Sunday, November 25, 2012

YIP!: The Bloom County: The Complete Library

Though newspaper comic strips seem to be slowly dying off as an art form, the past decade or so has provided some consolation for fans of the art form with handsome collections of classic strips.  One of my favorites has been the Bloom Countycollection.  I had all the previous books of cartoonist Berke Breathed's masterpiece, but the collections include every strip whereas the previous books only included what Breathed considered to be the best strips or those the publisher's lawyers found least troublesome.  For example, the storyline where Bill The Cat gets converted to Christianity originally had the woman doing the converting being named "Edith Dreck", but in the original publication of those strips (and not many of them at that) in Tales Too Ticklish To Tell, she becomes Edith Drock.  Apparently, this was because a fundamentalist Christian reverend started a boycott of Bloom County because "dreck" is Yiddish for "shit".  Breathed, seemingly unaware of the Yiddish meaning, just thought it was a funny name.  Fortunately, the original name is restored in the collected version (Volume Four to be precise).  And, I only know this because of Breathed's helpful commentary on the strips throughout the collected versions, which also adds to their appeal.  Sadly, since Bloom County opened and closed in the 1980s, the collection is only five volumes, though a sixth collects Breathed's subsequent Outland strip.  It's a tribute to Breathed that his strip is still quite enjoyable thirty years on, though younger readers may need the helpful editorial comments also provided explaining the then contemporary references to current events that Breathed often was satirizing.  We could probably use some more Bloom County these days, but, after three separate strips (Breathed also did a short lived Sunday strip called Opus last decade), Breathed's probably retired now for good.  That's too bad, or, as Bill might say, "Ack!"

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