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Berkeley Breathed says goodbye to Opus: ‘I’m destroying the village to save it’

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EXCLUSIVE

Berkeley Breathed is putting his penguin on ice. The 51-year-old cartoonist said he will pull the plug on his comic-strip career and “Opus” after Nov. 2.

In an e-mail to the Los Angeles Times, the 51-year-old Breathed wrote, “30 years of cartooning to end. I’m destroying the village to save it. Opus would inevitably become a ranting mouthpiece in the coming wicked days, and I respect the other parts of him too much to see that happen. The Michael Moore part of me would kill the part of him that was important to his fans.”

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‘Opus,’ a 5-year-old Sunday comic with a madcap political bent, stars the pudgy penguin from Breathed’s classic “Bloom County” strip. It will end just before the presidential election.

Breathed, who won a Pulitzer Prize for “Bloom County,” also writes screenplays, novels and children’s books. In a press release from the Washington Post Writers Group, which syndicates “Opus,” he said, “With the crisis in Wall Street and Washington, I’m suspending my comic strip to assist the nation. The best way I can help is to leave politics permanently and write funny stories for America’s kids. I call on John McCain to join me.”

“Opus” will end with an online contest asking readers to guess the fate of the penguin. At Breathed’s website there is a notice that ‘The Opus Paradise Contest’ begins Oct. 12. The Times has not yet decided on a replacement for “Opus” on Sundays.


-- Sherry Stern

Image of Opus, drawn by Berkeley Breathed, courtesy of the artist and the Washington Post Writer’s Group.

January 2007 photo by the Associated Press shows Berkeley Breathed and his penguin creation.


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