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Webcomic / Bruno the Bandit

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Bruno, Fiona and the enemies he made

Bruno the Bandit was a long-running fantasy Web Comic started in July 1998 by Canadian cartoonist Ian McDonald (No, not that one).

Most of its humor comes from being set in a standard medieval fantasy world, but with computers, TV home shopping and vacuum cleaners. The rest comes from the protagonist Bruno Bunkleyutz (a strong but somewhat dim bandit), his smart sidekick (Fiona the micro-dragon) and his wacky family: Eunyce, his former warrior hottie Action Mom; Ambrose, his one-armed bandit father, and Elysia / Ella, his girlfriend, a fame vampire.

The comic enjoyed noticeable success for over a decade until October 2009, when the author burned out and abruptly dropped it in the middle of a storyline. Since then, Ian has been noncommittal on when or even if the comic will ever come back.

The site is here. Before, it was hosted on Keenspot.


Provides examples of:

  • Always Chaotic Evil: Supermodels, apparently.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parent: Shub for Croatan. Originally, Shub wanted to name him "Ernie".
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Cindy Megawrath
  • The Antichrist: Has an equivalent, the son of Xubuxx, who's noone else but Carlin! And he's still good!
  • Anti-Antichrist: Carlin is actually this, being a devout follower of Ailix despite being the son of the local version of Satan. He saved his mothers soul on her deathbed, and has stated that he wishes to do the same for his father. Cant say the guy doesnt have ambitions.
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  • Arch-Enemy: Bruno and Maledict, though they occasionally work together when the situation calls for it, but will always be ready to backstab eachother.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In "Godlets on Ice". Bruno tells a baby seal hunter he's "tortured innocent people to death for their gold, burned down entire villages just for fun, and even mooned Queen Xantippa."
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Probably not for the reader, but in-universe, Bruno finds himself getting a lot of unwanted attention at the Belching Hydra after being turned into a woman through magic.
  • Author Guest Spot: Ian himself appears in a few strips, usually to deliver a lesson that wouldn't fit the characters.
  • Author Tract: The later strips became Author Tracts on whatever Ian wants to complain about, to the exclusion of everything else.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: The Belching Hydra, Bruno's favorite bar
  • The Bartender: Otho of the Belching Hydra
  • Big Eater: King Xerxes
  • Big "WHAT?!": Kind of a Running Gag, often varied, inevitably lampshaded and eventually toned down a bit.
  • Body Horror: This comic has it coming out of its nose. Noteable examples include the Ring Of Empathy-induced child labor pains Bruno is forced to undergo, and this strip, where Maledict attempts to absorb the powers of Shub Megawrath
  • Brown Note: Valditch loses his eyesight from seeing Xerxes and Xantippa have sex while hanging from a chandelier.
  • Burger Fool: Archio's. Fiona briefly worked there after Bruno fired her. Turns out it was originally a scam to turn everybody in Rothland into boneless piles of human flesh-jelly, because the phrase "May I take your order?" allowed a cursed artifact beneath the restaurant to steal the customers ability to stay in solid form if they said Yes.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Bruno is stupid, lazy and arrogant, but has been pointed out several times as one of the best thieves in Rothland.
  • Brought Down to Normal: When a Fame Vampire is completely drained of their fame, they undergo a painful, traumatizing death and rebirth, literally rising from their own ashes as a normal human. They tend to lose their looks and grace, but most of them seem to handle the change pretty well, since the alternative for burnt out celebrities is becoming a Häzben, wretched creatures surviving on whatever scraps of fame they are able to scrounge up.
    • "Normal" is debatable, since she's still inhuman, but Shub-Megawrath loses her powers when the spell meant to bring her to the physical realm is performed wrong.
  • Chewbacca Defense: Fiona tries this, as Bruno's lawyer. Not exactly successfully.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: In the The Da Vinci Code parody
  • Corrupt Church: The Church of Ailix is shown to have become this, with the office of the Pope being nothing but a figurehead for the rich and influential church officials, and most of the church members being more interested in amassing wealth and power than following Ailix teachings. Subtle!
  • Cool Crown: The royal crown of Rothland, which is set with two gemstones originally created by Ailix himself (ironically during a sermon of why the riches of the mortal world meant nothing to him).
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: When the courts dont send Bruno to the stocks or the dungeons, theyre fond of giving him these, among other things he has been forced to clean Suna Main Street with his tongue twice and being forced to star in a series of Archio Burgers tv commercials as a Hamburglar-esque character.
  • Courtroom Antic: By Fiona, when she has to defend Bruno. Judge Cicero isn't impressed.
  • Cross Dresser: Queen Xanthippa's body double, of all people.
  • Crossover: Bruno and Fiona once appeared in a guest strip story for Sluggy Freelance, and McDonald did the Sunday strips for a while.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Ailix, a philosopher said to have been the worldy incarnation of the Creator Of the Universe. The Church Of the Blessed Ailix is based on his teachings, though with debatable accuracy.
  • Cue the Flying Pigs: The pigasi (yep, you read that right), literally
  • Cute Monster Girl: The medusa stand-in for Monica Lewinsky
  • Doppelgänger: The Döpplegangsters, here
  • Dumb Muscle: Bruno himself, though he did have a clever moment or two at times.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The local crime syndicate is obviously inpsired by newspaper comic syndicates (take most of the profits, won't let it's members try anything new and original, has the dead criminals be replaced by their children, etc).
  • Dying Clue: Parodies the scene from The Da Vinci Code.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Elysia the Fame Vampire is also the famous movie star Capriardo DeLeono!
  • Easily Forgiven: Invoked during the "Clone of Ailix" storyarc, one of the villains who admits to having committed horrible deeds in Ailix name is forgiven by an apparition of Ailix himself, because a) she's genuinely repentent, having acted in what she thought was best for the church and realizes she was wrong, and b) she wants to try and make up for some of the evil she had committed in return, even if forgiveness isn't dependant on it. Ailix tells her to go to seek out Carlin in the Monster Mountains, as he'll be needing assistance in the coming days (as a result of the events of the "Seven Sins" arc).
  • Easter Egg: Read some of Maledict's spells backwards and find out!
  • Eats Babies: Emperor Goldang, here
  • Eldritch Abomination: Parodies H. P. Lovecraft's ones, with Shub-Megawrath, her sister Cindy and Archio, the fast-food demon. Also, the majority of Numth'Kuls friends are these.
  • Emo: Sour Ron
  • Emotionally Tongue-Tied: Secedriel, the leader of the elves, doesn't dare to say "separation". linky
  • Engineered Public Confession: Happens twice in the Whistle Of Time arc, both times courtesy of Fiona.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: You can even have them mow your lawn!
  • Even Evil Has Standards: During his introduction arc, Numth'Kul was on the verge of succeeding in his bid for world domination, until the humans he was killing and his own demonic forces turned on him when they found out he was planning to sacrifice an adorable baby unicorn for a spell to blot out the sun.
    • Nosferatnix is absolutely disgusted with his protege Cumbakh's plot to offer fame vampirism to anyone through his reality tv concept, since as bad as Nosferatnix is, he still believes that if nothing else, a fame vampire needs to have TALENT, and not just be some random jackass willing to do anything for a few minutes of screentime.
  • Evil Chancellor: Valditch (at least occasionally)
  • Evil Empire: Hyperbolea, in the Good Guy arc
    • Headacheron, in the comics distant past which had once been ruled by Numthkul
  • Evil Sorcerer: Maledict. Numthkul when he was alive
  • Exact Words: Used by Carlin when he reveals that he's the son of Xubuxx, to destroy the heart of Ahriperson
  • Eyepatch of Power: Tyler One-Eye
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Bruno's schemes will almost inevitably backfire on him, through a combination of bad luck and his own stupidity and arrogance.
  • Fall Guy: The appropriately named Phallgaius.
  • Famous Ancestor: Bruno's family tree includes quite a few shockers, being the grandson of Fame Vampire leader Nosferatinx through his mother, and a descendant of Ailix himself through his father
  • Fantastic Racism: Mostly averted, the races live in relative harmony but there's been storylines where this flares up. One revolved around a minority of the elves demanding independence and looking down on humans (a parody of the Quebec independence movement), and another about a general distrust of magical races (which unfortunately is everyone except humans). Another story revolved around a dwarf who had his beloved beard forcibly shaved by two human constables (in reality Bruno and his father working as scabs during a police strike) leading to widespread civil unrest.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The Häzbens, especially the ones who used to be child stars
  • Fat Bastard: The fame vampires Cumbakh and Nosferatinx, at least until a union strike forced Nosferatinx to limit the amount of fame he could draw from his subjects, causing him to become increasingly skeletal.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Minor character Dibunquor is this, belonging to a group of skeptics who, despite living in a fantasy world full of magic, gods and monsters, have developed the ability to "rationally" explain everything around them according to science, to the point where their power of disbelief can erase supernatural creatures and items from existence.
    • Bruno and his father are this. Despite constantly being exposed to supernatural and fantastic things, the two don't believe in Ailix, even after meeting him.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: The 1001 children of Shub Megawrath and Numth'Kull, adorable anthromorphic goat babies with incredibly potent eldritch powers.
  • Forbidden Fruit: This is what makes chess so popular in Suna City. Until it was legalized.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Happens to Bruno and Fiona once, due to a magic mirror Bruno tried to steal from a therapist. Much hilarity ensued.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: Magic is fueled by belief, thus skeptics are immune to magic and can make supernatural beings vanish from existence.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Bruno's attempt at a "vulture capital" scam backfired because his plot (raising skeletons to mow lawns) ended up being perfectly plausible in a fantasy setting, and thus they owed their investors well over 1000% in returns due to the scheme succeeding when the undead actually did rise.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Parodied in the Good Guy arc, which made fun of the ridiculous extremes in The Sword of Truth.
  • Golden Mean Fallacy
  • Gold–Silver–Copper Standard: Copper Crowns, Silver Eagles, Gold Sovereigns.
  • Grand Theft Me: Bruno almost suffers this in one story where he intends to marry a rich, elderly widow named Lady Decreptia, only to discover that not only has she and her husband been doing this for centuries, putting their partners soul into the most recent Gold Digger, she's actually Maledicts sister.
  • Groin Attack: The TV moderator likes to do them. But skeptics have balls of steel. (Well, actually, D'bunker was wearing a metal codpiece, knowing what show he was going on, but still!)
  • Ghost Amnesia: Numth'Kul is actually the spirit of the ancient evil sorceror Ahriperson, who ruled a dark kingdom thousands of years ago, until said kingdom was destroyed in a magical accident intended to eradicate a population of barbarians who were contaminating the evil of the kingdom with bluegrass music. He lost all his memories in the ensuing cataclysm aside from his skull, his spirit and the name Numth'Kull, which was actually a wizard with a lisp calling him a "numbskull" moments before the spell backfired
  • Guest Strip: Ian McDonald, as mentioned above, used to do the "Meanwhile in the Dimension of Pain" strips for Sluggy Freelance.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: There's a few of these around, most notably King Xerxes who's part dwarf.
  • Hellhole Prison: Skullbreak
  • Henpecked Husband: King Xerxes
  • Hermit Guru: Carlin Nietzsche
  • Hollywood Atheist: Due to the setting, every atheist character that appears is either this or a Flat-Earth Atheist. Noteable ones include the professional skeptic D'bunkr, and a tv show that is supposedly intended to be religious satire, but consists of little more than shallow mockery of the main religion of the setting, Ailixism.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Eunyce is the daughter of the head of the Fame Vampires, Nosferatinx. Ever since she became an ordinary human, she's opposed him and his exploitation of his subjects. There just hasnt been much she could do until recently.
  • Ignored Epiphany: It's basically one of Bruno's recurring traits, but during the "Seven Sins" arc, it becomes especially notable when dealing with the "Lust" obstacle, which takes the shape of illusions of Rothlands most desirable pornographic actresses. When Bruno almost succumbs to temptation, he's reminded of a lecture his mother once gave him about what he'd feel like if his own daughter ever went into porn. Realizing he now has a daughter, Bruno is horrifed at Dolores ever defiling herself that way, and makes him realizes that all these women he's been objectifying for so long are just like his own daughter, which allows him to pass... at which point, he expels the "pearl of wisdom" (a physical, magical manifestation of a characters growth) from his ear and concludes that it's fine if women act in porn as long as they're not related to him.
  • I Am Not Weasel: Bruno always calls Fiona "lizard".
    • She also takes offense to being called a "baby dragon", since micro-dragons are fully grown dragons, just small.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Eunyce, the former Warrior Hottiel. Same thing goes for Ambrose, who was as muscular and athletic as Bruno in his youth.
  • Ironic Echo: Early in "Brunella", the Dyla religion's leader reads their goddess' "Top Ten List of Lovable but Irritating Male Foibles". Number Eight is "Men think P.M.S. stands for Pretty Mean Shrew". Later, Bruno is transformed into a woman and wins a bar brawl over insults from men (("That's right, fellas... I'm a Pretty Mean Shrew..."))
  • Lame Pun Reaction: "We toasted him!"
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Cara the Cutpurse and Red Sonata, here
  • Literal Metaphor: the strip's full of these. See Jumping The Shark above for an example.
  • Little Miss Badass: Bruno's daughter Delorus
  • Long List: See the first strip.
  • Long-Lost Uncle Aesop: Bruno's cousin Tito, who shows up for a story about homosexuality.
  • Luxury Prison Suite: Coddlesworth, which is where all rich and/or aristocratic criminals are sent, usually only for a few weeks, no matter the severity of their crimes. Even the guards are just supermodels in armor.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: There's a brief media scandal after Croatan is born, and everyone believes he's the son of Bruno and Shub Megawrath, because he looks exactly like Bruno. This is simply a coincidence, Croatan is a Blob Monster who took the form of the first thing it saw when it gained the ability to see (after devouring a travelling salesman who happened to be present as well and eating everything except his eyes), and took the form of Bruno, who was standing right in front of it. It's natural parents are Shub and Archio, both a different type of Eldritch Abomination.
  • May–December Romance / Gold Digger: Bruno and Lady Decrepta
  • Meaningful Name: Queen Xanthippa (still not on God Save Us from the Queen! levels)
  • Mister Seahorse: Close to. Thanks(?) to a magic ring, Bruno can feel the pain of a woman giving birth. It's revealed to be All Just a Dream.
    • The All Just a Dream revealer in turn was itself all just a dream. Not long after Bruno is awakened from his daydreams of debauched rule and carnal excess, Ambrose makes a number of pointed comments about Bruno's pregnancy-escapade.
  • Monster Clown: Archio, who is loosely based on Ronald Mcdonald in his human form, and Pennywise in his real form.
  • Mother of a Thousand Young: Shub Megawrath of course, being a parody of the original Shub Niggurath
  • Mr. Alt Disney: A fame vampire named Valdyzny, the father of all fame vampire animals courtesy of his distilled fame vampire blood serum. Complete with Shout-Out to Mickey Mouse. And near the end of the "Bruno's Queen" arc, his own theme park, Valdzny-ville. Ironically, a major conflict of that arc was whether or not a Delorus-centered amusement park would be built over a third of the city of Suna.
  • Muscle Angst: Bruno, when he sees the models for new armors.
  • Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!
  • Noodle Incident: How Ambrose lost his arm, nothing is known other than that a young Bruno was somehow responsible. Of course, its Ambrose saying this, so he could just be shifting blame.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The villain of "Tito the Thief" is an obvious stand-in for Fred Phelps.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Fiona
  • Not So Above It All: Fiona, despite being signifigantly smarter and somewhat more moral than her boss, can be just as greedy, selfish and petty as he is.
  • Oddball Doppelgänger: Downplayed; the Dopplegängsters the Bluebird hired to impersonate Ambrose, Fiona and Eunyce are pretty good, but Bruno feels like there's something off about them, especially Ambrose. The Bluebird then notices that the dopplegängster pretending to be Ambroseis missing the wrong arm!
  • Oddly Small Organization: The Thieves' Guild.
  • Orphaned Series: The comic ended abruptly in 2009 in the middle of a storyline, and has not been back since.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Said micro-dragons, who're pretty intelligent.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: Averted, they're not even twice as tall as humans, just much bulkier. They do however only have four fingers, unlike humans who have five.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: While Bruno's world has regular vampires, there is a much more prevalent breed called Fame Vampires, who feed off the public's adoration and attention. Losing their status as celebrities is a death sentence, as this will lead to them either painfully dying and being reborn as normal humans, or being forced to subsist on any kind of fame or attention they can get as the miserable Häzbens.
  • Painting the Medium: A week of strips played out with the characters "saying" the general gist of a storyline instead of talking normally. For example, Bruno, in the throne room with the king, says "Oh-so-subtle hint about my plans to rob the royal treasury", with the king replying "Complete misunderstanding of what Bruno said".
  • The Plan: The blue bird of happiness likes to play various gambits with Bruno, but since the strip broke off, we may never learn what he really had planned.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: Parodied here and in the following strips
  • Punny Name: Clonin the Barbarian Wilderness-Enhanced, Xanax the Warrior Princess, Numth'kul the demon, Headacheron his kingdom... In Num'thkul's case, there's an explanation for it.
  • Puppet King: King Xerxes has little real political power, with the majority of Rothland being ruled by the nobility. This causes problems when Bruno usurps Xerxes and claims the throne for himself
  • Really Gets Around: Elysia when she was still a fame vampire.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Maledict is actually 800 years old, having been the court magician for the first king in Xerxes royal family.
  • Take That!: Radical atheists, comic syndicates, organized religion, The Da Vinci Code, and Sword of Truth (and Ayn Rand), among others.
    • The "Cat Burglar" storyline is a massive one to Garfield.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: Delorus became cuter once she turned into a Fame Vampire, but when she attained a "level of cuteness previously unimagined" after being eaten by her monsterized father and breaking free, she gained the appearance of a Power Puff Girl, and it was too cute for in-universe viewers to bear.
  • Technical Pacifist: One story had a group of villains who were the offspring of a pirate crew and a tribe of island pacifists. As a result, they dont use violence as part of their piracy, instead relying on weaponized passive-agressiveness, magically amplified via Mood Rings. As a result, they can get entire crews to surrender without any kind of bloodshed just to get rid of the feeling of being disliked by the pirates. Bruno eventually defeats the captain in a duel of irritating table manners (the finishing blow being Bruno cleaning his teeth with his fork).
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: "Uncle" Lucius. He's not actually related to the family, he's just an elderly hypochondriac who showed up one day when Bruno was a child, and tricked Eunice into letting him stay. Neither Eunice nor Ambrose ever thought to question which of them he was related to until decades later.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Xerxes and Xantippa. Ironically, Xerxes is part dwarf, but despite her size, Xantippa doesn't have giant blood, she's just a naturally large woman.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Any normal human who becomes a fame vampire, either by being a stage mom or a reality star, will become an enormous, egotistical jackass, at the expense of everyone else, including family and their own children.
  • [Trope Name]: Here
  • Valley Girl: The medusa intern and Cindy Megawrath have elements of this.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Bruno, Gort and Tyler One-Eye. Theyre friends and occasional allies, but will backstab eachother in a heartbeat if it means making it out with extra profit. Or a round of ale at the Belching Hydra. Or just for shits and giggles.
  • Villain Protagonist: Bruno is an unrepentant thief, scam artist and swinder, and has very few compunctions about who he steals from.
  • Walk on Water: As the local version of Jesus Christ, Ailix is able to do this, though strangely enough, Carlin is as well, despite just being a follower millenia after Ailix's death, albeit very likely his most devout one. Especially ironic considering he's also technically the setting's version of the Anti-Christ
  • Wall of Blather: The opening narration, which fills up most of the first panel until Bruno cuts it off.
  • Wring Every Last Drop out of Him: Parodied with 'Uncle Lucius'. He's been 'dying' in one of the Bunkleyutz's back rooms for over thirty years! No one can bear to kick him out, even though he's not actually related to them - "I thought that he was your Uncle Lucius!"
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The magical laws of the comics setting relies heavily on the people's perception of it. Sufficient disbelief will actually erase magical beings and items, and its stated in the Seven Sins arc that the local version of Satan was actually a minor demon "bumped up" by the early Church to serve as an antithesis to Ailix, which led to his power growing to become the Ultimate Evil by the time the comic takes place thanks to the new belief in him.


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