Berkeley Breathed is responsible for one of the more delightful things to happen to my Facebook feed in some time: The Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, who created “Bloom County” and characters like Opus the penguin, has revived his beloved comic strip after a 25-year hiatus, posting new installments on his Facebook page.
In a new interview with NPR’s “Fresh Air”, Breathed says he has author Harper Lee to thank for the decision. He was stunned when Lee’s supposed second novel was published earlier this year as Go Set a Watchman:
BERKELEY BREATHED: I watched slack-jawed in horror as they threw one of the 20th century’s most iconic fictional heroes, Atticus Finch, under the bus. At the time — and this was a couple of months ago — it made me think that there would have been no “Bloom County” without “Mockingbird” because I was 12 I read it, and the book’s fictional Southern small town of Maycomb had settled deep into my graphic imagination and informed it forever. If you look at any of my art for the past 30 years, there’s always a small-town flavor to it.
So this summer, just a couple months ago when “Go Set A Watchman” was causing an uproar, I went back to my files and I pulled an old fan letter from years ago. It says (reading), “Dear Mr. Breathed, this is a plea from a dotty old lady and from others not dotty at all. Please don’t shut down Opus. Can’t you at least give him a reprieve? Opus is simply the best comic strip there is and depriving him of life is murder – a hard word to describe an obliteration of your creation. But Opus is real. He lives. -Harper Lee, Monroeville, Ala.”
And now Opus lives again.