Academia Waltz, Collecting Berke Breathed’s Pre-Bloom County Work, Will Be Released in May by IDW


I don’t know about you folks, but I was obsessed with Bloom County in the ’80s. It was frustrating because it never ran anywhere in Ireland, so on American vacations I would ask everyone if they’d heard of it, just so I could discuss with them the adventures of Opus, Milo, Binkley and the rest. Looking back, there was a deficit-sized helping of political humor that totally flew over my head at the time, but the walking computers, Bill the Cat T-shirts, Starchair “Enterpoop” and “Pear Pimples for Hairy Fishnuts” were enough to keep young me entertained even as my parents could enjoy the the spoofs of televangelists, infomercials and the Cold War. The fact that a movie version never happened purely because Harvey Weinstein didn’t think a penguin should be able to talk to humans is one of the biggest missed marketing opportunities in pop-culture history.

IDW has been brilliantly reprinting all of Bloom County with annotations and footnotes that spell out the political humor – for the benefit of both the modern day reader who may not recall the likes of Ed Meese, and the kids who grew up on it missing all those jokes at the time. But having run out of Bloom County (and its sequels, Outland and Opus) to mine, they’re finally getting to the bottom of the available material barrel, literally if not figuratively.

Published from 1978 to 1979 in The Daily Texan at The University of Texas at Austin, The Academia Waltz was Breathed’s first foray into the world of cartoons and comic strips. Though focusing primarily on college life, Breathed’s work also made reference to the big news stories of the day and would prove to be the groundwork for the revered writer/artist’s renowned voice and style. Some of the characters from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Bloom County would appear here for the first time as well, including the legendary Steve Dallas.

“These are the earliest strips by Breathed,” said editor Scott Dunbier, “the ones that set the tone for all that was to follow. And unless he changes his mind about setting the dogs on me if I show up at his house again, the final book on Berkeley we can do.”

I’m Boinging with excitement already.