Sunday mornings in my home (as a child of the 80’s) meant 3 things: 1. Deviating from my Christian upbringing by skipping church services. 2. Eating morning rolls with my father while he read his paper and listened to WCBS FM radio’s “Doo Wop Shop with Don K. Reed”. And, finally, 3. Waiting for my father to finish the paper so I could read the Sunday “funny strips”. Among the classics that my fertile young mind was weaned on were Peanuts, Hagar the Horrible, Beetle Bailey,Doonesbury, and Gasoline Alley. However, the one that made me harass my father until he gave up the Daily News was cartoonist Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County. Bloom County wasn’t the “gold standard” to Sunday strips that Charles Schultz’s Peanuts were nor was it as highbrow as Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury. What made the difference with me is that Bloom County appealed to my own skewed and wicked sense of humor. With a cast that includes animal characters Opus the Penguin, Bill the Cat, Hodge Podge the Rabbit, Portnoy the Groundhog and their human foils 10-year-old reporter Milo Bloom, eternal frat boy and local public defender Steve Dallas, Vietnam vet and wheelchair bound Cutter John, each week’s strips walked the fine line between sociopolitical commentary and outright lunacy. It was ( in my opinion ) “Doonesbury by way of crystal meth”.
Now comes IDW publishing’s release of “BerkeleyWorks: The Art of Berkeley Breathed”. This book is a collection of the cartoonist’s art, consisting of samples from Bloom County to its sequel Opus. I lost touch with Breathed’s work, after Bloom County was cancelled and my taste for the wickedly absurd shifted in favor towards Gary Larson’s The Far Side. Since then, Breathed wrote a number of children’s books, that I was not aware of. Among theses titles were Mars Needs Moms, which was adapted into an animated movie, Flawed Dogs, Red Ranger Came Calling, and Pete and Pickles. “BerkeleyWorks” also contains the concept art of these various projects, most of them unrealized film adaptations ( with the exception of Mars Needs Moms ). The art here are works reflecting a variety of media including digital, pencil, and ink with each exquisitely rendered in the cartoonist’s unique style. This book was a much needed stroll down a memorable lane that I dropped out of, from a true talent who was a great influence on my humor as well as writing style.
Berkeleyworks Breathed Bloom County & Beyond
Writer: Breathed, Berkeley
Artist: Breathed, Berkeley
Cover Artist: Breathed, Berkeley
Format: HARD COVER
On Sale: August 21, 2013
Diamond ID: APR130412