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Magnum Opus
December 12, 2009 6:12 PM   Subscribe

A Wish... (part 1) ...For Wings... (part 2) ...That Work (part 3). The only Christmas Special you'll see this year with hairballs, a cross-dressing cockroach, Ronald Coleman and a 22-second warning. The apex for Berkeley Breathed and Opus (for Bill, notsomuch). via.
posted by oneswellfoop (26 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bloom County was great when the blasé, cynical Milo Bloom was the central character. Once Opus and Binkley took over the spot light, it nosedived into toothless saccharine pap. Don't even get me started on Outland. Breathed is colossally over-rated, and smug as hell to boot. Meh.
posted by Scoo at 6:31 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I cannot watch this right now. It will make me weep. It has every time I've seen it, ever.

Greatest Christmas special ever? I don't know. But one of my personal favorites.
posted by hippybear at 6:32 PM on December 12, 2009


And is it fair to point out, in response to Scoo, that A Wish For Wings That Work is NOT a Bloom County story?"
posted by hippybear at 6:46 PM on December 12, 2009


I found this on DVD at Big Lots last week. Paid $3 for it.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 6:48 PM on December 12, 2009


We have a tape that's slowly wearing out, because we watch it every year at my folk's house. This year is the first year my daughter will see it, although she's too little to actually watch it... but my 6 y.o. nephew loves the heck out of it, and laughs his head off every Christmas.

Three generations of people who find great joy and meaning in a cartoon featuring a cross-dresssing cockroach. Boy, my family is weird.

I also have the complete collections of Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side, and working on the Peanuts collections and tracking down the run of "Batman Adventures." My little girl is gonna be brought up right. I'm not going to force feed this stuff to her, but if and when she's ready, it will be there for her.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:58 PM on December 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


I loved Bloom County as a kid, and now too - it was genius. Between that and Calvin and Hobbes, my youth was in a new golden age of the comics page. However, I cannot watch this -- I've tried, but like other comics put to animation it has one big problem for me: When I read a comic the character has a voice in my head, and hearing somebody else's interpretation ruins it for me.

Bill the Cat's voice is right on though - probably because it's hard to misinterpret "Ack Phttttttpt"
posted by deliquescent at 7:04 PM on December 12, 2009


I have never seen nor heard of this, and I used to read Bloom County in the Boston Globe every morning as a kid. In fact, I recently read an anthology of Bloom County while on vacation. So, Thanks for posting this!

My son's name is Milo! Not after Milo Bloom, though. Or the guy from the Descendents. Or the kid from Phantom Tollbooth. He was named after a mile marker on Route 2 in MA.
posted by not_on_display at 7:34 PM on December 12, 2009


This was great, thanks! I can't imagine how I missed this, being a Bloom County / Outland / Opus fan, but it was new to me. I guess it didn't make it onto many TV broadcasts. Maybe it was the slam on "network executive" early on...

I was hearing not Michael Bell, but Dreyfus ... guess not.

The dream sequence ( it was "Lost Horizon" in the DC3 and the missing ailertutor ) was great.
posted by sea at 7:45 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Now, can some one track down the Far Side Halloween special and make my life complete?
posted by 445supermag at 7:59 PM on December 12, 2009


Wait a minute...penguins can't fly! Penguins CAN'T FLY!

I always wondered if that was stolen from Breathed, an homage, or mere coincidence.
posted by aswego at 8:18 PM on December 12, 2009


Breathed is colossally over-rated, and smug as hell to boot.

I disagree. Maintaining a strip like that for a long time is very difficult if quality is important, which is why Watterson and Breathed both retired their respective strips before it got to that point. But the allure is strong to keep creating, so I think Breathed was always planning on coming back if it bit him hard enough. It's not easy to recapture the energy and pacing of the original, but I'm glad he's still doing it. I hope someday he finds the creative energy to really revive it or create an entirely new strip with different characters, because I think he has some good stories left to draw, and that will bring back the vitality. OTOH, newspapers are dying, so he'd probably have a different market to deal with, and one which may not read the paper every day.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:37 PM on December 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have this on VHS, and need to pull it out again. Thanks for the reminder!
posted by Jikido at 9:15 PM on December 12, 2009


I guess I have to be the guy that says "I preferred the book".
posted by Edward L at 9:28 PM on December 12, 2009


Breathed was one of the heroes of my preadolescence, along with John Cleese and Weird Al. I've heard he is kind of a smug guy, and he certainly seemed intent on merchandising the holy heck out of "Bloom County," but I forgive him. His books got me through my parents' divorce. He gets a pass from me.
posted by ducky l'orange at 9:32 PM on December 12, 2009


Seconding deliquescent, I couldn't continue watching after the first installment, because Opus's voice is just wrong. I am always wary of animations of my favorite comic strips for that reason. I wish I had not seen this.

However, they nailed Hagar's voice in this masterpiece.
posted by barrett caulk at 9:35 PM on December 12, 2009


Thanks, the mysterious existence of this used to be something I wondered about in the pre-Web days. And I agree that Opus's voice isn't quite right.
posted by Kirklander at 9:50 PM on December 12, 2009


Speaking of, this always leaves me a little verklempt.
posted by _dario at 9:56 PM on December 12, 2009


QS: Who do you hear in your head as the “voice” of Opus?

BREATHED: I always wanted Sterling Holloway for Opus (Winnie the Pooh). He’s unavailable.
posted by Kirklander at 10:01 PM on December 12, 2009


Count me as another who loves the animation - it has not only the right style but a surprising warmth to it - but has to hit mute as soon as Opus starts talking. I don't have a voice in my head for him, I just know it isn't that one. (It isn't Sterling Holloway either. It might be John Fiedler, though. I'd have to try that on for size)
posted by Wolfdog at 2:18 AM on December 13, 2009


Wait a minute...penguins can't fly! Penguins CAN'T FLY!
I always wondered if that was stolen from Breathed, an homage, or mere coincidence.


Breathed is a thief. Like the way Dane Cook steals routines from other comedians today, he lifted not just ideas, but also EXACT strips from other comic strip creators. He even shows it off in One Last Little Peek like he's proud of it. Other comic strip creators have no time for him.
posted by CarlRossi at 4:45 AM on December 13, 2009


>Wait a minute...penguins can't fly! Penguins CAN'T FLY!

>>Breathed is a thief.

I think this book significantly preceded that TV show. Can you provide other examples?
posted by deliquescent at 5:19 AM on December 13, 2009


OK, found what you were talking about:

In the beginning, the strip's style was so similar to that of another popular strip, Doonesbury, that Doonesbury's creator Garry Trudeau wrote to Breathed several times to indicate their similarities. Breathed has acknowledged[citation needed] that he borrowed liberally from Doonesbury during his early career. In the Outland collection, One Last Little Peek, Breathed even put an early Bloom County side-by-side with the Doonesbury comic strip from which it obviously took its idea.


I'd be interested to see that strip; Doonesbury and Bloom County couldn't be more different to me.
posted by deliquescent at 5:30 AM on December 13, 2009


I know in the early days of Bloom County, he was a little too close to the look-and-feel of the early Doonesbury strips for comfort, and he's since admitted as much (one of the reasons why he moved away from Milo as the strip's focus), but I've been unable to track down any other allegations of plagiarism. (And Doonesbury itself did a fair bit of borrowing in its earlier days.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:37 AM on December 13, 2009


You can read the precursor to Bloom County, Academia Waltz, at GoComics, and the strip that's running today (13 Dec) is pretty hilarious, given the above. The GoComics site will probably make you want to set fire to things, but that's normal.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:03 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Breathed is a thief. Like the way Dane Cook steals routines from other comedians today, he lifted not just ideas, but also EXACT strips from other comic strip creators. He even shows it off in One Last Little Peek like he's proud of it. Other comic strip creators have no time for him.

I'm a huge Bloom County fan, but I'd seen this once before as well. There once was a Bloom County plot arc that eventually put some main characters in front of a firing squad. Cut to character in bed. "Oh my, I just had this horrible dream! I was in front of a firing squad!" And then the person in bed with them says, "no, silly, you're dreaming now, you're still in front of the firing squad." Cut to them back in front of the firing squad.

This same exact joke was in a Monty Python's Flying Circus episode, although now that I think about it, the character in bed may have been on a hill in the comic strip, or something. At any rate, the basic form of the joke was very much still there.

At any rate, I remember as a kid reading the Python scripts and reading the comic strip and thinking it was pretty strange.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:23 AM on December 13, 2009


ALBATROSS!!
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:43 PM on December 13, 2009


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