Flash Mobs, Doonesbury Style

September 8th, 2003

Flash Mob organized via comics! Click to see the full comic.Today a flash mob invitation appeared in the classic comic strip Doonesbury.

Via this comic, artist Gary Trudeau is organizing a flash mob to take place in Seattle this Saturday, in support of U.S. presidential candidate Howard Dean.

This will be the first flash mob to be organized via comics. It should be a big one too, because no other flash mob invitation has appeared in so many mainstream newspapers.

Here’s a link to the comic/invitation. Thanks to “Michael D.” for the tip.

UPDATE: Doonesbury has addressed flash mobs daily for several days now; check out the latest strip here.

13 Responses to “Flash Mobs, Doonesbury Style”

  1. comment number 1 by: Michael D.

    Thanks for the recognition! Already, 17 people have found the unpublicized Dean “Get Local” page where you can officially sign up for the event. It’s at:

    I asked some people at the Dean blog, and they say there are always more attendees for events than actually sign up online, and since this one is in a popular comic strip, it really could be huge! (The Dean blog is at

    And I really do think someone should go with signs.

  2. comment number 2 by: Jason

    what about one in St. Petersburg FL?

  3. comment number 3 by: Vin

    to heck with the democrats and republicans they should keep the flash mobs non political !!

  4. comment number 4 by: Caroline

    I agree with Vin… This is getting kind of political now. Too many people are getting to know about this.

  5. comment number 5 by: larry

    I always admire Gary’s moxie, but I’m disappointed about his choice of candidate. Dean’s stands on the Israeli/Palestinian question and his firm entrenchment in the corrupt, money-driven business we call medicine in this country should disqualify him for anyone with a progressive vision for America.

    Check out for the real deal!

  6. comment number 6 by: mOnty

    Yeah, stick to writing comic strip, politico. Abuse of advertising window, and flashmobbing. Visit our site to see how we are managing. “This is a struggle against reality and we refuse to be taken seriously.”

  7. comment number 7 by: nobody

    We have a strip in our local paper called Mallard Fillmore and it mentioned flash mobs yesterday too.

  8. comment number 8 by: bob

    hey hows it going?

  9. comment number 9 by: Michael D.

    Mallard Fillmore did have a reference to flash mobs! But it didn’t specify one, it just had a charachter say, “Sorry, I’m going to be at a flash mob at 12:14 tomorrow,” and the other charachter responded, “A flash mob? That is so last week!” There might be a location mentioned in the next day’s strip, though.

    Also, Doonesbury will likely carry this particular story all the way through Saturday. Today, the father asks what a flash mob is, the daughter explains that it’s a “fad that’s almost over,” explains that she wants to “take [it] to the next level” and “use it as a political tool.” The father asks if it can be “used for evil,” and the daughter quips that it’s “far to squirrely for Karl Rove,” Bush’s political adviser.



    Wasn’t it Doonesbury’s Gary Trudeau who was the first to scribble his email address between two frames of the comic, creating a big buzz about how “cyberspace!” was going mainstream? Is this just part of a pattern?

    Also, all flash mobs are political statements. They demonstrate that you can exercise your right to peaceable assembly, that you can witness bizarre behavior without calling John Ashcroft to report possible terrorism, etc. And there are even more overtly political flash mobs. has an entire category devoted to political flash mo–err, flocks. Like this one:

    Bring a picture of George Bush to wear as a mask.

    Meet at the metro station.

    For 7 minutes repeatedly chant “I am a liar & a crook!”…”I am a liar & a crook!”…Tear up pics/masks and then disperse in different directions.

    Seven minutes have got to go by pretty slowly when you’re chanting.

    Other political subjects include anti-drug war, anti-California recall, pro-choice mobs, etc. Surprise! Flash mobbers have a liberal streak in them.

    I’m not sure what to say about Dean’s “firm entrenchment in the corrupt, money-driven business we call medicine in this country.” I don’t know Dean that well, but I guess this is the bad way to look at him being a doctor. He saved lives working nights in an emergency room in the Bronx, he spent years in Africa treating people with AIDS, etc., so I wouldn’t be too hard on his chosen profession. And about the “corrupt, money-driven entrenchment,” I know his average campaign donation is $58, and with these small donations he’s handily beating all the other candidates in fundraising who receive mostly the maximum $2,000 donations from corporations and lawyers.

    Also, I don’t know much about Dean’s Middle East policy, except that Lieberman is attacking him for saying he wouldn’t take sides, with Lieberman claiming that this proves Dean will throw away the decades-old policy of a special relationship with Israel.

    Anyway, ’nuff with candidate attacking/defending. I just think it’s cool that there is such a big flash mob, regardless of what it’s for.

  10. comment number 10 by: paul

    I love this… I guess endorsing Dean particularly might be a little off, but the idea of pushing a flashmob through a comic strip is just brilliant.

    One of the big problems we’ve faced here in Chicago in terms of getting organized is that you need a central authority who can make decisions and tell you where to show up – ie this isn’t a particularly democratic phenomenon. Sending this stuff through a comic strip, almost in code, solves the problem of figuring out who to listen to nicely…

  11. comment number 11 by: sean

    heehee… in today’s doonesbury, trudeau seems to address complaints that his flash mob invitation violates some folks’ definition of “flash mob” by promoting a candidate:

  12. comment number 12 by: Your Mom

    Michael D.,

    “But while at least one Web log,, predicts the application of flash mobs toward political ends, many more are against it. “Flash mobs are fun, and they should stay that way,” writes the author of a manifesto on the site “Attempts to yoke the flash mob model to political activism will fail.”

    Perhaps that’s why one recent local attempt — which instructed participants to stand outside a Hollywood Metro station, don George W. Bush masks and chant “I am a liar and a crook” — attracted a flash mob of one. Or was it simply a failure of imagination? After all, in a clever subversion of the protest form, some crafty German drew hundreds of Berliners to the gates of the U.S. Embassy, where, for five minutes, they offered champagne toasts to “Natasha.””-LA Times

  13. comment number 13 by: sophia

    I want to join a flashmob in Europe.

    E-mail me please.

    Any flah mobs in Greece…waiting