Just finished the first volume of the complete library of Bloom County. What a treat it was to revisit a strip that meant so much to me as a child and really inspired me in the possibilities of the comic strip more than just about anything else that was out there at the time.
It’s always interesting to look at a strip in its infancy and it should come as no surprise that at the start Bloom County was a much different strip. It took a while for the strip to find its focus and rhythm (Breathed says it happened once Opus became a regular, and that seems true) and some of the characters that were early focuses of the strip slowly fade out, like Milo’s grandfather and Limekiller and the rest of the people that inhabit the boarding house (another idea which seems to have slipped out quietly.)
What does come through loud and clear is Breathed’s political views, particularly his passion for animal rights (which led to the much maligned ending of the Opus strip.) I’m sure as a kid I didn’t fully grasp how barbed the strip was, but today it seems like a perfect reflection of the conservative ’80s: lots of nuke jokes and a particularly funny one about trying to find liberals, an endangered species. I also had forgotten about some of the running gags, like Milo talking back to himself in the mirror and the cockroaches. I had also forgotten completely the character of Senator Bedfellow (or maybe I just wasn’t that interested in politics at the time) and found those strip to be very clever and still relevant.
I was not particularly fond of the seemingly overwhelming number of strips dealing with Charles and Di. I’m sure they read well back at the time they were written, but they seem really dated today (the only example perhaps of where the strip has not weathered well.)
There were a lot of strips here that I was unfamiliar with, which made me wonder if the earlier books only excerpted some (I never was really fond of the first couple collections, so my memory may be faulty.)
Unfortunately, we have to wait until next spring for the next volume. This I imagine is where Bloom County really hits its stride. I’m eagerly awaiting it.