Thompson, the legendary writer known for his brand of first-person "gonzo" journalism, committed suicide on Feb. 20 by shooting himself in the head.
- FROM FEB. 22, 2005: Hunter S. Thompson dead in apparent suicide
Trudeau has set aside this week's strips as a way to pay his respects to Thompson, the original inspiration for Uncle Duke.
Hunter S. Thompson
In Tuesday's strip, the bald opportunist — who started out, like Thompson, as a writer for Rolling Stone — is pictured surfing the web.
Duke comes across a story about Thompson's death, at which moment his head goes "Ka-boom!"
Duke doesn't believe the news. "That can't be right. Better Google it ... ," he thinks to himself, and in the final panel his head explodes a second time.
Doonesbury, which is carried in some 1,400 newspapers, is sometimes pulled by publications that deem it offensive. But according to the strip's distributor, Universal Press Syndicate, no papers had pulled the Tuesday instalment.
"Why should they?" Alan McDermott, a senior editor at the syndicate, said in an interview with the Associated Press.
"Uncle Duke has been kind of a wild character over the years, so how he's reacting to the death of Hunter S. Thompson is no different than his reactions to many things over the years."
In an e-mail interview this week with the Washington Post, Trudeau said Duke's reaction was not out of character. "I've been exploding Duke's head as far back as 1985," he said.
"I also had a rocket burst out of his head, a flock of bats, and during Duke's run for president, Mini-D, a tiny self that conducted Duke's business, even gave speeches when the candidate was incapacitated."
Unlike Thompson, Duke went on to a career as a drug dealer, gun runner and U.S. diplomat following his days as a magazine writer.
Monday's Doonesbury gave readers a hint of what was to come this week. Duke is shown sitting in his office in Iraq, where he has installed himself as mayor of Al Amok.
"You seem out of sorts today, boss," notes his long-suffering assistant, Honey.
The next panel shows wildly distorted versions of the two characters, rendered in a style similar to that used by Ralph Steadman — the British illustrator who accompanied Thompson on many of his drug-fuelled adventures.
"I know," replies Duke. "It's like some nasty karmic shift."
Subsequent strips have shown Duke morphing into different shapes as he copes with the news of Thompson's death. Trudeau says his art will not imitate life: he has no plans to kill off the character.
- Richard Bradshaw of Canadian Opera Company dies at 63
- Richard Bradshaw, general director of the Canadian Opera Company and the man who brought an opera house to Toronto, has died.
- Canadian women give Edinburgh comedy that travels
- They've had to slow down their shtick so U.K. audiences can understand their accents, but a group of Canadian comediennes still has them laughing in Edinburgh.
- Everlasting Elvis: Fans, tribute artists gather to honour icon
- Thousands of Elvis Presley fans have descended on Memphis this week to celebrate the life of the iconic singer and, on Thursday, to mark the 30th anniversary of his death.
- Bebop pioneer Max Roach dies
- Celebrated jazz percussionist Max Roach, the bebop pioneer who played with musical greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Charlie Mingus, has died at 83.
- Warner to reprise Enter the Dragon
- Warner Bros. has asked The Shield producer Kurt Sutter to write and direct a remake of the 1973 Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon.