austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Down the line you'll see the shine from Oregon to Caroline

Back to comics: Berkely Breathed's Opus ran its final strip on Sunday, coming as a considerable surprise to everyone who hadn't heard that it had started its first strip. I think Breathed kind of wore everyone out with Outland, which started out as a lot of well-intended but obvious mistakes. First, it attempted to run a strip Sunday-only when that's not nearly enough time to build stories and characters. Second, it attempted to build the strip around Ronald-Ann, a late Bloom County character who by a tragic quirk of fate had no discernable personality or interesting features. Third, and this may sound contrary, it gave up on any new characters and just dragged back Bloom County characters after we'd noticed we didn't really need them after all.

Opus on the other hand started with a whole different set of mistakes: again with the Sunday-only publication, and bringing back characters we'd all let fade into a nostalgic haze which remembers how great ``Meadow Rock'' was and forgot that unfortunate alien trans-reversal ray incident, not to mention a weird hissy fit where Breathed refused to let his strip go online and demanded a half-page in the Sunday newspapers. More space for the comics would be a good thing for newspapers, but since newspapers hate their comic strip readers the only thing that tack was going to produce was angry letters to the editor.

Anyway, Opus came out with its final panel, and in an amusing twist it's distributed online only. It's also extremely well-drawn: considering Breathed's long-ago fears that he just drew lousy the technical quality of his artwork has been growing steadily for three decades and even if I didn't like the strips at all I'd like looking at them.

What baffles me is seeing online discussions in which people pronoune the last panel means that Opus The Penguin Is Dead. I don't get this at all. While the last few months of the strip were very clearly about The Coming End Of The Strip, and Where Does Opus Want To Spend The After-Strip, the ending is ... well, Opus is mystically transported somehow into Goodnight, Moon, yes, but that's not death by a long sight. What's going on that people are reading it as death?

Trivia: With the first 3,398,745 votes reported for the presidential election of 1952, CBS's UNIVAC predicted Eisenhower beating Stevenson by 32,915,049 votes to 28,986,436, winning 43 states (438 electoral votes) to five (93 electoral votes), with odds of greater than 99 to 1 that its prediction would be correct. CBS and Remington Rand refused to believe such a landslide prediction, and created a much less imbalanced projection. In fact, Eisenhower won 442 electoral votes to Stevenson's 89. Source: Eniac, Scott McCartney.

Currently Reading: To Rule The Waves: How The British Navy Shaped The Modern World, Arthur Herman.


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