Bill the Cat

June 21, 1957 – Berke Breathed and Opus are Born

Berke BreathedOn June 21, 1957, Guy Berkeley “Berke” Breathed, creator of the Doonesbury-inspired, Pulitzer Prize-winning Bloom County comic strip, was born in Encino, California.  Filled with memorable characters such as Opus the Penguin, Bill the Cat, Steve Dallas, and Cutter John, Breathed parlayed his strip into a cartoon empire including syndication at the strip’s height in over 1200 newspapers, spin-off strips Outland and Opus, eleven cartoon collections, five children’s books, greeting card and gift ensembles, a movie, and a stage musical.

Breathed started his cartooning career while at the University of Texas, where his first strip, The Academia Waltz, appeared in the Daily Texan.  A film adaptation of his picture book Mars Needs Moms!  was released in 2011. Producer Robert Zemeckis used then-state-of-the-art motion-capture animated film technology, but the movie turned out to be less than a magnum “opus” at the box office.  Bill the Cat’s response?  “Accckkk!”

Image Credit: Bloom County/Facebook