Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Book Review: Loose Tails

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Loose Tails (Berke Breathed’s Bloom County)

Author: Berke Breathed

Date: 1983

Publisher: Washington Post

ISBN: 0-216-10710-7

Length: 148 pages

Illustrations: cartoons by Berke Breathed on every page

Quote: “‘And as your Senator…I’m tickled to be here today, chatting with all of you…um…future voters…Yessir…Now…can any of you little nits tell me which great principle our political system is based upon?’ ‘“Money talks”.’

At this early stage in the history of Bloom County, the kids are still in grade four and their teacher, Miss Bobbi Harlow, is the woman Steve Dallas is pursuing.

“Lemmee see you tonight, Bobbi. C’mon, I’m groveling,” Steve says, placing an apple on her desk while Bobbi prepares to go home.

“On three conditions,” says Bobbi. “First: cook me a meal. Second: dedicate your life to charity. Third: get a partial lobotomy.”

What?” Steve hollers. “Cook a meal?”

Bobbi is one of several young women who prefer John to Steve…if only John weren’t paraplegic. Miss Harlow’s fourth grade students, Milo, Binkley, a girl called Blondie (because she's anything but blonde), and others, also see John as “husband material.” Alas, it’s not to be. In later volumes Blondie will fade out and other kid characters will get more attention. In this volume we see more of Senator Bedfellow, Quiche Lorraine, and caricatures of real celebrities (including Mick Jagger as well as Charles and Diana).

Opus, Portnoy, and Hodgepodge are already acting out “Star Trek” scenes in John’s “Star Chair.” In these early cartoons, Opus identifies as a penguin and looks more like one than he will in later books (his beak will grow, puffinlike, until he’s identified as neither penguin nor puffin but just some sort of “flightless waterfowl”).

Although the original “Bloom County” cartoon books have been rendered semi-obsolete by the release of the complete history of the strip, and all sold well enough to be reasonably easy to find, Loose Tails was released when the cartoon was new and thus less widely distributed than later volumes in the sequence. If it's the one your collection needs, send $5 per copy + $5 per package to either address at the very bottom of the screen, and we'll send $1 to Breathed or a charity of his choice. (The copy I have in real life is in very bad condition--all the pages are there, but they're no longer bound--so local lurkers who are willing to read a loose-leaf book can get a better deal.)