Slow News Day

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This is five years old and there isn't really any good reason to blog it now, but what the hell. From The A.V. Club's interview with Bloom County's Berke Breathed:

O: Is the liberal stance of the early strips indicative of your own personal politics?

BB: Liberal, shmiberal. That should be a new word. Shmiberal: one who is assumed liberal, just because he's a professional whiner in the newspaper. If you'll read the subtext for many of those old strips, you'll find the heart of an old-fashioned Libertarian. And I'd be a Libertarian, if they weren't all a bunch of tax-dodging professional whiners.

I also enjoyed his reaction to a question about unauthorized reprints on the Web: "What the hell are you talking about? My strips are there? Is this that Napster shit people keep mentioning?"

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  1. I just want to thank you for blogging this, Jesse, as I missed it at the time. I spent an absurd amount of my childhood reading and re-reading every Bloom County book I could get my hands on. Good times.

  2. His piece which openly mocked Greenpeace should have been the first clue that BB wasn’t some garden variety “liberal.”

  3. Now, perhaps, I understand why some have promoted the penguin to be the Libertarian answer to the Republican elephant and the the Democrat jack-ass.

  4. the penguin to be the Libertarian answer

    Good luck with that – the Linux-heads would have kittens (to add to the menageric fun). And much as I’d like to think they and the libertarians could share a mascot, I don’t.

    Maybe I’m wrong, though, and we can all promote our creed via a penguin smoking a spliff.

  5. C’mon, people. It’s the porcupine.

  6. “the Linux-heads would have kittens”

    That would require them to find mates, wouldn’t it?

  7. I’m a Linux user and a libertarian, so I like the penguin idea. But let’s face it, Opus spent most of life pining away for his mother and playing a very bad tuba. Bill the Cat, on the other hand, was independent, disheveled, and possibly stoned most of the time, so he’s clearly a better candidate for a libertarian mascot. Now if Oliver Wendell Holmes had been an animal of some sort, that would have been perfect…

  8. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. When I was a young aspiring cartoonist myself back when I didn’t know libertarian from libertine, Breathed was always my hero.

    Two things that you can say about all three of Breathed’s strips, even outside of the political context, is:

    1) He actually LIKES to draw, whereas many cartoonists don’t (nor even try). Breathed’s best work is right up there with George Herriman, Walt Kelly and Windsor McKay in execution, design and style.

    2) He understands that a comic strip shouldn’t be so smug and self-referential that it stops just being plain FUNNY.

    Unlike Doonesbury, Mallard Fillmore, and Boondocks, all three of Breathed’s strips placed puns before punditry. Imagine Trudeau or McGruder coming up with something as absurdly laughable as a big-nosed, derby-wearing cockroach that occasionally puts on high heels and falsies. Forget Opus, give me Milquetoast!

  9. Imagine Trudeau or McGruder coming up with something as absurdly laughable as a big-nosed, derby-wearing cockroach that occasionally puts on high heels and falsies.

    Early Trudeau sometimes came close. I miss Zonker’s talking plants.

  10. I had a snarky comment all ready to go. Then I RTFA, and realized I couldn’t compete with that. Breathed lets comic bombs drop from his lips like B-52 only funnier than a big war machine, like diarrhea only not as smelly, so more like a B-52 with loose stools where you’re the bombardier watching it all go splat splat splat and not one of the guys on the ground getting splat upon. At least it’s like that for the first half. All the way up until he equates Star Trek with Kin Tut’s bread. You should stop reading after that because the rest is really boring. Like blah blah blah. In fact if you replaced every other sentence after the King Tut line with “blah blah blah” it would be funnier than it actually is. But still the first half was hysterical. Thanks for the link Jesse!

  11. Thank you, Officer Barbrady!

  12. Breathed has the world’s best weekly strip. Lynn Johnston has the world’s best day-in-day-out. Al Capp remains on Mt. Olypicappus.

    As a peaceful anarchist, I especially appreciate the gentleness of that there penguin.
    I’m thinking, if penguins were native to the Pennsylvania area, Benjamin Franklin would have nominated it as the national symbol versus his choice, the turkey.
    Turkeys can be a bit, well, turkeys.

    (I’m a bird-watcher. I’ve never tasted a penguin, but I’ve heard puffins are edible, according to Icelanders. The fish oil in them would surely balance your good vs. bad cholesterol… in comparison to Shmoos, which tasted great, but simply raised your bad cholesterol.)

  13. “Bill the Cat, on the other hand, was independent, disheveled, and possibly stoned most of the time, so he’s clearly a better candidate for a libertarian mascot.”

    Or Drinky Crow:
    http://www.maakies.com/archive/m534.html

  14. Ack!

    I used to get in trouble for reading Bloom County in English class. In fourth grade.

    How many authors have their poetry summoned on the occasion of the death of a Secretary of Defense?

  15. Ruthless-

    You’ve actually eaten Shmoo? What does it taste like? Anything like a shmo? Or a shmuck?

  16. The real testiment to Breathed’s genius is that the people he made the most fun of were often his biggest fans. Few people caught more flack on the pages of Bloom County than Casper Weinberger. Yet, Weinberger once wrote to Breathed asking for an original of a strip that lampooned him. Satire without nastiness is pretty hard to come by these days.

  17. On the other hand, John, I have it on semi-good authority that when Breathed sent Jeane Kirkpatrick a bunch of the strips involving her, she had no idea what Bloom County was or why she’d want them. She would have thrown them out, except one of her kids intervened.

  18. Jesse

    But, Kirkpatrick is one of those giant brains that lives in a different dimension than the rest of us. I just can’t see her being particularly knowledgeable about pop culture.

  19. the Linux-heads would have kittens

    I thought they were all “open-source, information wants to be free, copyright is teh suxxor.” Why should they care if someone else uses “their” mascot?

  20. Terrific!

    Great, as usual. Thanks, Jesse for flagging that for us!

  21. “Now if Oliver Wendell Holmes had been an animal of some sort, that would have been perfect…” Mad Scientist.

    MS, are you referring to the esteemed Supreme Court Justice or the esteemed junior scientist and Bloom County regular–Oliver Wendlel Jones? Either way, your statement is a good one

  22. .. Opus wouldn’t make a good mascot for the Libertarian party .. he has “Liberal” stamped all over him!!

    .. Hobbit

  23. LOL! Well done, Jemez!

  24. I thought they were all “open-source, information wants to be free, copyright is teh suxxor.” Why should they care if someone else uses “their” mascot?

    Because, as it seems to in all such cases, information doesn’t want to be free all the time.

  25. …we can all promote our creed via a penguin smoking a spliff.

    Fine by me…

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