This Pick of the Month shouldn’t be breaking news to anyone not under a rock (which is plausible… sometimes a self-imposed rock is necessary for cartoonin’ production, no?). But, yes, Berkeley Breathed is back in action behind the Bloom County helm. And if you’ve peeked out from that rock at any point in the last 6 months, and got a wiff of the American election circus… you know precisely why. No matter which corner of the political pool you’re wading in, you have to admit this is one of the most juicy, eyebrow-raising, unprecedented, raucous, bombastic reality show of an election, in history. In some respects, it’s also scary, sure.. as this ain’t no reality tv show fluff but our country at stake.. but it’s the best muse a political writer, comedian or cartoonist will ever find. It’s bursting at the seams with endless content to pick apart and, for a moment, alleviate the stress of what may be in store for us Americans. And really, the world. It creates quite the internal conflict, if you have a strong feeling against a front-runner, too.. as noted in this relevant viral video by another political cartoonist. Especially when we cartoonists often use our art as a therapeutic release! It’s gonna be a rough 9 months. But also, FUNNY.
In particular, Donald Trump’s candidacy for president must have been a factor behind Berkeley’s return. I mean, his brain lives on within Bill the Cat, due to that tragic yacht anchor incident. Trump was even involved in the final story of the comic itself, in 1989.
What can really be said about Berkeley Breathed’s famous Bloom County that hasn’t already? A genius & witty politically-charged strip, which won a Pulitzer for editorial cartooning, despite not being a traditional editorial cartoon. Based in middle America, the main characters are children who talk like adults (in the same vein as Peanuts), and joining them are the iconic animals, Opus the penguin and Bill the cat, most notably. Much of the strips insightfulness comes from Milo Bloom, a 10-year-old newspaper reporter.
There’s just *ahem* BOUND-LESS inspiration for jokes during election season. And in 2016, it’s a veritable trampoline playground. Again, can we blame Berkeley for making his triumphant return?
And what a jarring, shock to the system he must be experiencing now: going from syndicates, newspaper restrictions, and snail mail….. to the world wide web and all it’s possibilities, social media chaos, and immediate feedback via comments. And honestly, what pure pleasure this has been for Bloom County fans. Seeing his work pop up on your feed, being able to comment on every new comic, and all the bonuses that come with following his page. Old classic comics, where you see how much his character’s style has changed, or some dropped hints at future merch & books. No doubt this wasn’t apart of the fan experience reading the funny pages in the paper.
There’s actually a great interview about Breathed’s return and dealing with the new medium that is the internet, on NPR’s “Fresh Air”, here.
Or even more touching, discovering other pop-culture or news-worthy subjects that Breathed keeps close to his heart, like this tribute to Harper Lee of “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Indeed, Bloom County’s rebirth, shifting from newspaper format to webcomic online format, reminds us why the internet can make consumption of favorite content that much better!
Dawn Griffin is the resident “crazy chick”. She likes steak, Cleveland sports, video games and oh yeah, comics. She spent her formative years either playing street basketball, pitching, or drawing comics and submitting them to syndicates. Once she –accidentally– discovered the world of webcomics, the syndication route became a pointless hurdle. After all, “Crazy Chicks” do things their *&%$ selves. Dawn is the mastermind behind Zorphbert and Fred, and you can find her portfolio site HERE. She can be easily bribed with ice cream.