How far we fall. Can it possibly be true that the funniest and most inventive strip in this Sunday's Comics was Zits? Zits? What the hell? Family humor? Yeah, not quite what I expected, and I'm sure not quite what you expected either. What's worse is that another family values strip, For Better or Worse, came in close second.
Sure, the heavy weights have retired. The comic titans who roamed the Sunday pages in the golden days of the 80's and 90's, Peanuts, The Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes, and above all, Bloom County have all faded into memory. But somebody has to carry the torch! Where's the irreverence? Where's the social commentary? Who, by god, is going to bring on the funny? A half dozen Far Side clones don't hack it I say, and neither does "workplace humor" or Gary Trudeau.
This brings me to the most embarrassing spectacle of the Sunday Comics: page two's Opus. Perhaps one of the funniest and creative strippers of all time, Berkeley Breathed needs to improve or retire again before he does serious damage to his legacy. Take yesterday's strip for example. It makes no sense! Dancing idiots? Where does that come from? Is this some kind of pop culture sensation that I don't know about? Some TV show with dancing animals? What's with the crass sexuality in the last two panels? Sexual attraction is not its own punchline, and Mr. Breathed should be the first one to recognise that.
Remember the old days? The zany ideas, the lapses into absurdity, the great artwork. Back then pop culture was just a tool Breathed used to push along his far out ideas and rockin' art. Today, they are an ends and not a means. The results are insipid, not creative.
Breathed was forgiven when he abandoned Bloom County for Outland. Outland, although far inferior to Bloom County, was still a fine vehicle for Breathed's creativity and his occasional flashes of genius. Disturbing trends were on the rise even then though, as Outland's shameless pandering to the crowd, and pop humor began to rear their ugly heads. When it finally left the papers, Outland retired to sighs of relief. No one likes to see the master start losing his touch.
My worst fears have been realized with the release of Breathed's newest strip. The magic that once infused Bloom County, and occasionally emerged in Outland, has been paved over with Opus's sad, crass, pandering nonsense.
His illustrations are still strong though. Yes! Read Opus for the illustrations! A damnable endorsement indeed.