Berkeley Breathed is putting ink to paper again, reviving some of my favorite faces from childhood: Opus the Penguin, Milo Bloom, and of course, Bill the Cat. I can’t fully capture the elation—and yes, was that true happiness? That wily emotion that has evaded me most of my adult life?—I felt at this announcement.
No, I can’t fully capture it, but I’m going to try.
Bloom County was the first comic strip I fell utterly, hopelessly in love with. At the tender age of 12ish, I picked up a copy of Loose Tails to read on a train trip to D.C. with my mother. I opened it up, and immediately felt like the lady in this strip:
I laughed my way through the U.S. Capitol building tour, giggled at the air and space museum, and practiced my "Ack! Thbbft" Bill the Cat impression as we toured the White House. Overall, it was one of my favorite vacations of all time.
The teenage years were as you might expect, but perhaps not as terrible as they could've been: puberty was awful, sure, but I had my beloved Bloom County books to cheer me up after my heart was broken countless times by boys who didn’t know I existed. I reread those books until the pages fell out. I laughed. I laughed more.
Then, in 1989, the laughter stopped. Berke Breathed announced that he was bringing Bloom County to an end. Ack! I felt much like this:
Though Bloom County had ended, it was still very much a part of my life. I'd read the books so often that I pretty much every strip memorized, and they'd pop into my head at the most unexpected times. For example, every time I shaved my legs, I thought of this:
I'll often quote punchlines from Bloom County strips that make people wonder when, exactly, my great escape from the funny farm occurred. Can't quite understand a line in a movie we're watching, or misheard something I just said? "Pear pimples for hairy fishnuts!" I'll shout gleefully.
Even as I'm typing this, I have an old Opus comic tacked up next to my computer. It’s traveled with me to every freelance editing job I've done:
I can’t adequately express the happiness I’m feeling today, so I'll let Berke show you, instead. (I like to imagine I''m gleefully riding on the wheelchair— affectionately known as the Starchair "Enterpoop"—between the rabbit and the bear below.)