Fox Announces Bloom County Animated Series

The cartoon strip with Austin roots heads to the small screen

The return of Bloom County: the classic cartoon strip, with its roots in Austin, is being developed as an animated TV series by FOX.

Time to get out of the dandelion patch: FOX has announced it's developing a new animated adaptation of Bloom County, the Pulitzer-winning cartoon strip by UT alum Berkeley Breathed, from the animation studio behind Bob's Burgers.

This will be only the second animated outing for the residents of Bloom County: in 1991, there was a one-off TV special, adapting Breathed's story boook A Wish For Wings that Worked, with uncredited vocal performances by Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams. The show will be made by animation studio Bento Box (Bob's Burgers, Central Park, and Miramax, Spyglass and Project X will executive-produce. Breathed will cowrite and is also an executive producer.

Announcing the TV series, Breathed said, “At the end of Alien, we watched cuddly Sigourney Weaver go down for a long peaceful snooze in cryogenic hyper-sleep after getting chased around by a saliva-spewing maniac, only to be wakened decades later into a world STUFFED with far worse. FOX and I have done the identical thing to Opus and the rest of the Bloom County gang, may they forgive us.”

Throughout the 1980s, the four mainstays of the funny pages were Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes, Gary Larsen's The Far Side, Garretson Trudeau's Doonesbury, and Breathed's wild and widely adored tale of Opus the Penguin and his coterie of weird friends, including Garfield spoof Bill the Cat, laconic preteen journalist Milo, perpetually nervous Michael Binkley, Rosebud the Basselope, and martini-guzzling frat boy lawyer Steve Dallas.

Debuting in 1980 in The Washington Post, at its height it was syndicated to 1,200 newspapers globally. An inimitable mix of deliberately corny jokes, oddball fantasy, political satire, and a big daily cuddle from strange friends, Bloom County stayed weirdly cool when the rest either went mainstream or off the boil. Breathed ended the strip in 1989, before launching the Sunday-only sequel Outland (which ran through 1995), followed by Opus from 2002 to 2008, before relaunching Bloom County online in 2015.

However, the strip really has its roots in Austin. In 1978, when Breathed was a student at UT Austin, he created a strip for the Daily Texan titled The Academia Waltz. Running until 1979, it featured first drafts of jokes he would reuse later, as well early versions of characters who would turn up in Bloom County, including Rabies the dog, disabled veteran Saigon John (renamed Cutter John for Bloom County and, of course, Steve Dallas himself.

Read our 2009 interview with Breathed, "The Penguin With the Pulitzer," for more on the history of the strip.

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