Opus is back! What do you mean, “What’s an Opus?” Opus is not a what…he’s a who. He’s Opus the penguin. One of the best and funniest characters to ever grace a comic strip page. He was one of the stars of “Bloom County.” And in my humble opinion, he was the star.
Bloom County was a terrific strip. Written and drawn by a cartoonist with the unlikely name of Berkeley Breathed, Bloom County was peopled (not all were people) by some of the most unforgettable individuals on the comics page. Yes, page! There were newspapers then. That’s how you got your news. Well, there was also the television. But that was it. No. I’m not kidding. There was no internet and people didn’t walk around, and drive around, staring into little hand held screens. You younger types can stop looking at me as though I’ve lost my mind. It’s true. Ya’ can’t make this stuff up.
It was popular as all get out. But then, twenty five years ago, Breathed decided to call it quits to the horror of all of his fans. I was one of those horrified millions. I’m sure there were millions. I hugged my stuffed Opus doll all night. Let’s see…I would have been…um, thirty-seven. So I was thirty-seven years old and had a stuffed Opus doll. So what!?
But he’s back! And the whole crew that populated Bloom County is back with him. I found out when I jumped into Facebook a few days ago. Breathed has decided to put the strip out on Facebook for some reason, and I think it’s great. Some suspect that the return of Donald Trump to the race for the Presidency has also brought about the return of Bloom County. The comedic value of this cannot be overlooked. Every cloud has its silver lining, they say.
I was a real fan, back then. And yes, I really did have a stuffed Opus. Bloom County even made me want to do a comic strip. I came up with an idea and submitted it to a cartooning syndicate. I got a very nice rejection letter. I’m still a fan, of course. And I see, on Facebook, that so many others are too. How can you not be?
Opus’s followers are legion. Breathed himself has said that he can’t understand how so many people can become so infatuated with a character that isn’t real. His exact words were, “I will go to my grave in a state of abject endless fascination that we all have the capacity to become emotionally involved with a personality that doesn’t exist.” I think he’s being humble. Opus’s combination of mischief and innocence makes him fascinating and hard to resist. If you aren’t familiar with Bloom County, start following it. Or look up the old archives on the internet. Or pick up one of the many Bloom County books. You’ll soon want a stuffed Opus doll of your very own. I may even get another one!