Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

October 6, 2008

Breathed Ending Opus November 2


The Washington Post Writer's Group disseminated a press release earlier today that made official widely speculated-on news that Berke Breathed is going to end his Opus strip. The conclusion of the strip falls three weeks short of Opus' five-year anniversary on the comics page, and the end of the cartoonist's career on the newspaper page.

Breathed got his start on the University of Texas' famed newspaper comics page with Academia Waltz, and his Bloom County was picked up by the Washington Post Writers Group syndicate in 1980. That strip went on to become one of the foundational comics of the 1980s and secured for its creator a Pulitzer Prize in 1987.

imageOpus was the popular kids book creator's third nationally syndicated strip, following the initial run on Bloom County and more diligently surreal and coda-like Sundays-only feature called Outland. Breathed's second feature ran from Bloom County's end in 1989 until he ended it in 1995. It was hoped that Opus, with its focus squarely on print newspapers -- it initially ran at a special size and wouldn't go on-line for a full year after its launch -- and with its protagonist one of Bloom County's most popular characters, could recapture for its clients the magic of the 1980s when editors fell over themselves to run Breathed's combination of loopy social/political commentary and lowbrow humor. It never quite attained runaway hit status, although it was a solid performer in I believe the 200-client range.

Still only in his early 50s, Breathed will return full-time to his successful, ongoing career as an illustrated book author. His latest, Pete and Pickles, is due on October 16.
posted 11:30 am PST | Permalink

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