Write a blog and you find out all kinds of things about the world around you.

Yesterday, I wrote a posting about comic strips and how interest in specific strips tends to follow us as we age. Among the strips that I have dearly loved over the years is Bloom County. Who would have ever thought that a strip about a penguin, a schizophrenic, drug-addled cat and various and sundry other tawdry characters would garner such a following?

Well, after I posted the comic strip entry, good friends Wendell and Cheri, who live in the D.C. suburbs sent me the following picture. As Wendell says, “We are such big fans of Bloom County and its creator, Berkeley Breathed, that we named our son after him.”

The picture below is of Wendell and Cheri’s son, Berkeley, with Bloom County creator, Berkeley Breathed, at a book signing where the two had the opportunity to meet.

Small world, eh?

Berkeley and Berkeley

Lately, as I have taken Gillis for walks here in Murphy, whether I wear the iPod or not, I still have time to think. Yesterday, on the walk, I began thinking about how our interest in comic strips tends to follow us as we age.


When I was a teenager and newspapers were thriving, I read the comics religiously. My favorite strip was Dondi. Now, I don’t expect any of you to remember Dondi, but it was a strip about a young boy as he went through his days. It was a wholesome cartoon, no racy themes or issues. Again, think wholesome. I would usually read the comics in the morning and they helped me feel good all day long. Dondi was long before Peanuts.

And, of course, Peanuts was a classic. I used to buy the Peanuts calendars and tape the monthly illustrations on my room at home. Schulz was simply brilliant.


Another strip I read when I was younger was Pogo. That was the first time I began to see some political rhetoric begin to enter the strips. Now remember, please, this was long before Doonesbury. Pogo is widely known for saying, “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

I was never much of a follower of Mary Worth, or Rex Morgan, just didn’t care for the serial cartoons. Then, I also liked Beetle Bailey, Blondie, For Better or Worse. Even as a child, I often wondered why Mr. Dithers kept Dagwood around and didn’t fire him. Throughout the seasons, the cartoon strips tended to follow the weather. I grew up in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas, so when Hi and Lois would show Hi out in the backyard raking leaves, that was something I didn’t understand. And when the kids in For Better or Worse were going sledding with their parents, I could imagine what that was like, but didn’t have much real experience with sledding.


As I grew older and into adulthood, I still would periodically look at the cartoons I mentioned above if they were in the papers I read routinely. But by that time, Doonesbury was my favorite — total political rhetoric in a comic strip.  About the same time, Bloom County came along and I was totally smitten with Opus the Penguin and Bill the Cat. I loved the other characters, but I became an Opus fanatic. Again, political rhetoric, especially when Steve Dallas, the chain-smoking, sunglass-wearing dude would expound on just about anything.

Also, the simple brilliance of The Far Side kept me so entertained as Gary Larson would create such human conditions with his animal characters. One year, a friend, Denise, gave me a two-volume collection of the Far Side cartoons that must have weighed at least 50 pounds. ‘He ain’t heavy, he’s my Far Side collection!” This had ’em all and it was such a brilliant collection.

And, a friend of mine in Houston was the cartoonist for Tank McNamara. He had a great imagination for sports cartooning.

Calvin & Hobbes

As I got older and became a father of four children, there is one strip that was pure joy — Calvin and Hobbes. This strip was drawn by a very talented cartoonist who, for a period of time, lived in the same Northeast Ohio town where we lived.  Perhaps my favorite Calvin and Hobbes strips were the ones where the cartoonist would show Calvin making snow sculptures. As you can imagine, they were very creative and so totally sophisticated for such a young stud and his toy tiger. I loved it that Hobbes would be alive, speaking and everything when it was just him and Calvin. But when an adult was in the strip, Hobbes was depicted as the toy he was. Such innocence and brilliance at the same time.

Now, I am retired and 60. While I still read all these strips whenever I can, there is one strip that, as much as I hate to admit, probably more accurately reflects my station in life: Crankshaft. I can side with this crotchety, sour curmudgeon more than I could in the past. But whenever I check the strips and I see Crankshaft, more today than yesterday, I can identify with his behavior, his demeanor, his sensibilities and his frustrations. I love Crankshaft, even though he is a difficult guy to like.


There is one area that I feel like I have in common with Crankshaft. Regularly, he seems to say, “When I was young, …” or “In the old days, we would …” I really don’t like it that I occasionally have very similar statements to this, but I’m human.

And, I can’t ever forget that, at the end of the day, the purpose of these wonderful strips is to make us smile, even if only for a moment or two. I hope each of you has a favorite  cartoon and it brings a smile to your face on a routine basis.