Comic strip 'Doonesbury' takes leave of absence

Garry Trudeau, a lampooner of American life through his comic strip ''Doonesbury,'' is closing shop for a while to catch his breath, rethink his direction and characters, and find new targets to poke fun at.

Trudeau, whose final strip appeared Sunday, says his sabbatical won't last longer than 20 months. The clientele of Doonesbury has grown in its 12 years of daily syndication to include 723 American newspapers and 17 foreign publications in places such as Australia, Italy, Britain, Venezuela, and Ireland.

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