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Thursday, October 09, 2008

This confirms it.
'Opus' creator to retire from drawing comic strips
The Associated Press
Oct. 8, 2008, 3:25 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Berkeley Breathed is retiring, leaving a hole in the Sunday funnies and the hearts of "Opus" fans.

The last strip featuring the beloved, large-beaked penguin will run in about 200 newspapers nationwide Nov. 2. Breathed announced Monday he's calling it quits after a comics career that has spanned nearly 30 years.

Amy Lago, comics editor of The Washington Post Writers Group, said Breathed will pursue other interests, such as writing books and screenplays.

Starting and stopping popular strips is old hat for Breathed, who lives in Santa Barbara, Calif., and has a children's book, "Pete & Pickles," due out next week.

The writers group unveiled his "Bloom County" strip in 1980; he went on to win the Pulitzer for editorial cartooning in 1987. He ended that strip in 1989 and the same year began the Sunday-only strip "Outland," which he quit in 1995. In 2003, he launched "Opus."

Breathed began his career as a college student with a strip in the University of Texas newspaper.

News of his retirement won't be too shocking for true fans — recent strips have alluded to "Opus" ending. Even so, Lago said, fans are disappointed.

This Sunday's strip will include a contest in which Breathed asks readers to guess the penguin's fate. Details on how to participate are not being released ahead of time. The answer will appear online after the last "Opus" runs next month, Lago said.
So it ends again and this time it looks as if it's really for good. He already said his goodbyes the first time in 1989 (with the premise that Donald Trump bought Bloom County forcing other characters to seek work in other strips), continued on with "Outland" until 1995 when he ended it without much funfare (Opus went to Antarctica to reunite with his long lost mother), and finally this.

Out of all the comic strips, Berke Breathed's "Bloom County" was the first, and obviously, still has the biggest influence in doing my comic strips. And I mostly agree with most, if not all, his political opinions too. I also read in another blog that, "You just can't get this kind of stuff today - too un-politically correct. Besides it's too smart to be wasted on today's youth." And I agree. Too much political correctness drove out most of the humor from entertainment leaving us with mostly bland, colorless sludge that passes itself off as comedy. Which leads us to Mr. Breathed's reasons for finally putting the penguin out to pasture:
“30 years of cartooning to end. I’m destroying the village to save it. Opus would inevitably become a ranting mouthpiece in the coming wicked days, and I respect the other parts of him too much to see that happen. The Michael Moore part of me would kill the part of him that was important to his fans.”

“With the crisis in Wall Street and Washington, I’m suspending my comic strip to assist the nation. The best way I can help is to leave politics permanently and write funny stories for America’s kids. I call on John McCain to join me.” ~ Berkeley Breathed says goodbye to Opus: 'I'm destroying the village to save it', LA Times, 02:04 PM PT, Oct 6 2008
We'll never see another comic strip with the same caliber as Bloom County did in the 80s (or the recent "Opus") as these two hilarious samples show:



Click each image to expand.

Of course there are exceptions here and there but I would boldly say there will never be another cartoonist as far reaching in his influence as Mr. Breathed did for his generation, which I was lucky enough to be included. If you like what you've read then you can browse through other samples here, here, and here. I took the liberty of copying and posting below are the strips leading to the end (I hope Washington Post doesn't mind... click to expand in a new window) :





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