In the year since Berke Breathed came out of retirement to cover the 2016 election cycles with Opus, Bill, Milo and the gang, he's amassed enough material to fill a new 144-page collection: Bloom County Episode XI: A New Hope, which comes out in September.
Breathed frequently lampooned Trump in the 1980s, seeing him as a symbol of an America in decline, the "reverse canary in America’s gilded gold mine" (this analysis accords with Piketty's view that the era represents the moment at which capital accumulation by the super-rich reached its tipping point who were able to assert themselves politically to refashion the world as a place where the rich would get much, much richer, at everyone else's expense).
In an address at San Diego Comic-Con, Breathed explained how the publication of Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman reminded him of the way that the small town in Mockingbird had inspired Bloom County, and of the plaintive note that Lee had sent him when he announced his retirement: "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?"
Breathed said he was further spurred on to return to Bloom County by the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, a frequent target of the strip in the late ’80s—though Breathed noted that he’d been inspired less by Trump himself, and more by the changes in America’s political and cultural climates he feels Trump represents. “He is the reverse canary in America’s gilded gold mine: When Donald Trump gets up from the dead and starts singing, you know you’ve reached toxic air,” Breathed told the crowd. “He signifies something that I didn’t want to be left out of … we are on the cusp of a sea change, and we’re all gonna synthesizing and filtering and making it somehow make sense to us.” (Still, don’t look for too many more Trump jokes in the weeks and months to follow: “I think he’ll be gone fairly soon. He’ll be gone within a week or two of getting into the White House, because he has no interest in working that hard.”)
Bloom County Episode XI: A New Hope [Paperpack/Preorder]
Bloom County Episode XI: A New Hope [Hardcover/Preorder]
How Harper Lee (and Donald Trump) Brought Back Bloom County [Brian Raferty/Wired]