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Berkeley Breathed Revived “Bloom County” Because of Harper Lee

by  in Comic News Comment
Berkeley Breathed Revived “Bloom County” Because of Harper Lee

Revivals and resurgences are the new reboot. We’ve seen everything from films to television shows returning years after their completion, from the upcoming “Full House” and “The X-Files” to even “Mad Max.” Even cartoonists have gotten in on it — most notably Pultizer Prize winning creator Berkeley Breathed, who recently revived his award-winning strip “Bloom County” after 25 years.

The series returned via Facebook and it was recently announced at New York Comic-Con that IDW will collect the new series in full-color editions due out next summer.

But what inspired Breathed to return to the series after such a long hiatus? In an interview on Fresh Air, the cartoonist revealed the unexpected source: author Harper Lee.

According to the interview, Breathed reconsidered his own character after the postmortem publication of Harper Lee’s original draft of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” re-titled “Go Set a Watchman,” and after seeing how the character of Atticus Finch was treated.

“At the time — and this was a couple of months ago — it made me think that there would have been no “Bloom County” without “Mockingbird” because I was 12 I read it, and the book’s fictional Southern small town of Maycomb had settled deep into my graphic imagination and informed it forever,” Breathed explained in the interview. “If you look at any of my art for the past 30 years, there’s always a small-town flavor to it.

“So this summer, just a couple months ago when ‘Go Set A Watchman’ was causing an uproar, I went back to my files and I pulled an old fan letter from years ago. It says, ‘Dear Mr. Breathed, this is a plea from a dotty old lady and from others not dotty at all. Please don’t shut down Opus. Can’t you at least give him a reprieve? Opus is simply the best comic strip there is and depriving him of life is murder – a hard word to describe an obliteration of your creation. But Opus is real. He lives. Harper Lee, Monroeville, Ala.'”

Breathed explained that re-reading this letter inspired him to bring back his characters and that he sat down that very night to draw the first strip in his revival series.

Check out the full interview for more from Breathed on the series, why he decided to post it on Facebook and his memories of creating the strip for newspapers.

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