§ Berkeley Breathed talks about the end of Opus:

While fans won’t know the penguin’s fate for two weeks, Breathed did say the character won’t be killed off, but is “becoming part of the ages.” He also told fans that next week’s strip, which appears in The Press Democrat’s Sunday comics section, will feature virtually all the old “Bloom County” characters for one last brief comeback.

Breathed, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987, has said he is ending the strip and instead concentrating on children’s books and related animated films “as a refuge from the nastiness” of the current political and social climate. In a brief interview before his talk, he suggested that it was proving too difficult to keep the strip and its main character from sounding bitter.

§ Tom Spurgeon interviews Lucy Knisley, whose travel diary, FRENCH MILK, has just been published:

Certainly, I’ve had my miserable times of doubt about the book. I look to meaningful works by beloved artists and I cringe, that my own book seems so shallow and self indulgent by comparison. But I’ve learned that it’s better to judge a thing on it’s own merits, rather than holding it up to the standards of other works, and that there is a great deal of value to be had in something that might be considered a little shallow or frivolous. In the book, I visit Oscar Wilde’s grave, where a bird craps on my head. Oscar Wilde upheld the belief in art for art’s sake, and beauty for beauty’s sake, which is a strong motivator for my own work. The bird crap might have just been a coincidence, but then again, it might have been one of those real-life messages not to take everything in my art so seriously. It’s a travel journal, which allows for the inclusion of what I ate and saw and bought, but I think that there’s a slow and subtle current beneath the surface, which is absorbed along with the sights and descriptions, the way you might come to your own unconscious realizations while traveling.

§ Pop Culture Zoo chats with Colleen Doran:

I’ve produced nearly 1000 pages of this book for a relatively modest yearly income. If I need to take a break and go and pay down some debt and shore up my savings account, people either understand that or they don’t. There’s only so much you can do to get people to buy your book. Comics aren’t a charitable institution. No one is obligated to buy your comic because you want to draw and write it. If people are not willing to wait for the next installment, they don’t have to. But then, I don’t have to work for less than minimum wage on other people’s schedule, either. I’ve done that already. I even posted my social security statements from the 1980’s so people could see what I have actually made for an entire decade as an artist on this book. I think I’ve sacrificed enough.

BONUS: Colleen posts more of her old photos.

§ David Heatley is profiled in the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

Heatley, who will be at Bookshop Santa Cruz this Tuesday, says the ideal reader for his book is a teenager or adult who needs an injection of hope.

“My message is: Stick around; life’s worth living.”

Now 34, Heatley made it through his own turbulent teenage years with the help of music and art. He discovered the power of comics in college.

“At Oberlin in the early ’90s, the zeitgeist was full of Dan Clowes, Chris Ware and RAW comics,” he said.

§ Deb Aoki has a long interview with Wendy Pini:

It took Overstreet (the price guide for collectible comics) three years to recognize and list Elfquest. It was black and white, it was magazine-sized, and it was drawn by a woman. It was high fantasy, which was not a big subject matter for comics at the time, and it was influenced by manga, which hardly anyone had ever heard of.

‘What kind of drawing style is this?’ ‘Why do your characters look the way they do? Your guys are so effeminate! That’s creepy!’ Oh, the criticism in certain circles was great. They were angered by it.

Meanwhile, other people embraced it immediately. I got some support from The Comics Journal because it was so different. They asked me, ‘This is not drawn in any known style… why are you putting it out in this way?’

§ Final non-comics bonus interview: The Galaxy Express chats with blogger, SF reviewer, and former Beat cubicle neighbor Rose Fox about things to keep in mind when inventing a fictional language:

I think I mostly remember the really terrible ones, like Eric Van Lustbader’s Pearl Saga, where characters have names like Rekkk and Thigpen. I defy anyone to correctly pronounce that triple k, and really, what unkind parents would name their child Thigpen? Or there’s Susan Kearney’s The Ultimatum, where made-up words are relentlessly italicized and often refer to things that have clear Earth analogues. Why say “marbellite” when you could say “marble”? Why call a flower a “rolilly” when you could call it a rose or a lily? So that’s more about what not to do. Other beginner mistakes include creating words that have no obvious similarity to other words, or putting in weird punctuation at random. We know why there are apostrophes in “don’t” and “y’all” and “prob’ly”: they note the omission of a sound and mark the word as in some way informal or nonstandard. If you have something called a glafin’gla, what has been omitted from it? How did the term develop? Why is the apostrophe necessary?


  1. One of Breathed’s heroes, Walt Kelly, was one of the very first Americans with the balls to take on McCarthyism. One can only imagine the skewering Kelly would be giving the current administration.
    I understand and respect Breathed’s decision to bow out in light of the current political climate, but it’s a profound loss for comics. When you look at his recent, brilliant strips (with Opus in the hands of Homeland Security) it’s painfully clear just what we’re losing. No one does this kind of stuff like Berke Breathed. No one comes close.

  2. Elfquest, like manga, was embraced by the science fiction/fantasy fans. (The recent New York Anime Fest was more like a SF con than a comic-con.) Omacon, the regional Sf con in Nebraska, once hosted her as an artist guest of honor.

    Elfquest was one of the first graphic novels to be made available to the book trade, and could always be found at the start of any SF section, shelved with the oversized and hardcover editions.

    Until someone mentioned it, I never saw the manga influence in Elfquest. I just saw it as a distinctive style suited to the nature of the story.

  3. There are human sounds that the English language doesn’t represent well in text. The apostrophe in transliterated foreign speech often stands in for a glottal stop. Other sounds that English doesn’t represent well include the alveolar click (represented by !) as found in African languages. I would add to Rose Fox’s list of things to avoid when inventing alien languages is the assumption that they all descended from English.

  4. Rose is wrong about the apostrophes, to be honest. English may only use them to mark elisions and possession, but a quick glance at the Wikipedia page shows that other languages use them for tons of other purposes. Some of them use it to indicate the glottal stop (which is apparently where Klingon lifted it from). Some use it to mark out the root word from a prefix or suffix. Some use it to modify the pronunciation of the preceding letter. Some transliteration systems use it to mark the break between syllables where it would otherwise be unclear.

    So there are tons of reasons why your invented alien language might have seemingly random apostrophes, and (other than cliche) nothing inherently wrong with using them as a random “alien” letter. (They have the advantage over + and ! symbols that readers will be able to pronounce the result.)

  5. I read somewhere (possibly in a webcomic) that every SF/Fantasy author is only allowed two made up words per book, no more.

    That’s why I like Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” series. Virtually no imaginary words.

  6. I was on board with Elfquest from the very first issue, even though it took me 6 months to track it down.

    That the Pinis demanded they keep control of their property is probably why it hasn’t been made into a movie—yet. Rumors last year were that an animated version was close to fruition.

  7. Alan,

    Warner Bros. currently has the reins of the upcoming Elfquest movie. Sadly, it’s not anywhere close to being done. I don’t even think it’s in pre-production yet; they haven’t even decided if it’s going to be animated, live-action or CGI. Long-time EQ fan Rowson Thurber is supposed to be writing, directing, and producing.

  8. “Why did I know the Rose Fox link would get the most comments!”

    Because it seems to present as fact something that is not actually true (that the sole linguistic function of an apostrophe is to mark an ommission of letters) and because you know we snarky internet commentators will fall all over ourselves to correct such misinformation ;-)

    But Elfquest is awesome, too…