Trots and Bonnie

Shary Flenniken portrayed her comic strip characters "with a complete lack of adult-world moralizing or editorial restraint."


Shary Flenniken began her career with a brief stint in underground comix in San Francisco before earning a coveted regular slot in National Lampoon, from the early '70s to the early '90s, for her comics about a pubescent girl named Bonnie, her talking dog, Trots, and their pals. It seems hard to believe these appeared in an over-the-counter national magazine (even one with a rep for edgy naughtiness). They portrayed with wildness, honesty, and humor this "dangerous time in a young woman's life…with a complete lack of adult-world moralizing or editorial restraint," writes cartoonist Emily Flake in her introduction to Trots and Bonnie, a new book collection of Flenniken's old strips.

Flenniken gives heft to the comics through sharp ironic feminism. When Trots writes porn on walls with his urine, Bonnie asks, "How come girl dogs don't write?" Trots replies, "They never wrote anything important, so God took their ability away."

Flenniken also delivers in her elegant linework heartfelt and painful touches, as when Trots and Bonnie help a rape victim by walking her home dressed up like a football player, with Trots in spiked collar and fake fangs. "We should call a policeman," they suggest. "He was a policeman," comes the reply. Flenniken was proud to make Lampoon readers—mostly young men—confront the reality of rape in that context.