• Sweden edition
 
Swede of the Week
Forty years in comics for 'leftie bear' Bamse

Forty years in comics for 'leftie bear' Bamse

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

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
Sport
Sweden's star striker Zlatan 'recovering well'
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is Sweden's top scorer in history. PHOTO: TT/Maja Suslin

Sweden's star striker Zlatan 'recovering well'

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is recovering well from the nagging heel problem that has stopped him playing for Sweden during its Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. READ  

International
Swedish sisters create viral Syria stir
A shot from the video on YouTube.

Swedish sisters create viral Syria stir

Two sisters from Södertälje near Stockholm are celebrating getting more than 1.3 million hits on YouTube, with a video calling for peace in war-torn Syria. READ  

Pirate Bay
Pirate Bay founder gets three years in prison
A 2013 image of Svartholm Warg. Photo: TT

Pirate Bay founder gets three years in prison

Swedish "hactivist" Gottfrid Svartholm Warg has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for hacking crimes. READ  

Royal family
Princess Madeleine to make Nobel comeback
Princess Madeleine at a previous Nobel banquet. Photo: TT

Princess Madeleine to make Nobel comeback

Sweden's Princess Madeleine is scheduled to appear at the Nobel Festival in Stockholm in December, after taking time out from her royal duties to focus on looking after her daughter. READ  

Politics
'We knew that Israel would be critical'
Foreign Minister Margot Wallström (left), with Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT

'We knew that Israel would be critical'

Sweden's Foreign Minister has told The Local she respects Israel's decision to recall its ambassador after Sweden officially recognized the State of Palestine, and laughed off comments about IKEA furniture made by her Israeli counterpart. READ  

Analysis
'Store up your sunlight hours before winter'
Doctors say we should make the most of the autumn sunshine. Photo: Shutterstock

'Store up your sunlight hours before winter'

Spending time outdoors this autumn will help you survive a cold, dark Swedish winter. Baba Pendse, Head of Psychiatry at Lund University shares his top tips for battling the seasonal blues with The Local. READ  

Sports
Plot for shared Scandi Winter Olympic bid
Skiers hit the slopes in Åre, western Sweden. Photo: TT

Plot for shared Scandi Winter Olympic bid

Norwegian sports officials have said they want to co-host the winter Olympics with Sweden in 2026. But there has so far been no official response from Sweden. READ  

National
Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court
Photo: TT

Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court

A teenage boy who painted anti-Israel slogans and symbols on the Concert Hall in Gothenburg has been convicted for the damages he caused, but he walked free from racial agitation charges. READ  

Entertainment
A closer look at Sweden's rising stars
Swedish actresses Sandra Huldt and Julia Ragnarsson. Julia (right) has been nominated for a Rising Star award. Photo: TT

A closer look at Sweden's rising stars

Like to be ahead of the game when it comes to the next big thing on the silver screen? We find out more about the Swedish nominees for the Rising Star award to be presented at Stockholm's International Film Festival next week. READ  

Science
Swedish women in two-year sex pill study
Contraceptive pills have been linked to mood swings. Photo: Shutterstock

Swedish women in two-year sex pill study

Three hundred women from across Sweden are taking part in a study designed to demonstrate that modern contraceptive pills don't lead to decreased libido or mood swings. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
Stockholm's shocking take on Halloween
Sport
Top ten quotes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
People-watching: October 30th
National
Sweden remains fourth best for gender equality
Blog updates

31 October

Editor’s Blog, October 31st (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, Welcome to our latest 60-second round-up of the week’s news. First, Sweden made headlines around the..." READ »

 

29 October

Scariest day (Blogweiser) »

"This is what’s frightening me on Halloween. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4OFZVCu8J0&list=UUJu5J7jG4uoYSjWbpFsJBuQ Follow my posts on FB. ..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Sport
World Cup ski race on 'fake' Stockholm slope
Society
An Arctic tradition: hunting and handicraft
Society
Stockholm taxis offer free therapy sessions
National
The Local meets Health Minister Gabriel Wikström
Gallery
Property of the week: Österåker
Society
Homeless turtles get Stockholm police ride
National
Construction worker has 'Sweden's best beard'
National
Italian musician jazzes up Sweden's Lapland
Gallery
Zlatan's career in pictures
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching: October 25th and 26th
Lifestyle
'Swedes are funnier than they think'
National
Swedish town 'like Venice' after heavy rains
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: October 24th - 31st
Gallery
People-watching: October 22nd
Gallery
In Pictures: Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Lifestyle
Eight things to love about renting a Swedish apartment
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
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

982
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
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:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN