Contented Reader

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The Bloom County Library

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The Bloom County Library

Berkeley Breathed

IDW Publishing

I was an avid Bloom County reader all through high school, even though I didn’t understand all of the jokes.  Most of the political humor went right over my head, and ditto the jokes on the cultural battle between reason and idiocy.  Back then, after all, most of the people I knew were on the side of idiocy.  Boycott K-Mart for selling Playboy!  Down with The Last Temptation of Christ!  Madalyn Murray O’Hare is about to make it illegal to talk about God on television or radio!  O’Hare had been dead for several years the first time I saw that little scare letter, mimeographed.  I’ve gotten it again via email since then.

That was all a long time ago.

Now there are these beautiful hardcover collections of all the Bloom County strips.  These are really well-done books.  The print quality is excellent, the pages are nice and large, the binding pleasantly solid.  These aren’t cheap books, but I feel good about the money I spent, because I fully expect to die with these books still on my shelf.

The amazing thing is how well the humor holds up.  Political humor gets stale quickly, but Bloom County, despite its many 1980s pop-culture references, has a timeless quality to it.  And idealist, befuddled Opus is just as wonderful as he was when I had his stuffed likeness on my desk, back in 1990.  Breathed adds some commentary into his though processes, and the editors sometimes gloss pop-culture references that have gotten a little too obscure.  (I admit it, I had forgotten about Morton Downey.)

I read most of these in the newspapers, back when they were fresh, and so for me, there’s an element of happy nostalgia in reading them.  But I think that there’s a new generation who will fall in love with Bloom County for the first time.  Pop music and political names may change, but the basic idiocy that is human culture seems to have stayed pretty much the same.

I have this fantasy that somewhere in his forest mansion, Berke Breathed is still drawing comic strips, and putting them in a box.  And some day, we’ll see his take on Facebook, and Lady Gaga, and Michelle Bachman…. I choose to believe this, because I badly want it to be true.


Written by Contented Reader

October 27, 2011 at 8:10 am

Posted in Reviews


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