Berke Breathed (1957-): A Creative Journey through Comic Strips and Children’s Books

Berke Breathed (1957): A Creative Journey through Comic Strips and Children's Books

Berke Breathed aka Guy Berkeley “Berke” Breathed: Guy Berkeley “Berke” Breathed, a prominent American cartoonist, children’s book author, director, and screenwriter, has left an indelible mark on humor and storytelling. Born on June 21, 1957, in Encino, California, and raised in Houston, Texas, Breathed’s artistic journey has been characterized by a blend of wit, social commentary, and an unmistakable artistic style. His most renowned works include the comic strips Bloom County, Outland, and Opus, with Bloom County earning him the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1987.

Guy Berkeley “Berke” Breathed

Born: June 21, 1957

Birthplace: Encino, Los Angeles, California, U.S.

Occupation: Cartoonist, illustrator, screenwriter

Notable Works: Bloom County, Outland, Opus

Awards: Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning (1987), Inkpot Award (2010)

Other Notable Achievements: Author of children’s books, involvement in animated films

Political Stance: Left political cartooning due to a perceived bitter atmosphere

Hobbies: Outdoor activities, powerboating, motorcycling

Social Causes: Supporter of animal rights, contributor to PETA

Health: Faced challenges such as a back injury and spasmodic torticollis

Early Life:

Breathed’s journey into the world of cartooning began in his formative years. Born in Encino, California, he was raised in Houston, Texas, where he attended Westchester High School. His early exposure to the art of cartooning ignited a passion that would later define his career.

Cartooning Career:

Breathed’s foray into cartooning started when he was hired part-time by the Austin American-Statesman to draw editorial cartoons. However, this early stint was short-lived due to controversy surrounding one of his cartoons about a local busing order. Undeterred, Breathed continued to hone his craft, and in 1978, while a student at the University of Texas, his first regularly published comic strip, “The Academia Waltz,” appeared in the Daily Texan.

While at the University of Texas, Breathed self-published two collections of “The Academia Waltz,” using the proceeds to fund his education. The Washington Post noticed his work, recruiting him to create a nationally syndicated strip. On December 8, 1980, Bloom County debuted, introducing characters like Steve Dallas and Cutter John.

Bloom County’s initial style drew comparisons to Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury, leading to correspondence between the two creators. Despite early similarities, Breathed’s unique voice emerged, earning him the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1987. The strip’s popularity soared, appearing in over 1,200 newspapers worldwide until Breathed decided to retire it in 1989, citing a desire to conclude the series while it peaked.

Replacing Bloom County with the Sunday-only cartoon Outland in 1989, Breathed entertained readers with characters like Opus the Penguin and Bill the Cat until 1995. In 2003, he Breathed revived the comic strip format with Opus, featuring the beloved penguin from Bloom County.

Political Cartooning and Beyond:

Breathed’s departure from political cartooning in 2008 marked a significant shift in his career focus. Citing the increasingly bitter atmosphere of political discourse, he concluded Opus on a positive note, expressing his desire to address tough times more lightly through children’s books.

Breathed’s return to the world of comic strips in 2015, with the revival of Bloom County, delighted fans. Initially titled “Bloom County 2015,” the strip continued to be shared on Facebook regularly, showcasing Breathed’s enduring wit and social commentary. In 2021, he ventured into creating strips featuring characters from Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, a testament to the impact and versatility of his work.

Literary Contributions:

Beyond comic strips, Breathed has made significant contributions to literature. His syndicated and Facebook cartoon work has resulted in at least thirteen anthology books. Additionally, he ventured into children’s literature, producing ten picture books. Some of his works, such as “A Wish for Wings That Work” and “Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big,” were adapted into animated films.

Breathed’s storytelling prowess extends to the silver screen. His animated film “Hitpig,” loosely adapted from his book “Pete and Pickles,” is set for release in 2024, adding another dimension to his creative portfolio.

Personal Life:

Breathed’s personal life is as colorful as his creations. An enthusiast of outdoor activities like powerboating and motorcycling, he faced personal challenges, including breaking his back in an ultralight plane crash in 1986. His resilience and humor were evident as he incorporated this experience into a Bloom County storyline.

While Breathed identifies as an atheist, his unique perspective on life is reflected in his statement that he doesn’t fear death more than “sharing a room in a detox center with a sobbing Rush Limbaugh.” In 2008, he revealed that he was suffering from spasmodic torticollis, a condition he shared with readers through his Opus comic strip.

Berkeley Breathed: The Satirist’s Palette

Berkeley Breathed’s artistic journey is a tapestry woven with humor, imagination, and a keen eye for societal absurdities. From the debut of “Bloom County” in 1980, Breathed demonstrated an unparalleled ability to use satire as a lens to scrutinize the contemporary cultural landscape. His arsenal included anthropomorphic characters, clever dialogue, and a distinct visual style that became his signature.

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Bloom County: A Microcosm of the ’80s

Bloom County emerged at a pivotal time in American history, the 1980s, marked by political upheaval, cultural shifts, and the omnipresence of mass media in the comic strip; breathed introduced readers to a diverse cast of characters, from the lovably naive Opus, the Penguin to the sharp-witted Milo Bloom. The fictional setting of Bloom County served as a microcosm reflecting the broader spectrum of American society.

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Political Satire:

Breathed’s political satire in “Bloom County” was timely and timeless. Characters like Bill the Cat, the hedonistic and politically ambitious feline, provided a satirical mirror to real-life political figures. The strip fearlessly tackled issues such as the Reagan era, the Cold War, and the ever-evolving political landscape.

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Cultural Commentary:

The cultural commentary embedded in “Bloom County” was a masterclass in lampooning societal norms. From the rise of consumerism to the emergence of technology, Breathed’s characters navigated a world in flux, offering a humorous yet intelligent take on the shifts in American culture during the ’80s.

Social Critique through Characters:

Breathed’s characters were not mere caricatures but vessels of social critique. Opus, the kind-hearted Penguin, often found himself entangled in absurd scenarios that paralleled the human experience. Milo Bloom, the child prodigy with a penchant for journalism, became a conduit for exploring media ethics and the power of storytelling.

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The Rise and Fall of Bloom County

Despite its critical acclaim and devoted fan base, “Bloom County” ended in 1989. Berkeley Breathed decided to bid farewell to his beloved characters, citing a desire to pursue new creative endeavors. The closure left fans with a void, but it also solidified “Bloom County” as a cultural touchstone of its time.

Opus: A Nostalgic Return to Satirical Brilliance

Breathed’s creative hiatus was interrupted in 2003 with the launch of “Opus,” a spin-off centered around the beloved Penguin. Returning to the drawing board, Breathed resurrected Opus to embark on new adventures, bringing the same biting satire that characterized “Bloom County.”

Continuation of Social Commentary:

“Opus” seamlessly picked up the mantle of cultural satire, addressing the changes and challenges of the post-Bloom County” era. He tackled topics such as the Internet age, the environmental crisis, and the enduring impact of political absurdity.

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Emotional Depth and Character Evolution:

In “Opus,” Breathed revealed a depth of emotional storytelling that added layers to his characters. Opus, in particular, grappled with existential questions and personal growth, creating a narrative that resonated on both comedic and poignant levels.

Nostalgia and Modern Relevance:

“Opus” bridged the gap between nostalgia and modernity, offering longtime fans a reunion with familiar characters while introducing a new generation to Breathed’s distinctive brand of satire. The strip’s ability to remain relevant showcased Breathed’s uncanny knack for tapping into the pulse of societal concerns.

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Berkeley Breathed’s Legacy

Berkeley Breathed’s contribution to cultural satire goes beyond the panels of “Bloom County” and “Opus.” His influence extends to the broader landscape of comic strips, inspiring a generation of cartoonists to use their craft as a vehicle for social commentary.

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Impact on Cartooning:

Breathed’s unique blend of humor, artistic prowess, and fearless commentary set a standard for cartooning. The legacy of “Bloom County” can be seen in subsequent works that employ satire to dissect contemporary issues with wit and insight.

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Adaptations and Recognitions:

“Bloom County” has been adapted into various forms, including animated specials and merchandise. Berkeley Breathed’s accolades, including a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning, highlight the cultural significance of his work.

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A Wish for Wings That Work was adapted as a CBS-TV special and released on videocassette; Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big was adapted as an animated short film for Nickelodeon Network; Goodnight Opus was adapted as a children’s play.


Imagine a penguin with a severely enhanced proboscis who generally wears a bow tie and collar and is filled with existential angst. Partner him with a fur-ball-spitting sidekick feline, and toss in a conservative bunny as well as a groundhog in disguise. Then add an unscrupulous lawyer, a disabled Vietnam vet who has a way with the ladies, a worldly-wise hometown reporter, and a ten-year-old who has difficulty telling the difference between a dog and a penguin; toss in a bit of socio-political sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek humor; then lean toward the liberal and you end up with the central elements of one of the most popular comic strips of the 1980s, Berke Breathed’s “Bloom County.”

Following its debut in 1980, for nine years Breathed’s “cast of cartoon crazies” managed to attack “the establishment” daily, according to People contributor Gail Buchalter. By the end of the strip’s almost-decade-long run, the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Bloom County” was carried in 1,300 newspapers nationwide, reaching an estimated forty million readers. Also, book reprints of the strip sold in the millions of copies, and Breathed’s critters appeared in numerous spin-offs, from T-shirts to stuffed animals.

“Breathed’s wildly successful comic strip ‘Bloom County’ was like no strip before or since,” wrote Tasha Robinson on the Onion A.V. Club Web site. Robinson further noted that Breathed “changed hats regularly: He was intermittently a political cartoonist, calling attention to feminist issues, SDI [Strategic Defense Initiative], cosmetic testing on animals, and pork-barrel politics.

At other times he was a social critic, making fun of artistic trends and celebrity foibles. Sometimes he was just plain whimsical, as his characters took dandelion breaks, explored closets full of anxieties, or created Star Trek fantasies to inhabit.”

Charles Solomon, writing in the Los Angeles Times, noted that in “Bloom County” Breathed was ecumenical in his choice of what faction he annoyed. “Breathed has consistently infuriated Christian fundamentalists, political conservatives, and even his fellow artists,” Solomon wrote. “In the process, ironically, he’s become one of the nation’s most popular and successful newspaper cartoonists.”

When Breathed decided to leave “Bloom County” at the top of its game in 1989, he went on to create the strip “Outland,” basically a revamped “Bloom County,” that appeared only on Sundays for six years.

In 1995 Breathed “retired” from comic strips to devote himself to children’s picture books; then, in 2003, with six such books to his credit, the cartoonist decided to make a comeback in newspapers. Breathed’s new strip, “Opus,” which runs in the Sunday comic supplement, also features his famous penguin character, this time in a half-page spread.

From Practical Jokes to Cartoon Strips

Born in California in 1957, Guy Berkeley Breathed attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he worked for the school paper, the Daily Texan. As Buchalter quipped, Breathed “majored in photojournalism and minored in practical jokes.”

One such joke was an attempt to see how far a rumor would spread. Leaking a story to the school magazine that he had bred hundreds of baby alligators in his apartment and then set them free in the lakes in and around Austin, he watched as the story was ultimately picked up by national wire services. While at Austin he wrote and drew a daily cartoon, “The Academia Waltz,” which featured two characters who would be later reprised in Bloom County: lawyer Steve Dallas and Vietnam War vet Cutter John.

“I ended up doing a comic strip, because it was the most effective way to make a point and get people listening, as a writer,” Breathed told a contributor for Comics Journal. “I’ve always had an over-active imagination, and it could have been applied to almost any medium. I don’t know if successfully, but it certainly was working when I tried out a comic strip in college. I was a writer for the paper, an avid photographer, and a columnist.

I loved the idea of expressing myself in a mass medium. That became interesting to me in itself. And cartoons, in particular, drew me because when I tried it, it was apparent that the potential of it was far more than the other mediums I had been trying. Photography or illustration or just writing. When you drew a figure next to your words, it had an element of attraction for people that was unimaginable to me at the time. You draw to your strengths. It was quite clear where I was getting the attention from. And so I was drawn into drawing comic strips.”

Welcome to “Bloom County”

Breathed’s collegiate work attracted the attention of editors at the Washington Post Writer’s Group, who approached him to do a strip. Breathed came up with his world of “Bloom County” and its mix of animals, adolescent boys, and helpless adults, and began doing the strip for $100 a month.

At first running in only a few hundred newspapers, Breathed’s cast of offbeat characters and satire slowly began to increase its audience and was syndicated in more and more newspapers. His most famous character, Opus, was introduced as a walk-on role, but with the response from fans quickly found a permanent place in Bloom County.

Although the strip initially expanded as a replacement for Garry Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” due to similarities in format between the two strips, Breathed told Buchalter in People that critics “who just see ‘Doonesbury’ in my stuff aren’t looking deep enough.” The cartoonist has also cited children’s books such as Dr. Seuss books and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster as a significant influence on his cartooning.

The influence of children’s books can be seen in the cast of “Bloom County,” which includes the cynical Milo Bloom; the unassertive Michael Binkley, who is frequently visited by a closetful of anxieties; the sleazy lawyer Steve Dallas; Bill the Cat, a hairball-spitting feline whose favorite expression is “ACK!”; and Opus the penguin, who Solomon described as a “perpetually befuddled observer of the world’s descent into madness.”

The tone of the strip is frequently silly, demonstrating a keen sense of the absurd in everyday life. “Its freewheeling shenanigans contrast with Trudeau’s sharply focused political satire,” observed Solomon. “Breathed pokes fun at the gossip column elite more often than politicians.”

Fans not only came his way but also prizes, including the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning. However, because “Bloom County” is more observant of social than political trends, Breathed’s Pulitzer sparked controversy among the cartooning community. Most outspoken of the critics was Pat Oliphant, a Pulitzer-winner himself, who commented that the awarding was “a total aberration,” as Henry Allen reported in the Washington Post.

In addition to calling the award “the final insult to what should be true cartooning,” Oliphant also maintained that Breathed’s work was “negatively affecting what I would like to have taken as a serious form of commentary.” In response, Breathed told Solomon, in the work of artists like Oliphant, “day-to-day political events are talked about so much that we fool ourselves into thinking they’re significant.

I’m more interested in longer, more subtle trends in society. . . . I won the Pulitzer for editorializing, which is a whole different matter,” Breathed continued. “God knows, society needs its hard-bitten political commentators, but I’ve never seen that as my role.”

Breathed’s assertions notwithstanding, “Bloom County” managed to comment on a broad variety of current topics. However, “instead of haranguing the reader from a soapbox,” as Solomon noted in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, “Breathed makes the seemingly natural interactions of [his] characters into a vehicle for outrageous social and political satire.”

An example is an episode in which Oliver Wendell Jones, a young, African-American scientific wizard, develops an “electro photopigment-izer” that will darken the skin color of its subject; an expedition is then dispatched to “test” the item on the South African ambassador.

Other storylines follow Bill the Cat’s “affair” with conservative government official Jeane Kirkpatrick and the developments in the “Meadow” Party’s presidential campaigns. And in addition to the unstereotypical Oliver Wendell Jones, “Bloom County” boasts Vietnam veteran Cutter John, the only handicapped character then appearing in a major strip. But while the strip is not overtly political, it quickly became controversial and segments often generated strong and angry responses.

For example, when an unflattering portrait of a religious fundamentalist appeared in the strip, the chairman of the National Federation for Decency wrote to ask Breathed’s syndicator to fire the cartoonist for “religious hatred and bias,” reported Solomon. Also, when two episodes in one week used a slang word that some editors found objectionable, the strip was pulled; one newspaper chain subsequently canceled the strip entirely.

Despite Breathed’s knack for alienating individual segments of society with his work, such instances did not affect his overall success. With its direct style and strong characters, “Bloom County” became “one of the funniest and most relevant strips on the comics,” according to Solomon.

Radley Balko agreed with this summation. Writing in the National Review Online, Balko noted that, despite its “left-leaning” political stance, “Bloom County”‘s “attraction was so overwhelming, it quickly earned a following from across the political spectrum.”

Drawing a comic strip, Breathed remarked to Solomon, “is not just a matter of getting a political point across or squeezing out a giggle from somebody: It’s about creating your universe, which is a real challenge. Few cartoonists succeed in doing it,” the artist concluded, “but it’s become my goal.”

Beyond “Bloom County”

After nine years of daily scripting, Breathed decided to put an end to “Bloom County.” As he noted to a Newsweek contributor, “a good comic strip is no more eternal than a ripe melon. The ugly truth is that in most cases, comics age even less gracefully than their creators.” However, Breathed was far from finished with his “Bloom County” characters, and many soon appeared in his new Sunday-only strip, Outland, which debuted a month after the end of “Bloom County.” Breathed continued “Outland” until 1995 when he again “retired” from comic strips to devote his full-time attention to children’s books.

Breathed’s first such book, A Wish for Wings That Work: An Opus Christmas Story, features everyone’s favorite penguin. In this tale, Opus is pained that he is unable to fly and sends a letter to Santa asking for wings. Come, Christmas Eve, Opus is given a chance to finally earn his wings in an “entrancing” story that blends comic-book art and the best of children’s picture books, according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. This same contributor felt that Breathed “achieves just the right balance of sweetness and levity” in his first picture-book effort.

In 1992’s The Last Basselope: One Ferocious Story, Opus leads a group of explorers in search of the descendants of an ancient and ferocious race. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called the work a “color-saturated, characteristically silly wilderness adventure” as well as a “rambunctious episode.” In Goodnight Opus Breathed presents a rhyming book that is “both bedtime tale and vehicle for his own Opus the penguin,” as another Publishers Weekly contributor commented. This same critic further praised Breathed’s “airbrush mastery” with illustrations that “fairly pop off the page.”

Similarly Booklist reviewer Janice Del Negro commended the cartoonist’s artwork for its “style and polish,” and went on to note that Breathed’s “rhyming text that flows smoothly.”

Breathed’s Red Ranger Came Calling: A Guaranteed True Christmas Story moves away from his usual cast of characters to tell a story of a retired Santa Claus called back into action to make a cynical young man believe in Christmas. Inspired by a story Breathed’s father told at Christmas, Red Ranger Came Calling presents a hero with “reassuring homeliness” and artwork that is “extraordinary,” according to Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan.

A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that the book is “laugh-out-loud funny” on one page, and then elicits a “tiny tear” in the eye of the reader on the next page. The same critic praised Breathed’s “hallucinatory” artwork, noting that it is as “wondrous and unpredictable as his tale.”

With Edward Fudwupper Fibbed Big: Fully Explained by Fannie Fudwupper, Breathed creates a new cast of characters to tell a cautionary tale about lying. The young boy in question “gets out of many sticky situations by telling whoppers in this rhyming tale related by his neglected little sister,” explained Ronald Jobe in a School Library Journal review.

Though a critic for Publishers Weekly characterized the tone of the story, like its artwork, as “mean-spirited and unfunny,” Jobe found more to like. “This is a highly moralistic tale, but a wildly zany one,” he wrote, extending special praise to the author/illustrator’s “wordplay, alliteration, and outrageously expressive” illustrations.

Breathed’s sixth children’s book, Flawed Dogs: The Year-End Leftovers at the Piddleton “Last Chance” Dog Pound, makes a plea for better treatment of animals. “To the casual browser, the book is a rogue’s gallery of unlovely pets,” according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, who also felt that Breathed’s “flippant satire and visual hyperbole make an odd fit with his devotion to a worthy cause.” Marge Loch-Wouters, however, writing in School Library Journal, gave the book a more favorable assessment, noting that children “may enjoy the goofy humor and outrageousness of the poor unwanted pooches featured here.”

In an interview with Jesse Jarnow for, Breathed noted that “painting picture books necessitated me learning something about art. And like a baby armed with a new box of colorful crayons and a newly painted living room wall . . . I’m anxious to wreak some havoc.” That havoc came with the unexpected re-entry of Breathed into the cartooning world with his Sundays-only comic strip, “Opus,” beginning in 2003. Breathed came back on his terms and was allotted a half-page spread for his panels.

In explaining his motives for returning to the role of cartoonist, Breathed noted to Jarnow that “the world went and got silly again. I left in 1995 with things properly, safely dull, and couldn’t imagine why anyone would feel it necessary again to start behaving ridiculously.”

In other words, with the election of George W. Bush as U.S. president, Breathed found he had a target for his satire once more. Even those on the political right were happy for his return. As Balko noted, “We need the wisdom and perspective that can only come from a flightless, motherless, twice-failed vice-presidential candidate Antarctic bird with a weakness for 1-900 lines.”

Despite the political viewpoint that helped inspire him to create “Opus,” Breathed declined to join what he found to be a low level of public debate at work in the first years of the new millennium. “The din of public snarkiness is stupefying,” he told Jarnow. “We’re awash in a vomitous sea of the caustic humorous comment. I hope to occasionally wade near the black hole of pop references only obliquely without getting sucked in with everyone else.”

Breathed explained his overall credo as a comic-strip artist to Jarnow. “Balancing creative growth and experimentation with accessibility is the issue of the day for any artist,” he noted. “All I can say is that there’s nothing more populist than a comic strip.

The comic page is not the place for the whacked-out Jackson Pollocks out there to ram their nutso visions down the readers’ throats . . . not that I haven’t tried that myself.” In response to Jarnow’s question regarding how socially relevant comic strips can be, Breathed concluded of the cartoonist’s enterprise: “Our job is to make people smile. If my cartoons stray into [social relevance] . . . it’s an accidental byproduct in the effort to make ME smile.

Awards and Recognition:

Breathed’s contributions to the world of cartooning have not gone unnoticed. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1987, he received the Inkpot Award in 2010 for outstanding achievements.


Breathed’s extensive bibliography includes a range of cartoon compilations and children’s books. His cartoon compilations, such as “Bloom County Babylon” and “Politically, Fashionably, and Aerodynamically Incorrect,” showcase the evolution of his artistic style and narrative approach.

In children’s literature, Breathed has crafted engaging stories like “A Wish for Wings That Work” and “Mars Needs Moms!” His ability to appeal to children and adults underscores the timeless quality of his storytelling.


  • Bloom County: Loose Tails, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1983.
  • ‘Toons for Our Times: A Bloom County Book of Heavy Metal Rump ‘n’ Roll, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1984.
  • Penguin Dreams, and Stranger Things, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1985.
  • Bloom County Babylon: Five Years of Basic Naughtiness, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1986.
  • Billy and the Boingers Bootleg, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1987.
  • Tales Too Ticklish to Tell, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1988.
  • Night of the Mary Kay Commandos: Featuring Smell-O-Toons, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1989.
  • Classics of Western Literature: Bloom County, 1986-1989, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1990.
  • Happy Trails, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1990.
  • A Wish for Wings That Work: An Opus Christmas Story (children’s book), Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1991.
  • Politically, Fashionably, and Aerodynamically Incorrect: The First Outland Collection, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1992.
  • The Last Basselope: One Ferocious Story(children’s book), Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1992.
  • Goodnight Opus (children’s book), Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1993.
  • His Kisses Are Dreamy—But Those Hairballs Down My Cleavage, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1994.
  • Red Ranger Came Calling: A Guaranteed True Christmas Story (children’s book), Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1994.
  • The Romantic Opus ‘n’ Bill, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1994.
  • One Last Little Peek, 1980-1995: The Final Strips, the Special Hits, the Inside Tips, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1995.
  • Edward Fudwupper Fibbed Big: Fully Explained by Fannie Fudwupper (children’s book), Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2000.
  • Flawed Dogs: The Year-end Leftovers at the Piddleton “Last Chance” Dog Pound (children’s book), Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2003.
  • Creator of comic strips “The Academia Waltz” for Daily Texan, 1978-79, “Bloom County,” for syndication by Washington Post Writer’s Group, 1980-89, “Opus Goes Home” for Life, 1987, and Sunday-only strips “Outland,” 1989-95, and “Opus,” 2003——contributor of illustrations to The Emperor, 1998.


Guy Berkeley “Berke” Breathed’s artistic journey has been a testament to the transformative power of humor and storytelling. From the early controversies of his editorial cartoons to the Pulitzer Prize-winning success of Bloom County, Breathed has remained a creative force for decades. His ability to seamlessly transition from political cartooning to children’s literature underscores the depth of his storytelling prowess.

As Breathed continues to share his unique perspective through revived comic strips and new creative endeavors, his impact on the world of cartooning and literature remains enduring. The colorful characters and narratives he has brought to life continue to captivate audiences, making Guy Berkeley Breathed a beloved figure in the world of creativity and humor.

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FAQs about Berkeley Breathed aka Berke Breathed

Who is Berkeley Breathed?

Berkeley Breathed, born on June 21, 1957, is an American cartoonist, children’s book author, director, and screenwriter. He is best known for his Bloom County, Outland, and Opus comic strips.

What is Berkeley Breathed’s notable achievement in cartooning?

Berkeley Breathed won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1987 for his work on the Bloom County comic strip.

When did Bloom County first debut?

Bloom County debuted on December 8, 1980, featuring characters like Steve Dallas and Cutter John. The strip eventually appeared in over 1,200 newspapers worldwide until Breathed retired the daily strip in 1989.

Why did Berkeley Breathed retire from Bloom County in 1989?

Breathed chose to retire Bloom County while it was still popular, stating that “a good comic strip is no more eternal than a ripe melon.” He wanted to end the strip on a positive note.

What other comic strips did Berkeley Breathed create after Bloom County?

After Bloom County, Breathed created the Sunday-only cartoon Outland in 1989, which reused some Bloom County characters. In 2003, he started Opus, a Sunday-only strip featuring Opus the Penguin.

Did Berkeley Breathed return to cartooning after retiring Opus?

After a hiatus, Berkeley Breathed returned to cartooning in 2015 with new Bloom County strips, which he continues to post on Facebook almost daily as of January 2018.

What are some of Berkeley Breathed’s notable works besides comic strips?

Besides his comic strips, Berkeley Breathed has authored numerous children’s books, including “A Wish for Wings That Work” and “Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big.” He has also worked on animated films like “Mars Needs Moms.”

What is Berkeley Breathed’s stance on political cartooning?

Berkeley Breathed left political cartooning, expressing that the atmosphere became too bitter. He has no regrets about leaving that aspect of his career.

What are Berkeley Breathed’s hobbies and interests?

Berkeley Breathed is a fan of outdoor activities like powerboating and motorcycling. He has faced personal challenges, including breaking his back in an ultralight plane crash in 1986.

Is Berkeley Breathed affiliated with any social causes?

Berkeley Breathed has been a supporter of animal rights and has illustrated for PETA. He designed the cover for PETA’s cookbook “The Compassionate Cook.”

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