I had a feeling this was coming based on the last couple strips but Berkeley Breathed announced that, once again, Opus is leaving us. The end apparently will come in the Nov. 2 strip. Last month — on my birthday of all days — Opus was taken into custody by Homeland Security as an illegal immigrant. Opus is still locked up and what’s really sad is Breathed says, “I’ll be leaving Opus in a way that it should be very clear that this time there’s no going back home.”
The “existentialist penguin” was a fixture of Bloom County in the 1980s, a strip that won the Pulitzer Prize. Breathed retired the daily Bloom County in 1989 but Opus reappeared in a new Sunday-only strip, Outland. That strip didn’t have near the circulation of Bloom County and ended in 1995. Opus made a few book appearances in the ’90s but Breathed brought him back in his own Sunday-only strip in November 2003. Although aptly titled Opus, the strip had even less circulation.
Now that strip is going away and, evidently, so is Opus. Opus is one of my favorite comic strip characters ever and in his honor, he shall close this post rather than the standard closing quote. Therefore, I offer my favorite single cartoon panel of all time, which appeared in 1985’s Penguin Dreams and Stranger Things.
Adieu, Opus, I and many others would not have survived the 1980s without you.
Cartoon ©The Washington Post Co.