Opinion » Bill Cope

Mr. Cope's Cave: Clean Out Your Desk Phoebe, Opus Is Back

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The best news I've heard last week is that Bloom County is coming back.

Um, OK. I suppose in that bigger picture we keep hearing about, perhaps the best news last week was the agreement the Obama administration got out of Iran over their nuclear capability.

And in terms of the world economy, it was pretty good news that the collapse of Greece has been averted. At least, for the time being.

And there are 46 nonviolent drug offenders who thought maybe the best news they've heard since they entered federal prison was that the president has commuted their life-without-parole sentences.

And then there was the successful arrival of that New Horizons gadget on Pluto's front porch. What marvelous things humans can do when they put their minds to it, huh? Hit an envelope about the size of my yard from 3 billion miles out?... Let's see those smart-ass dolphins do that.

Still, in my small-picture world—the one in which I look forward to modest pleasures and mild diversions to offset the less-than-inspiring realities of modern living—the word that Berkeley Breathed was reviving Bloom County was like hearing The Beatles were getting back together.

Um, OK. Once again, I may be overstating the significance of this event. After all, it is only a comic strip. However, if I had to pick the five best comic strips in my experience—and I should add that throughout my entire life, I have been faithful to the funnies of whatever daily paper served the community of wherever I was living at the time—Bloom County would have been in a toss up with Calvin and Hobbes for second. (If I have to tell you what was first... for all eternity... you are either a homeschooled child in a humorless home without a television, or you aren't an American.)

I realize "funny" means different things to different people—it's hard to imagine that anyone who thought Lucille Ball was hilarious would find anything funny about Amy Schumer—and that would be as true with the comics pages as with any other genre. But what has always made for the best comic strips wasn't only the chuckle factor. The best strips are like the best science fiction: It's not enough to depict a few jokes or schmucks falling off ladders (describe a few inhabitable planets or exotic dimensions) or put the characters in embarrassing situations (throw in an alien monster or interstellar war). The best strips (and sci-fi) create their own atmosphere, their own zeitgeist, their own environment, their own gestalt.

To be among the best, they must have humility as well as humor, pathos as well as parody, soul as well as silliness and an internal logic as well as laughs. Really, if all Charlie Brown did was have a weird dog, we might have forgotten Charlie Brown. But Charles Schulz also put Charlie in the pouring rain, standing on the pitcher's mound, alone, watching a catcher's mitt float by, in exasperated silence—and we could all empathize with his exasperation.

I don't have to tell you about Bloom County if you don't already know. You can find out for yourself when it gets here. But I do want to offer my help to the Statesman (or as my editor insists on calling it, the "IDAHO Statesman") in getting a spot cleared out so there will be room for it to move into. I would hate to think they wouldn't pick up Bloom County because Phoebe and Her Unicorn or Luann was taking up valuable space on the funnies pages.

So allow me to suggest a few spots Mr. Breathed's Opus deux (get it?) might go, should availability of space be a problem. First choice: where Phoebe and Her Unicorn is now. Second: where Luann is now.

Seriously, it was bad enough that Get Fuzzy ended so unceremoniously, but to have it replaced by such insipid, tweeny dreck as Phoebe and that stupid unicorn was an insult to everyone but 10-year-old girls.

And Luann is to comics what ranch dressing is to nutrition.

Or that other new one. Intelligent Life—most inappropriately titled comic, ever.

Rose Is Rose and Sally Forth I could do without, too. That'll probably get some people all indignant that I should even suggest such a thing. But honestly, I feel like I've been reading re-runs since three months after those strips began. OK, I get it, Rose. You have a wild alter ego and Sally, you can't grow a garden. How damn many times do we have to be reminded?

So, Mr./Ms. Statesman comics editor, there you go. Five spaces that will serve quite nicely for the return of Bloom County. After all, it's like they're already empty, anyway, and... huh?...

What's that?...

Oooooh, crap! I've just been informed that it's likely Mr. Breathed will run Bloom County only on his Facebook page.

Crap! CRAP! And it has to be f***ing Facebook!?

I'd rather choke on a hairball. Ack!