Great news for fans of Berkeley Breathed's classic comic strip Bloom County: he has a new collection of comics out! It's been a quarter century since he's been in the funny papers, but folks like me, for whom Opus and Bill the Cat are old friends and icons, will be delighted to see the old gang back in Bloom County Episode XI: A New Hope.
In his introduction, Breathed mentions his literary hero, Harper Lee, whose characters Atticus Finch and Scout took on a life of their own for readers long after Lee was done with them. He writes, "Rare, these: Worlds and characters that are more alive for one's readers than they are for their creator. We who stumble upon them are the Blessed Ones. . . not so much clever as maybe just plain lucky. We shouldn't walk away too easily." After walking away for twenty-five years, Breathed walked back and found new joy, or, as he puts it, "joyfulishness" in Bloom County and its inhabitants.
Breathed gets a laugh out of plenty of corners of recent pop culture and social media. Opus's main presidential campaign platform is a return to two spaces after a period. (I'm in!) He pokes fun at the red Starbucks cup controversy. He explores the consequences of letting a baby loose on Facebook. Trump gets skewered. Bill the Cat is Bill the Cat.
Like most readers, it's been twenty-five years since I've read Bloom County strips. I remember liking it better than the I liked this new collection. But I'm still happy that Breathed found new joy in these inimitable characters and has "breathed" new life into them.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!