Cartoonist Berke Breathed says he will discontinue his Pulitzer Prize-winning comic strip "Bloom County" on Aug. 6 and begin a new, Sunday-only strip the next month.

The announcement from the Washington Post Writers Group was reported in Monday's edition of the Post. It quoted Breathed as saying "A good comic strip is no more eternal than a ripe melon.""Bloom County," featuring Opus the penguin and a cast of other characters from the fictional locale, quickly became one of the nation's most popular comic strips after its introduction in December 1980. It is now carried by nearly 800 daily and college newspapers.

Breathed, 31, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished cartooning in 1987.

In the announcement, Breathed said: "The ugly truth is that in most cases, comics age less gracefully than their creators. `Bloom County' is retiring before the stretch marks show."

The cartoonist declined to comment beyond the prepared statement.

But William Dickinson, general manager and editorial director of the Writers Group, which distributes `Bloom County," said Breathed had been considering such a move for about a year.