Thursday, November 6, 2008

Not So Funnies: Farewell Opus

So you already know I love the newspaper comic strips, right? Back in the 80's Bloom County was a family favorite, second only to Doonesbury. I was always a fan of Milo and was kind of saddened to see how the ascendancy of Opus and Bill the Cat diverted the focus of the strip. But it was Mr. Breathed's strip not mine and he could do with it what he wanted. Can't blame him for sticking with what the audience really seemed to want. The same thing happened to Charles Schulz when Snoopy took off. If you get a moment in the zeitgeist you go with it. Anyway, Bloom County remained a wonderfully cockeyed commentary on Reagan's America. Then it morphed into Outland and, ultimately and simply, Opus.

When Breathed broke his back in a plane accident my little brother sent him a get-well letter. And the guy wrote him back, thanking him. I can't tell you what an impact that had on my brother that this guy took the time to send him a note. Very impressive.

Sadly, it didn't make much of a pop-culture ripple (at least in the pop cult I keep track of) when Breathed published the last appearance of Opus this past weekend. The set up for this is that Opus has decided to leave the stress of the world for a place where he can always be safe.

I think he made it.

I actually choked up when I saw this. I read this book a lot to my kids and I'll always picture this when I do from now on.

Just so you know, the final image up there was part of a Humane Society promotion. You might want to drop by and support them.

So, farewell to Opus and Milo and Steve Dallas and Cutter John and Bill the Cat and all the rest of those terrific characters. Twenty-eight years is an amazing run for any artist to have. Breathed, obviously, continues to publish - his books for children garner terrific reviews. And maybe, like the Lorax, someday Opus might return again.

Until then, thanks Mr. Breathed, and Good Night Opus.

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