Monday, February 01, 2010

Great Interview with Berkley Breathed

Read the whole thing.

Vice: I’m curious as to how the writing process for Bloom County worked. Did you always know where you were heading, or was there an element of discovery as you wrote? Did you think in terms of seasons, sort of like television writing?
Berkeley Breathed:
Your question presumes a reality so distant from the experience that any questions about process are meaningless—but perfectly reasonable. The problem is that you’re asking a guy who didn’t think of any individual strip or story line longer than it takes to read this sentence. I drew in a manic, sweat-flinging state of deadline panic EVERY week. Not most weeks. EVERY week. For ten years. I drew what occurred to me as I stared at the same blank strips I’d been watching for six days, and only because the plane that would deliver them to my syndicate editor was due to take off at 5:30 AM, about seven hours from that moment.

This is not how a comic strip should be drawn. This is not how ANY deadline should be handled by any reasonable, conscientious, grown-up professional. But as I wasn’t, they weren’t. The flip side of that confessional coin is that Bloom County would not have been what it was—whatever it was—if I’d been that thing I just described. It was art and writing born of chaos. It was the poison the madness needed. The new book—with all the chaos intact and not edited out, as it was in books before—shows that rather intriguingly.