It’s perhaps appropriate that one of my first posts be about Bloom County, one of the first strips that really captured my attention. Sure, I liked Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes, but Bloom County was the one strip I cut out and collected and STILL bought the books. I can remember the “Billy and the Boingers Bootleg” compilation that came with a flimsy detachable record inside from a contest whose winners created the best pseudo Boingers songs and the prize was inclusion in the book. I wonder if you can still get that if you purchase a new copy.
My original copies of those books are in the hands of my sister in Florida and I haven’t looked at them in years, which makes the reissuing of the entire series a great opportunity for me to revisit one of the benchmarks of my childhood. Usually the Cartoon Library devoted itself to older stuff like Little Orphan Annie or Bringing Up Father; the fact that they are willing to bank on the longevity of this strip, which is not even thirty years old, is a testament to how great it was (or perhaps how many people wanted to see it.)
I’m not completely through the first volume yet (one has to savor these things since the next one doesn’t come out until next April) but so far I really like what has been done here. Bloom County was always a strip very much of its time (the eighties) and perhaps once the eighties left us, Bloom County has to as well. But the book is annotated in the margins, explaining several of the pop culture references. Most of them were familiar to me; again, perhaps the editors, wanting to create a definitive collection of this material, were concerned that down the road people might be confused. Breathed himself also contributes several self-deprecating comments; one I jsut read about the first appearance of Opus dealt with how he wished it hadn’t taken him six months to bring him back.
What I most admire about Bloom County is that although it was clearly enmeshed in its time and very critical and sarcastic of it, the humor was universal and still quite funny today. What I don’t like about strips like Zits and Fox Trot is that it seems like most of the jokes there are too timely, dealing with cell phones and Facebook and such, and won’t play well in thirty years. I don’t envision a collection of either strip (or much out there currently, for that matter).
More on the new Bloom County book in later posts.