• Sweden's news in English
 

Forty years in comics for 'leftie bear' Bamse

Published: 10 Jan 2013 14:45 GMT+01:00

Swedish writer Rune Andréasson invented Bamse in 1966, but the little bear got his own series of comic books a few years later, in January 1973. Publishers Egmont are therefore celebrating Bamse’s 40th birthday this year, starting with the first issue of 2013, which was released on Tuesday.

”It’s marvellous that the comic book is read every week by 100,000 children 40 years later,” Bamse editor-in-chief Charlotta Borelius said in a statement.

Bamse is the world’s strongest bear, but only when he eats his grandma’s special honey, a bit like French comic book hero Asterix and his druid potion.

SEE A GALLERY OF BAMSE: THE WORLD'S STRONGEST, AND KINDEST, BEAR

The kind bear, who wears a little blue hat that looks suspiciously similar to a night cap, is constantly out and about on various adventures, when not raising his family of four – triplets and their baby sister – with his wife Brummelisa.

The triplets are non-identical and as different as different can be. Brum is a boys-will-be-boys kind of cub, while Teddy, who is near-sighted and wears glasses, steps in as the classic nerd.

Their sister, Nalle-Maja, is a bit of tough cookie, who in one story punches a schoolyard bully on the nose.

Kid sister Brumma battles with developmental issues when she is young and is later diagnosed with autism.

Bamse’s posse of friends is as intriguing as his family.

Creator Andréasson believed it was courageous to be honest about being scared. If that motto had a poster child, it would be the ever-nervous rabbit Lille Skutt ('Little Hop'), one of Bamse's trusted friends.

More often than not, however, despite the comic book pages almost vibrating with Lille Skutt’s anxiety, the white bunny will give his all for his friends. He’s married to a journalist and has one son.

LISTEN TO A RENDITION OF THE BAMSE THEME SONG

The second of Bamse’s two wingmen is the lanky turtle Skalman ('Shell Man'), who unsurprisingly is a mentor and idol to Bamse’s studious son Teddy. And Skalman can build any device and solve any problem.

Yet Skalman’s dogmatic dedication to a healthy lifestyle routine often endangers the trio’s undertakings. Come hell or high water, if his antique alarm clock goes off, he will either tuck into a snack or fall right to sleep.

The colourful gallery of characters often engages with hot-button topics.

Andréasson never shied away from difficult topics, including racism, gender equality and addiction.

“You have to be nice to people who do bad things, because they need it the most, and it might make them kinder,” reads one of the mottos in the comic book.

It is widely accepted that Bamse originally stood for left-of-centre views on society and politics, although the youth wing of the conservative Moderate Party once went as far as dubbing him a communist.

A celebratory description of Mao Zedong in an issue of Bamse published in 1983 raised more than a few hackles:

“The country was liberated from war lords, businessmen and foreigners who used to be in charge. Before the liberation, many millions of people starved to death. After 1949, food is shared equally and nobody starves,” one issue read.

Bamse fails to mention the several tens of millions of people who died in the Chinese famines.

The last time Bamse made headlines was in 2011, following a special edition produced for the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) to help explain the asylum process to young children.

The special issue featured a rabbit family allowed to stay while a badger family has their asylum application turned down.

As the badgers are sent home, happy relatives wait to welcome them as their aircraft touches down.

The story outraged several commentators who thought it played down the complexity of deporting children and the potentially real threat of persecutions and abuse upon return.

In response to the backlash, Bamse’s publishers said they acknowledged the complexities surrounding asylum cases involving children, but instead said the comic had been meant to ease their anxiety.

“In some cases, the scenario in the comic book could be true, in others it would be significantly more difficult for returning children. But we didn’t want a traumatic ending to the story, but instead to give the children hope,” Ola Andréasson told Skånska Dagbladet at the time.

Since Andréasson’s death in 1999, many observers, not all of them happy, have noted that the comic books have become more mainstream.

Not least because Bamse over the years has found his way into endless commercial tie-ups, with his furry face adorning everything from toothpaste tubes to bed linen.

Had Bamse become a turn-coat capitalist? Or, at least, had his publisher?

In an opinion piece in 2003, entitled ”Bamse is no longer the leftie bear,” Dagens Nyheter (DN) reporter Mats J. Larsson wrote:

“The three-decade transformation of Sweden from a successful welfare state to a society that has adopted many of Margaret Thatcher’s market liberal ideas, albeit in light versions, has also rubbed off on the stories about the super-duper strong bear.”

Take a look at our past Swedes of the Week.

Ann Törnkvist

Follow Ann on Twitter here

Related links:

Your comments about this article

21:31 January 10, 2013 by intrepidfox
TL get a life. It´s a childrens comic. Kids do not care about politics. It´s got great stories and i think that TL should in future with their news be neutral and not far left. Better still get proper journalists or will you just delete this post as you do to others
Today's headlines
UN slams Sweden over increasing hate crimes
The United Nations General Assembly on January 22, 2015. Photo: TT

UN slams Sweden over increasing hate crimes

Sweden faced sharp criticism for the way it is tackling discrimination and violence against minority groups, at a key UN meeting in Geneva on Monday. READ  

Swedish soldier slams help for Isis fighters
Photo: TT

Swedish soldier slams help for Isis fighters

A Swedish soldier's Facebook post from Afghanistan is causing a stir, after he suggested that he was likely to get less help when he came back to Sweden than returning Isis fighters. READ  

Sweden Democrats get new party secretary
Björn Söder is walking away from his role as party secretary. Photo: TT

Sweden Democrats get new party secretary

Sweden's nationalist Sweden Democrats have chosen a new party secretary, with Richard Jomshof set to replace Björn Söder, one of the anti-immigration group's most senior and controversial officials. READ  

Push to cut cancer wait times in Sweden
Doctors at a hospital in Sweden. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/Image Bank Sweden

Push to cut cancer wait times in Sweden

Sweden's coalition government and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL) have promised to work together to cut waiting times for cancer patients across the country, following reports of wide regional differences. READ  

Swedes get scopes ready for giant asteroid
An impression of an asteroid passing earth. Source: TT

Swedes get scopes ready for giant asteroid

The largest asteroid set to pass earth in the next 12 years will be sweeping past Sweden and much of northern Europe on Monday evening. READ  

Sweden's Left backs European 'Red Spring'
Left wing Greeks celebrating in Athens. Photo: TT

Sweden's Left backs European 'Red Spring'

The leader of Sweden's Left party, Jonas Sjöstedt, has told The Local he is "delighted" with the dramatic election win of Greece's anti-austerity party Syriza over the weekend, while Sweden's Finance Minister has raised concerns about how the victory will affect Europe. READ  

My Swedish Career
Meet the man snapping Stockholm's subway
A snapshot of some of the people in Pantiel's Stockholm subway project. Photos by: Evian Pantiel

Meet the man snapping Stockholm's subway

What's an American photographer doing snapping photos of people in Stockholm's subway? For this week's My Swedish Career, The Local spoke to Evian Pantiel, the man behind the camera exploring Stockholm's colourful subway lines. READ  

Gothenburg recovers after mystery oil spill
The Port of Gothenburg. Photo: TT

Gothenburg recovers after mystery oil spill

A major oil spill occurred overnight in Gothenburg, with officals still unclear of the source on Monday morning. READ  

Flashy apartment block dazzles angry residents
Photo: TT

Flashy apartment block dazzles angry residents

The balconies on a new apartment block in Sundbyberg in Stockholm are reflecting light in a way that is dazzling neighbours and forcing them to wear sunglasses. READ  

FBI funding Sweden 'terror' research

FBI funding Sweden 'terror' research

Research grants to fund the study of controversial interrogation methods at the University of Gothenburg have come from America's Federal Bureau of Investigation, it has emerged. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Who travels on Stockholm's different subway lines?
Lifestyle
'Limousine' snowplough for sale
People-watching January 24th - 25th
Gallery
People-watching January 24th - 25th
Society
Meet the 'beggars' buttoning up immigration critics
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden this week
Blog updates

23 January

Editor’s blog, January 23rd (The Local Sweden) »

"Happy Friday from The Local’s team in Stockholm. We can’t wait for the weekend, when we’re planning..." READ »

 

14 January

Adjectives and nouns (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hi there, The other day I got a question about combining adjectives and nouns: When you have a..." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Madeleine through the years
Features
Learn Sweden's bizarre dating lingo
People-watching: January 21st - 22nd
Gallery
People-watching: January 21st - 22nd
Lifestyle
'Life as a Swedish candy-maker is sweet'
Society
Why Sweden's viral 'genital' video is getting an English remake
Gallery
IN PICTURES: January snow snaps
National
Why does Sweden's Luleå have a giant ice beaver?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Who are Sweden's richest one percent?
Business & Money
How a classic Swedish snack got a revamp for 'busy' Stockholmers
Lifestyle
The Local's top Swedish acts for 2015
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Årets Bild photography prize winners
Business & Money
'I met my Swedish man in Tokyo's first Ikea store'
Gallery
Property of the week: A cozy apartment in Bromma, Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching: January 17th - 18th
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish gravad lax
Lifestyle
Four hot Swedish home design trends
National
How The Local's video on a strange Swedish sound went viral
Gallery
People-watching: January 14th
National
The Local's guide to Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Politics
Paris attacks: Knock-on effects in Sweden and across Europe
National
Swedish Muslims react to new Charlie Hebdo magazine
National
The Local talks to Sweden's Home Affairs Minister about Paris attacks
Business & Money
Will Spotify launch on stock market after users rocket?
Accelerated
Texans and Swedes to play ice instruments
Gallery
Property of the week: An 18th century mansion in Stockholm
Business & Money
'Snowboarding drew me to work in chilly Sweden'
National
Are Sweden's royals moving to London?
National
How Sweden's Charlie Hebdo rally broke a winter protest record
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Madeleine through the years
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Stockholm's 'no pants' subway day 2015
Gallery
People-watching: January 10th - 11th
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Stockholm holds Charlie Hebdo rally
National
Have you seen Sweden's viral children's 'genital' song?
National
Mother of 'Superman' victim warns of ecstasy drug trend in Sweden
National
Are wolves on the loose in the Swedish capital?
Gallery
People-watching: January 7th
National
Stockholmers discuss why they joined global Paris shooting vigils
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's reaction to Paris magazine shootings
Sponsored Article
Everything you need to know about moving to Stockholm
Sponsored Article
How to jump-start your career in southern Sweden
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

1,116
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se
Counselling and Psychotherapy in English
Sometimes living in another culture can cause stress, confusion and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Talking to a professional psychotherapist/counsellor might help you. I am a UKCP Reg. psychotherapist. My practice is in Södermalm, Stockholm.
Contact me to discuss your options