With Opus, Berke Breathed managed to create a character that was both totally pathetic, totally ridiculous, and totally adorable.
I miss Bloom County.
"The scenario by which the blameless petty bourgeois is 'exposed' (accused of a crime, found naked, in itself an offense) plays on the shame and confusion surrounding the ethics of getting on – in business, in the world, where all is appearance anyway. Trictrac is Töpffer's comedy (or farce) par excellence of mistaken identities, his classic vis comica, involving abrupt and often involuntary switches of costume. These are symptoms of the flux of social roles in the real world, of temptations and pitfalls, of the need to appear as something other than what one is, or was, and the tendency to be taken for what one is not.
The petty-bourgeois fascination with the criminal, who stalks tall through the nineteenth-century popular novel, the man from the margins capable of great acts of power, like the Count of Monte Cristo, is a fantasy of those excluded from power, or given paltry symbols of it, like the grocer-national guardsman. To imagine oneself arrested as a petty criminal is thus a deterrent against, or advance punishment for, harboring criminal fantasies."
"While Gavarni captures as it were in flight single moments with epigrammatic intensity, while the piquant glimpses we are allowed through the keyhole give us a synthetic view of society today in compilations arranged loosely around various themes and going from point to point, Töpffer by contrast is quite continuous, he never lets go of his topic in order to switch to another. Rather he develops the same topic, lets one scene grow organically out of another, and does not stop until he has spun it out fully, exhausted all the motifs he has seeded there and brought to fruition; he narrates, he draws novels. (...)
A comic character thus constitutes a plot pivot in each of the albums, This character is inescapably prisoner to some inexorable caprice, passion, or weakness. No experience, no obstacle, no humiliation can teach him better."