"Bloom County" is, as of this writing, the most frequent search engine query that brings this site up. I was proud to see that, so I tried it myself. I don't really know how they find me....I'm somewhere between answer 60 or 70. The most aggravating thing was that the first sites that did pop up were incredibly bad, with minimal content, bad strip scans and over half the links inoperable. "The Men's Kouch" is supposed to be the best unofficial Bloom County site around, but when I went there I found nothing but more of the same. I leapt when I found clips of Opus's Christmas special, but my only wish in a minute was for video files that work.

So, apparently, I'm still the only one who's brought you rare newspaper-exclusive strips and comments from Berke himself and such. I think I also need to go back and watermark the strips--none of the other sites had found me yet, but they were all ripping off each other. Then again, none of them have been updated since 2002.

Oh yeah, and there's a new Opus book out. Is he really 25 years old, as the title says? No, he's actually 24--anniversary books(especially hardcover ones) are always released a year early. It's why there's a Peanuts 50th Anniversary book in existence with commentary on every page by Schulz, despite the fact that he was dead before the book was out. I have that book by the way, and it ownz.
I also have the Opus book, and it's the one I had signed by Berke. He mentioned that to make the new collection he had to sift through thousands of old strips which he hadn't even looked at in two decades, and found himself embarrassed by many of them....well, apparently. An author can be his own worst judge. Many movie directors never make a habit of watching their own movies because every two minutes they'll see something and think, "Oh no, why'd I do it THAT way? That's awful, I'm so stupid! I wish I could change that." Mark Twain thought some of his last works, rarely ever read nowadays, were better than "Tom Sawyer." Einstein likely looked at many of his earlier theorems and wanted to bury them. It's a primal instinct of any creative thinker. I'm no exception either, and it's why this site has no archive section for the features--there are things that have run on this site that I would NEVER run again, believe me.

Breathed not only didn't like some of the things he saw, he redrew some parts and edited others. While it's natural for any creator to want to change things they previously worked on to their current standards, I think they should draw the line at doing it. Once you release something, and people like it, they're only going to want to see it exactly as it appeared and if you change a single hair, they're going to get upset (especially if you no longer make the original available). The South Park episode about Spielberg and Lucas made this point clear, and all who work in entertainment should take it to heart: Once you release something, it's no longer yours, but the property of everyone. Thus you have no right to suddenly go back and change it if they don't want you to.

Well anyway, that's what he did. Changes ranged from the miniscule that no one will care about, to the massive that most Bloom County fans would take an issue with. See for yourself..and by the way, the level of nitpicking seen here should only be attempted by professionals. Don't get this obsessive at home.

Page 1: Berke mentions Calvin's interplanetary adventurer alter-ego as "Spaceman Biff." When my local paper wrote an article about him, both Berke AND the reporter said "Spaceman Biff." And when I listened to Berke speak, he said "Spaceman Biff" a third time and no one in the audience corrected him. In case anyone is wondering, his name is Spiff.

Page 12: Some cartoons were recolored. There were no gradients in 1982, so the Pac-Man strip had no fading blue background. Isn't the Pac-Man strip great though?

Page 20: The quote marks have been removed from the mention of "Miss Manners." Miss Manners was a 1980's columnist who answered people's concerned questions about etiquette. People were actually that concerned with being polite at one point? I find it hard to believe as well...

First reprint, from "Bloom County Babylon"

What appears in "Opus"

Page 27: One of Opus's morning thoughts has been made less medieval.

Original reprint, from "Bloom County Babylon"

What appears in "Opus"

Page 29: L.H. Puttgrass no longer gives the Burger Blech guy directions on what to do with his carcass. Yeah, a lot of dialogue was simplfied in this edition. Berke said he was ashamed that he couldn't seem to get any point across in less than 50 words, and altered many scenes where either Opus or someone else filled a panel with dialogue to just five words or so.
And is it just me or does the recoloring of L.H. Puttgrass make him look like he's dressing in drag? If it's a kilt then you should take the time to add the pattern again!

Original reprint, from "Billy and the Boingers Bootleg"

What appears in "Opus"

Page 39: Opus doesn't yell as much as he previously did after suffering the effects of eating a dandelion. Personally, I find overdone cumbersome dialogue funnier, don't you?

Original reprint, from "Billy and the Boingers Bootleg"

What appears in "Opus"

Page 40: Very strange decision with this one...this is the famous changing room strip, which has been printed and reprinted more times than most Bloom County cartoons. It's appeared in calendars and it's on his website unchanged. So who does Berke think he can fool by cutting Margaret Thatcher out of it? Maybe he felt mentioning an old Prime Minister who's fallen out of the public eye was too dated an idea....well, Julie Andrews is still there.
In my opinion it's been made worse. Opus only giving one example of who could possibly walk into that room lessens the humor of it. Being afraid of Julie Andrews seeing him in there was ludicrous, but the point needed to be driven home with Thatcher, so that both could be topped by the cheerleaders!

Original reprint, from "Billy and the Boingers Bootleg"

What appears in "Opus"

Page 45: Opus says a lot less in the final panel of the strip where he plays air guitar. I thought the long sentence was appropriate and was good dramatic timing. But what do I know. Binkley's shirt used to say "Calvin & Hobbes Rules" in this panel as well.

Original reprint, from "Billy and the Boingers Bootleg"

What appears in "Opus"

Page 56: The Platinum-Furred Tonsil Sucker is now the Platinum-Furred Mouth Sucker so that Opus can say "There goes his tonsils" instead of "There goes his nose" at the end. Point one: it was fine the way it was. Point two: the nose disappearing was funny. Point three: it's even less likely that Opus would be able to tell Cutter John's tonsils were gone.

Page 66: This said "SOUP-SLURPING OR NON-SOUP SLURPING? SINUS SNORTING OR NON-SINUS SNORTING? ODERIFEROUS BELCHING OR NON-ODERIFEROUS BELCHING???" up until now. I really prefer the longer one, don't you? "Oderiferous Belching" sounds better than just "Belching."

Page 68: The quote marks around "Stone Crab" were seen in the papers, removed for the reprints, and now put back for this new book. Whatever.

Original reprint, from "The Night of the Mary Kay Commandos"

What appears in "Opus"

Page 71: Wow, I'm at a loss to explain why Berke would do this....but Opus's dialogue was again changed at the end(though he's still giving the same message), and the force that knocked him off the diving board is no longer a Mountain Dew, but a bowling ball. The point of the strip was that the world was nuts, and the weight of a Mountain Dew being just enough to crack the board and send Opus tumbling was a lot funnier than the weight of a bowling ball....I mean, with a bowling ball it makes SENSE now, defeating the whole message of this strip! On the other hand, that IS a new drawing of Milo. For us fans starved for Milo, he did draw him one more time.

Original reprint, from "Happy Trails!"

What appears in "Opus"

Page 87: WAHAHAHA! This is actually a change I like. No one's going to believe it said that in 1988, but it was worth it.

Original reprint, from "Politically, Fashionably and Aerodynamically Incorrect"

What appears in "Opus"

Page 108: Ronald-Ann's news report is different this time. Both seem good to me.

Page 109: The strip that identifies Truffles the Pig as "Mr. Hamon Eggs" unchanged! He was whiting out so much and he didn't catch this?

Page 126: Opus said "When you wonder why cats exist, think 'Rotten pistachio tester'." in the papers. When the strip was printed in the first Outland collection, this was corrected to "pistachio testers." Now here it is printed again and Opus is saying "tester" once more.

Page 147: This one ran in papers with quote marks around the brand names "Lavoris" and "Bactine." There have always been quote marks around brand names in the newspaper printings of Breathed comics; I assume it's his editor's insistence because they're usually reprinted in the books with the quote marks off. Here, however, the quote marks are back on.

Page 182: Milquetoast said "I was abused. My mother always called me 'a little cockroach'!!" The quote marks are once again removed. Since we're talking about repeating something someone else said, however, it would have been gramatically correct to leave the marks in.

Page 190: This strip is part 2 of a 3-parter, and while 3 follows it, the first one doesn't show up until two pages later. Whose mistake was this?

Page 192: In between part 3 and part 1, the National Anthem strip was reprinted for the first time. It just gets weirder! This strip was drawn at least three years before any of the strips around it!

Page 201: All the "Opus" strips are reprinted exactly as they appeared a year hanky-panky with these. Obviously the copyright information was removed, but that's true of any Breathed reprint.

I could call this collection a "flawed dog" if I wanted to be that clever, but it sounds too harsh for an Opus book that's printed on glossy paper and bound in hardcover. Besides, I'm not exactly climbing the walls about these changes or organizing a geeky petition. The new "Opus" book is definately worth the $29.95, even if the true fans know that Han shot Greedo first and Milo threw a Mountain Dew.

It WASN'T a bowling ball!!