Bloom County: The Complete Library Volume 3: 1984-1986
Here’s where Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County hits its peak, covering the 1984 election by having the various animals enter politics as members of the Meadow Party. (This was also about the midpoint of its run, since the strip ran from 1980-1989.)
Bill the Cat is running for President in spite of his scandals, bad habits, and state of mortality — dead. Today, when politics have become so nasty and fragmented and hateful, it’s quite amusing to read the satire of a younger time. The jokes are still funny, too, in large part due to the cartooning of a penguin running for Vice-President.
Oliver Wendell Jones cracks NBC12’s election night coverage and invents a pigmentizer when he discovers apartheid. Binkley indulges in his anxiety closet. All the pop culture references, especially a lengthy Michael Jackson storyline, plus religion, politics, computerization, astronomy, and media tweaking. Ah, memories, but just as humorous as the first time around. Maybe more so, aided by the haze of nostalgia. I, at least, appreciate skilled art and solid reproduction much more than I did reading these on newsprint. Plus, as Breathed points out several times, some of these strips wouldn’t get published today by newspapers scared of offending an ever-shrinking audience.
Author Breathed provides a handful of annotations about what he was thinking or revealing his inspirations. There aren’t nearly enough of them for my taste, because I find that kind of thing irresistible, but “what there is, is choice.” Still, I would have expected some mention of Vanessa Williams during the storyline where Steve Dallas becomes Mister America but has to relinquish his crown when naughty pictures surface.
I was surprised to note in the strip from December 11, 1985, the phrase “Foreshadowing… your clue to quality literature.” So THAT’s where that comes from! I’d always wondered. Not only was I entertained by this book, I was enlightened, with a mystery solved. If you haven’t tried this excellent reprint series yet, part of the Library of American Comics, start here, then pick up Volume One and Volume Two.