• 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
Swedish teenagers abused on Secret app
File photo: Fredrik Sandberg/Scanpix

Swedish teenagers abused on Secret app

Swedish police are struggling to know what to do with a new batch of criminal reports filed by teenagers upset about a controversial app that allows users to post comments and pictures anonymously. READ  

National
Swedish man beats bus in video challenge

Swedish man beats bus in video challenge

UPDATED: A Swedish runner who filmed himself beating his bus in Sundbyberg in north west Stockholm over the weekend is now planning to a similar challenge on the capital's Metro system. READ  

Regional
Rain causes power cuts across east Sweden
Strong winds are battering Stockholm and the east coast of Sweden. Photo: TT

Rain causes power cuts across east Sweden

Heavy rain and wind have left thousands without electricity in eastern Sweden, with ferries also disrupted by the storm. READ  

National
Sweden's benefit agency website down
Sweden's Social Insurance Agency is experiencing problems. Photo: TT

Sweden's benefit agency website down

Sweden's Social Insurance Agency website was out of action on Monday, as officials promised that the technical fault would not delay benefit payments. READ  

Elections 2014
Budget headache for new coalition partners
Social Democrat economic spokesperson Magdalena Andersson with Per Bo from the Green Party. Photo: TT

Budget headache for new coalition partners

UPDATED: The Social Democrats have been holding talks with the Green party to try and agree on a future coalition budget. But questions remain over how they will work together on issues including defence and nuclear power. READ  

National
US runaway banned from name change in Sweden
'Wanted' photograph of David Hemler used by US Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Hemler lives and works in Uppsala. Photo: Shutterstock

US runaway banned from name change in Sweden

A US airman who deserted from the military three decades ago and moved to Sweden has failed in his bid to get his old name back, because a Swedish court says he can’t prove his identity. READ  

My Swedish Career
Plucked out of Canada for love and guitars
Sharleen in action. Photo: Sebastian Bularca

Plucked out of Canada for love and guitars

For this week's My Swedish Career we meet a Canadian who came to Sweden for love and now works in Lidköping, custom-making guitars. READ  

Regional
Flood and high wind warning in east Sweden
Stockholm experienced heavy rain on Sunday. Photo: TT

Flood and high wind warning in east Sweden

After heavy rain broke off the September sunshine in eastern Sweden on Sunday, forecasters warn more bad weather is on the way. READ  

Tech
World car record on Malmö bridge

World car record on Malmö bridge

The longest electric car parade on a bridge between two countries was formed on the Öresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark on Sunday, with environmental campaigners breaking several other world records in the process. READ  

National
Two hurt in Helsingborg ferry crash
The damaged ferry is being inspected on Monday. Photo: TT

Two hurt in Helsingborg ferry crash

UPDATED: A ferry crashed into a pier in the port of Helsingborg in southern Sweden on Sunday night, with two people taken to hospital following the collision. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Finest
Gallery
People-watching: September 20th
The 'black gold' of Sweden's west coast.
National
West Sweden prepares for the 2014 lobster premiere
Society
What's on in Sweden
Politics
How Sweden Democrats went mainstream
Politics
Scandinavia and Scotland: closer links?
Blog updates

22 September

Welcome National Geographic! (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"What comes to mind when you think of the “The Arctic”? Crystal-encased cliffs jutting from the sea, baronial Polar bears scavenging over sheets of cracked ice or a lone explorer heading north into the night. The image my mind invokes is of three sparkling green lines splashed across the sky like graffiti— the Aurora Borealis— our..." READ »

 

19 September

Editor’s blog (The Local Sweden) »

"Happy Friday readers! It sure has been a exciting week in Sweden, where we’re set to get a new Prime Minister after Fredrik Reinfeldt stepped down following Sunday’s elections. The Local blogged live from the key political gatherings across Stockholm. Why not re-visit the action by taking a look at our photos, tweets, videos and analysis? Since the..." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
Property of the week - Eskilstuna
Sponsored Article
How to start a business in Stockholm
Society
How I became a surf blogger when I moved to Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 13th
Society
Why is Stockholm's Södermalm so cool?
Gallery
People-watching: September 11th
Gallery
People-watching: September 13th
Politics
Five possible election outcomes
Politics
Sweden elections: How do they work?
Politics
Sweden elections: Who's who?
Gallery
Property of the week - Hornstull, Stockholm
Analysis
Five differences between the UK and Sweden
Welshman Jonny Luck is now a chef in Sweden
Society
How I opened my own restaurant in Sweden's Malmö
Sponsored Article
Stockholm tech fest: relive the magic
Gallery
People-watching September 8th
Photo: TT
Politics
Feminists fight for first seats
Politics
Immigration cut push from Sweden Democrats
Sheryl Sandberg says women have "low expectations"
Tech
Facebook exec talks women's limits in Swedish business
Politics
Left Party calls for justice and equality
Politics
Green Party wants 'better world' for kids
Sponsored Article
Introducing… Insurance in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Graduates: Insure your income in Sweden with AEA
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

849
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