Ronald Ann, on the verge of entering The Outland. Artist: Berkeley Breathed.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Universal Press Syndicate
First Appeared: 1989
Creator: Berkeley Breathed
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In 1989, Berke Breathed, creator of the highly popular Bloom County, announced that he would end that daily strip, because …

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… he thought it had begun to grow stale, and start a fresh, new one, with new characters and a new setting, to appear only on Sundays. Just one minor character from Bloom County was to be a part of the new strip.

On September 3 of that year, a young girl named Ronald Ann walked through a magical doorway in an urban alley, that stood between a Bloom County ghetto and a surreal, ever-shifting landscape reminiscent of Krazy Kat or Broom Hilda — The Outland — thus kicking off Berkeley Breathed's (he'd decided to begin using the long form of his first name) new strip.

Within a few weeks, however, Opus the Penguin and Bill the Cat, Bloom County's two most prominent animal characters, had joined Ronald Ann in The Outland. More followed, until the whole place started looking like Bloom County, but with weird backgrounds.

Somehow, the new strip never gelled. As popular as Bloom County had been, Outland started off with a healthy subscriber base — but its circulation eroded steadily, as readers found they couldn't get into the weirdness, and the addition of familiar characters didn't help.

Outland eventually petered out, and Breathed, unable to repeat his success, ended it on March 26, 1995 and retired from comics — for the time being, at least. Two syndicated strips (his first strip, The Academia Waltz, appeared only in a single college newspaper), and one hit. Not perfect, but a batting average of .500 is much higher than most cartoonists achieve.

On November 23, 2003, Breathed came out of retirement and went to bat again. His new comic comic, Opus (also Sunday only) began syndication that day. That one lasted five years.


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Text ©2000-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Berkeley Breathed.