Washington Post Writers Group has announced that Berkeley Breathed’s Opus will end syndication on November 2. According to the press release, Berkeley has vowed that this end is for good. “With the crisis in Wall Street and Washington, I’m suspending my comic strip to assist the nation. The best way I can help is to leave politics permanently and write funny stories for America’s kids. I call on John McCain to join me.”
The remaining four are poignant, with references to Breathed’s ‘greatest hits’ strips, but they’re also funny. His ability to weave those emotions together is what makes Breathed such a great cartoonist, and it’s why he will leave a bigger hole on the comics pages. Both figuratively and literally,” Amy Logo, Post Comics Editor joked, referring to Opus’ half-page-mandated size.
Berkeley is ending the strip with a content asking readers to guess the pudgy penguin’s ultimate fate. To preserve the integrity of the contest, Amy, Post Comics Editor, says that that the final strip will not be in print but on line. No details regarding the contest have been released but Amy notes that there is certain irony that the strip really ends online, but was launched in 2003 as a newspaper only feature.
UPDATE: Sherry Stern at the L.A. Times has posted part of an e-mail response from Berkeley regarding the end.
30 years of cartooning to end. Iâ??m destroying the village to save it. Opus would inevitably become a ranting mouthpiece in the coming wicked days, and I respect the other parts of him too much to see that happen. The Michael Moore part of me would kill the part of him that was important to his fans.
Another tidbit: On Berkeley’s web site, it’s announced that the contest will begin on Oct 12. Presumably the details will be in that Sunday’s strip. Coincidentally his new book comes out October 16. Not bad timing – ending a strip and sending a horde of fans to your website to be part of a contest where advertising will be ready for the new book.