Berkeley Breathed planning to end Opus? (UPDATED)

E&P caught the story before I did. In an interview with Texas Monthly (scroll down), Berkeley Breathed slips what possibly be might be the end of his Opus feature.

What interesting projects are on your horizon?

BB: Three: a novel; two of my books are in development at Disney; and Opusâ??s death, which approaches.

Has Opus, the penguin, been a fixture in all of your strips? I donâ??t recall, and Iâ??ve been in Austin since your The Academia Waltz days. And, assuming you mean the death of Opus, the strip, will that be the last we see of B. Breathed, newspaper cartoonist?

BB: Opus has been in all my cartooning post Academia Waltz. I mean the death of Opus literally, as told in the comic, which means the suspension of the feature (no dates set as of yet). Newspapers may indeed fade from our lives, but childrensâ?? books may yet have a future.

Are you serious about killing off Opus in the strip?

BB: Yes, but my wife would leave me, she reports. I have to factor this in.

Do your publisher and newspapers know this?

BB: They know that all good things come to an end. Iâ??d like to see Opus go out with George Bush, both headed into the sunset.

UPDATE: I emailed Amy Lago, Berkeley’s editor to see what she knew of these comments. Here is part of her reply:

To paraphrase Twain, the reports of the death of Opus are exaggerated. I got this from Berkeley Breathed earlier today:

“I mentioned Opus’ literal death just for talking points on my [book] tour coming up. Not gonna kill him, but it’s good for copy.”

Berkeley’s ever-so-pleased with himself when he’s provocative.

That said, I doubt a day has gone by since November of 2003 when he hasn’t thought about ending Opus. There’s little that’s harder on a cartoonist than staring at a blank piece of bristol board with a deadline looming.

So, it appears that the mention of killing off Opus has more to do with gaining attention for his book tour and less about the future of his feature. Then again, this is Berkeley we’re talking about here, so every week when you see Opus in your newspaper, chalk it up as a win.

20 thoughts on “Berkeley Breathed planning to end Opus? (UPDATED)

  1. Breathed quitting a strip? No way! Who saw this one coming? C’mon now, raise your hand, don’t be shy….

    “Newspapers may indeed fade from our lives, but childrensâ?? books may yet have a future.”


  2. A win? No way, it’s a loss to have seen the wonderful creative strip that was Bloom County die as Outland, only to be resurrected as a zombie in the current Opus strip. Breathed is doing great work with his children’s books. Can’t wait to learn more about his novel. But allow Opus the strip to rest in peace, please.

  3. @ Jeff, yes, none were as creative as Bloom County, but the other 2 are fine follow-ups.

  4. I’ve been a fan of B.B. since the beginning, and I see a lot of old Bloom County material coming back. However, Berkley’s new material is well worth keeping OPUS around. I would miss Augie and Opus’ lack of acceptance of new technology. The relationship between Steve and Augie as they deal with current issues has been fun to follow (Steve Dallas makes a more interesting dad than Binkley’s dad). If B.B. decides to end his carreer as a “stripper”, a lot of us would miss his sense of humor and outlook on life.

  5. I don’t know Anne, Breathed never seems to concern himself with the comics landscape around him, other than to occasionally raid them for a cameo.

  6. How Breathed has been acting on this just to get publicity has justified everything I’ve ever said previously about him. Yes sir he really acts like a true proffesional.

  7. Just think of how many spots would open up on the comics page if he follows through. Since he demands twice the space of any other feature, twice as many markets would open up.

  8. Correction, Rick.
    As small as a lot of Sunday comics are run today, it could open THREE times the number of spaces!

  9. Rick,

    It wouldn’t be that bad if the space was actually used effectively. However, when I see one giant panel with maybe two or three smaller panels sprinkled in, I just shake my head.

    The space issues aside, wether you like Breathed’s work or hate Breathed’s work, here we are TALKING about Breathed’s work. And I believe that’s what he wants.

  10. i’m not a cartoonist, but an avid fan of BB. to end opus’ “life” would be a crime and a sin. this is a strip filled with life lessons and opus is mr/ms everyman.

    please joe (berkley), say it ain’t so!!!!


  11. As a cartoonist, yes I did have a published strip,

    I have followed Breathed’s career with extreme interest. He is a paramount wit and has the ability to push the envelope without once descending into the gutter, or becoming fixated on any political agenda. This does indeed appear to be a slow build up to the end of his third incarnation of everyone’s favorite penguin and I will miss the fun. It is also going to be interesting to see where he goes from here.

  12. I hope this is what it sounds like, BB just trying to stir things up a bit.

    I’ve been an Opus fan since Bloom county, and one of my favorite Christmas specials is “A Wish for Wings that Work”.

  13. If Opus waddles off into the sunset, or wherever it is that penguins with huge honkers waddle off to, I’ll be sad. However, life goes on and Mr. Breathed could always rehire Bill the Cat – a cat so wildly repulsive that his absence, especially in this presidential election year, makes the political world a lot less fun.

  14. I’ve tacked the last four Opus strips up in the wall of my workstation.

    Although Opus is a cartoon I’ve always identified with his life as odd at times it surely is. He seems for a Penguin to be very much me.

    I’m sorry he didn’t have a better place to spend cartoon eternity, like I hope for myself.

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