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Culture

Return of 'Bloom County' comic strip gives new voice to Opus and Bill

Look out, Donald Trump! Bill the Cat, Opus the Penguin and the rest of the "Bloom County" crew have returned with plenty of political plunk, ready to entertain a new generation of fans.

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"A return after 25 years. Feels like going home," "Bloom County" cartoonist Berkeley Breathed wrote. Berkeley Breathed/Facebook

Reading the pull-out comics section of the Sunday newspaper was a favorite weekend tradition for my family. My dad would chuckle over animal hijinks in "The Far Side." My little brother would giggle over "Peanuts." I was all about "Garfield" -- that is, until I met Bill the Cat.

The political satire comic strip "Bloom County" by Berkeley Breathed changed the way many of us saw cats and penguins. In "Bloom County" animals could talk and kids acted like adults. And they all had plenty to say about politics.

I remember cutting out "Bloom County" comic strips to bring to school and share for our current events class. The comic -- published in newspapers nationwide from 1980 through 1989 -- witnessed Bill the Cat run for president of the United States against Ronald Reagan. Sadly, Bill lost. Looking back, I think Bill would have done a remarkably good job as president.

"Bloom County" covered topics like the war on drugs, South African apartheid, the mistreatment of Vietnam vets, feminism, the congressional hearing investigating the effects of heavy metal music on teens, and even Donald Trump, which seems right on point lately. The comic was so dead-on with its political commentary that it won a Pulitzer Prize in 1987.

"'Bloom County' operated on far less bile than people suspected, and far more whimsical effervescence," Breathed told Yahoo News. "The last two decades were not the most conducive to stirring the latter. Ridiculousness has settled in again, so it feels safe for a gentle penguin in Jockey briefs applying bikini wax."

A week ago, Breathed brought back Bill the Cat, Opus the Penguin and the rest of the "Bloom County" gang after a long hiatus. Some of us are hoping this means we get another Trump storyline, considering the business tycoon's latest bid for the presidency.

For those of you who don't remember, Trump is accidentally and fatally injured by his own yacht's anchor in a past "Bloom County" storyline. To save Trump, his brain is transplanted into Bill the Cat's body. Trump's life is in upheaval even further as he loses his financial power and becomes estranged from his wife Ivana. Trump tries to make the best of it inside Bill the Cat's body, living in a Bloom County boarding house and receiving life coaching from Opus. But as Trump eventually regains his previous vapid lifestyle, he fires all the characters after buying out Bloom County.

With all the latest headline-spawning comments coming out of Trump's mouth, it seems that "Bloom County" came back at the perfect time.

"I had planned to return to Bloom County in 2001, but the sullied air sucked the oxygen from my kind of whimsy," Breathed told New York Times. "Bush and Cheney's fake war dropped it for a decade like a bullet to the head. But silliness suddenly seems safe now. Trump's merely a sparkling symptom of a renewed national ridiculousness. We're back, baby."

Even though "Bloom County" will not be making its triumphant return to print newspapers, Breathed will be publishing regular strips online on his Facebook page.

We can't wait to see the new hijinks of Bill the Cat!

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Welcome back, Opus. We sure missed you. Berkeley Breathed/Facebook