As the country excitedly awaits our great quadrennial political climax, a smaller subset looks toward the first week of November with great anxiety and dread. On Sunday, Nov. 2, the comic “Opus” will end. Worse yet, creator Berkeley Breathed has made it clear that the strip’s namesake will, in that final strip, find his“final paradise.”
Sure, it’s been an unnaturally long run for a penguin. Opus, who started with a bit part in Breathed’s Pulitzer-winning “Bloom County” (1980-89), starred in “Outland” (1989-95) and finally took center stage in “Opus” (2003-08). But for those of us accustomed to seeing our own thoughts — and fears, hopes and simmering anger — take flight in the broken-nosed face of a penguin every week, there’s no preparation for his exit, only mourning.
Breathed says it’s the anger that led him to close the book on “Opus,” that the increasingly nasty political climate has made it too difficult to keep his strip from drifting into darkness. Breathed has described his work as a hybrid of “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz’s gentle humor and Michael Moore’s crusading social justice. Perhaps losing touch with his inner Charlie Brown, Breathed has said that “a mad penguin, like a mad cartoonist, isn’t very lovable,” and wants Opus to take his final bow before bitterness changes him forever.