'Bill the Cat' - the Cartoon Strip Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

'Bill the Cat' - the Cartoon Strip

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Bill the Cat was originally part of a comic strip called Bloom County written by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, Berkeley Breathed. Breathed discontinued Bloom County but later began a new and more subversive strip called Outland and imported many Bloom County characters, including Bill. These strips lasted throughout the 1980s. Bill was at first a very minor character that didn't seem to have much of a place. So he was killed off. He 'died' in 1983 of acne - or at least that's what the readers were told.

About a year later, though, Breathed revived Bill with a story of Bill as a movie star who had died after doing too many drugs and drinking too much booze. Then, the story went, he was brought back from the dead using genetic DNA cloning. From that point on, he was in the strip all the way through Outland, where he was a major member of the 'Men's Kouch Club'.

Supposedly, he has always been second-banana to Opus the Penguin (the purported star of Bloom County), but many disagree. Opus and Bill serve as a foil to each other, with Opus's rather fussy, timid naivety in stark contrast to the unkempt, ill-considered abandon that characterises Bill. Bill is the street kitty taken in by Opus but totally unable to shed his Skid Row background. In the animated short Breathed created for Christmas, A Wish for Wings That Fly, Opus and Bill, the main characters, play off each other constantly. Bill's intentions are the best, but his appearance and his pharmaceutical-laden past betray him constantly in a fatal clumsiness. This clumsiness may be the secret of his vast appeal, for he continues to be one of the most well-loved characters in Berkely Breathed's pantheon of cartoon creations.

The Multi-Faceted Bill the Cat

Bill the cat is no ordinary feline. Below is a short list of what jobs he's done and where he's been:

  • A presidential candidate

  • A Rasneesh cult member

  • A patient at the Betty Ford clinic

  • Jeanne Kirkpatrick's lover

  • A Televangelist

  • Leader of a Rock and Roll band (Billy and the Boingers)

  • A Russian Spy

  • A presidential candidate again

  • A repository for Donald Trump's brain

In each of these scenarios, Bill the Cat remains utterly himself, making Breathed's determined satire of the institution or person in question all the more pointed.

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