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Cartoonists in the news: Berkeley Breathed

Berkeley Breathed continues his book tour. He was interviewed by the Northwest Herald.

Did you think “Bloom County” was going to be as successful as it was?

The only reason that “Bloom County” worked in the ’80s is because I didn’t know what I was doing. I had no intentions of being any more of a success than that day’s cartoon that I was drawing. I think it was that clueless serendipity that allowed it to be the success it was. It was only going to be an artifact of the early ’80s. It wouldn’t have worked at any other time.

Would you ever bring back “Bloom County” as a daily strip?

It’s not 1982. The people are different, the environment is completely different. There was no cable, there was no YouTube and all that snarky topical editorial comment. There was nothing. There was “Saturday Night Live” and there was the Johnny Carson monologue. The popular landscape wasn’t overrun with snarky comment.

Community Comments

#1 Jeff
May/20/2007
@ 9:55 pm

Snarky?

#2 Garey Mckee
May/21/2007
@ 9:04 pm

Yeah, I have no idea what snarky means either. I would say that Breathed’s rather sharp deflection when asked about resurrecting Bloom County, stems from the possibility of not wanting to admit that ending the strip was a mistake. Which I think perhaps it was, given his attempt to bring back most of the characters in the Sunday only Outland.

#3 Chris
May/21/2007
@ 9:18 pm

On the one hand, I agree with you, Garey, about how ending “Bloom County” when he did may have been a mistake. There was no going back after that and though he tried to bring it back in “Outland” and “Opus,” he never recaptured the magic and awesomeness that he did in the ’80s.

So on the other hand I agree with Berkeley Breathed when he says that “Bloom County” would not work today like it did in the ’80s. Why? Everything has its time. Breathed struck gold with Milo, Binkley, Steve Dallas, Opus, Bill the Cat, and the rest at just the right time. But it might not work as well today — who knows? “Krazy Kat,” and excuse me for going out on a limb here, but George Herriman’s comic would get eaten alive today and wouldn’t last at all. Its artistry would be severely cramped by today’s space constraints, as opposed to the good ol’ full-page comics of the ’10s, ’20s, and ’30s, and would not be relevant. Herriman’s subtle, multi-layered humor and numerous literary references, his surreal landscape and metaphors, would all be lost in today’s comics. So luckily for us, that was produced at the right time.

Perhaps it was wrong to end “Bloom County” in 1989 after only 10 years. But based on the failure of “Outland” and the struggles of “Opus” — better than “Outland,” I feel, but still nowhere near “Bloom County,” I’m not sure that it works as well outside of ’80s.

Oh yeah, and if anyone knows what snarky means, please spread the word.

#4 Jeff Stanson
May/21/2007
@ 9:22 pm

Especially given that Outland ultimately failed. And Opus continues to go on even though it is even subpar to Outland. But I can’t totally knock Breathed, because I think he’s created some wonderful books, both with and without some of his characters. The guy needs to recognize his talents are currently with book publishing, and put all of his efforts there. I think he’ll be well-rewarded by his efforts if he’ll just do that.

#5 Garey Mckee
May/21/2007
@ 9:39 pm

I agree Chris, I didn’t mean to infer that Bloom County would work today. I just wanted to assert my opinion that Breathed had ended the strip too soon.

And Jeff, don’t even get me started on Opus LOL. Many times I look at it and it’s just sad to me. Actually this may just be me being picky, but what REALLY bothers me about Opus is the confusing layouts Breathed uses for the strip. Many times I don’t know where one panel ends and another is supposed to begin.

#6 Alan Gardner
May/21/2007
@ 10:10 pm

Snarky â??adjective, snark·i·er, snark·i·est. Chiefly British Slang. testy or irritable; short.

#7 Garey Mckee
May/21/2007
@ 10:13 pm

My God that’s me. I’M snarky!

#8 Chris
May/22/2007
@ 2:39 pm

I like “Opus” to a certain extent, but maybe it’s just because it’s the last little remnant of the great “Bloom County.” In my previous comment I talked about how it would only work in the 1980s, but I also believe that “Outland” and “Opus” were attempts to bring it back — but see, he never recaptured what made it special the first time around.
Perhaps you’ve read the relatively famous “Pearls Before Swine” Sunday with the Box o’ Stupid People. It was one of the funniest comics of that year. Stephan Pastis realized this and tried to do it again, in various other forms (Pit o’ Useless Blowhard, Wagon o’ Drivers’ Shame, Doghouse o’ Bad Neighbors) but could never recapture what made it so great the first time.
And that’s the real reason why “Outland” and “Opus” don’t work. They’re moderately funny if you looked at them with no experience reading their predecessor. They can stand on their own. The thing is, we have such high expectations of them because they are by the same cartoonist, and they have some of the same characters. But something got lost in translation. Opus and Steve Dallas just aren’t as hilarious as they were in “Bloom County.” I don’t know what it is. Bill the Cat is just never as ridiculous, because the novelty is lost. Auggie, Pickles, and Milquetoast the Cockroach aren’t as good as Milo, Binkley, Oliver Wendell Jones, and Hodge-Podge. These spinoffs aren’t the same.

I think that the saddest thing about “Opus” is that its humor isn’t the same kind of trademark humor that “Bloom County” featured so frequently. It’s hard to explain, but if you read the stuff from the ’80s, it has a certain feel to it, and like “Calvin & Hobbes,” “The Far Side,” “Peanuts,” and even “Garfield,” the type of humor in those strips wasn’t anywhere else in the comics. That made it very fresh and fantastically funny. I feel as though “Opus” doesn’t do that enough.
Oddly enough, while this “Bloom County” type of humor doesn’t appear in “Opus” today, it pops up in flashes in other cartoonists’ work. Take the 4/27/07 “Rudy Park,” with Rudy talking to the narrator. Or the 4/23/07 “Watch Your Head,” where the punchline has a very “Bloom County”-ish ring to it: “What’ve you done to them?”

I love “Bloom County,” and I enjoy reading “Opus,” though I don’t share the same feeling with Garey that the panel arrangement is confusing. But to close out my post, I would just like to say that the fundamental problem with “Opus” is that it can’t have extended storylines, which forces it to be more overtly political — where the strength of “Bloom County” was often the lunacy of the storylines and the fact that the political commentary was not as in-your-face as, say, “Doonesbury.”

Well, that’s all. Sorry if I was too snarky.

#9 Jeff Stanson
May/23/2007
@ 8:55 pm

Chris, part of my thinking about why Opus isn’t working is that it usually doesn’t stand on it’s own. I seems to me that you have to know something about the characters’ past, especially where Steve Dallas is concerned, for the humor to work. Beyond that, so much of the remaining humor is of most base, cheapest, seedy humor out there. What I think got lost in the translation is that Breathed made his characters in the current Opus strip to be parodies of themselves, and people just don’t like these new versions.

#10 Chris
May/24/2007
@ 2:05 pm

Jeff, I think you’re right.

I wrote that “Opus” and “Outland” could stand alone, but I reconsidered after reading what you wrote and I agree that you probably would have to have previous knowledge of the characters in order to understand what was going on.

I do have that previous knowledge, having read quite a bit of “Bloom County,” so I guess I might’ve made assumptions. Also, to touch upon what you said about how the characters have become parodies of themselves — I would say that this is somewhat true, but also somewhat not. I think that the main thing that is different about the characters is that they don’t act the way you knew they would in “Bloom County.” They’ve also gotten duller.

Steve Dallas, Opus, and Bill the Cat were colorful characters back in the ’80s. In today’s “reincarnation” of “Bloom County,” Opus just doesn’t seem the same, Steve Dallas isn’t as much of a wild, heavily-smoking, womanizing jerk, and Bill the Cat doesn’t do ANYTHING! I know he didn’t DO too much in “Bloom County,” but that was what was so great about it — he just stood around while all this crazy stuff happened to him. He was Bhwagan Bill, Wild Bill Katt, Fundamentally Oral Bill, Bill the presidential candidate. Now? In “Opus” he just does nothing whatsoever. It’s sad.

So while I now agree that “Opus” can’t stand alone, I still stand by my proposition that the reason why so many are disappointed by it is because we compare it to the greatness of “Bloom County,” where this is merely mediocre.

For “Bloom County” junkies or casual fans they’re apparently rerunning the strip from the beginning over at Gocomics.com — very cool indeed.

#11 Garey Mckee
May/25/2007
@ 7:38 pm

I’ve been thinking about this alot latey since we started talking about it on here. I can’t fault Breathed for loving his characters and wanting to continue to draw them and write for them. But I think their time has passed.

And again, for Pete’s sake, keep the panel layouts clear and simple! I still maintain Opus gets hard to read at times because of the layout choices. Maybe I’m retarded, but I’m a big fan of “keeping it simple.”

#12 MERCEDES
May/26/2007
@ 3:32 pm

I READ OPUS EVERY SUNDAY WITH MY CEREAL AND I THINK THAT COMIC STRIP KICKS ASS. I LIKE IT JUST LIKE I LIKED OUTLAND WHEN I WAS GRIWING UP.

#13 Chris
June/3/2007
@ 2:23 pm

I know we already pretty much wrapped up this discussion about “Bloom County” vs. “Opus” but I wanted to mention that in today’s “Opus” strip Breathed has brought back the character of Binkley!
http://www.comics.com/wash/opus/index.html
(As I type this the strip still hasn’t been posted on comics.com but it should be soon…)
Anyway, I was at first in a state of shock after I opened my Sunday comics and there was good old Binkley in “Opus.” Then I thought, well, maybe they miscolored Auggie’s hair or something, because their hair styles are similar, right? But no, Opus proceeds to address him as Binkley. Now I am pleasantly surprised and, as I read on, I realize that this is perhaps the most “Bloom County”-like “Opus” strip yet. And I know we were saying things like “the characters are parodies of themselves” or “the humor is different” but Breathed clearly hasn’t lost it. What’s more, I believe that Opus and Binkley both acted very in-character this time, and honestly I don’t think Binkley was very in-character towards the end of “Outland,” nor has Opus been very in-character for much of “Opus.” Hopefully Steve Dallas will be a little bit more in-character in the future.

This is so awesome and it makes me very happy. I know that this is just another example of Breathed seeing that he DOES need his “Bloom County” characters after all to produce good comics, but still, it makes me so happy and excited. I wonder if this was just a one-shot appearance. I hope not.

#14 Garey Mckee
June/4/2007
@ 3:10 pm

I must admit I was pleased to see Binkley in Opus as well.

But it raises questions for me. The Opus strip seems to have aged the characters in it to coincide with the time between Outland and Opus. So how old is Binkley now? Is he supposed to be an adult? I was paying attention to his structure and proportions (cartoonist in me), and perhaps he’s grown? He was talking in the strip like both his parents had passed. It’s all so unclear to me.

I will say, however, that maybe Breathed reads this blog because the panel layouts were very clear and nothing too fancy making it much more readable.

#15 Chris
June/10/2007
@ 7:29 pm

Binkley’s there again this weekend, Garey et al. Looks like he’s back for good, as it was with “Outland.”

It’s nice to have him back, but what I was wondering was what everyone else thought about how Binkley interacted with Auggie, Steve Dallas’s son.

For some reason, I always got the impression that Auggie was a bit of a Binkley stand-in. Perhaps it was because he wasn’t an especially distinctive personality himself, in comparison to the characters of “Bloom County,” all of whom were really wacky, distinctive characters. (Auggie, for me, has always been more of a challenge that Steve Dallas has had to face than a major character in his own right — despite the fact that he was.) In any case, it is also possible that I saw Auggie as being similar to Binkley due to their similar hairstyles.
Whichever, I would be interested to see if Auggie could become more distinctive by himself now that Binkley himself is here.

As for whether he has aged and whether his parents had died, I would think that the latter is a possibility, but not the former. Keep in mind that his dad was a divorced single parent, and that he didn’t appear in “Outland” (at least, I don’t think he did — correct me if I’m wrong. But I think that he is clearly still a kid, especially having seen the second strip he appeared in. The strange thing is how Steve Dallas has aged, and I guess Opus has aged, and perhaps even Bill the Cat has, not that we could tell, but still, Binkley is mostly the same.

But Mr. Breathed, if you are reading this, please don’t think that I am insulting you. Your work is some of the best I have read and while I might not like “Opus” as much as “Bloom COunty,” I’d much rather have that than none at all. (Especially now that Binkley’s back; that makes your Sunday comics even better.)

#16 Garey Mckee
June/11/2007
@ 3:06 pm

I totally concur. Very glad to see Binkley.

I think Auggie has been used more as a sounding board for Opus to play off of rather than as a individual personality. Usually character personalities fall into two catagories. Active and REactive characters. Auggie really hasn’t fulfulled the role of either. I don’t think his character is strong enough to stand on his own (at least not yet).

I am still perplexed by the whole Binkley age thing as well. It’s a complicated dynamic that I don’t fully understand, like string theory particle physics. LOL

However, I do echo Chris’ sentiments. If you are indeed reading this Mr. Breathed, please forgive me for totally disecting your strip. You’re one of the reasons why I am doing what I do now. Scary thought.

#17 MERCEDES
June/23/2007
@ 3:35 pm

I LIKE THE COMIC AS ALWAYS BUT WHATS BINKLEY DOING BACK IN OUTLAND? I THOUGHT HE WAS A TEENAGER BY NOW.i read it said he went to some place and got his first kiss as a teen. But now he looks the same age as he did in outland like about 10.but if you look at the timeline hereally supposed to be about 37 now since bloom county was started in 1980. BUT MOST CARTOON CHARACTERS DON’T AGE ANYWAY. LIKE DENNIS THE MENANCE, THE CHARLE BROWN, AND JASON FOX, AND BART SIMPSON. BUT I STILL LIKE THE COMIC STRIP WHETHER THE CHARACTERS AGE OR NOT. BUT IT ‘S GOOD THE CARTOONIST BROUGHT BINKLEY BACK AS A 10 YEAR OLD NOW, AUGGIE CAN HAVE SOMEBODY TO HANG WITH CLOSE TO HIS AGE, BESIDES JUST OPUS AND HIS DAD. HEY SINCE THE CARTOONIST BOUGHT BACK BINKLEY, HE BRING BACK OLIVER THE COOL SMERT BLACK GUY, AND RONALD ANN SMITH THE LITTLE BLACK GIRL, AUGGIE WILL HAVE A LOT OF NEW FRIENDS THEN.I HOPE TO BE A CARTOONIST SOMEDAY LIKE THE GUY THAT DRAWS OPUS LIKE I SAY THAT COMIC KICKS —.

#18 MERCEDES
June/25/2007
@ 9:33 am

I just got done reading another great opus comic strip for this week, and I noticed two bloopers between the one from 6-17-2007, and the one for this past sunday 6-24-2007. The one from 6-17-2007 opus is wearing a lil green hat, but the one from 6-24-2007 opus ain,t wearing a hat.Plus micheal binkey’s shoes are different, the one from 6-17-2007 binkey has on brown shoes that kinda look like oxfords, but that one from 6-24-2007 it looks like he’s wearing black/white sneakers that kinda look like all stars.

#19 MERCEDES
June/25/2007
@ 10:06 am

I notice surprises, cleverness, and cool computer animation in the comic strip opus.Like the 3-20-2005 strip where auggie and opus is eatin chocolate cereal reading the comics, and if look at the comics they’re reading, it’s a smaller version of them on the comic page doing the exact same thing.That was very clever, like that one for 4-24-2005, auggie is talking about no female cartoon characters, and most of the page is filled with looney tunes and disney cartoons characters.Another strip I noticed cleverness is the one from 12-26-2004, where theres a little girl with blue hair, looking like a character from a dr.suess book, plus at the end of the comic they’re all a big tree looking like the characters from winnie the pooh.Especially with bill hanging on his tail looking that tigger, and auggie being with them almost like christoperrobin.

#20 Chris
July/11/2007
@ 3:35 pm

I note, with some regret, that this Sunday’s “Opus” gag is a rehash of a “Bloom County” strip from the early ’80s. I thought it sounded familiar, so I took a glance at some old “Bloom County” strips (in collections) and, lo and behold, on page 7 of “‘Toons For Our Times” (published in 1984), the following strip lay before my eyes:

Binkley: Look…just exactly who are all of you hiding in there?
Giant Purple Snorklewacker: Your anxieties! Figments of your fancy, that’s who!… Monsters and minotaurs, creatures and creepies…bugs and bears and bats and other pieces of your personal whimsy. Why, there are even a few celebrities! Maybe we could arrange for Phyllis Schlafly to jump out and grab you sometime.
Binkley: HOw about Victoria Principal?
Snorklewacker: We’re nightmares. Pipe dreams are under the bed.

Then this week’s, in which Opus demands Ronald Reagan instead of “Fred,” to which the Snorklewacker again replies, “We’re nightmares. Pipe dreams are under the bed.”

I wouldn’t mind looking the other way, except that this is the second time recently that I have noted the extreme similarity between an “Opus” strip and a “Bloom County” strip from the days of yore.

On page 22 of “Tales Too Ticklish To Tell” Opus, cast in the role of a garbage collector, approaches a middle-aged wife about a love-letter to her husband that she has apparently thrown out. He reads it to her, only to learn that the name on it is apparently that of his lover, “Ellie Sue,” while her name is “Fran.” Nearly identically, last year around Valentine’s Day I think, the scenario occurs.

I know that cartoonists who’ve been syndicated for ages have similar gags sometimes, but the exact same lines?

I thought we should renew our discussion on that basis.

#21 Garey Mckee
July/11/2007
@ 8:11 pm

I noticed that too and it’s funny (or maybe sad and pathetic) that I remembered the exact Bloom County strip it was from as well.

Breathed is not a stranger to porting punchlines and gags verbatim from strip to strip. Alot of them from Academia Waltz showed up in Bloom County. And now it looks like some from Bloom County are now showing up in Opus.

However, perhaps this particular strip was done purposely given the subject matter of the strip, as Opus pines for Ronald Reagan (although he can’t quite put his finger on it) and by extension the political climate of 1984. What better way to end the strip than with a rehash of 1984 dialog?

#22 MERCEDES GORDON MILES
August/5/2007
@ 3:43 pm

I LOOKED ON THE COMIC PAGE TODAY AND SEE THE COOL SMART BLACK KID’FROM OUTLAND COMICS, I KNEW IT WOULD BE A GREAT IDEA TO BRING OLIVER BACK. NOW ALL HE NEED IS TO BRING RONALDANN SMITH BACK THE LITTLE BLACK GIRL. WHICH REMINDS ME WHERE HAS AUGGIE FRIEND PICKLES BEEN LATELY?I GUESS SHE’LL BE GONE FOR A WHILE, AND SHOW BACK UP AGAIN, LIKE MICHAEL BLINKLEY DID BACK IN JUNE.PLUS SINCE OLIVER IS BACK MAYBE AUGGIE CAN CHALLANGE HIM TO A ROUND OF ANAGRAMS, TO SEE WHO CAN DO THE MOST ANAGRAMS THE FASTEST SINCE OLIVER IS AS SMART AS HE IS.

#23 Chris
August/25/2007
@ 1:16 pm

I’ve been out of town for a couple of weeks, but reading the last two weeks’ worth of “Opus” I am shocked to find the return of Lola Granola. Now Binkley, Oliver, AND Lola Granola have returned?!
I must say that I am totally surprised to see Lola, of all the “Bloom County”/”Outland” characters to resurrect. I never thought I’d see HER again after her marriage to Opus was annulled back in ’87 (due to his dream of life 20 years in the future with Lola…which, ironically, is right now, in 2007!).

I don’t know, Oliver and Binkley are very welcome, but I don’t think I would’ve picked Lola as the character to come out of the vault.
Who would you have picked?

#24 Chris H.
October/14/2007
@ 8:28 am

I’m back to the subject of “Opus” vs. the original “Bloom County” based on today’s strip. Did anyone else notice how it is, once again, a rehash of one of the 1980s strips in today’s Sunday “Opus”?

In today’s strip — it can be found at http://www.gocomics.com/opus/2007/10/14/ — declares the importance of honesty in his relationship with “Rachel.” Each reveals to the other their most “scandalous” personal secret. For Rachel, it is that she streaks her hair. Opus’s secret is that he got a tattoo of a half-naked President Bush shortly after 9/11 — and where on his body, Rachel asks? “That’s it [the scandalous secret],” he explains.

Sound familiar? It did to me, especially after Lola Granola’s recent return to the comics pages. On page 38 of the classic “Bloom County” collection “Billy and the Boingers Bootleg,” there is a Sunday strip in which Opus, having told his then-fiancee Lola Granola about his series of jaywalking tickets, demands that she tell him what her most scandalous secrets are. She replies that she has two. The first is that she has a tattoo of Dan Fogelberg’s face. Opus is at first in shock, but then decides that he can accept a wife with a tattoo of Fogelberg’s face. Which leads us to the punchline:
Opus: So where is it?
Lola: That’s the other scandal.

It’s practically the same joke, but if I was to apply Garey’s logic from the las time we discussed this, the idea would be that the situation is similar today in 2007 as it was in 1986 when the previous strip was published.
But is it really? And is the idea to compare Bush to Dan Fogelberg? Because that would make little sense (Fogelberg was a folk-rock musician in the late 70s and the 80s, who peaked in popularity around 1981). Perhaps Breathed was trying to show that the perceived generational difference is not that great, and that even though the ’80s strip took place on a rock in the middle of a rural pond, and the 2007 strip took place in a coffee place, perhaps a Starbucks, the content of the conversation was similar and thus the nature of relationships does not change that much over time.

Or maybe he’s just recycling ideas.
Thoughts?

#25 Garey Mckee
October/14/2007
@ 7:34 pm

I think this one has no underlying factors of time or political climate like the previous instance we discussed, unless a bigger parallel will unfold in the coming strip(s) on Opus’ dating. I’d say it’s just a gag that has been recycled and reused.

And on the question of Lola’s return. It’s not suprising that she has returned. There hasn’t been too many prominent female characters in Breathed’s strips. The only other female character to have been focused on that I can think of is Bobbi Harlow from Bloom County’s early days.

What IS suprising to me is Lola’s apparent relationship with Steve Dallas.

#26 Chris H.
October/15/2007
@ 6:27 pm

“There hasnâ??t been too many prominent female characters in Breathedâ??s strips. The only other female character to have been focused on that I can think of is Bobbi Harlow from Bloom Countyâ??s early days.”
…and Rosebud the Basselope, as it eventually turned out!

Garey, I liked the Bobbi Harlow character a lot more than Lola Granola, and I think that during her time in the strip she was a more important character than Lola was during her time in the strip. Other female characters included Ronald-Ann Smith (who was introduced towards the end mainly for the segue into “outland”) and, for a very brief time, Yaz Pistachio (memorable mainly because of the strip in which it is declared that the only name worse than “Yaz Pistachio” is “Berkeley Breathed.”).

My initial response to the strip was also that it was a recycled idea.

I know that a while ago, you wrote that Breathed was no stranger to importing ideas from past strips, citing the way he did this from “Academia Waltz” into “Bloom County.” Well, in my mind, there is a big difference between the two: “Academia Waltz” was a short-lived, small-time, single-college-newspaper strip, whereas “Bloom County” was a famous strip in thousands and thousands of newspapers across the country. These are two very different things.

As for Lola being together with Steve, that is weird but also very interesting. You could never really see Opus getting married to her (or anyone), but, for pete’s sakes, Steve Dallas? No way…at least I don’t think so…

#27 Garey Mckee
October/15/2007
@ 8:00 pm

I forgot about Rosebud being female! LOL. There is one more female Breathed character to make a brief appearance. Blondie, who was a young black girl who Binkley was very much attracted to.

#28 Chris H.
October/16/2007
@ 5:11 pm

Garey,
Ah yes… I remember Blondie. She was a minor character during the strip’s earlier years, right? She was kind of like the Little Red-Haired Girl to Binkley’s Charlie Brown — with one notable difference: her rejections were not just expected or predicted, they were cuelly realized.
Binkley was/is more like Charlie Brown than is immediately apparent.

As we’re talking about the female characters of “Bloom County,” I would like to point out one of the most interesting traits of Breathed’s work. With most comic strips, the cast is, for the most part, limited to either males or females, and to either adults, children, or animals. Think about it. There are men-oriented strips, women-oriented strips, and of course kid strips and animal strips.
“Bloom County” (and Breathed’s subsequent work) has featured a relatively diverse cast. Not only were there both male and female characters (even though, as has been mentioned in the actual strip, males comprise the majority of the cast), but the core characters of the strip are adults AND children AND animals.
Adults: Steve Dallas, Cutter John, Bobbi Harlow*
Children: Milo, Binkley, Oliver
Animals: Opus, Bill the Cat, Portnoy, Hodge-Podge
*I include Bobbi because I feel she was more important to the strip during her time in it than any other character not listed above, even though she disappeared a few years in.

Think about it. Hardly any other strips center around characters from all three of those groups. To create such a strip would be mind-boggling. How would you get all three groups to not just be included, but be important characters who interact with one another? It would take a master to create such a strip.

Breathed did not create that strip. He created a strip about a young boy who lives with his grandparents at the boarding house they ran, which occasionally showcased its weirdo boarders. That strip evolved into the “Bloom County” that we know and love, and later into “Outland” and, finally, “Opus.”

It was a great comic strip. The characters of “Opus” feeled toned dwon or bland by comparison. But can “Opus” develop into an equal of “Bloom County?” Perhaps. But if Breathed keeps recycling jokes, who knows where this ship is headed.

#29 Chris H.
October/21/2007
@ 9:47 am

Well, this is certainly a promising turn of events: today in “Opus,” we find the classic Breathed device of characters breaking the fourth wall.

Now I know that in previous “Opus” strips, he has frequently spoken the punchline addressing the reader. Today, however, is the first time in recent memory that a character has actually broken the fourth wall and referenced the strip or contents of the strip as the punchline.

And Binkley makes another cameo appearance today. God, we haven’t seen him in over two months — practically since he was reintroduced into the strip. I know that Oliver Wendell Jones was reintroduced only to never appear again. And where oh where is Bill the Cat?

#30 mercedes gordon miles
November/6/2007
@ 4:06 pm

I READ THE STRIP OPUS, AND I NOTICE IN ALL THE STRIPS OPUS NAME IS HIDDEN IN THE STRIPS, WHICH IS COOL. I ALSO NOTICED A FEW MONTHS AGO AUGGIE HAD GOTTEN A NEW HAIRCUT.I HOPE OLIVER THE SMART COOL BLACK KID WILL BE IN MORE FUTURE STRIPS LIKE BACK IN AUGUST. PLUS BRING BACK RONALD ANN SMITH, AND BLONDIE, AND AUGGIE’S OLD FRIEND PICKLES.I ALSO LOVE THE STRIPS WHEN OPUS IS DREAMING HE’S ON THE BEACH, AND A HOT GODDESS IS FEEDING HIM FRUIT , OR KISSING HIM. THATS EVERY MANS FANASTY, ESPECIALLY MINE.

#31 MERCEDES GORDON MILES
November/17/2007
@ 2:15 pm

IN THIS WEEKS COMIC, ISN’T BINKLEY WEARING THE SAME JACKET AUGGIE WAS WEARING IN A COMIC BACK IN APRIL?

#32 Chris H.
November/17/2007
@ 2:49 pm

It’s just a generic jacket. Breathed’s character have always worn jackets like that one.

#33 MERCEDES GORDON MILES
December/20/2007
@ 4:01 pm

IN THIS WEEKS COMIC I NOTICE 2 BLOOPERS. 1. WHILE STEVE IS LOOKING IN THE MIRROR, THE FRONT OF THE PANTS TO THE SANTA CLAUS COSTUME IN HANGING,FROM MIRROR VIEW, BUT FROM THE SIDE THE LOOK LIKE THEY,RE UP.2. AT THE BEGINNING OF THE STRIP OPUS IS WEARING ELF SHOES WITH HIS COSTUME, WHILE SITTING THE BED. BUT DURING THE STRIP WHILE HE’S STANDING HE HAS THEM OFF,AND AT THE END OF THE STRIP HE HAS THEM BACK ON AGAIN. 3. WHILE STEVE WAS FUSING AT OPUS HE WAS TAKING THE SANTA SUIT OFF, AS IF HE WAS JUST TRYING IT ON, BUT AT THE END UP THE STRIP HE HAS IT BACK ON ALONG WITH THE SANTA HAIRHE HAS JUST TOOK OFF.IF HE WAS GETTING READY TO GO WHY HE HE TAKING THE SUI OFF WHILE TALKING TO OPUS?

#34 MERCEDES GORDON MILES
December/20/2007
@ 4:03 pm

DID I SAY 2 BLOOPERS I MEANT 3, STILL IM A GOOD FAN OF THE COMIC.

#35 MERCEDES GORDON MILES
February/14/2008
@ 2:25 pm

IN THE TWO COMICS FOR THIS MONTH OPUS BEEN WIH MICHEAL B, IN HIS HOUSE. SO DO OPUS STILL LIVE WITH AUGGIE AND STEVE ANYMORE?plus when oliver the cool smart black kid comin back? HAVEN’T SEEN HIM SINCE AUGUST.

#36 MERCEDES GORDON MILES
February/22/2008
@ 2:26 pm

IN THIS WEEKS OPUS COMIC, ITS A WONDER OPUS DIDN’T GO BLINDSITTING THAT CLOSE TO A GIANT FLAT SCREEN TV, PLAYING THAT VIDEO GAME. PLUS THOSE PECH RINGS OPUS ATE THAT AUGGIE FOUND THEY SELL A LOT OF THEM IN QUICKIE MART STORES IN REAL LIFE ALONG WITH OTHER CANDIES WITH RED TAGS WHERE YOU GET 2 FOR A DOLLAR. ALSO IN THIS WEEKS STRIP I SEE OPUS IS BACK AT AUGGIE’S HOUSE.

#37 Chris Hardiman
February/22/2008
@ 2:52 pm

I’m not sure about where, exactly, the characters are supposed to be living these days. Back during the ’80s in the original run of “Bloom County,” all the characters lived in the Bloom County Boarding House that was owned by Milo’s grandparents, with the exception of Oliver and his family, who lived in a separate house, and Hodge-Podge and Portnoy, who lived in Milo’s Woods. And since you brought it up, I think that Breathed, who is a masterful artist anyway, did a wonderful job of rendering the glow of the big flatscreen TV. It was a funny strip, too.

http://www.gocomics.com/opus/2008/02/17/

#38 MERCEDES GORDON MILES
February/26/2008
@ 2:42 pm

IN THIS WEEKS OPUS COMIC OPUS HAS A COLD THIS IS THE SECOND COMIC THAT I KNOW ABOUT WHERE OPUS HAS A COLD. THE FIRST ONE I KNOW ABOUT WAS 2-12-2006, WHERE HE’S OUT IN THE SNOW TAKING COUGH MEDICINE, EXEPT IN THAT ONE HE HAS A CHEST COLD ,IN THIS ONE HE HAS A HEAD COLD.PLUS I ALSO THINK BREATHED IS A COOL ARTIST, IM WAITING FOR THE NEXT STRIP WHERE HE BRING BACK OLIVER THE SMART COOL BLACK KID.

#39 MERCEDES GORDON MILES
March/4/2008
@ 1:53 pm

IN THE OPUS STRIP THIS WEEK OPUS, HAS A HUGE PROBLEM BUYING JUNK HE DOES NOT NEED. IT WAS A FUNNY STRIP , ESPECIALLY THE PART WHERE HE GOT ALL THAT MONEY SENT TO HIM AND HE BOGHT ALL THOSE TURNIP THINGS WHATEVER THEY CALL THEM. HE JUST WASTED MONEY THAT WAS MONY HE COULD HAVE USED TO BUY 1 OR 2 MORE GAMES FOR HIS X-BOX , A COOL POSTER OF A HOT,HOT, CUTE POP STAR LIKE FOR EXAMPLE LIL MAMA, AND PUT THE REST IN THE BANK.OPUS IS NOT THE TYPE OF GUY I’LL TRUST WITH A BUNCH OF MONEY.

#40 MERCEDES
March/10/2008
@ 11:41 am

IN THIS WEEKS OPUS COMIC ITS ANOTHER FUNNY COMIC AS USUAL, WHERE HE,S IN THE BED SLEEPING AND SOMEBODY COMES OUT OF HIS CLOSET. SOMETHING TOLD ME BEFORE I GOT THE PAPER THAT THE OPUS COMIC WOULD BE ONE OF THOSE COMICS.SO FAR A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE AND THINGS HAVE CAME OUT OF THAT CLOSET.BIN LADEN, GIANT HAMSTERS, VICE PRESIDENTS, THAT DUMB STUPID PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH CAME OUT SING LIKE THE IDIOT HE IS,A MAN FROM STARBUCKS, OPUS MOTHER,KATIE COURIC, MICHEAL JACKSON, DARK VADER, PLUS IN A COMIC FOM 7-8-2007 A COMIC I MISSED BUT SAW ON THE COMPUTER WHERE A GIANT PURPLE RINO CAME OUT.OPUS SHOULD LOCK THAT DOOR, OR GET A LOCK FOR IT, SO AT NIGHT HE CAN GET SOME SLEEP.THEY HAVE THOSE TYPE OF FUNNY COMICS WHERE HE’S IN THE BED SLEEPING AND SOMEBODY COMES OUT OF THAT CLOSET EVERY OTHER MONTH, SO IM GUESSING THAT NEXT ONE WILL PROBULARY BE IN MAY, OR WE COULD SEE OTHER BEFORE THEN, I WONDER WHO WILL COME OUT HIS CLOSET NEXT.

#41 mercedes gordon miles
March/27/2008
@ 2:50 pm

this weeks opus comic a cancer cell comes out of opus closet which i remind you should be locked, dressed as a human. it was funny with the cancer cell in 3-D. but I was wrong,about expecting another comic where somebody comes out his opus closet while he’s in bed, around may. but we got anothergreat funny one earlier than I expected. I remmber last year in march also we got 2 really funny comic where somebody comes out of opus closet, just like this year in march.the one on 3-4-2007 the vice president comes out of opus closet with a animal on his head, and acts likes he don’t notices. the second one from last march is the one on 3-25-2007 wher katie couric comes into his room but i don’t think she came out his closet, but still it was too funny wher opus uses a taser on her. my commet is keep them funny opus comics coming.

#42 Alan Gardner
March/27/2008
@ 2:52 pm

Thank you, Mercedes, for using lower case. Your review was much easier to read. :)

#43 MERCEDES GORDON MILES
April/4/2008
@ 2:51 pm

in this sundays opus it was funny, when steve took off his mask, and it was hobbies, from calvin and hobbies. it was a comic i enjoyed a lot when i was in elementryschool intil they ran the last strip on 12-31-95.in some ways cavin kinda remind me of me when i was little. in opus wouldn’t it be funny if in another comic auggie took off his mask and it was jason fox from foxtrot, since he’s smart at anagrams, and michael binkley took off his and it was charlie brown, and oliver takes off his and it was huey freeman from the boondocks, since he a smart cool black guy like huey freeman. yeah them ideas would be funny.

#44 MERCEDES GORDON MILES
April/22/2008
@ 2:40 pm

WHO IS THIS NEW CHARACTER IN THIS WEEKS, OPUS? HE KINDA REMIND ME OF PIGPEN FROM THE COMIC PEANUTS.

#45 mercedes miles
May/1/2008
@ 3:49 pm

is the red character thats been in the past 2 opus comics a boy or a girl? the one on 4-20-2008 i thought it was a boy. but the one on 4-27-2008 shows the character wearing a shirt that kinda look like a girl shirt, plus at the end of the comic was wearing a swimsuit. so is this nwe red haired character a boy or a girl? it can’t be auggie”s old friend pickles because was the type of chracter that liked dress up like disney princess characters, and this character is kind of the tomboy, iif it is a girl type, plus this character seems a lil older than pickles.

#46 MERCEDES MILES
June/19/2008
@ 3:16 pm

THIS OPUS COMIC STRIP THIS WEEK IS ONE OF FEW OPUS COMIC COMICS THAT DON’T HAVE OPUS NAME HIDDEN IN THE STRIP OR AROUND THE STRIP. THE LAST TWO I REMEMBER LIKE THAT WAS 2-4-2007 AND 3-18-2007.

#47 MERCEDES MILES
July/31/2008
@ 10:20 am

A FUNNY OPUS STRIP FOR THIS WEEK. AS USUAL SOMEBODY COMES OUT OF OPUS CLOSET. IT WAS VERY VERY FUNNY. EXCEPT I THOUGHT OPUS BED WAS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM.

#48 r stevens
July/31/2008
@ 10:30 am

I take it this is the official ALL CAPS OPUS MESSAGE BOARD?

#49 MERCEDES MILES
October/10/2008
@ 1:05 pm

THE OPUS STRUP IN THIS WEEKS PAPER IS FUNNY OPUS TALKING ABOUT HIS YEARS OF LIFE WITH THE TALKING DOG.WHICH REMINDS ME WHAT HAPPENED TO THE TALKING DOG OPUS MET ALMOST A YEAR AGO ON 10-29-2007, AND BROUGHT HOME A WEEK LATER ON 11-4-2007. WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO ”THAT” TALKING DOG.

#50 MERCEDES MILES
October/14/2008
@ 3:02 pm

IN THIS WEEKS COMIC OPUS FINALLY GETS HIS WISH TO BE IN A PLACE WITH HOT FEMALES.A VERY FUNNY COMIC. EXCEPT I NOTICED A FEW BLOOPERS IN THIS WEEKS COMIC. 1. IN OTHER COMICS OPUS EYES ARE BLUE, BUT IN THIS WEEKS COMIC HIS EYES ARE BROWN AND OR GREEN.2. IN THE 10-5-2008 COMIC THE DOG TELLS OPUS THE FLOOR MAKES A HECK OF A COLD BED,WHICH IS WHY HE HAD TO SLEEP ON TOP OF OPUS, BUT WHEN THEY WAKE UP IN THIS WEEK’S COMIC, THE DOG NOW “HAVE” ABED TO SLEEP IN. PLUS 3. AT THE START OF THIS WEEKS STRIP THE DOG BED IS AGAINST THE WALL, THEN IT SHOWS THE DOG IN THE BED, WHEN IT WAS JUST AGAINST THE WALL.

#51 MERCEDES MILES
November/3/2008
@ 11:51 am

I HATE OPUS IS COMING TO AN END, A SUNDAY WITHOUT THE OPUS COMIC? AWWW MAN.I WAS LOOKING FORWARD TO SEE WHAT OPUS WAS GOING TO DO FOR THE HOILDAYS. I STILL SAY OPUS SHOULDN’T HAVE WENT WITH THE WOMEN.

#52 MERCEDES MILES
November/3/2008
@ 11:53 am

I HATE OPUS IS COMING TO AN END, A SUNDAY WITHOUT THE OPUS COMIC? AWWW MAN.I WAS LOOKING FORWARD TO SEE WHAT OPUS WAS GOING TO DO FOR THE HOILDAYS. I WONDER WHATS GOING TO HAPPEN TO AUGGIE , OLIVER AND STEVE , AND MICHEAL BINKELY

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