Cartoonist Berkeley Breathed is announcing today that not only will he retire his weekly strip "Opus" on Nov. 2 -- right before the election -- but that he himself is also walking away from his 30-year career in cartooning.
His trunk packed, Opus says a sweet-eyed goodbye. (Copyright 2008 Berkeley Breathed. Dist. by The Washington Post Writers Group)
"With the crisis in Wall Street and Washington, I'm suspending my comic strip to assist the nation," said Breathed, 51, satirizing politics even in his news release from Washington Post Writers Group. He added: "I call on John McCain to join me."
Breathed -- who won a Pulitzer in the mid-'80s for his strip "Bloom County," which was followed by his Sunday-strip "Outland" -- is ending "Opus" with a contest (which Comic Riffs has been privy to see) asking readers to guess his dear penguin's ultimate fate.
We should note that when we sat with Breathed earlier this year in his syndicate's offices, he sounded energized when discussing his art -- but not as much when the subject was his production of "Opus." He talked of being in a different place since turning 50 -- how writing children's books (his new one, "Pete & Pickles," is due out this month) feels so much more expansive compared with comic-stripping, which he said often seems to call for a too-quick, pays-to-be-mean punch line.
Farewell, Opus -- and good luck, Berkeley. You greatly enriched our comics reading for many years (and you two weren't insignificant in my becoming a syndicated cartoonist myself). And in the many collections, may Billy and the Boingers rock on forever.
It's your turn, comics fans. We invite your comments about the cartoonist, and remembrances of his bowtied pudgy penguin.