The Return Of Bloom County
Sep 27, 2016
In 2015, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Berkeley Breathed began (without warning!) producing all-new Bloom County strips — for the first time in more than 25 years! Breathed released the new Bloom County strips exclusively through his Facebook page, to the cheers of devoted and delighted fans everywhere. These brand new strips have never before been available in print — until now! All the wit, charm and biting satire that are the trademarks of Bloom County and Berkeley Breathed are clearly on display and evident in Bloom County Episode XI: A New Hope (JUL160568).
Featuring all your favorite characters: Opus, Milo, Bill the Cat, Steve Dallas, Cutter John and many more. Bloom County has come home — and it's about time! Full of all the witty satire readers love, these strips pick up right where Breathed left off and are a welcome addition to the world of Bloom County.
With this new collection of Bloom County strips, we caught up with creator Berkeley Breathed, who discusses his return to a (mostly) daily Bloom County on Facebook, his process, and how things have changed since the strip's original '80s run.
Bloom County Episode XI: A New Hope (JUL160568) is in comic shops Sepetember 28.
PREVIEWSworld: Last summer, you resurrected Bloom County, your classic daily comic strip from the 1980s, as a generally daily webcomic on Facebook. Though the characters of Bloom County had lived on in the Sunday strips Outland and Opus in the decade after Bloom County, why did you return to Bloom County proper, the four-panel format, and a daily-ish schedule at this particular moment in time?
Berkeley Breathed: A little before Comic-Con last year I started toying with the idea of doing something with Bloom County. I went on an archeological dig in a few closets and found some old printed Bloom County paper from 1984, which I had not touched in God knows how long. And I sketched and drew and the more I did the more I found myself feeling… joyful.
PREVIEWSworld: Bloom County's relaunch was something of a viral sensation. Were you surprised by the reaction of fans to new Bloom County? How did it make you feel that people really wanted to see Opus, Bill, and all the rest again?
Berkeley Breathed: When we launched the strip on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/berkeleybreathed) it was without fanfare or press releases. Really, I had no clue how it would be received. People noticed it quickly, however, and the response to it was overwhelming. And it feels great, especially the immediacy of people reacting to each strip within moments of our posting them. I’m humbled by the quantity and quality of everyone’s comments, and how much Bloom County has meant to so many for so long.
PREVIEWSworld: How does your creative process for Bloom County differ today from, say, 1988? Are you still working with pencils at an art table, or have you moved to digital drawing? What would you say is the biggest change in how you work today compared to even ten years ago on Opus?
Berkeley Breathed: Everything is now done digitally, as was Opus. The biggest change though is not having to make a mad dash at 4:00 A.M., and sometimes driving thirty miles in a blizzard, to get the most recent batch of strips on a plane and rush-delivered to the syndicate. I was never — not even once — on time! Today I post the strips regularly and then jump back and work on the next one… right after I marvel in embarrassment that the comments on Facebook are often funnier than me.
PREVIEWSworld: How has being free of the editorial oversight/interference of a newspaper syndicate changed your approach to writing Bloom County?
Berkeley Breathed: I had no desire to be at the mercy of newspaper syndicates and irate advertisers upset with me for lampooning sacred cows and profane politicians.
PREVIEWSworld: Even though you're now working on the web, free of the limitations of a newspaper, you're still creating Bloom County in a newspaper-style 4-panel layout. Why are you continuing to use that format — even Charles Schulz, in the last decade of Peanuts, experimented with 1-, 2-, and 3-panel layouts — and are their narrative and aesthetic advantages to using the 4-panel format?
Berkeley Breathed: There are variations from time to time, but the four-panel format is what Bloom County always was. The Sundays, of course, are free form, no restrictions on what to do with them.
PREVIEWSworld: The original run of Bloom County was immersed in the pop and political culture of the times; the new strips are grounded, just as much, in the 2010s, and some of the humor of the strips comes from the contrast between the things that have changed and the things that are the same. Culturally, what would you say is the biggest change between the 1980s and today? And what's the greatest similarity?
Berkeley Breathed: The overwhelming change is the hurricane of commentary that now floods our senses. We were alone in our comical take on the day's news in the '80s. Not so much now. That and shortening attention spans. Its ruined movies and infected nearly all entertainment. Thank God I'm still only four panels.
PREVIEWSworld: Finally, if you had to sum up Bloom County and your newest book, Bloom County Episode XI: A New Hope with a single word, what would it be?
Berkeley Breathed: Sigh.