Bloom County: The Complete Library Volume 1 Hardcover – Oct 6 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
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 ›
Bonus! - Berkeley`s comments and random snipits throught the book. Get it(them)! Own it(them) Enjoy it (them)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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"
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!)
However, what Amazon doesn't tell you is that you can't read these comics on your Kindle. They're too small. When I went to the text area to try and make the image bigger, the Kindle informed me that this option wasn't available. So, what I had was a book with content that I knew I was going to love, but I couldn't read it.
Berkeley, I LOVE Bloom Count, and I'm sorry to have to rate it so low, but I do have to warn others... if you purchase the book for your Kindle, you're not going to be able to read it (unless you have amazing eyes). It sucks, and HOPEFULLY Amazon will do something about it, but you never know. Until then, I'll stick with the paper books, all of which I still own.
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.
When opening the sample, I was walked through my Kindle Fire's instructions for using the comics viewer and shown how to zoom in and out. Unfortunately, all of those controls, as well as the normal size controls, are disabled. The view of each page, one comic per page, is static. The comic is approximately 1"x3" and the pages of text in between are simply fitted to the Kindle. They show at about font size 4.
The comics are excellent and would, themselves, get a 5-star rating. I miss Bloom County and would jump at the chance to have the complete collection on my Kindle, just not in such a difficult to read format. All in all, I'm glad I tried it first.