I remember when Berke Breathed's Bloom County first hit newspapers, a few weeks before Christmas 1980. It was a sarcastic and irreverent breath of fresh air, much needed on comics pages at a time when the only other social commentary of the day was found in Doonesbury (also an excellent strip). This collection of Bloom County strips, covering most of the first two years of the strip (from the very first strip on December 8, 1980, to September 26, 1982), is just as hilarious now as 29 years ago, even more so when you consider that Breathed would not be able to get most of Bloom County published in newspapers in today's politically-correct era. The only bothersome note for me with this collection was that I noticed that a few of the strips were not the same as when they were originally published in the newspaper and in Breathed's first collection of Bloom County strips, Bloom County - Loose Tails. For example, as I recall from my now-misplaced copy of Loose Tails, when feminist schoolteacher Bobbi Harlow has her first date with Steve Dallas, she climbs into his vehicle and pronounces, "Charming. A gold Jeep with a license plate that spells out H * * * *." (five-letter word that rhymes with corny; it was in the original strip but I don't think my review would get published if I spelled it out!). However, in this collection, Bobbi Harlow says "Charming. A gold Jeep with a license plate that spells out Hey Baby." There are a few other strips like that scattered throughout the book; they were easy enough to spot, as the punchline made me say "Huh? That's not what it's supposed to say.Read more ›
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This is it!! For those who can not get enough of Bloom County or for those who haven`t never read Bloom county ( Impossible!!), this is the start of a beatuiful relationship, week by glorious week! It`s all here ! Well, it all the begining. This is Volume 1 and I know that it will only get better with the next volumes - can`t wait!! Bonus! - Berkeley`s comments and random snipits throught the book. Get it(them)! Own it(them) Enjoy it (them)
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Without doubt the best strip in the history of the world presented in a rugged yet elegant format that will last for generations. Jocular material that will amuse future generations! Cynicism, mopery, despair, drug abusing kittens! Everything!
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78 of 80 people found the following review helpful
"restored jokes from when they were censored during publication"? HardlyMarch 9 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
I haven't read most of these strips in over 20 years, and like a lot of people, I'm reading much of this for the first time. These early strips unearth a whole cast of secondary and tertiary characters that were conveniently left out of the early anthologies. Before there was Opus, there was The Major - Milo's Grandfather and landlord of the Bloom County Boarding House. Strips featuring The Major were touched upon in "Loose Tails", but it's surprising to find out here that he and his wife were actually primary characters for most of the strip's first year, with some key story lines devoted to them, such as their accidental stowaway flight on the Space Shuttle.
My major criticism of this book - CENSORED COMICS. That's right, despite what the Editorial Review above reads, some of these comics are definitely censored, and I immediately picked up on three of them (which I verified with my well-worn copy of "Loose Tails"). Bobbi Harlow's mother does not find birth control pills in her daughter's medicine cabinet, she finds just "PILLS", and it completely wrecks the joke. While hunting with his father, Binkley does not open fire on a toilet bowl, he instead decimates a "PECAN TREE", which is infinitely less funny. When one of Cutter John's street races rolls to a gentle stop, he looks up in the sky and does NOT say "Clouds play hell with solar-powered wheelchairs," he says "HECK". C'mon, what are we, 8?? I can only imagine how many of these others are censored.
Breathed even comments on one censored strip in particular, in which a man pointing a gun at Bloom County TV Station owner Ashley Dashley (another character I never knew existed, who made more than a few appearances early on) has the gun erased from the frame due to pressure from the newspapers. Okay...so why not put the unedited version back in here? Cause it does look rather silly for a character to be holding up a hand as if he's pointing a gun, without a gun there. Anyone who saw the "Special Edition" of "E.T." can tell you that.
Beyond that, Breathed's commentary on various strips in the margin is rarely revelatory. Yes, he points out the first-ever appearances of Milo, Opus, Binkley, Bill The Cat, Cutter John, Bobbi Harlow, Steve Dallas, etc., and also occasionally comments on the characters who faded quickly (Rabies The Dog, for instance), but this space is mostly used to explain his dated references, few of which are so obscure that people can't recall them on their own ("Nancy Reagan was President Ronald Reagan's wife", "Phil Donahue was a popular daytime talk show host, the Oprah of his day", "Tip O'Neill was Speaker Of The House") Instead, we could've used a few more facts that AREN'T easy to look up on the internet. For instance, why did it take several months for the first Sunday edition of the strip to debut? How did he come up with Opus' name, which didn't even become attached to the character until he'd appeared about a dozen times?
Between the censored strips, the mediocre commentary, and the poor scans (seriously, did they just use a 80's-era office Xerox machine to run these off?), this is hardly the definitive volume it could be...but it's still the best we're going to get. What the heck, it's Bloom County, it's great...just not as good as it could be.
65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
A Must Buy, but Don't Throw Away Your Copy of "Loose Tails" Just Yet.Dec 28 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
SUMMARY: 2/3 of book is unpublished material from the early years! 6 strips never before in print anywhere 13 samples of Academia Waltz (Berke Breathed's first strip, whilst in college) Factoids on sidebar to keep book relevant for future generations High Quality Construction & Paper Only one Problem: Image quality not as good as "Loose Tails"
STORY: I just finished reading Vol 1 today and it's incredible. It is much, much more than I expected. Because I started reading Bloom Country in about 1985, there are entire story lines that I've missed that were never published before. Binkley's mother is in this book. There are a lot more Limekiller strips, and a lot more strips of the royal family. You finally meet the landlord. Probably 2/3 of this book was not in "Loose Tails". And this book doesn't even get all the way through "Loose Tails"!
CLOSER TO AUTHOR'S INTENT Additionally, I noticed that some of the lines changed. I think some have been restored to their original lines before an editor got to them. Case in point: when Opus calls in to Donahue, the punch line in "Loose Tails" was that the show was on Nun beating. In Vol.1 , the punch line is Husband Beating. Looking at booth, it would appear that "Loose Tails" was doctored.
PHYSCIAL BOOK CONSTRUCTION It's nearly perfect. It's in chronological order, and the Sunday strips' color are very good. It's not too heavy, like the The Complete Far Side 1980-1994 (2 vol set), The Complete Calvin and Hobbes (Calvin & Hobbes) (v. 1, 2, 3) and Dilbert 2.0: 20 Years of Dilbert collections. The pages are very thick and sturdy. Are they archival? I'd have to test their ph, but I think it'll last a long time. There's even a built in bookmark.
NOT SCANNED CORRECTLY The ONLY thing keeping me from giving this book 5 stars, is the fact that the image quality is not as good as the original compilation, "Loose Tails" by Little, Brown (out of print). Even though they mention the quality being lower for some of the older strips, I can't give them a pass on this, because I have better copies of many of the strips myself! (again, Loose Tails)
I will attempt to upload close-up comparisons of a portion of one panel of Vol.1 & Loose Tails. Please note that these images are part of this review, and therefore are allowed according to the copyrights listed on both "Loose Tails" and this publication.
Most strips in this collection are decent, but feel a little fuzzy. This is something you'll probably only notice if you have this collection side by side with "Loose Tails". However, some strips are truly bad.
Cases in point of two of the poorer scans: Vol 1 pg: 172 punch line "Leaving a trail of slime wherev-". Compare to "Loose Tails" on page 24. Vol 1 pg: 198 punch line "Boo". Compare to "Loose Tails" pg 47
Other printing notes: Straight lines above the page numbers are halftone, and therefore are also fuzzy. Blacks are not 100% black, but a little lighter. Could be because of matte paper.
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes (Calvin & Hobbes) (v. 1, 2, 3), The Complete Far Side 1980-1994 (2 vol set) & Dilbert 2.0: 20 Years of Dilbert do not suffer from any of these problems.
Berke; please insist that they fix this problem in the second printing (yes, I'll buy it, too) and all further volumes!
I hate to sound like a know-it-all, but when I published an independent comic book with a friend, we were able to test different scanning techniques for comic art. So, these notes below are for the publisher. They really, really need to fix this for their second printing of the book, and certainly, ALL future editions of the complete library need to have this fixed!!
Publisher: Whatever resolution you scanned the images, triple it! For the daily strips, it looks like you scanned the original artwork with the grayscale setting, then converted it to black & white, and printed it halftone. You need to scan them in Black & White (each pixel is either black or white, and no gray scale). To make this work, the scanning resolution needs to be really, really high! For a color or gray scale image, you can usually get away with 300 dpi. This will NOT work for Black and white scans!! You should scan the original artwork (the stuff Berke drew, NOT from another compilation or newspaper) at least at 800 dpi before you reduce them! The final resolution needs to be anywhere from 800 - 1600 dpi. If you need better copies, I'll lend you my copy of "Loose Tails"! Your collection is going to be the definitive collection of Bloom County! Do it for posterity! Do it for the children!
Yes, I'm a fanboy, but I assure you, I wasn't one of the people who camped in front of Berke's house waiting for this to come out (really!)
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
A Bloom County Gold MineOct. 8 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
I'm not sure what I expected from this book, having collected (over the years) every single BLOOM COUNTY book ever printed. I figured this new book wouldn't offer anything new, really, except for maybe some Berke Breathed commentary. But as I started reading, I noticed some strips that I didn't remember from the older collections, and yet they seemed vaguely familiar. Sure enough, after some back-to-back comparisons with books such as BLOOM COUNTY BABYLON, I've found that there are a great many strips here that have never been collected. We haven't seen a lot of these since they were originally in newspapers. I'm blown away by how "new" an experience this is. We'll see if that holds true for later strips, when BLOOM COUNTY really developed its personality. But these early strips are a revelation. Plus, there's a selection of Breathed's ACADEMIA WALTZ college strip. (Contrary to what he says about them in the book, I would really love a full collection of those too. They sound quite subversive.)
I do wish Breathed had offered more strip-by-strip commentary about his thoughts behind them. As they are, they're VERY sparse. The book's historical-context notes are nice to have, too, if obvious for an old guy like me.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Like a Phone Call from an Old, Old FriendOct. 18 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
When I moved to Dallas from semi-rural North Carolina to attend college, of course, it was a culture shock in so many ways. And our campus newspaper at SMU, much to the dismay of many, published the charmingly nihilistic and always incisive "Bloom County" in every edition. I don't remember any book or idea that would provoke so much discussion and well-meaning disagreement around lunch tables and dorm rooms. Between the almost Hamlet-esque Opus (and his hilariously unrequited love for Connie Chung), the hopelessly vapid Steve Dallas, and Darwinian throwback Bill the Cat, just to name three, you would be hard pressed to find a cartoon strip that had such a calvacade of evolving, developing characters. Does this mean that "Bloom County" is the "best" comic strip ever? No, but when you talk about it in the same breath as you might talk about "Peanuts" or "The Far Side," or even the old ones like "Prince Valiant," "The Phantom," and "Dick Tracy," the label "best" as with all such comparisons fails to work. When you are that good, comparisons simply do not matter in the best of all possible ways.
But, in this volume, the fascinating thing is watching how Breathed evolved his strip from the first rough prints to the style and wit so familiar to mid to late 1980's "Bloom County" fans. I have never seen most of this work before, and it was a treat to see how the "Bloom County" universe just kind of "fell into place" over time in Breathed's almost organic trial and error approach to cartooning. That primer alone justifies the price of the book, especially, I would think, to advertising or art students, indeed anyone who deals with the graphic arts in some way or just appreciates the form. I note that the one negative reviewer (to date) in this thread found this jarring, the rough-hewn moving to the more constructed and deliberate. I can see how this would be so, and the criticism is a valid one from a certain point of view, but I think this is the wrong approach to the overall work.
I am so happy a friend of mine allowed to borrow this gem. In the reminding, it let me laugh and become reacquainted with a roster of some of the best cartoon characters yet created and some of the snappiest cartoon dialogue ever written in the long history of that great American art form, the "funny pages." For all of you old "Bloom County" fans out there, you finally have an anthology worthy of your time and money, as well as Breathed's great talent.
RECOMMEND, no reservation.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This Collection Doesn't Seem Dated in the SlightestNov. 2 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
December 8, 1980, is perhaps most remembered for one terrible event: The murder of John Lennon on the sidewalk in front of his home building in New York City. That singular event, the death of one of the greatest pop musicians of all time and the harbinger of the ending of a generation, coincided with something else in the newspaper that day, something that would wind up defining the new generation to come: Bloom County, a small strip with seemingly small ambitions, debuted.
That first strip probably wouldn't be too memorable if it weren't included here, in BLOOM COUNTY: THE COMPLETE LIBRARY, Volume One: 1980-1982, the first of five volumes that will collect the entire catalogue of the legendary comic strip. It wasn't until later --- January 28, 1982, to be exact --- that the strip would begin to fully congeal into the great source of humor, commentary, political awareness and astute observations that it became known for. Berkeley Breathed, the creator of the series, writes in the margins next to that day's strip, "Opus. Center found, the fog clearing. The strip had found its voice, its tone and its point of view."
The introduction of Opus the penguin was the glue the strip needed to hold its world together. With that, Breathed was able to embark on an ingenious journey across the decade. Along with the other stars of the strip --- Milo, the erstwhile reporter; Binkley, the celebrity-obsessed neurotic; Steve Dallas, the conservative lawyer; Cutter John, the stoic Vietnam vet; Bill the Cat, the frenzied, harried rock star; and the assorted rest --- he set out to interpret the wild world of the '80s for us all. And he succeeded. The Bloom County filter made the world make more sense somehow.
The brilliance of Bloom County shines through in so many ways, but perhaps most notable is that this collection doesn't seem dated in the slightest (oh, perhaps a strip here and there, but you'd really have to nitpick to mind, and anyway, Breathed has included several helpful spreads offering headlines from the times to help you get yourself firmly rooted back in the day).
Can you go back home to a comic strip and a time that have both signed off so very long ago? In small ways, yes. The handsome BLOOM COUNTY: THE COMPLETE LIBRARY makes the trip not only possible in some measures, but it also makes it a pure joy. Brilliance like Bloom County elevated the art form of the comic strip. It's wonderful to see it getting such respect.