Sunday, May 8, 2005

"Real books"

I had a great time at brunch with my family, although the baby did manage to make a two-hour drive into a three-hour drive (babies are good at that). I hope you all had a great Mother's Day!

I was a little disappointed in Berke Breathed's "Opus" comic strip in my paper this morning. In it, Opus is lugging around his hardback copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. He runs across "Way Wired Willy," who Googles the book and pulls up an electronic edition. "That's not a book!" Opus says with horror. "Dude," Willy retorts. "Books are old school." Opus cries, "Yeah, well there's a lot of reasons why they're way better!!"

Dude. Electronic books ARE books. After all, "Opus" is a comic strip, whether one reads it in the paper or on the Internet. Whether it's printed on paper or not doesn't alter its basic nature... it's a comic, and just as funny on screen as it is printed onto dead trees. Similarly, a story in novel format comprises a book, whether it's printed on paper or pixels on a computer screen, and it's just as capable of evoking emotion and engaging the reader on screen as it is on glue-bound pages. To Kill a Mockingbird doesn't suddenly become something other than a book just because one reads it on a screen.


Thank you, Mr. Breathed. I'm glad we had this little discussion:-).


  1. My wonderful wife (WW), is the world's best author, mother, and wife, but subtle sarcasm tends to escape her. Careful examination of the cartoon strip in question reveals Mr. Breathed's point that e-books are real books and that only irrational troglodytes like Opus fail to understand that.

    Notice that Opus struggles to explain how an e-book is not a real book and resorts to the argument that printed books can be used as company in bed. Given Opus' history with women, one should expect him to believe such an argument to be rational. :)

    The character Opus, however, is not rational and never has been. He was frequently used as a foil for the other characters in Bloom County with his knee-jerk and poorly formed opinions, not to mention his many insecurities. Therefore, any of his opinions need to be evaluated with these things in mind.

  2. See, that is *so* not how I read it. It seems to me that Opus is frequently an old-fashioned type who stands up for traditional values, and not in an ironic way.

    I could be wrong, of course... but I doubt it *eg*. Did anyone else read this strip and have an opinion?