Alas, this may just be temporary, but as creator Berkeley Breathed tweeted out today, it “feels like going home.” A quarter century after the departure of the comic strip Bloom County, Breathed plans to bring readers back to the fanciful meadow, where most of the characters are talking animals and politics across the spectrum used to take a beating — as well as our cultural foibles:
Breathed released the new strip via Facebook. The most popular comment on his post seems to sum up many fans’ response: “And suddenly the world is back in alignment. Thank you Sir.”
Fans of Bloom County had been anticipating the strip’s return — particularly after Breathed responded to a commenter’s request for new material last week by writing, “Watch this space.”
The strip’s return promises to reunite readers with Opus, Bill the Cat and other characters that were previously seen just in Breathed’s two Sunday-only strips, Outland (1989-1995) and Opus (2003-2008). They’re likely to have plenty to talk about: Bloom County, whose small-town characters often found absurdity in America’s cultural and political life, returns as the country heads into a new presidential election season.
It’s unclear whether Breathed will syndicate his new work in newspapers; he recently recalled how an editorial dispute with a publisher had a direct role in his decision to quit cartooning in 2008. His Facebook postings, Breathed said earlier this month, are “nicely out of reach of nervous newspaper editors, the PC humor police now rampant across the web … and ISIS.”
Actually, Breathed has been busy of late on his Facebook page.He’s been pulling some great panels out of his archives, and a recent appearance at ComicCon probably should have had people guessing at this news. A week ago, Breathed posted a panel from his “Outland” Sunday feature that poked fun at a “burqini,” which might explain the ISIS quip. Breathed explains that he had to negotiate the strand of hair that comes out of Lola Granola’s headpiece with the Washington Post, where Muslims in the newsroom were offended by it. That’s what prompted his previously final exit from syndicated cartooning, but maybe offered an early explanation of his plan to return to it outside the control of newsroom editors.
Other than Peanuts, which I loved for other reasons, Bloom County was by far my favorite comic strip. On more than one occasion, I switched newspaper subscriptions in order to keep reading it, and at one time I owned all the books. (Several moves later, my library has been depleted.) Bloom County took aim pretty much equally across the political spectrum, although its final couple of years got too tangled up in the animal-rights movement, which Breathed championed (while still calling some of its zealots “terrorists”). It was far more witty and fair-minded than Doonesbury, for instance, which inexplicably still exists and from which Breathed admittedly took some inspiration. It occupied the same arc in many ways as Calvin and Hobbes, but in different contexts — something so brilliant that it turned out to be unsustainable.
I doubt that Breathed will return to a daily grind, at least not for a long period of time, but the promise of even occasional Bloom County strips will have many of its fans keeping a close eye on Breathed’s Facebook page.