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Make Way For Uncle Duke

Last updated Winter 2006

Uncle Duke

Pictured above is my Uncle Duke doll, fully poseable and ready for anything with his shiny combat boots, martini glass and high powered assault weapon. He also came with a whiskey bottle and a chainsaw.

This doll comes with the 1992 special Uncle Duke only collection, Action Figure!. When I first saw this book in the stores, I just howled with laughter. I finally found a copy on eBay to get a copy, but before that I procured my doll (I swear, my internal gonzo magnet was on full blast that day) absolutely free. I was at the front counter doing the holds, when I noticed that a new copy of Action Figure was being processed (the library's old copy was really, really, trashed). I saw the Duke doll on the cart, and asked Pat if I could have it. She informed me that someone else had spoken for it, and I was kind of bummed out. Then Pat said, "But if you want the other one, go ahead." I was just thrilled! I stashed it in my locker and finally I opened the package to scan him in. It's quite a well painted figure, and stands a little smaller than the picture above.

Uncle Duke first appeared in Doonesbury in 1974. Of the occasion, HST told Ron Rosenbaum in High Times:

It was a hot, nearly blazing day in Washington, and I was coming down the steps of the Supreme Court looking for somebody, Carl Wagner or somebody like that. I'd been inside the press section, and then all of a sudden I saw a crowd of people and I heard them saying, "Uncle Duke," I heard the words Duke, Uncle; it didn't seem to make any sense. I looked around, and I recognized people who were total strangers pointing at me and laughing. I had no idea what the f--k they were talking about. I had gotten out of the habit of reading funnies when I started reading the Times. I had no idea what this outburst meant...It was a weird experience, and as it happened I was sort of by myself up there on the stiars, and I thought: "What in the f--k madness is going on? Why am I being mocked by a gang of strangers and friends on the steps of the Supreme Court? Then I must have asked someone, and they told me that Uncle Duke had appeared in the Post that morning.

HST has always expressed anger at the caricature, saying that if he ever caught Garry Trudeau, he would "rip his lungs out" and that "no one grows up wanting to be a cartoon character". For the most part, I like Uncle Duke, whose nephew, fittingly enough, is Zonker Harris. Trudeau has enshrined HST to the masses, and perpetrated many myths about the gonzo legend. Duke's illustrious career has included:

  • working at Rolling Stone with "Yawn Wenner" and "Fender" (Rob Fleder, David Felton?)
  • governor of Samoa
  • guest lecturer
  • NRA spokesman
  • ambassador to China
  • Washington Redskins manager
  • Iranian hostage
  • fugitive from the law
  • Miami "tour" operator
  • homeless and desperate
  • Hollywood producer
  • president of Baby Doc's College of Physicians
  • zombie
  • Dr. Whoopee founder and chairman
  • inmate at Bellevue hospital
  • captain of the "Trump Princess"
  • restoring civil peace in Panama
  • opening "Club Scud" in Kuwait
  • faking an avalanche
  • JFK assasination suspect
  • head of security for Oliver North
  • opening "Nothing But Orphans, Inc"
  • father of one of the said orphans, Little Earl
  • Las Vegas casino dealer
  • party organizer for Jesse Ventura

Uncle Duke bounces around the globe with his ever faithful and naive companion, Honey Huan. His retreat is Owl Farm in Colorado ;-) and at one point, was married to a woman named Sandy. However, Duke finds out "the divorce is final" when he returns from his stint as Redskins manager. Duke employed Zeke Brenner as his wayward gardener, and did own two Dobermans, Goering and Goebbels.

Nowadays, Duke tries to be a role model to his son Little Earl. According to the early "Earl" strips, Duke has several tattoos, including one that says "Boomer". Earl is inspired by seeing his mother's name on Duke's chest and decides to get his own.

You can't keep slime under a rock for very long. Duke is now campaigning for president [unfortunately the Duke 2000 website is now a porn site]. (ye gods, Trudeau is at is again, ripping off someone else's work ;-) [now offline] of this site, which has been online since 1997.) Buck Wild Doonesbury chronicles Duke and Honey's adventures with Jesse Ventura.

af cover

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