See All Topics

Home / Section: Books

Berkeley Breathed to panel Long Beach Comic Con

Bloom County, Outland and Opus creator Berkeley Breathed will make his comic-con debut at Long Beach Comic Con on October 2. The reclusive cartoonist will introduce his first collection of Bloom County entitled, “The Bloom County Library Volume One.” He will also host a discussion on Bloom County and signing copies of the book.

From the press release:

In making his first ever comic convention guest appearance, Breathed will be supporting IDW Publishing’s release of the first archival collection of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Bloom County. The Bloom County Library Volume One contains a series of “Context Pages” sprinkled throughout the volumes, providing perspective for the reader and presenting a variety of real-life events and personalities that were contemporary at the time of original publication. Breathed has also added his own commentary at points throughout the book.

Bloom County is one of the most popular and critically acclaimed newspaper strips of modern times. Created by Breathed, the strip premiered on December 8th, 1980 and featured the beloved and quirky denizens of Bloom County including Opus, Steve Dallas, Bill the Cat, Milo Bloom, Michael Binkley, and Cutter John. The strip was published in over 1,200 newspapers. The street date for the book is October 6, however, convention attendees will get chance to own it before anyone else.

Community Comments

#1 Shane Davis
September/10/2009
@ 5:21 pm

I would give a lot to be able to be there…

I’m a broken record on this, but I still think BC was the greaest strip of the last 30 years.

#2 Garey Mckee
September/10/2009
@ 6:48 pm

We’ve talked about this before. Bloom County surely was one of the most successful in living in it’s moment, soaking up the political and pop cultural environment around it. It’s such a time capsule now to read it.

#3 Ed Power
September/10/2009
@ 10:33 pm

Shane,

I agree with you. I know that’s blasphemy to the ‘C&H’ crowd , and it’s not that I don’t have MUCH love for ‘C&H’, but ‘Bloom County’ holds a special place in my heart. Like Grant Morrison’s JLA, Bloom County kept me interested in an industry I love at a point where I was growing away from it.

I understand the ‘time capsule’ arguement, but it’s never been a problem for me. I always find it odd though because I never hear that said of Pogo. Maybe I just haven’t talked to others about Pogo enough.

#4 Shane Davis
September/11/2009
@ 7:35 pm

Ed,
I don’t understand why Bloom County hasn’t gotten the respect it deserves…today EVERYONE can go on about how Calvin & Hobbes changed strips, how The Far Side reinvented the panel gag strip, how Doonesbury is the quintessential political humor strip, but BC always seems to get a short shrift.

It set the tone for so many strips to come, and for the pop culture/political strip for all time.

I just don’t think Mr. Breathed ever truly got the accolades he deserved, in fact in some places I’ve sensed some small hostility or dismissal…by professional cartoonists.

I guess I’ll never know why, but if art truly is whatever one can get away with, then BC got away with the best.

#5 Ted Rall
September/13/2009
@ 1:08 pm

Newspaper readers were blessed by several great comics in the 1980s, obviously including The Far Side and Calvin & Hobbes, but also Bloom County.

I think I know why some pros don’t care as much for Bloom County as the others:

The strip wasn’t as consistent as, say, C&H. Breathed was a rock ‘n’ roll wildman of the artform and as such took bigger risks–and sometimes fell flat on his face, which comes with taking risks. Watterson was the consummate no-drama professional–cool, calm, collected, always solid.

Bloom County influenced a lot of cartoonists to create some truly bad strips. Originals tend to take a hit for their knockoffs.

Breathed came off as arrogant when quoted sometimes, and didn’t bother to make friends with many other cartoonists.

Outland and Opus made Breathed look lazy and desperate. If he had to quit Bloom County, why keep using the same characters?

Personally, I don’t agree with these criticisms. To me Bloom County was the consummate 1980s political strip, picking up the slack during the one rare era when Doonesbury wasn’t on top of its game.

In the end, what we have is a brilliant cartoonist who didn’t massage his public personna as well as he might have. But long after we’re dead and gone, the work will be what matters.

#6 Garey Mckee
September/13/2009
@ 7:21 pm

That’s a good synopsis, Ted. It’s nice to see a favorable view of Breathed’s work from a professional stand point, rather than one based only on the opinions of fans of the strip. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter.

#7 Shane Davis
September/13/2009
@ 8:33 pm

Mr. Rall,
I really appreciate what you said – I’m obviously not in the business, but I have heard over the years that there wasn’t much love lost between many pros and Mr. Breathed.

I figured it was because we was recruited to be a syndicated cartoonist and was handed a contract while others have had to work their butts off for years to ‘get there’ and never get as big as he was…I guess that’s why Pat Oliphant was so upset when BB won the Pulitzer.

At least it appeared that way from the outside. And I loved your characterization of him as “the rock & roll wildman’ of the artform.

He did lay some turds, but for the most part really took the comics places it never went before – which I guess that’s why there have been/are so many talking animal, political/pop culture strips now. I know Pogo probably invented it, but BC modernized it and gave it teeth.

It’s hard to argue BC wasn’t THE strip of the 1980’s – which I guess is it’s blessing and curse. C&H is still good as it’s theme is timeless, as is The Far Side in most respects.

But BC? Forever 80’s. That’s not a bad thing, tho’. In my humble opinion, the best Hollywood was very ’40’s, the best Star Trek was SO 60’s, the best cars were oh-so 50’s and the best Stones music is very early ’70’s.

I guess it’s better to be the best in a limited way, than to meander for decades in an insipid, formless gag-a-day strip that meanders forever, seemingly never has an end and doesn’t really set anyone on fire. I suppose it’s better to burn bright and then burn out than fade away.

Anyway, your analysis was great.
Thanks.

#8 John Sanford
September/14/2009
@ 5:36 pm

Ted;
Well said!!!
I would only add that we forget that at the time, there was a real comaraderie among cartoonists. They all seemed to know each other. Then, here comes a guy that really had no interest in joining their club, and didn’t profess a love of many strips other than say Peanuts, Pogo and Doonesbury.
I also remember VERY well the furor raised when Breathed won the Pulitzer! Pat Oliphant in particular really had it in for him.

#9 Terry LaBan
September/15/2009
@ 8:22 am

I haven’t agreed with Shane on much, but when it comes to Bloom County, I think he’s absolutely right. Nobody could match Breathed in his prime and even his obvious influences(Doonsbury, Pogo) worked to give the strip a post-modern feel that was perfect for the times. But since when did other cartoonists dislike him? I saw him speak at the only AAPC(right?) convention I ever attended, in 1988. He’d just won the Pulitzer and there was some grumbling that he wasn’t a “real” political cartoonist. He obviously showed up prepared to be booed and criticized. Instead, everyone fawned over him, lining up to have him draw Opus on their programs. Other than a few people, like Oliphant, with whom he got into a famous pissing match, I never heard him spoken of with anything but respect. But I was young then, and all the young cartoonists who knew where it was at wanted to be Berke Breathed.

#10 Ted Rall
September/15/2009
@ 11:31 am

There’s some conflict over the Pulitzer Prizes whenever they go to a comic strip rather than an editorial cartoon. Most laymen believe the prize is for editorial cartoons and, in fact, 98% of them have indeed gone to editorial cartoonists.

In fact, the rules for the award state that it’s for a “cartoon.” So really, any cartoon qualifies.

It would probably be a good idea for the committee to clarify this matter, since it leads to complications from time to time.

#11 Shane Davis
September/15/2009
@ 12:28 pm

Terry ,
Health care, gun control, Iraq – meh, why fight & disagree on minutiae? Let’s cut up what’s really important – great comic strips!

And I have to say, even as a trollish right wing neanderthal, I was taken with Bloom County at first friggin’ glance. It was the first strip I’ve saw that gave me that ‘I can’t wait until tomorrow’ excitement level. I couldn’t wait for the next Bill the Cat moment, Steve Dallas scheme, Opus dilemma – his characters lept off the page as livley and real as any that have ever been created.

Breathed’s writing and art were absolutley perfect for the times, man, he couldn’t have been 5 years earlier or later. He was custom handcrafted for ’80’s. What a run…

And I agree he got far more attention than did Doonesbury in that era (or Pogo in any era), skyrocketing to popularity across high school and college campuses (campi?) like wildfire. I’ve wondered if that stratospheric ascension was part of the source of disgruntlement on the part of other cartoonist.

At any rate, it was sad he retired from the daily narrative of the regular strip. That seemed to be the life and blood of how his humor functioned, and the Sunday only strips seemed…diffused somehow.

I know Bllom County didn’t scratch everyone’s itch, but it’s nice to know there’s other uber-fans out there…

#12 Shane Davis
September/15/2009
@ 12:34 pm

Allan, I’ll send you a load of Texas BBQ if you can put a ‘preview’ or ‘edit’ function on here…I just re-read my post and the way I typed it, it reads like Snuffy Smith after huffing spray paint…

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.