Biffo the Bear

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Biffo the Bear
Comic strip character(s) from The Beano
Biffo the Bear.jpg
Publication information
Stars inBiffo the Bear
Creator(s)Dudley D. Watkins
Other contributorsSid Burgon
Trevor Metcalfe
Jimmy Glen
Nick Park
Turnbull
Current/last artistPaul Palmer
First appearanceIssue 327
(24 January 1948)
Last appearanceIssue 2954 (27 February 1999)
Also appeared inThe Beano Annual
A series about retired characters from The Beano, along with Pansy Potter, Desert Island Dick, Keyhole Kate
Twinkle books: "Biffo the Bear" and "Biffo the Carpenter"
Current statusLimited (since the 1990s)
ScheduleWeekly
Main Character
NameBiffo the Bear
Alias(es)Biffo
FamilyCuddly (nephew)
Dudley (nephew)
FriendsBuster
Characters
Regular charactersBuster, Brian, Mary

Biffo the Bear is a British comic strip from The Beano about the eponymous bear which was created in 1948 by Dudley D. Watkins.

Background[edit]

Biffo's creator, Dudley D. Watkins, originally worked for Beano's friendly rival The Dandy, as well as other DC Thomson children's comics, such as Adventure in the 1920s and The Sunday Post's Oor Wullie comic, noted by Beano creator R. D. Low for his talent of social realist humour. [1] Watkins also participated in comic strips for The Beano as well, drawing for Lord Snooty, The White Mouse Will Get You (If You Don't Watch Out), and the title panels for The King's Got a Tail!.[1]

At the time of the development of Biffo the Bear, rumours circulated that Beano readers were losing interest in the comic strip Big Eggo (the star of the front cover and had been there since the first issue in 1938) because he was not relatable to them anymore in the same way a mammal would.[2] Biffo the Bear debuted as cover star on the 327th issue[3] and remained so until issue 1677. R. D. Low preferred cover star characters to be monochrome because they would stand out in a colourful world, since the front covers of his comics were in color.[4] This was the same technique he used for Korky the Cat, the first cover star of The Dandy, and Big Eggo; Biffo the Bear followed suit. Although a strong resemblance to Mickey Mouse, it has not been confirmed whether Biffo's design is based on the Disney character.

Common strips[edit]

A lot of Biffo's stories would be based on his anthropomorphism, such as owning a cafe,[5] working as a ticket seller for camel and elephant rides at the zoo, [6] or busking.[7] Despite his human characteristics, Biffo barely spoke and most of the comic strip panels would have no speech bubbles; human characters were either entirely mute[7] or were the only characters with dialogue in the story.

Biffo and his friend Buster

In 1969, Lord Snooty found Biffo's family tree at the Beanotown museum and Biffo uses it to tell stories of his family history to the readers and flashbacks would show how his ancestors interacted with famous historical events.[8] This was written by Watkins with the help of Ian Gray.[9]

Buster[edit]

In issue 575,[10] his (then-unseen) human friend Buster appeared in his stories and had a one-off tale with Biffo in Biffo and Buster.[note 1]

Declining appearances[edit]

When Watkins died in August 1969, David Sutherland continued the series until the 1970s, and then Jimmy Glen took over.[11] Biffo remained as cover star until issue 1677,[12] dethroned by Dennis the Menace, but appeared inside The Beano until issue 2310,[13] however, he would have three one-off strips in the "Readers' Request" feature.[11]

Appearances outside of The Beano[edit]

Originally one of R. D. Low's "new big five" comics, but ultimately failed due to paper rationing, The Magic Comic from 1939 was revived in late-January 1976 and ended in 1979.[14] Spin-off stories of Biffo the Bear were printed, aimed at a younger audience than The Beano, and were about Biffo visiting his nephews Cuddly and Dudley.[15] These were written and designed by Turnbull.[11]

Biffo was also the star of pocket-sized Twinkle books in the 1980s, drawn by Bill Ritchie.[11]

Revival[edit]

The series (retitled "Biffo") returned in issue 2445,[16] drawn by Sid Burgon,[11] and finished in issue 2954.[17] The format had been revamped to three or four frames over a page with no speech, often depicting Biffo in fantastical, surreal situations. Some stories were reprinted in 2007 in the Fun Size Comics section.

Trevor Metcalfe contributed a few stories as well, including in The Beano Book 1994. In The Beano Book 1999, Milly O'Naire from Jackpot made a guest appearance with her father, most likely a nod to Burgon's previous work on her comic strip.[18]

Cameos[edit]

Biffo was seen in a four-part special leading a group of retired characters, Pansy Potter, Keyhole Kate and Desert Island Dick, to return The Beano to an earlier form (specifically, the 1960s, the logo from that era was used in the story).

Biffo returned in The Beano 2007 Christmas special; he featured in 'The Riot Squad'. His next guest appearance was in the 70 Years Anniversary Beano, drawn by David Sutherland. As the issue was edited by Nick Park (creator of Wallace and Gromit), animals in the zoo could be seen that bore a close resemblance to that of his 1989 short film, Creature Comforts. Biffo also made an appearance in the 2010 Beano Annual, also drawn by Sutherland.

In 2013 Biffo appeared in the Funsize Funnies pages of the Beano. Initially drawn by Wayne Thompson, he returned the following year, this time drawn by Paul Palmer. It continued through to the 80th anniversary in 2018 along with Big Eggo. Biffo also appeared in the 2019 Beano Annual in the inner cover artwork with 254 other characters from The Beano's history[19] and was in the time-travelling comic feature "Doctor Whoops!"[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ This was reprinted in August 2008 in The Dandy and The Beano: More From the First Fifty Years, the second of the Golden Years (later 60 Years) series. It was full page and dated 1957, most likely from the 1957 The Beano Book, not a comic issue.
  1. ^ a b Riches, Christopher, ed. (2008). "The Beano artists". The History of The Beano: The Story So Far. Dundee; New Lanark: DC Thomson; Waverly Books. pp. 64–7. ISBN 978-1-902407-73-9.
  2. ^ Riches, Christopher, ed. (2008). "After the War". The History of Beano. Dundee; New Lanark: DC Thomson; Waverly Books. p. 102. ISBN 978-1-902407-73-9. George Moonie made the decision to replace Eggo when feedback from readers suggested that they would identify more readily with a character sporting four limbs, like themselves.
  3. ^ Moonie, George, ed. (24 January 1948). "The Beano". No. 327. DC Thomson.
  4. ^ Anderson, John, ed. (2018). Beano: 80 Years of Fun. Fleet Street, London: DC Thomson. p. 7-11. ISBN 9781845357023.
  5. ^ Moonie, George, ed. (17 March 1951). "The Beano". No. 452. DC Thomson.
  6. ^ Moonie, George, ed. (17 June 1950). "The Beano". No. 413. DC Thomson.
  7. ^ a b Moonie, George, ed. (24 January 1948). "The Beano". No. 327. DC Thomson.
  8. ^ "The Beano". No. 1396. DC Thomson. 19 April 1969.
  9. ^ Riches, Christopher, ed. (2008). "The Next Generation". The History of The Beano: The Story So Far. Dundee; New Lanark: DC Thomson; Waverly Books. p. 196. ISBN 978-1-902407-73-9.
  10. ^ Moonie, George, ed. (25 July 1953). "The Beano". No. 575. DC Thomson.
  11. ^ a b c d e Riches, Christopher, ed. (2008). "The Beano index". The History of The Beano: The Story So Far. Dundee (DC Thomson); New Lanark (Waverly Book): DC Thomson; Waverly Books. p. 312. ISBN 978-1-902407-73-9.
  12. ^ Cramond, Harry, ed. (7 September 1974). "The Beano". No. 1677. DC Thomson.
  13. ^ Kerr, Euan, ed. (25 October 1986). "The Beano". No. 2310. DC Thomson.
  14. ^ "Magic Comics". kellyscomics.com. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2011.
  15. ^ "Biffo the Bear". The Beano. Archived from the original on 21 March 2012.
  16. ^ Kerr, Euan, ed. (27 May 1989). "The Beano". No. 2445. DC Thomson.
  17. ^ Kerr, Euan, ed. (27 February 1999). "The Beano". No. 2954. DC Thomson.
  18. ^ "Milly O'Naire & Penny Less". toonhound.com. Archived from the original on 16 February 2019. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  19. ^ Anderson, John, ed. (2018). Annual 2019 Beano. DC Thomson.
  20. ^ Anderson, John, ed. (2018). Annual 2019 Beano. DC Thomson. p. 31.