Berkeley Breathed (born June 21, 1957) is an American cartoonist, children’s book author/illustrator, novelist, director, and screenwriter, best known for Bloom County, a 1980s cartoon-comic strip which dealt with socio-political issues as seen through the eyes of highly exaggerated characters (e.g. Bill the Cat and Opus the Penguin) and humorous analogies.
His first regularly published strip, Academia Waltz, appeared in the Daily Texan in 1978. The strip attracted notice from the editors of the Washington Post who recruited him to do a nationally syndicated strip. On December 8, 1980, Bloom County made its debut and featured some of the characters from Academia Waltz, including former frat-boy Steve Dallas and the paraplegic Vietnam war veteran Cutter John.
Bloom County earned Berkeley the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 1987. The strip eventually appeared in over 1,200 newspapers around the world until he retired the daily strip in 1989, stating, “A good comic strip is no more eternal than a ripe melon. The ugly truth is that in most cases, comics age less gracefully than their creators”.
He replaced this strip with the surreal Sunday-only cartoon, Outland in 1989, which featured some of the Bloom County characters, including Opus the Penguin and Bill the Cat. He ended Outland in 1995.
Eight years later, Berkeley began producing the comic strip, Opus, a Sunday-only strip featuring Opus the Penguin, who was one of the iconic characters from Bloom County. He colors the cartoon himself with Adobe Photoshop.
In addition to his syndicated cartoon work, which has produced eleven best-selling cartoon collections, he has also produced seven children’s books, two of which, A Wish for Wings That Work and Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big, were made into animated films.