Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County first caught my eye in the 80’s when he’d do the occasional strip with Cutter John, Opus and several other characters acting out their own versions of scenes from Star Trek. It also caught on around my house the day he published a Sunday strip that included the phrase, “Gag me with a Smurf.” It was a staple of my family’s conversation for years to come.
It was only as I grew up that I realized there was more to the strip than Trek parodies and cool pop culture references.
Now, the entire run of the strip is being collected into volumes, including many strips that Breathed left out of Bloom County collections during its initial run. This gives fans a chance to watch the development of the strip and its characters. Sprinkled in are commentary notes from Breathed on some of the dated references and his thoughts and feelings about the development of the strip and its characters.
The first volume is a fascinating look at the evolution of the story. (It’s interesting to see how long it takes for the strip to introduce Opus and Bill the Cat, two of the strip’s most recognizable characters) By the end of volume I, most of the pieces are in place and you can see the strip finding its stride, tone and voice. There are some things that are a bit dated, such as the focus for strips at a time on the royal family. But given the context of the era, they’re easily understandable even if they are dated today.
This collection is a fascinating journey inside Bloom County. Well worth reading and enjoying.