Opus at Salon

In my early adulthood, there were several cartoonists whose work had a great deal of impact on me. Bill Waterson‘s Calvin and Hobbes was a huge influence on me as a young adult, as was Gary Larson‘s The Far Side. But at least as important to me at the time, if not moreso, was Berke Breathed‘s strip Bloom County.

More than just funny, Bloom County was serious social commentary at the same time as it was seriously funny … its quite possible that the experimental “X-15 Cruise Basselope” strip is the best modern example of parody of a weapons system. Whether it was Steve Dallas‘ boozing and womanizing ways, Binkley‘s closet of dread, Milo‘s problems at the newspaper, Opus‘ search for his mother, Oliver Wendall Jones‘ attempts to hack the world, or Bill the Cat‘s numerous battles with Little Friskies addiction, Breathed’s wonderful characters both made us laugh, and told us important stories at the same time.

When he stopped doing Bloom County, and subsequently retired after he finished his Outland strip, I thought the world had lost a talented cartoonist in his prime. I was thrilled to see him come back again with Opus a few years later, and even more thrilled to see it now on the Sunday pages of Salon.com as a regular feature. Like with Bloom County and to a lesser degree Outland, Opus is a mixture of humour and social commentary. Some of the same characters have come over previous strips, including, of course, the title character of Opus the penguin. Bill the Cat has also made appearances in the new strip.

Less rooted in the day to day news than Bloom County was, Opus speaks to larger, but no less vital, themes. Today’s strip, for example, is an interesting parody of today’s rise of atheist books and thoughts and in the end gives us all a very good reason to be “iffy about God.”

I don’t really have anything profound to say today … just wanted to give a shout-out to the new Sunday comic over at Salon and talk a bit about my memories of Bloom County. Head on over to Salon and get the Day Pass to have a look at today’s Opus, and if you enjoy independent journalism on the web, its a very reasonable subscription fee for some of the best content on the web, IMO. Slide over and check them out. And check out Opus too … he’s getting pretty old for a penguin, but with age comes wisdom.

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