Swedish children's comic (aimed at the very youngest readers) created by Rune Andreasson, started off as a half-page weekly cartoon in 1966. Got its own comic-book in 1973. It has been translated to all the Nordic languages and had short publishing runs in Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as failed attempts to launch it in Great Britain.
The series details the adventures of various Funny Animal
characters as they go about their lives. The series is known for having a strong moral stance
, while at the same time often presenting rather dark issues or complex problems in a way suitable for very young children (A famous "Letter from the Editor"-page started with "Your parents don't want you to know about this just yet, but I think that it is important that you learn about this" and then moved on to explain the holocaust
The cast has gradually expanded as the series went on, the original Power Trio
of Bamse the bear (mostly the Big Guy
even though he's small... almost verging on a Cute Bruiser
considering that most other adult characters are actually much larger and Gentle Giant
) Skalman the turtle (Absent-Minded Professor
sometimes bordering on Mad Scientist
and also The Spock
) and Lille Skutt the rabbit (Fragile Speedster
and Cowardly Sidekick
, although he has enough incidents of bravery that he approaches The So-Called Coward
) and to some extent their friends and antagonists. The second Cast Herd
is made up mainly of the triplets of the titular character (artistic Brum, Tom Boy
Nalle-Maja and Badass Bookworm
Teddy) and to some extent their friends. But over the years the series has attracted Loads and Loads of Characters
Bamse is made super-strong by eating dunderhonung
("thunder honey"), a dish (which, according to Word of God
, is not just honey but includes a bunch of ingredients, including a secret plant and some pepper) that is brewed by his grandmother.
The series is somewhat (in)famous for its status as an Author Tract
(sometimes dropped into the narrative itself, sometimes in separate educational pages or on the letter column) Also, almost every
villain is given a Freudian Excuse
Now has a character page, but given the vast amount of characters
, it could always use more work.
The characters have grown and developed as the series went on, both Bamse and Lille Skutt are married and have children, and for a while their kids aged almost in Real Time
, although they stopped aging
when they started school.
Bamse provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Vargen's stepfathers. Burre's dad initially had some traces of this as well, but is treated more sympathetically in his latter appearances, being not so much genuinely abusive as simply temperamental and suffering from a slight gambling addiction.
- A Day in Her Apron: Nowadays, Bamse and Brummelisa are both working parents, since the children have started school... but some years ago, when Brummelisa was a stay-at-home housewife with three children, she did occasionally express a wish to not only having to work at home, leading to one story where she and Bamse swapped jobs — she substituted for him as a lumberjack while he stayed home with the kids. Of course, he made a huge mess of things (though it has to be said that he suffered from some bad luck; one of the kids got unexpectedly sick and needed extra care, which got his schedule a bit out of whack). Still, the trope wasn't played completely straight, as Bamse even after a catastrophe of a day still suggested to his wife that they occasionally switch jobs in the future as well, so that she could get out of the house more.
- All Deserts Have Cacti: In one comic, Bamse dug next to a cactus, hoping to find water. He instead found oil, which was spotted by bedouins, who then came to his aid.
- All Myths Are True: There are trolls, goblins, witches, giants, dragons and they have run into Rama and Sita a couple of times. Ghosts and other forms of undead are the only exception, it seems, as ghosts always turn out to be something else and the main characters are very insistant that there is no such things as ghosts.
- Except in one story in 1992, when a ghost in a haunted hotel turned out to be an actual ghost. Skalman noticed that the invisible poltergeist seemed to like Lille Skutt and made a Lille Skutt costume for it. The ghost was happy and since it was now visible, it wasn't scary anymore.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Both Krösus and Vargen. Also, "Bamse och Kalle Svartskalle", which is explicitly about this trope.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Wolves were treated as this in the comic's early years, but with Vargen's Heel-Face Turn and the growing anti-racism tone of the comic, their portrayal got more nuanced and the trope Subverted more than once. Eventually it was established that wolves on the whole are quite decent people, and that Bamse's home tracts was simply unlucky enough to have more bad ones than good ones living there. Similarly subverted for the voles, who become ruthless and greedy by working for Croesus, and examples of good vole characters show up occasionally.
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle: "Bamse's school".
- Badass Grandma: Bamse's grandmother. One time some of the strongest villains tried to prevent her from returning home from a trip so Bamse wouldn't have any dunderhonug before they could deal with him. Grandma responded by forcibly moving them out of the way. She also lives by herself at the very top of a very tall mesa but has no trouble walking up and down the winding path on an almost daily basis.
- Badass Pacifist: Of course.
- Berserk Button: Do not threaten Bamse's children, and do not try to bully people weaker than you when Bamse is around. He will knock you around until you learn your lesson.
- Bilingual Bonus: Often overlaps with Parental Bonus one of the more complicated ones involves Vargen's Old Flame Virginia Varg. Varg=Wolf in Swedish...
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Skalman.
- Bully Hunter: Many of the villains Bamse and his friends encounter think they can do whatever they want because they are stronger and bigger than the people they hurt. Bamse quickly shows them the error of their ways.
- Cannot Spit It Out: A good chunk of Skutt's courtship of Nina Rabbit.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Vargen even has a diploma, being the World Champion of Nastiness. He's changed a lot since those days, although he holds on to the title out of nostalgic pride.
- Cats Are Mean: Averted with Katten Jansson, who may occasionally be selfish and mischevious, but is genuinely kind and helpful in his role as Team Pet, and even has a mouse as a best friend. Played straight with the bigger alley cats he sometimes tries to impress, though.
- Chaste Toons: Completely averted; both Bamse and Lille Skutt have over the course of the comic married and had children.
- The Commissioner Gordon / Friend on the Force: Kommissarie Pontus Kask is happy to have Bamse around, and overlooks any misdemeanors that might occur when stopping worse crime and injustice - often by making people not wanting to be criminals in the first place.
- Cool Horse: Bamse's horse Billy Boy, originally a bad-tempered and quarrelsome horse from a stud farm, who calmed down considerably after Skalman discovered he was wrongly shod and fixed the problem. Known as a regular speed demon; he and Bamse have entered and won several races. His mate Pållan and foal Lill-Pålle are both pretty cool too.
- Cool Old Lady: Bamse's grandmother.
- Cool Sword: Mostly subverted, since Bamse doesn't like weapons. Any story including a sword is likely to include Bamse breaking the sword and saying "I want to do that to all swords." "Bamse och de tre svärden" ("Bamse and the Three Swords") even made it a plot point: Bamse was offered three magical swords, but refused them all. As it turned out, had he accepted one, he would have been doomed.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Krösus Sork. He's one of the few villains of the comic that has never had any kind of Heel-Face Turn.
- Expy: Some of the characters were taken from Rune Andreasson's earlier works and given minor changes.
- The newest villain, Reinard the fox, is clearly an Expy of Vargen from his early, villainous days. This is even Lampshaded by Bamse and Skalman in Reinard's intro story.
- He's an even bigger Expy of the villainous fox Martin Mickel, the Teddy(Bamse Prototype series) villain that Vargen AND Kroesus was based on.
- Diminishing Villain Threat:
- Eventually, every villain aside from Krösus drifted into this, prompting the new villain Reinard to appear.
- Perhaps strongest with Vargen. He used to be, essentially, the world's most feared criminal, and you would think he would have some cunning, willpower or skill from that career to employ being nice instead, but no.
- Evil Versus Evil: Reinard manages a glorious feat of Magnificient Bastardry when he manages to scam Kroesus. He starts by pitching a few paintings to Kroesus, claiming them to be worth a lot. Kroesus wants to buy them for a low price, and when he can't he has his minions steal them... only to find out they were under insurance of his own insurance company. By the time this happens, Reinard has already collected the money, so goodbye any hope Kroesus had of getting them back.
- Fake Ultimate Hero: Hercules. An ongoing storyline depicts how Bamse, Lille Skutt and Skalman travel back in time to Ancient Greece, where they meet Hercules and aid him with his legendary Twelve Tasks. Or perhaps not so much "aid" him as "do all the work while Hercules gets all the glory," because it turns out Hercules is far less impressive than the myths say.
- Faking the Dead: Skalman helps Reinard fake his death on the condition that Reinard leaves and never returns.
- Fantastic Racism: The two most notable are the ones about Kalle Svartskalle, a hedgehog with black spines on his head, and "Något luktar—men vad?", where two of the villains try to drive out a family of skunks as expies of The Klan.
- Foreshadowing: In the first panel of "Reinard's Final Haul" observant readers may note a copy of A.C. Doyle's "The Final Problem". In the climax of the story, Reinard and Skalman falls down a waterfall in what can only be a tribute to the novel. Skalman's shell protects him. Reinard however...
- Freudian Excuse: Just about every villain qualifies.
- Friend to All Living Things: Bamse and Brummelisa's youngest child, Brumma. She even is a friend to all dead things, one of her best friends being a broom.
- Funny Animal
- Fun With Palindromes: Lille Skutt's wife is called "Nina Kanin" (meaning "Nina Rabbit").
- Furry Confusion: Kinda. There are anthro animals and non-anthro animals. To further confuse the issue many of the non-anthro animals are Non-Morphic Talking Animals, although most of them only talk among themselves — the most notable example being Katten Jansson (Bamse's grandmother's pet cat) and his best friend Husmusen ("the House Mouse"), who on occasion play the roles as Team Pets and often engage in friendly banter among themselves.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Skalman has just about any convenient doohickey tucked away in his shell.
- A common favorite is the inflatable helicopter. Yes, an ''inflatable helicopter''.
- In the early TV movies, it was explicitly stated that Skalman does not have transoceanic steamships or lunar rockets tucked away in his shell (but hinted that he might have pretty much anything up to that).
- His own favorite is the "Food-and-Sleep clock" which always rings at inconvenient times, see Holding Back the Phlebotinum below.
- Gentleman Thief: Reinard Räv to a T. He is suave and elegant and a very snappy dresser. He also exhibits such traits as leaving calling cards, announcing his crimes in advance and being a Master of Disguise. He is also quite a charmer, especially to Mickelina though she turned him down when she discovered that he had conned her into stealing. He considers himself a lot more sophisticated than the other criminals in the area, and occasionally shows his superiority by conning them. He also has quite sophisticated literary taste: one panel showed him reading a collection of Language poetry (which he had borrowed with Lille Skutt's stolen library card and did not intend to return). He usually avoids violence, preferring to dupe his adversaries. In the feature film "Bamse och tjuvstaden", though, he is altogether more sinister, even attempting to kill Bamse, Lille Skutt and Skalman.
- G-Rated Drug: somewhat averted in The Wizard's Red Flower while the drug is never named, said red flower seems to imply that it is opium. The Sdrawkcab Names of both the wizard and his henchmen (the wizard's name is Eragord, which backwards is a word for "drug drealer," while the henchmen are called "Nioreh" and "Nifrom" — backwards spellings of the Swedish words for "heroin" and "morphine") doesn't help. In fact, the Norwegian translator was so concerned about the implications that she changed the names to "Malonkus," "Milus" and "Nilus," which are pure fantasy names.
- G-Rated Sex: In an early Bamse comic, Bamse is shown making babies with his wife: They lie in bed, fully clothed in pajamas and under the sheets, hugging each other. The text even says "That night, they hug for extra long". Which has actually become a euphemism in Swedish.
- Heel-Face Turn: Very common, Vargen is probably the most famous example. Although he occasionally relapses, though his conscience will constantly bother him.
- Holding Back the Phlebotinum:
- Skalman is intelligent, educated, has a lot of common sense, and access to tons of convenient gadgets, so technically he could solve any problem that comes along in a moment. To counter this, he also has an alarm clock that dictates when he'll eat and sleep, and which he'll obey obsessively; when it rings, he'll stop whatever he's doing (even stopping mid-sentence) and either eat or fall asleep, thus removing him from the situation and forcing the others to save the day (or at least have them deal with the situation until he wakes up again). He has however ignored the clock several times in dire circumstances, and one story reveals that sleeping pills or knockout drops will keep him awake against his will.
- He stayed awake for the birth of Bamse's kids.
- One of the most notable cases of Skalman ignoring his watch is when Bamse's kids disappear away in an unfinished invention of his. He spends several days just working(without rest nor food) to find out where they are, and when he finally gets a few hints, he can't even put them together but has the solution pointed out to him by Brummelisa. He suddenly perks up, states: "...I did it!" and then collapses and sleeps for days without waking up.
- He has fallen asleep during the middle of a tournament in the Middle Ages. In full armour atop a charging horse. There is not neccessarily any great logic to when and how he will fall asleep or not.
- In addition, dunderhonung has an irritating tendency to being unvailable at critical times, and Bamse cannot stay always powered up (it wears off with time, faster if he does strenous stuff).
- Happened literally in one storyline, when grandma had run out of the one special ingredient she needed. Bamse had to resort to non-strong solutions and ration what honey he had left when he really needed it. Several of his enemies eagerly awaited their opportunity. False alarm, she discovered that the other jars held a huge cache of the stuff.
- Bamse has an extraordinarily bad memory when it comes to bringing dunderhonung with him on his adventures. Lots of stories have him getting into a situation where he really needs some dunderhonung and then remember he forgot to bring any.
- The Klan: The adventure Något luktar—men vad? (Something smells—but what?) has Knocke and Smocke trying to drive out a just moved-in family of skunks. They get help from other characters by dressing up as Klansmen in white sheets, nighttime meetings, and carrying torches.
- Knight of Cerebus:
- Reinard was introduced to be a daring villain who would prove more of a challenge to Bamse and Skalman. He even manages to come out as a winner in some way in most of his stories.
- Captain Saber Vole and his crew are pirates just like Captain Buster, but Saber Vole is actually competent and smarter than most of the other villains.
- Lighter and Softer: Back when Rune Andreasson (and Jan Magnusson after him) wrote the letter column, it would usually bring up serious issues like war and bullying, and handle them really well. Nowadays, the letter column is mostly about mundane things, like what kind of ice-cream the editor prefers. The stories themselves have always been very lighthearted however.
- Long Runner: Quite.
- Look Ma, No Plane!: When Skalman's balloon outperforms a passenger jetplane, the pilot and co-pilot wonder why they are having the same hallucination.
- Meaningful Name and Species Surname: These are the most common naming conventions. Often combined in various ways. The oddest case is probably Vargen ("The Wolf"), the original villain, who has retained precisely that name, even as most others have gained more "full" names (although usually including some reference to their species). His origin story tries to explain this by claiming that his stepfathers simply never cared enough to bother giving him a proper name.
- Never Say That Again: Skalman really, really hates it when people tells him to hurry or hurry up and considers hurry to be the foulest word there is.
- Never Say "Die": Played straight and averted. One time grandma mentions to Bamse that it's important to say die so the children will understand. The bad guys seems to be reluctant of ever saying the word 'die' though.
- No OSHA Compliance: Bamse's grandmother lives on an absurdly tall mesa with no fences anywhere. Skalman lives in a house on stilts that loos like they were cobbled together from leftover planks. (Though given his skills, they are likely to be far sturdier than they look.) The kindergarten is located on the edge of a tall cliff, with only a badly maintained board fence to keep kids from falling off. (And yes, it broke down once when a kid leaned on it, but Skalman was around to catch the kid.)
- Mind you, it was Skalman himself who had tampered with the fence in order to force Burre to rescue Nalle-Maja and thus make peace between them, and it is strongly implied that Nalle-Maja was in on the scheme.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Subverted, a lot of characters claimed this when Reinard appeared. Things are still pretty much the same, though.
- Omniglot: Skalman can speak lots of languages. Including fish.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Skalman almost never shows emotion, and always obeys a strict schedule. When he stops obeying that schedule for a bit, or snaps at his friends, you know it's serious.
- Older Than They Look: Mickelina Räv, Annika Anka and Ola Grävling are actually just two years younger than Bamse, and well into their twenties. But due to looking rather short, espescially compared to their own parents, they don't seem quite that old. However, this height oddity goes for Bamse as well, as he is similarly sized to his grandmother as these three are to their respective parents.
- Outdated Outfit: Krösus Sork and his gang, who all look like they've just stepped out of a time machine from the 1920s: Krösus wears striped trousers, a yellow waistcoat, a purple cravat, a black tailcoat and a top hat. (Yet, considering the fashion sense of everyone else, he's actually one of the best dressed in the cast, making it a case of Awesome Anachronistic Apparel as well). His Elite Mooks wear suits and bowler hats, and most of the ordinary mooks wear striped pullovers and working-class caps.
- Parental Abandonment and Parental Substitute:
- The titular character's parents got lost during an adventure at sea, so he was raised by his grandmother. (The origin story about this explains that this is why she lives on that ridiculously high mountain — she wants to be as far away from the sea as possible, since the sea had taken all of her family, save Bamse.) Bamse's parents were later found to be alive and well, although on a Deserted Island, where they preferred to stay, helping the local populace with various medical issues.
- Oh god, Vargen, full stop. One story that deals with his childhood reveals that His parents died in a forest fire but managed to save him by putting him in a basket and sending it down a river, where he was found by a trio of criminals, that reluctantly raised him, though they werent exactly ideal parents. Aside from being abusive, they also taught him to steal.
- Parental Bonus: Rather common.
- Parental Favoritism: Krösus is The Unfavorite.
- Pedestrian Crushes Car: In several episodes, Vargen has tried to run over Bamse with his car. One example is in the movie Vargen äter Dunderhonung, after Vargen had robbed Katta Lo's candy shop. It usually ends badly for the car.◊
- Pet the Dog: Reinard has several of these towards Mickelina, his Romantic Interest.
- Pirate Girl: Sjörövar-Jenny seems to be this, being a young woman in piratical garb who is a skilled cutlass fencer and sailor, but she is merely the daughter of a rather eccentric scholar obsessed with pirates and pirate treasure, and takes after him.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Captain Buster and his three-man crew would very much like to be a subversion of this, but any time they try actual piracy they are stopped by Bamse. So for the most part, they unwillingly play the trope straight.
- Power of Friendship
- Power Trio:
- Bamse is the ego, Skalman is the superego and Lille Skutt is the id.
- Bamse's triplets form a somewhat different Power Trio, with Teddy as the superego, Brum as the ego, and Nalle-Maja as the id.
- Power-Up Food: Dunderhonung, naturally.
- Really Sevenhundred Years Old: Skalman's age is unknown, but he has probably been alive for much, much longer than the rest of the main cast. In one throwaway line he mentioned that he taught The Three Musketeers to fence. In another story, they briefly visit some of his relatives. Their reactions would suggest that a period of ten years are like a weekend to them.
- Series Continuity Error: Despite establishing previously that there is no way to go further into the future from the starting point with Skalman's time machine, there was recently a comic where they did just that.
- Burre & Nalle-Maja would fit this trope (they are a bit young, but she *has* kissed him...) although Nalle-Maja doesn't slap people. She punches them in the face.
- It runs in the family. First time their parents met, Brummelisa slapped Bamse, as he accidentally insulted her with, "Ah, I must've mistaken you for your great-great-great-great-great grandmother". To clarify, Bamse had just returned from a time-travel trip during which he had met Brummelisa's medieval doppelganger.
- Smart People Play Chess: Skalman plays chess, generally against himself, since other people aren't much of a challenge.
- Team Pet: Katten Jansson and Husmusen often tag along on Bamse's journeys. Strangely enough, Lille Skutt's dog Lurvas hardly ever does.
- Technical Pacifist: Bamse avoids hitting people as much as he can, but it takes a lot to tick him off to that extent. He's okay with throwing them up in a pine tree, though. It helps that he doesn't need to use much force to make people dazed or scared enough to stop being physically threatening. "I just poked you with one finger. Now play nice, or I will poke you with two fingers."
- The Chessmaster: Reinard often plays several people in his schemes like fiddles, and usually escapes before he can be held accountable, sometimes even with the money from the crime. One time, he manages to avoid jail because Bamse stops him prior to a burglary- and thus he can't be arrested since there is no crime committed on his part yet..
- Time Travel: There are many stories where Bamse, Skalman and Lille Skutt (and sometimes a fourth character) journey to the past in Skalman's time machine to meet famous historical or mythical people. The normal Stable Time Loop problems are avoided, usually because they seldom if ever get involved in the big historical events — they'll show up some time before or after the famous events take place and have unrelated (and apparently unrecorded by history) adventures.
- One of the biggest aversions to this is the ongoing series where they help Hercules with his famous Twelve Tasks, though Hercules tends to get all the credit, and it's obvious that certain details about the tasks were forgotten or misinterpreted over the centuries.
- To Be a Master: Reinard, the smart, charismatic, daring new villain wants to be the World Champion of Nastiness, a title previously (and still) held by Vargen.
- Treasure Map: In many adventures.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: Vargen is this.
- Vague Age: Bamse has always been shown as living in his own house, and going on various adventures, in a way that suggests adulthood. But in the early comics, he would also frequently play with friends (outside the main trio, e.g. Mickelina Fox and later Brumelisa) who were depicted as being Bamse's own age (and height), yet living together with their twice as tall parents. Similarly, Bamse's grandmother being twice the height of him suggested that he was still a child. His age stabilised at adulthood around 1980 though, with his marriage and getting children.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Krösus retains a veneer of legality, despite being head of The Syndicate. As this is a children's comic, though, it borders on The Family for the Whole Family.