Bloom County

From Academic Kids

Bloom County was a popular comic strip by Berke Breathed which ran from December 8, 1980 until August 6, 1989. It examined events in politics and culture through the lens of a fanciful small town in Middle America, where children have adult personalities and vocabularies and animals can talk and role-play. It grew out of a strip featuring many of the same characters that Breathed started while a student at the The University of Texas, where he worked for the student newspaper, The Daily Texan (http://www.dailytexanonline.com).

Contents

Characters

Core characters

  • Opus is a large-nosed penguin with a herring addiction who lost his mother during the Falklands War. Initially Opus was only a bit player in a throwaway gag. But his hopeless naïveté made him a favorite, the center of the strip, and the subject of two "sequel" strips (Outland and Opus) and a children's movie.
  • Milo Bloom is a ten-year-old newspaper editor and probably the most world-wise of the whole bunch.
  • Steve Dallas is a former fraternity member, unsuccessfully practicing lawyer, would-be womanizer, manager of Deathtöngue, legend in his own mind, and antagonist of the group.
  • Bill the Cat is an large orange cat who bears the characteristics of someone entirely burned out on LSD. He's been a cult leader ("Bagwan Bill"), televangelist ("Fundamentally Oral Bill"), perennial presidential candidate for the Meadow Party, had his brain replaced with Donald Trump's, has died (and was cloned from his own tongue), been a Russian defector, heavy-metal rock star ("Wild Bill Cat" of Deathtöngue), drug addict, cat-sweat donor, and a woman named Frieda.
  • Michael Binkley originally owned Opus ("A boy and his penguin!") and is wishy-washy and overly reflective, when not contemplating the lives of pop-culture icons. His "anxiety closet" has been a staple of many storylines.
  • Oliver Wendell Jones is the genius of the bunch with such escapades as inventing a miracle hair-growth formula, hacking Pravda with the headline "Gorbachev sings tractors! Turnips! Buttocks!", and various other technical achievements.
  • Cutter John, a wheelchair-bound Vietnam veteran often in Star Trek fantasies and anti-war protests.
  • Bobbi Harlow is the feminist schoolteacher of Milo and Binkley, as well as the love interest of Steve and Cutter. She was a major character until 1983, when she faded away completely.

Other characters

See also Minor characters in Bloom County

Notes

For reasons best known to himself, Breathed's hand-printed signature on his strips is usually presented in mirror image, i.e. right to left.

Among the topical issues discussed at length in Bloom County are US anti-drug policy (Dr. Oliver's Scalp Tonic), Christian televangelist scandals (Fundamentally Oral Bill), animal testing (Attack of the Mary Kay Commandos), hard rock and censorship (Deathtöngue and Billy and the Boingers), and inter-species relationships (Opus meets Lola Granola).

Berke Breathed was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in editorial cartooning in 1987 for Bloom County.

After Bloom County, Breathed started a Sunday-only strip called Outland with original characters. However, Opus, Bill and other characters reappeared and slowly took over the strip.

Another Sunday-only spinoff strip called Opus started on November 23, 2003.

At the time of the end of the original series, Bloom County itself has been bought by Donald Trump, in the body of Bill the Cat, who subsequently fires all of the characters. Naturally, they find work in other cartoons (Steve Dallas getting brief work in fellow toon Kathy). All of the characters leave except for Opus - so he thinks. He meets fellow character Ronald-Ann, who is also still present and who takes him near her home on the "wrong side" of the tracks. There, amid gunfire, they find a magic door in a dirty back alley. Opening it Ronald-Ann shows Opus the world of Outland beneath them (in Outland, the door to the world is in the sky and not level with that world's ground). Ronald-Ann tries to bring Opus with her, but he kicks her inside, and locks the door behind her, admitting that life wasn't for him. The last strip itself was everything in Bloom County empty (such as the Anxiety Closet and the meadow), while Opus walks away, carrying a suitcase, into a white void.

Bloom County books

Collections

  • Loose Tails (1983)
  • Toons For Our Times (1984)
  • Penguin Dreams and Stranger Things (1985)
  • Billy and the Boingers Bootleg (1987)
  • Tales Too Ticklish to Tell (1988)
  • Night of the Mary Kay Commandos (1989)
  • Happy Trails! (1990)

Anthologies

  • Bloom County Babylon: Five Years of Basic Naughtiness (1986)
  • Classics of Western Literature (1990)

External links

Template:Bloomcounty

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