My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Man, do I ever miss Bloom County. This book, though, isn’t Bloom County. It’s more of a reminder of what was a “golden age” of comic strips. And by golden age, I mean golden age in MY lifetime. There are comics that predate me (Peanuts, etc.) that are just as legendary.
But I digress.
As a kid who never understood the joys of the sports page, I would gravitate to the comics section of the Sunday newspaper each and every week. So my childhood and teens were spent on a solid diet of Berkeley Breathed and Bill Watterson. When Bloom County ended, I had the last strip cut out of my local newspaper, mounted on poster board, and pinned it up on the wall next to my Apple IIc.
I miss Bloom County.
Opus is a Sunday only comic that ran in the new millennium while print media was slowly spiraling into oblivion. As bad as political correctness was in the nineties, the past decade has taken the American mindset to such an extreme need for sanitized entertainment that it would have been impossible for Breathed to recreate the magic of Bloom County again… but dammit, he tried.
This book just missed the mark for me, though. Aside from the obvious limitations that newspapers put on the strip (there were at least three or four strips that noted that an alternate strip was sent along with it “just in case” the newspaper opted not to run it due to it’s controversial content,) there were a couple of things that the book as whole did that made it less enjoyable.
1. A Lack of Notes: In the previous Bloom County and Outland volumes, Berkley Breathed and his editor would occasionally offer pop culture insight or side stories at the bottom of random strips. That is sorely missing from this volume.
2. Cohesion in Storytelling: Breathed did this in the beginning (introduced Steve Dallas appearing along with other characters,) but later in the narrative he just gave up. Binkley just shows up… the same age. No explanation. Oliver has a cameo and, again, no explanation. I know it’s just a comic strip – but this bothered me for some reason.
I enjoyed reading the book for the feeling of closure. In the end, though, “Opus” just serves as a reminder of how great Bloom County was by showing that there couldn’t be a Bloom County again.