Berkeley Breathed

With cartoonist Berkeley Breathed, all roads seem to lead back to Bloom County. As the writer and illustrator of Bloom County, Outland, and now Opus, as well as a handful of children's books, almost all of Breathed's stories (with the exception of the strange and awesome Christmas story The Red Ranger Came Calling) feature some combination of Bloom County, Opus the penguin, and Bill the cat. The early Bloom County strips, which Breathed freely admits borrowed heavily from Doonesbury, were full of cheerful mid-80s Midwestern humor. The series got considerably more surreal after it evolved into Outland, disappeared entirely for several years, and then returned in its current incarnation: the Sundays-only strip Opus.

According to reports, Breathed is the cartoon world's version of J-Lo, full of diva-ish demands for full colors and half-page chunks of space from all of the papers that want to carry Opus. But despite Opus's acres of space, the easy-to-read text, and the glorious 64-box-of-Crayolas colors, I have a special spot in my heart for Breathed's Bloom County Babylon: Five Years of Basic Naughtiness collection. I re-read it every 4th of July. There's nothing like Casper Weinberger jokes to make me feel patriotic.

I wish he'd stop picking over his mistakes in Bloom County. Whatever they were, it has been over for more than a decade. LET IT GO, Mr. Breathed. It was a fun strip. Be proud of it.

If you'd like to read Opus, get a paper that carries it. You can find most of Breathed's earlier collections on eBay.

Other Recommendations:
Anything by Garrison Keillor

The Calvin and Hobbes books by Bill Watterson

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Posted by: Julia


06 Mar, 2005 01:06 PM @ version 0

Breathed is a GENIUS. Buy "Attack of the Mary Kay Commandos"!

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