Due to timing, the golden age of ANSI art was just beginning to ramp up as the strip was petering out. ACiD founder RaDMaN reports: "Bloom County (Bill the Cat and Opus), Snoopy, and the FidoNet dog were some of the first ASCII art characters I recall ever seeing in commonplace usage on public domain bulletin boards. They were all small scale line-drawn ASCII, typically no taller than 6-7 lines" -- this would have been in the late '80s and very early '90s, perhaps looking something like
Even though Bloom County was on its way out, its silly subjects, sassy attitude and iconic animal characters (with limited newsprint palettes) all combined to make the strip a frequent subject of underground ANSI art conversion -- in my estimation in the top 5* of "toon" ANSI subjects following the winner by a huge margin Bill Watterson's Calvin & Hobbes (possibly the most ANSIfied character of all time? We could easily run an "ANSI Calvin of the Day" feature for several years running without any repeats), Steve Purcell's Sam & Max -- Freelance Police (and hm, if Earthworm Jim counts I may have to revise my stats), Warner Bros.' the Animaniacs, and Jeff Smith's Bone._ /| \'o.O' =(_._)= |U| / | //| \
It's curious -- while the strip was popular in the newspapers for its time, it was by no means a success on the level of The Far Side or Garfield (or probably even Dilbert)... all of whom get represented in ANSI form also, only not with as great frequency. Maybe their respective art styles made them poor candidates for ANSI conversion, or maybe there was more of an ideological mismatch between the status quo funny pages and the grim elitism of the digital underground. One can only speculate as to why some properties successfully made the leap across mediums and others did not! But please, no further speculation. Without further ado, here's an ANSI art gallery of Bloom County characters rendered in textmode art -- taking as its point of departure an AOTD (ANSI of the Day) post from the 16 Colours Facebook group, which found itself topped up in the comments section. I've decided to devote a blog post to the topic so I don't need to keep "bump"ing a dead thread every time I find a new one. Instead I can just make amendments and additions here, the Internet's newest comprehensive source on Bloom County textmode art.
We begin with a short but sweet piece from my own artgroup Mistigris, a representative from our 1094 collection (our debut!) by Inquisitor, who quickly decamped with his pal Pestilence to Integrity. This is of course Opus the penguin, illustrating BBS menu options and freaking out. As the star of the strip, he's also the subject of the lion's share of the Bloom County ANSIs, so we'll open with a number of takes on his avian visage.Ebony Eyes") in 1990:
,-.-. .' | `. .' | `. ( | ) .\ OIO /. | `..' : `.,' | / / : \ \ .' .' : `. `. `._( )_.' |`---. .---'| | _ `-' | _ J| `--..___..-+-' | / | _[_]_ | / |_.--' `---._| / .-"""""-. \ .' `. hjwThis is some kind of threat, as best as I can tell -- an ANSI animation, effected with the help of some GIF2ANS-style automatic conversion utility. I don't see the need for such mean-spiritedness... we would see such excesses visited upon Barney the Dinosaur (textually) and "America's Funniest Home Videos" host Bob Saget, but those frustrated urges are understandable and perhaps even justified... now just what has Opus done to deserve it, though?
(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\) (\)77777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777(\) (\)MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM'aa.a@."`"m. `MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM(\) (\)77777777777777777777777 a@@@@@@@a "m `777777777777777(\) (\)MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM @@@@@@@@@@@ "m MMMMMMMMMMMMMM(\) (\)777777777777777777777 @@""@@""@@@@ # 77777777777777(\) (\)MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM @@ '@@ '@@@ # MMMMMMMMMMMMMM(\) (\)777777777'oOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO @mm@@' # ,77777777777777(\) (\)MMMMMMM'oOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOo"@@'@ # MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM(\) (\)77777'oOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOo`o@@ # ,777777777777777(\) (\)MMM'oO''OOOOO''OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO@@@| # MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM(\) (\)77.OOooOOOOOooOOOOOOOOO''O _ `@@@ m## 7777777777777777(\) (\)MMM,`OOOOOOOOOOOOOO'',MM Oo..o@@";m###' MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM(\) (\)77777,`OOOOOOOO'.;777777 ##.##,mmmmm#'| 7777777777777777(\) (\)MMMMMMMmmmmmmmmMMMMMMMM ##' `######''#| MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM(\) (\)7777777777777777777777',#' mMm."#" `# 7777777777777777(\) (\)MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM7.' ' ## ' # MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM(\) (\)777777777777777777777 Grampa Phoenix 77777777777771907(\) (\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)(\)Drew Olbrich, you have made a gaffe: it is Bill the Cat who says "Ack!", not Opus the penguin! (Or Cathy Guisewite, but we're digressing here.) more about it when it's ready.) Here an unshaded Opus is demonstrating his retro cred by interacting with something called a ... "land-line"? Can that be? But it's wireless! The picture is by Sub-ZeroX of Mind, from their August 1994 pack. The flat style is a bit of a throwback by 1994 standards. this one, but though I can't imagine that image coming from any source external to Bloom County, I also cannot associate it with any of the strip's events. Of course, a keener could take advantages of trade paperbacks and online comic strip archives to attach every one of these ANSIs to a source panel and the original date it appeared in newspapers! But that's going in a bit deep, even for me -- and that's saying something!) This was released in the February 1994 Relic artpack. held his nose and compromised by illustrating the character, but giving him a sinister dangling tongue and spatters of drool. This detail has since been adopted as canon and reproduced by many an artist in his wake! But I digress.)
_______________________ !_______________________! ! ! ! Bill & Opus in '88 ! . . . . ___!_______________________!____ . . . . (________________________________) ___ . . . . ___ / / \ \ `-_--__ . . ___ - __--_-' ! ! ! ! `-_ ---_ ./ \_-- _-' ! ! ! ! ! `--_ /o\| O | __-'. . ! ! _0/ \0_ ! ! __-\_/\--__/_- \ \/ \/ / . . / \/ \ . . . ! / \ ! . | .'. | .`..|. . / / \ \ .\_____/\______/ . \( )/ . |##|.^. \ " " / . |##|| . \ / |##|| /\_______/\ |##|| . / ! ! \ / / ||:.. / __! !__ \ | | / | / ! \\_// ! \ | ' | | / ! \_!-!_/ ! \ / \_/ | ! / ! / !_! \ ! \ ! ___!__________!________________!_!__!__/___\__!__!_!___ ! ! ! ! ! W H I T E ! ! ! ! H O U S E ! ! ! ! O R ! ! ! ! B U S T ! ! ! ! ! !______________________________ ________________________! COUNTY88.TXT 60 lines/80 columns/7-bit ASC Karen A. Intended for public distribution -- not intended for resale.And a return appearance from Ktulu of Relic, this piece showing Opus & Bill from their January 1994 artpack. Bonus points for Berke Breathed's surreal landscapes -- this looks more like the Dali-esque Outland than Bloom County, but the dandelion patch belongs canonically to Bloom County... and was indeed the very setting for the first installment of the strip's current revival! (Opus 'n Bill became a regular Batman & Robin power couple in the funny pages -- and became grist for a legal battle when leaping across the digital divide in 1993 and were heavily penalized for going on a screensaver hunting expedition against After Dark's famous flying toasters (themselves plagiarising album artwork from Jefferson Starship's 1973 "Thirty Seconds Over Winterland". I only knew about it as one of the few non-game pieces of software I keenly warez'd back in the day, unaware that very soon obtaining the product by legitimate commercial means would become impossible! I'm glad to see from the YouTube clips that someone hung on to their copy, because I've been trying to dig a copy of it it up again for literally decades, and the only references I could locate were to legal records 8) Mighty Mouse snorting cocaine in the Saturday morning cartoons) as though they're going out of style. (Most artists would never draw a Bloom County character, but of those who did -- it seems they would often make repeat visits.) This looks like interface artwork for an e-mag, but I found it in Relic's April 1994 artpack.
From: [a--k] at [cscihp.UUCP] (Andy Santoro) <------- ____ &&& / \ __ _____, `-- | o \' ` &&/ `| | o },-' \____( )__/ ,' \' \ /~~~~~~|. | .}~~~\ ,-----( . | .}--. | . /\___/ `----^,\ \ \_/ ACK!! PHFT!!This anonymous Public Domain ANSI artist of some middling talent has seen fit to leave Bill's tongue plenty of room in his mouth:
\ \ / \ / \ / / / \\ /----------\______________ /---| | ___--/ ------------| . | . /____---__/ \---_______\__/=\--------/____---- \--/ === \ / / \ --\ \ /--|--- | \ | \ \/ \--_____--/ \--_____--/ / / / || || \ / || || \ \ \ / / ||/--|--\|| \ |/ | \| \ / | | \_____And while not strictly speaking textmode art (c'mon, the resolution is low enough that it should get an honourary pass), if you look in the bottom right corner of this 1986 C64 utility's start screen, you will see that an artist identifying as Bill The Cat has represented themselves with a very tiny self-portrait: his Banana Junior computer. Could Oliver be the first comic strip character to share our interests and hobbies, the first hacker hero of the funny pages, predating Jason from Foxtrot? (As for Dilbert, there are no heroes to be found there, only victims and villains.) a family's new dog from the post-Bloom-County strip Outland. Rosebud the Basselope:
* You may be thinking -- forty pictures of something gets it enshrined in the top 5 of all time list? Undoubtedly there are more Bloom County characters ANSIfied out there and hiding in the sixteencolors archive in plain view, but due to the primitive attribution and metadata we have to work with, these are just the pieces that floated to the surface when the total database was queried for related terms present in plaintext. And one more -- not an ANSI, but a piece of RIPscrip vector art, also intended for transmission over modem -- an Opus vs. "After Dark" Flying Toaster (cf. that screen saver I alluded to but never elaborated on) by John Kwasnick!