Updated Friday, 1/6:Newsarama managed to find a few moments of IDW Special Projects Editor Scott Dunbier's time to talk about this week's announcement of the publisher's Bloom Country Library, a project the editor acknowledges came about through some persistent pursuing of the strip's sometime enigmatic creator.
"We’re working directly with Berkeley Breathed," explained Dunbier. "When I arrived at IDW there were a number of projects I wanted to pursue, and Bloom County was on the short list.
"The funny thing is, IDW had already been in touch with Breathed a couple of years earlier and he said he wasn’t interested in the project. [Editor-in-Chief] Chris Ryall had contacted Breathed at the urging of Matt Ruzicka, CFO at IDW and huge Bloom County fan. So when I came on board as Special Projects Editor Matt brought it up to me, and I told him we were on the same page. I emailed Berkeley and asked him if we could talk about it, rather than email. He wrote back that he wasn’t interested but I could phone him if I wanted. I called him and we talked for maybe an hour. His reasoning for turning it down initially was that he thought no one would be interested in it. I strongly disagreed and gave him my reasons why. I sent him some of our comic strip books that Dean Mullaney has designed, including the Eisner-winning Terry & the Pirates. Eventually I wore him down."
Dunbier said he's enjoyed working with Breathed on the project, and hopes the relationship – and Breathed's contributions of new material – will grow in time.
"Berkeley has been great, extremely positive," said Dunbier. "As for new material, we’ve talked about it. We will include some 'context pages' throughout the books, to give readers a feeling for the time the strip originally ran. Berkeley has gone back and forth a bit on how much he will be involved — obviously I’m gently nudging in the direction of more rather than less.
While focusing strictly on the initial project, Dunbier left the door open to eventual collections of Breathed's subsequent strips, Outland and then Opus.
"Absolutely," he replied when asked if future collections are possible. "But for now all our energies are devoted towards Bloom County."
Finally, the Special Projects Editor told us he's right now getting reacquainted with all the original strips.
"I am re-reading the strip now," he said. "It’s really wonderful to revisit these characters again. Some I remember vividly while others feel like I’m reading them for the first time. I was a steady Bloom County follower in the 80s, the strip had such humor, wit and whimsy—can’t wait to be able to visit them any time I want!The original press release follows Press Release IDW Publishing is pleased to announce the forthcoming release of The Bloom County Library. Beginning in October 2009, each of the five volumes will collect nearly two years worth of daily and Sunday strips, in chronological order. This will be the very first time that many of these comic strips have been collected, and the first time in a beautifully designed, hardcover format. The books will be part of IDW’s Library of American Comics imprint, and designed by Eisner Award-winner Dean Mullaney.
"Fans have pestered me for years,” said Berkeley Breathed, “for this ultimate Bloom County collection in that polite, respectful badgering way that only fans can manage. Thank God I can now tell them something better than just 'please remove your tent from my lawn.' I can say, 'It's coming!"
Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County is one of the most popular and critically acclaimed newspaper strips of modern times. Premiering on December 8th, 1980 — a month after the election of Ronald Reagan as President — the strip brought to the comics pages a unique amalgam of contemporary politics and fantasy, all told with hilarious humor and wit.
The beloved and quirky denizens of Bloom County include Opus, Steve Dallas, Bill the Cat, Milo Bloom, Michael Binkley, and Cutter John. Breathed was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1987 for his work on Bloom County. The strip was published in an astounding 1200 newspapers.
The phenomenon that was Bloom County spawned a merchandizing bonanza, as well as two spin-off strips, Outland and Opus. The first paperback collection of the strip, Loose Tails, sold over one million copies. Bloom County paperbacks cumulatively sold over six million copies. At the height of the strip’s popularity, Breathed walked away on August 6th, 1989.
IDW Publishing Special Projects Editor Scott Dunbier conceived the series. “I’m absolutely thrilled to be editing the Bloom County Library,” said Dunbier. “This is a series that I can’t wait to hold in my hands.”
The Bloom County Library will also contain a series of “Context Pages” sprinkled throughout the volumes. These pages will provide perspective for the reader, presenting a variety of real-life events and personalities that were contemporary at the time of original publication.