Monday, October 20, 2008

"I Like Turtles": Another Childhood Favorite Bites the Dust

I could talk about voting again, or issues of great import to the nation, or how it's nearly November and it's still in the 80s (start crossing your fingers for Christmas in the 70s!). But I won't. I'll talk about something very near and dear to my heart. Something I remember from my youth. The end of an era.

Berkeley Breathed is retiring.

I haven't always been the biggest fan of "Opus," Breathed's most recent cartoon featuring the beloved penguin. "Bloom County" was always strange, but in my worldly wisdom (which can only be acquired by not being a kid anymore) I've grown to like it. But "Outland"? That was the bees knees! I loved that comic as a kid--my parents can attest to that! So when we began to get the Dallas Morning News, I was surprised to see that Opus was alive and well in an eponymous Sunday comic strip. But the past months, my attention was caught by one strip where the Creator (Breathed) corners Opus in the bathroom (where else?) and begins talking to him about retirement. Oh no.

I go to Salon.com once a week to read the comic of a new favorite cartoonist, Keith Knight (like the state of Texas, my list of favorite cartoons are minority-majority), and I happened upon an article about Breathed's retirement. It goes a long way towards explaining why "Opus" wasn't one of my favorites: The political climate is getting to be so cruel that it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep the cartoon lighthearted. He either had to send Opus to his eternal rest or turn the lovable penguin bitter. As much as it pains me that something beloved from my childhood is drawing to an end, it's probably good.

I took some things away from the article:
1. I think I'll start throwing conversations off by saying, "I like turtles," myself.
2. I thought the strips where Lola Granola became a radical Islamist were pretty funny even if everyone else was offended.
3. I nodded my head in agreement when he said, "The very, absolute last comic strip characters destined to become true household words across America were invented 23 years ago: Calvin & Hobbes. There are and will be no more new ones."
4. I genuinely thought, "Wow, he talks just like Opus." And it's true. I love that.
You can read the article here: The End of Opus. Be advised of an unusually strong language warning on page 2 (but if you can fight through it, it's pretty funny).

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