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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mars Is a Long Way from Bloom County: Berkeley Breathed at the Cartoon Art Museum

Posted By on Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 11:15 AM

  • Berkeley Breathed
  • Mars Needs Moms
On Your Lunch Break
SF Weekly recommends exhibitions and locations around San Francisco to check out when you have half an hour to spare.

It's unusual -- but not unthinkable -- for an artist to retire a certain style or project while it's still popular. Better to be remembered for the high points, the reasoning goes, rather than as "the thing that wouldn't die." In the 1980s, cartoonist Berkeley Breathed pushed the outlandish cast of Bloom County to popularity and a Pulitzer.

  • Berkeley Breathed
  • Mars Needs Moms

The strip featured an infomercial-addicted, naively optimistic, large-nosed penguin (Opus) as well as a wild-eyed, catatonic tabby (Bill the Cat)

who ran for president and coughed up a hairball on Connie Chung. It

also offered the most pointed political and social commentary seen in a

comic strip since Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury.
At its apex, it was syndicated in 1,200 publications worldwide. But

unlike Trudeau, Breathed retired his strip in 1989, saying, "A good

comic strip is no more eternal than a ripe melon." Perhaps, but that

doesn't mean the strip -- or the cartoonist -- has lost anything over the


"From Bloom County to Mars: The Imagination of Berkeley Breathed"

features a retrospective of the cartoonist's prolific career

encompassing the creation of seven children's books; cartoons; movie

projects (including a film based on his book, Mars Needs Moms); and, of course, a comprehensive look at Bloom County.

Loose Tails was the first published collection of Bloom County. - BERKELEY BREATHED
  • Berkeley Breathed
  • Loose Tails was the first published collection of Bloom County.
His inspiration? Well, everything: "You draw -- literally -- from your

life if you're going to write anything with some juice to it." We

respect the right of any artists to do whatever they think is best. Just

the same, we'd love to see Opus and Bill have their way with the likes

of Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh.

The exhibit runs through June 19 at the Cartoon Art Museum. Admission is free-$7. A reception is scheduled for April 2.

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Stephanie Orma


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