Thursday, October 16, 2008

Opus Magnum

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.”

“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.”

Read the entire article at LA TIMES

Read a more in-depth one in the Washington Post

Listen to an interview on NPR

First, in the interest of full disclosure, I'm not a huge fan... and yet I was. I loved Bloom County back in the 80's. Breathed was probably more influential than any other cartoonist on guys my age, in fact, it got so bad that I couldn't stand it anymore. That drove me to the arms of Doonesbury, which ironically, I suspect, was one of the biggest influences on Breathed.

That said and out of the way, I have to say, I feel for him. Anyone who follows this blog (not that anybody does) would notice that I gave up writing a weekly political column and cartoon for our local newspaper mostly because I got tired of the visceral reaction of people who didn't like what I wrote. In fairness to them, they were tired of the vitriol tone that I took when writing about Palin and McCain. Like Breathed, I recognize that anger is a sociopathic muse, even when it's righteous anger.

Molly Ivins once said, "fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it." But whenever I'd have the most fun, that's when people would have the most visceral, hateful reactions. The point of political cartooning is that "a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down." I want to stand up for what I believe in and I want to point out hypocrisies and fight for the downtrodden, but I'd rather have people say "sometimes I just don't get him," instead of "how can he say those things, what must he be teaching his kids? I feel so sorry for his family. God's going to have to be his final judge, then he'll get his."

So I respect Breathed's decision. I can relate to what he's going through. This election and this economic crisis are tearing our country apart, even more than the war had been. We need to learn how to agree to disagree again. We need to heed Lincoln's warning that a house divided against itself will not stand. But be that as it may, I'm still glad God put agitators like Micheal Moore on this planet. I still wish I could be a "real" political cartoonist someday, and I'm relieved that Gary Trudea hasn't retired again yet.

"I believe that ignorance is the root of all evil.
And that no one knows the truth."
~Molly Ivins

"The gospel is meant to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."
~Garrison Keillor

No comments:

Post a Comment