I think one of the things that got me into comics really early on was comic strips. It’s probably the same for just about every “comic guy”. Most people like the humor found on the comics page, but a “comics guy” likes everything about it: the coloring, the letters, the timing, the use of space, panel selection, character design/development, etc. To me, at least before I really “got into” comics and especially after I had “given up” on comics, Berkley Breathead was my hero. His comics – specifically Outland, and to a lesser extent Bloom County – was the epitome of the comics page. It seemed that every strip was a perfect pitch (it might be why he won the Pulitzer).
Since there are very few places to actually read every comic a creator does in a row (I supposed I could go up to the MSU Comics museum and start leafing through newspapers from the later 80s), I was happy to receive The Bloom County Collection Volume 3 and Opus: 25 Years of His Sunday Best for Chrsitmas.
Like with everything I get regarding the evolution of an idea, I love these books.
To me, there’s nothing more interesting than watching an idea grow and shape itself into something catchy and reliable; I think it’s mesmerizing. At the beginning of the series the titular character does a lot of Calvin & Hobbes type stuff – he imagines he’s in a space ship, he calls girls ugly that he really likes – but in a very lame way. Later, as Breathead starts to add anamorphic characters – Opus and Bill mainly – the series seems to take a manic and hilarious turn. You can almost see the artist going, “These things have a life of their own! I’m just going to introduce a situation, watch them fight it out, and collect paychecks for the next ten years!”
Obviously there are some stinkers in the collection, but Breathead adds some commentary beside a few chosen strips to explain why the storyline fizzled or why the art was a little off. I would’ve appreciated it on every strip, but he’s a busy man, what with Mars Needs Moms and all.
To anyone reading this, I higlighy recommend picking up some sort of collection for the sheer joy of watching the idea grow into something that the creator has no control over.
I’m starting to arch that point with Tiny Life. I’m pretty excited.
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