Kansas City, Mo. — A main character in the "Doonesbury" comic strip, football coach-turned-soldier B.D., will lose a leg in fighting in Iraq this week.
B.D. was injured in Monday's strip; he is a National Guardsman who was called to active duty in the Army at the end of 2002 following a losing football season.
The last frame in Monday's strip goes black after a fellow soldier calls for a medic. "B.D.?" "Hey!" "Hey!" it says in the black box.
Later this week, B.D. will wake up to find his left leg amputated, according to Universal Press Syndicate, the strip's distributor.
"Son of a bitch," he cries in the strip scheduled to run Friday.
Garry Trudeau said he wanted to illustrate the sacrifices the troops were making. He said cartoons that reflected the reality of war often meant more to those in it than a sanitized version.
"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."
B.D. will go to Germany and then back to the United States for his recovery and rehabilitation, Trudeau said.
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."
Only about 10 newspapers have called Universal Press with concerns about the language B.D. uses when he finds out his leg has been amputated.
"Doonesbury" runs daily on the Journal-World's opinion page -- page 7B today -- as well as in the Sunday comics supplement.