau pops up at certain public events, his passion fro privacy still makes J.D. Salinger look gregarious. He loathes interviews, rarely makes speeches, nor wil he sit still for photographs. Once he hid in his bathroom for four hours to avoid a Baltimore Sun reporter. American Somoa recently asked to use Uncle Duke as part of a tourism promotion, but Trudeau steadfastly refuses to license his characters for use in advertising campaigns or on trinketsa proposition that could double his six-figure annual gross from the strip. He will, however, allow Ginny's face to appear on T-shirts and bumber stickers to boost her campaign. Royalties will got ot the N.W.P.C. Says Trudeau: "I don't like celebrification. Everything I have to share I share in the strip."
What he has to share is not always obvious. Trudeau was clearly appalled by the U.S. devastation of Southeast Asia; but foot-ball-helmeted B.D. was given plenty of space to rationalize. "A protective reaction strike is never having to say you're sorry." The strip was unmistakably anti-Nixon during Watergate, but also took whacks at the Ervin committee: The chair opens up the floor to innuendo and hearsay. In fact, Doonesbury is sometimes so Delphic that adherents of just about any point of view can find aid and comfort in it. For foes of school busing, there was a series in which a white boy in a newly integrated school is beaten up by blacks. Busing proponents, however, might note that the victim probably provoked the assault by mistakenly calling one of his black assailants a honky. ("I got mixed up. I'm new at this," he explained.) Champions of drug-law reform might be cheered that Trudeau mentions hallucinogens casually and frequently in the strip. But hard-liners can recall a sermonette by Zonker Harris after he was busted for possession: "It may or may not be wrong, but it sure is against the law."