"Mike du Jour" replaces "Doonesbury" starting Monday

2014-02-28T00:00:00Z 2014-02-28T18:14:15Z "Mike du Jour" replaces "Doonesbury" starting MondayBy Gerald M. Gay Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A big change is coming to the Star’s comics lineup.

Cartoonist Garry Trudeau is taking an extended break from his long-running comic strip “Doonesbury” to focus his energy on the political web series he created called “Alpha House.”

Starting Monday, Mike Lester’s “Mike du Jour” strip will take over Trudeau’s spot in the Star.

Lester is a Georgia native and an award-winning illustrator living in Jacksonville, Fla.

His résumé includes five years as an illustrator for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and most recently time spent as an editorial cartoonist for the Rome News-Tribune in Rome, Georgia.

His political cartoons, which reflect Lester’s conservative views, are syndicated across the country through The Washington Post Writers Group.

“Mike du Jour,” which is not political in nature and started as an animated web cartoon for the Wall Street Journal in the 1990s, launched in syndication through the same group in 2012.

Lester moonlights as an illustrator for national advertising campaigns and children’s books.

“Mike du Jour” revolves around the quirky observations of its main character, Mike du Jour, as he spends his days with his company co-workers and his pet dog Minnie.

Where did the idea for ‘Mike du Jour’ come from? “This is sort of my second act. I’ve been an illustrator for ad agencies and publishers for years. Then I got into children’s books. I’ve written enough to where I think I can call myself an author. ‘Mike du Jour’ allowed me to combine all of the useless talents that alone didn’t really add up to much.”

What was your initial goal with the strip? “When I embarked on this, I said, ‘We are going to be a comic strip for people who don’t think they like comic strips.’ We are just trying to be funny. There is not a running gag. My readers are smart. I don’t want to ever forget that. I am trying to make both of us laugh. If I don’t think it is funny, you aren’t going to think it is funny.”

Is it a challenge coming up with ideas? “It is like having a litter of puppies every week. You have to give birth to them all and keep them going. Then you start all over again. I am blessed that I get to do something that I love and that people are generous enough to publish it. I take very seriously signing my name at the end of the day. Not everybody gets to do that.”

You are known for your conservative editorial cartoons. Why keep politics out of ‘Mike du Jour?’ “If I added politics to it, it wouldn’t be two different jobs. I want ‘Mike du Jour’ to stand on its own. In many ways, it is autobiographical. I use a lot of my own thoughts. A lot of the people I meet, I use as composites for characters in the script. Drawing editorial cartoons is a different hat that I wear. I’m lucky to be able to do both.”

Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at ggay@azstarnet.com or 807-8430.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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