Jessica's Reviews > Classics of Western Literature: Bloom County, 1986-1989

Classics of Western Literature by Berkeley Breathed
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Nov 18, 07

bookshelves: favorites, wish-i-owned
Recommended for: every single human, penguin, rabbit, basselope, etc

Bloom County represents, for me, the absolute apex of twentieth-century art and letters. There is no better source for information on western culture and history in the 1980s, but its appeal just goes so far beyond that. Actually, this is a rare topic on which words do fail me. I simply cannot express how much I love Bloom Country.

This particular book was in my backpack when it was stolen one afternoon my freshman year at Berkeley High School. The sad part about this was that I was headed to Cody's after school to attend god-like idol Berke Breathed's book signing. Because this collection had been snatched, I was left to purchase Breathed's new children's book (either the Xmas story "A Wish for Wings that Work" or "The Last Basselope," whichever one came out second) and have him sign that.

I was star-struck when I got to his table, and muttered something about my little brothers really liking the previous kids' book he'd written. I then spent the rest of that day, and every other day in the fourteen years since, kicking myself for having said this instead of just keeping quiet, which would have been better:

Berkeley Breathed must have thought I was some dumb-ass teenager too young to have read Bloom County, who'd happened upon his recent projects and taken him for just another childrens book writer and illustrator!!!!!!

What a humiliating and horrendous catastrophe!

If only there were some way to go back, to make him understand!!!!!!

Mr. Breathed, if you show me the beginning of virtually any anthologized Bloom County strip from its many years in syndication, I can descibe from memory exactly what happens in the final panel: the punchline and the expressions on every character's face. Without your work, I would never have learned a single thing about the Falklands, heavy metal, the moral majority, or any other event from an era I lived through, but was too young to pay attention to at the time. Reagan's administration would still be a complete mystery to me without your enlightening books. Moreover, I would always have doubted that my favorite aspects of art -- cynical humor, social criticism, idealism, poetry, beauty, romance, satire, good politics, and absolute silliness -- could ever be synthesized perfectly in one place. I still can't really look at classic-era Bloom County without falling apart a little bit, because it is so sublimely perfect to me. It's hard even to think about. I was literally in love with this strip. It's ridiculous. I can't even talk about it.... Thhpt!

One day maybe I can express my abiding gratitude to Berkeley Breathed, perhaps by naming my firstborn either "Opus" or "Ronald-Ann."
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by matthew (new)

matthew i recall these littering your room. it really was a great strip. do you read (or watch) "the boondocks"?

message 2: by Emily (new)

Emily It's so awesome that we had such similar experiences with Bloom County! My brother and I read them over and over and over until the spines were all broken and the books were more stacks of loose pages than books. Even still, all my knowledge of 80s politics and a fair amount of my knowledge about 80s pop culture comes from Bloom County. Bloom County was even my first introduction to a lot of social issues. To this day, every time I buy Band-Aids it makes me think about Oliver Wendell Jones wearing "flesh" colored band-aids. That really struck a chord with the very small me and made me very sad and mad. Part of what I really like about Bloom County is that I read them very early on in life and as I grew up, I would understand more and more with each rereading. I need to read them again!

message 3: by Jessica (last edited Nov 19, 2007 07:42PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jessica Yes, yes, yes, YES! Yes to everything. Remember the crayon thing around the same time as the band-aids? The rabbit or someone reads a letter to the audience from Crayola's lawyers and apologizes profusely for the previous day's strip, noting that Crayola discontinued the "Flesh" colored crayon in 1972.... while in the background Opus or Ronald-Ann or someone is drawing and sort of bemusedly reading the label, "Indian Red." Bloom County is the best thing that ever existed. I always felt like when we lived together, you were Opus to my Steve Dallas. Did you ever have a crush on Binkley? I know he was sort of a dork, but to me he looked hot when he was going around in those skimpy metal tee-shirts. I was super into his hair. I also can relate to his Anxiety Closet more and more with each passing year....

....crap, I've gotten started. I'd better stop. But yeah, must go back and read Bloom County! I still have all my old books -- except the one that was stolen -- but they're at my mom's. I should keep them around to read at the end of days like the one I just had.

Jessica P.S. Remember how they finally discovered Rosebud was the female character when they found her hiding out behind a tree stump wearing a tutu and reading Our Bodies Our Selves!!!????

Jessica HAH HAH HAH!

Jessica Remember when Cutter John goes on that first date with whatsername the hot girl who kind of disappeared, and they're making really awkward datey small talk?

Him: "...hah hah hah."
Her: "Oh yes, hah hah....."
Him: "This is so silly. Here we are, making dumb small talk like a couple of kids...."
Her: "Yeah, let's just cut to the chase."
Him: "Legs shaved?"
Her: "Halfway."

It was way better phrased than that, though, and somehow out really sweet. Um, it works better with pictures.... The reason I'm bringing this up is that I think about it a lot when I'm in the shower. It totally gave me a big heads up about what things might be like when I got a bit older, which hopefully helped me keep a slightly better attitude than I might have otherwise.

message 7: by Emily (new)

Emily I actually think about that exact strip when I'm shaving my legs to go out on a date! It was one of those ones that I really didn't get at all when I was little. And then I was like, well, they are just being real and intimitate. and Cutter John was awesome and sensitive and girls wanted to hump him instead of Steve Dallas. And then I got to a point where I would only shave above the knee if I was going to get laid. I really liked Bobbi (was that her name?). I kind of wish they hadn't gotten rid of her. I guess the adults didn't really fit in after a while.
And I totally had a crush on Binkley, especially when he had a crush on Blondie and they went to the movies and she had to pay because he spent so long debating about whether to pay for her or not.
I was opus to your steve dallas? I always thought I was Milo to your Binkley. Or maybe as roommates I was more Opus to your Limekiller. (remember when they were roommates and Limekiller made a breakfast of cereal and milk of magnesia? that was the first time I ever heard of milk of magnesia). Maybe that more accurately describes Molly relationship to us two ingrates.

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