Not subscribing to a newspaper I rarely have occasion to read the comics these days — but my childhood and teenage years were spent devouring “Calvin and Hobbes”, Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” and Berkley Breathed’s “Bloom County” (circa 1980-1989). For those who don’t recognize the latter, IDW Publishing has announced the launch of The Bloom County Complete Library — “a five volume collection featuring every daily and Sunday strip in chronological order, many reprinted for the first time.”
The Bloom County Library will also contain a series of “Context Pages” sprinkled throughout the volumes, providing perspective for the reader and presenting a variety of real-life events and personalities that were contemporary at the time of original publication.
In a recent interview with Los Angeles Times‘ “Hero Complex”, Breathed describes the circumstances that led to his decision to relenquish cartooning:
“When you’re young, you miss things, you just don’t see them,” said the 52-year-old Breathed, who walked away from comic strips last year because the Digital Age had eroded his newsprint audience and, worse, his artistic vigor and sense of whimsy. […]
“Not to sound like someone swinging their cane, but in the 1980s there weren’t a thousand other voices screaming to be heard at the same time,” Breathed said of the decade when his “Bloom County” was featured in more than 1,200 newspapers and he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning. “There was a quiet in the room that made being a commentator very exciting. There was no Web, there was barely any cable TV. If you were looking for humorous topical commentary, you would go to the Johnny Carson monologue, ‘Saturday Night Live’ and ‘Doonesbury.’ That was it. After you have the silence of that room, you get really weary with the screaming it takes today. There’s also this bitterness in the public square now that is difficult to avoid. I never did an angry strip, but in recent years I saw that sneaking in.”
Breathe goes on to discuss Peanuts‘ Charles Schulz (“The major regret in my cartooning life is I didn’t get to know him”); Doonesbury‘s Garry Trudeu (“He came as close to a hero for me as I was going to have in the comics world”) and Calvin & Hobbes‘ Bill Watterson (“Breathed’s fan, friend and rival”).
Having departed from the world of comic-strips, Breathed now writes and illustrates children’s books.