Funny Papers

I don’t remember how I discovered Bloom County. But when I did, I fell for it, hard. It did a lot to shape my sensibilities, maybe even moreso than Peanuts. My grandfather used to cut the dailies out of the New York Daily News and send ’em to me every week, up there in lonely old Upstate New York, where the newspaper was still carrying Henry, but not Bloom County. He always included a little note, usually something along the lines of, “These guys sure get into a lot of trouble!” I was so grateful.

Naturally, I bought all the collections as they came out, and now I’ve passed them along to First Son, just as the Nostalgia Machine kicks into gear and starts re-releasing the Collected Works. To mark the occasion, New York interviews Bloom County creator Berkeley Breathed here, and again here:

New York: With the exception of Dilbert and The Boondocks, there hasn’t been a culture-conquering newspaper strip in years.

Breathed: When the three of us [Larson, Watterson, Breathed] quit, it coincided with bad things happening in newspapers in general, and then the culture was suddenly awash in competitive humor. It siphoned a lot of the talent away. The future great cartoonists aren’t sending their stuff anymore. They rightfully are working in graphic novels, or doing something else. It’s funny, you never hear anybody talking about it. People loved the comics over the last 100 years. They were hugely influential in popular culture, and they’re dying. They’re going fast. And nobody talks about it — it’s like they’re not even noticing. Along with newspapers, it’s this huge creative institution just disappearing into the ether behind us.


  1. notrelatedtoted says

    Larson, Watterson and Breathed……there's a murderer's row of comics writers if there ever was one. Dilbert (which I enjoy) and the Boondocks (ok, but not great) are waaaaaay back in the lineup.

    Never card much for Breathed's most recent attempt at a strip, though.

  2. Matthew Lickona says

    Yeah. I know what you mean. He paused, and never quite found the rhythm again. I love the bit in the New York piece that mentions a 12-page letter from Watterson to Breathed – now THAT would be interesting to see…

  3. Matthew,

    A roommate of my in college – no the other college – was a bit of a gonzo literary type (think Samuel Beckett meets Abbie Hoffman with a slight riff on Ben Jonson)who fabricated a theory that Bloom County was actually the postmod sequel/prequel to Joyce's Ulysses. I don't remember all the details right now, but I know that Opus (as in the Joycean "Magnus…") was supposed to be the postmodern reincarnation of Leopold Bloom. This is how he's introduced in the novel: "Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods' roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine." If that doesn't sound like Opus (granted a carnivorous version, I don't know what does. And then Dallas was supposed to be Stephen Daedalus (get it Dallas – Daedalus?). Damned if I could remember how Bill the Cat fit into it – but there it is.

    By the way, if the end of Bloom Co. was the beginning of the end, then surely the end (or beginning?) of Liberty Meadows was the end of the beginning of the end.

    Gosh, I miss Brandy…


  4. Matthew Lickona says

    And of course, there's Milo Bloom…this seems worth exploring.
    I met Frank Cho at Comic-Con this year, and was happy to shake his hand. Go Beltsville!

  5. j. christian says

    I still remember one funny strip. The journalist (Milo?) is standing in a field extolling the virtues of the decent, hardworking American farmer, growing his fields of corn… And the farmer, brim covering his eyes, says, "'Taint corn – it's dope."

    Weird, the things that stick with you.

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