Bloom County Animated TV Series In The Works At Fox, Based On The 1980s Comic

Throughout the 1980s, Berkeley Breathed's "Bloom County" was an institution in the comics section of your local newspaper. Breathed's daily strip, which ran from December 1980 until August of 1989 (but continued in other forms), was an aggressively silly, pointedly political, and downright surreal strip about a small town somewhere in middle America that is populated by an eclectic cast of brainiacs and misanthropes along with several anthropomorphic animals (most famously, Opus the penguin), closet monsters, cockroaches, and a Basselope (a Bassett hound with antlers). Several of the characters in "Bloom County" were carried over from Breathed's earlier college strip "The Academia Waltz" (1978 to 1979) including the overgrown partyboy Steve Dallas and the wheelchair-bound "Star Trek"-obsessed veteran Cutter John. 

"Bloom County" was unlike anything else in the newspaper at the time. It had the political bent of Garry Trudeau's "Doonesbury," but the off-center sensibility of Gary Larson's "The Far Side." It took place in a weird, frantic, nonsensical world full of monsters and aliens, and yet found places of peace. Opus was the breakout character of the strip (Opus would get his own strip from 2003 to 2008), a gentle, flustered soul who longs for peace and loves quiche. Berkeley Breathed won the Pulitzer Prize for his work "Bloom County" in 1987. 

It was announced in The Hollywood Reporter recently that Fox is adapting "Bloom County" for television as a primetime animated series with Breathed returning as writer and executive producer.


Breathed, infamously reclusive, said in a press release that 2022 might be good timing for the "Bloom County" characters, comparing their revival to the awakening of Ellen Ripley, Sigourney Weaver's character from the 1986 film "Aliens." 

"At the end of 'Alien,' we watched cuddly Sigourney Weaver go down for a long peaceful snooze in cryogenic hyper-sleep after getting chased around by a saliva-spewing maniac, only to be wakened decades later into a world STUFFED with far worse. Fox and I have done the identical thing to Opus and the rest of the 'Bloom County' gang, may they forgive us."

There is always something about America that is worthy of gentle mockery and baffled observation by the "Bloom County" characters, so 2022 might be a good time to revisit Breathed's punk rock need to poke holes in some well-established institutions. From the press release: 

"Bloom County" centers on a collapsed lawyer, a lobotomized cat and a penguin in briefs and fruit headwear living in the world's last boarding house in the world's most forgotten place deep in the dandelion wilds of FlyWayWayOver country. To wit, today's America at a glance.

Breathed was always keen on commenting on America's foibles, and, indeed, the original strip ended with the sub-feline cat Bill teaming up with Donald Trump to buy out the strip. Children of the 1980s recall sharply when Donald Trump was nothing other than a figure of widespread mockery and derision throughout media; sitcoms regularly made jokes at his expense, and MAD Magazine had a field day with the man. It was when Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president in 2015 that Breathed revived "Bloom County" as "Bloom County 2015," a Facebook-only strip that he published himself. Now, during the Biden administration, Breathed appears to want to take stock of where we are and where we just were. 

Breathed on film

While "Bloom County" ended its official run in 1989, it was revived as a Sunday-only strip later that year under the title "Outland," featuring Opus, some of the "Bloom County" folks, and several new characters in a new, surrealist setting. "Outland" ran until 1995. "Opus," also a Sunday-only strip, launched in 2003 and lasted until 2008. In addition to the 2015 strip, Breathed also worked on new comics featuring Calvin and Hobbes, the beloved stars of Bill Watterson's own long-running newspaper strip. 

In 1991, the "Bloom County" characters were featured in a TV special called "A Wish for Wings that Work," and they appeared in two obscure computer screen saver projects (remember screen savers?): "Opus 'n Bill Brain Saver" from 1991, and  "Opus 'n Bill: On the Road Again!" in 1994. Breathed also inspired a short 2000 animated film called "Edward Fudwapper Fibbed Big," but his largest project to date was the Disney CGI animated feature film "Mars Needs Moms." The PG-rated alien abduction thriller was achieved through state-of-the-art motion-capture technology and photorealistic animation and is one of the biggest box office bombs in history. 

Breathed's off-kilter sensibility may not seem destined for mainstream success in the film or TV worlds, but given the nature of streaming as an all-encompassing monstrosity, no ideas are bad ideas, and all recognizable marquee value will be exploited. "Bloom County," typically cynical about such things, is in a unique position, then, to comment on itself as a product, and postulate as to where they belong in a world that has gone insane. Which should be easy for them, as they live in an insane world.