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."