Opus the penguin from the beloved “Bloom County” comic strip once said he would miss all of Iowa City as part of the author’s farewell to the city.
Decades after the comic book ended, FOX announced in a press release that “Bloom County” would be developed into an animated comedy series, co-written and executive produced by comic book creator and former resident Berkeley Breathed. ‘Iowa City.
Breathed lived in Iowa City from 1981 to 1985, according to a 2004 Press-Citizen article, his girlfriend at the time was a medical student at the University of Iowa.
The strip was set in a small Midwestern town called Bloom County and featured a colorful collection of characters like the big-nosed penguin Opus, Bill the Cat, and 10-year-old reporter Milo Bloom. “Bloom County” delved into political satire and examined culture from a Midwestern perspective.
In a 2015 interview with NPR, Breathed said he wrote “each comic isolated in a dining room on an Iowa City farmhouse.”
The comics featured a boarding house that should look familiar to Iowa City residents.
While Breathed lived and worked at 521 Clark St., it was the quirky multi-level house at 935 E. College St. that was memorialized in his comics.
The Lindsay House, spelled Linsay on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1893 and was listed on the register in 1977. The house was sometimes referred to as “the Gingerbread House” due to its unique appearance, according to a 1980 Press-Citizen article.
The architecture of the house, as shown in the registry, is a Queen Anne style developed in America in the late 1870s. The builder, John E. Jayne, gifted it to his daughter Ella Jayne Lindsay and her husband John Granger Lindsay.
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In “Bloom County”, it was home to Opus, which then listed all the great things about Iowa City in an artwork for the Iowa City Public Library, including the city with “the most public library luxury of the known universe”.
“Iowa City…how will I miss you?” The opus has begun.
It wasn’t just Opus that liked the library. In the same interview, Breathed said he missed the library and couldn’t find another one like this.
But not water, says the cartoon.
“Bloom County” is from the first comic strip published by Breathed in its student newspaper The Daily Texan.
He told the Press-Citizen in a 1987 article that he remembered Iowa City “with affection” and “as a place with great mental calm”.
“Iowa wasn’t necessarily culturally inspiring, but it allowed for a lot of soul-searching,” Breathed said. “And it’s one of the most beautiful states to fly over in an ultralight.”
As for the water, he agreed with his caricature.
“You mean that thing that tastes like it has fertilizer in it?” he said.
Breathed was born in Los Angeles and came to Iowa City in 1981 from Austin, Texas. He received a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1987 for “Bloom County.” Comic book audiences have reached the White House, or at least once, as evidenced by a phone call from former President Ronald Reagan to Breathed, who liked a “Bloom County” comic strip that included a photo of Nancy. Reagan.
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The strip ran from 1980 to 1989, appearing in more than 1,200 newspapers, according to NPR.
Characters from the “Bloom County” world lived through the “Outland” and “Opus” strips. Breathed created new strips for “Bloom County” on Facebook in 2015.
“At the end of ‘Alien’, we saw cuddly Sigourney Weaver fall peacefully into a cryogenic hypersleep after being chased by a saliva-spewing maniac, only to be woken up decades later in a world stuffed with much worse,” Breathed said in the press release. “FOX and I did the same to Opus and the rest of the Bloom County gang, may they forgive us.”
Paris Barraza covers entertainment, lifestyle and the arts at Iowa City Press-Citizen. Contact her at PBarraza@press-citizen.com or (319) 519-9731. Follow her on Twitter @ParisBarraza.