Wasted Potential

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Back To the Boarding House

This month, IDW Publishing released the first of a projected five volumes of Bloom County: The Complete Library, which will collect every installment from the ten year run of Berkely Breathed's beloved and influential comic strip. Thanks to this book, readers have the chance to visit again with such fondly remembered characters as Major Bloom, "Pops" Popolov, the widow Tucker, Limekiller, Alphonso Ali, and Rabies the dog.
Huh? Who?
This first volume chronicles a strip searching for its focus, and an artist slowly finding his voice. While Breathed's biting humor is present from the very first, it would take several months before he would hit upon the exact mix of characters and oddball personalities that made the strip special.
The Bloom boarding house and the strange characters who inhabit it are the focus of the strip from the outset, as they would remain, and the first of the "iconic" Bloom County characters to appear is Milo Bloom, grandson of the owners. Over the next few months, the rest of the more well known cast members would find their way into the strip, including Mike Binkley, Steve Dallas, and, finally, a certain flightless aquatic waterfowl known as Opus. The penguin was originally slated to appear in only a couple of strips, but he soon became the comics equivalent of Fonzie or Urkel, the once minor character who rises in popularity to become the star.
The strips are still as funny now, nearly thirty years later, as they were back in the 1980's, yet Bloom County is still very much a product of its time and the publishers have included pages of headlines "From the pages of the Bloom Beacon" recapping the major events of the time, many of which are parodied in the strip. Breathed, like most of the country at the time, was particularly obscessed with the royal wedding of Charles and Diana, and the royal couple, and their first offspring, star in a long series of strips. The headlines serve as reminder for those who lived through those times, and primer for younger readers.
The book itself is a beautiful oversized hardcover, and, at $39.99, not inexpensive, but well worth it. I'm looking forward to getting the next four.

- Posted by wastedpotential on October 18th, 2009, 11:16 am    -   0 comments

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