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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear. This could get expensive, 19 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: Berkeley Breathed's Outland: The Complete Collection (Hardcover)
When travelling to the USA on a regular basis in the 1980s and early 1990s, I got hooked on a number of comic strips that appeared in US newspapers, one of which was "Bloom County". The author, Berkeley Breathed, stopped producing Bloom County in 1989 (there's an explanation in the preface to this book, involving the stress of producing a daily strip to deadline, a risky drive back from the airport where he'd rushed to deliver a strip for despatch to his syndicate, and him finishing up facing the wrong way on a highway with trucks bearing down on him - consequently he decided that it was time to retire the strip).

"Outland" was the successor strip to Bloom County, and presumably as a Sunday-only strip it reduced the stress levels (though footnotes in here indicate that he still had problems meeting deadlines). It started off as a rather different beast to Bloom County, with only the character of Opus the penguin and Ronald-Ann, the ghetto child, making the transition. Outland was where Ronald-Ann went to escape from the realities of ghetto life, and was a very different proposition to the moderately recognisable world of Bloom County (OK, yes, so there were loads of anthropomorphised animals with distinctly odd characteristics). Outland, on the other hand, was a very surrealistic landscape, resembling a cross between George Herriman's backgrounds for the Krazy Kat comics, a Dali landscape, and a Roger Dean album cover for Yes. The new characters were also rather more bizarre, and allowed Breathed to take a poke at a number of targets (for some reason, he seemed to have a grudge against the Disney Corporation and his footnotes in this collection indicate that he was almost inviting them to sue him, not only for creating the character of Mortimer Mouse (Mickey's unlucky brother) but at times including Mickey Mouse and Michael Eisner in the strip). Eventually, however, over the course of the strip's life until 1995, more of the old Bloom County characters crept back in and the surreal elements faded away - maybe it was difficult to keep up that level of invention, or maybe it was just easier to make jokes in the earlier medium. Whatever the reason, by the time that Outland was retired, it was very similar to the old Bloom County strips. Not that that was a bad thing.

The title of this review alludes to the packaging of this particular collection. This is a lovely product; good quality heavy gauge paper and colour reproduction of the strips, excellent hardback binding, comprehensive coverage, and a foreword and footnotes by Breathed. It's just nice to have, even if you're not a particular fan of the strip, though you probably wouldn't pay for it on that basis. But I see that the longer run of Bloom County, from the same publisher, is spread over 5 volumes. I think I'd have to get a mortgage to pay for the whole lot....
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Location: Reading, Berks, United Kingdom

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