So the seemingly endless Anthropomorphism Week has brought us ducks, rabbits, tigers, and now… a bear? Oh my. (I have got to get fresher material. My brain must be on vacation…) And here’s your standard link to the archive.
165. Boris the Bear
“Is this comic star cool?”
“Hey, does a bear mercilessly slaughter cartoon funny animals? Possibly in the woods?”
I was going to save Boris for last, as he makes a fitting ending for a theme about funny animals, but scheduling issues have caused him to leap ahead two days. Boris the Bear, created by James Dean Smith, starred in a parody series that took the mickey out of a lot of different comics properties over the course of its 34 issue run, published by Dark Horse and Nicotat Comics.
The first issue was smashing, and not just because it was lettered by the awesome John Workman. It introduced Boris, a pint-sized anthropomorphic bear that lives in a treehouse and hangs out with humans. He becomes sick of the (at the time) current craze of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Adolescent Radioactive Blackbelt Hamsters, and all the derivatives thereof. Thusly, he decided to kill them all, in hilarious and frightening ways. He offed obvious stand-ins for Cerebus the Aardvark, Usagi Yojimbo, the Turtles, Captain Carrot, and more, and then moved onto other characters like Ambush Bug, Woody Woodpecker, the Looney Tunes gang, and the Care Bears– though he let Droopy Dog live, for some reason. It was crazy and scary and fun.
Future issues featured Boris encountering parodies of the Shogun Warriors, the Elfquest elves, the Smurfs, Marvel and DC heroes, the GI Joes, Rambo (named “Lambo”),et al. He also met the real T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. The series also featured Boris dressing up as multiple characters, including Batman, the Punisher, Daredevil, Blackhawk, and several others. Don’t forget Boris’ “precursor,” the homicidal Wacky Squirrel, either. I missed out on most of the later issues, but if they were as fun as the first half of the series, then they were definitely great comics.
My favorite issue must be the one that has Boris challenged by the Dump Thing, a “comic book elemental” (absolute genius, there) who simply wants to be read. He’s composed of crappy comics, though, so Boris defeats him by tricking him into becoming a collectible instead, sealed away in mylar and a long box forever. “I am words… never meant to be read. I am drawings… never meant to be seen. I do not communicate… I appreciate… in value. I do not need to account for my content… for I am rare.” Fantastic.
Boris the Bear also gets points for featuring an absolutely gratuitous Tom Selleck cameo. Booyah!
Okay, okay, so Boris turned out to be a robot. So he’s an artificial anthropomorphic bear, but he counts, dangit.
Boris’ series ended in 1991, however, and he only appeared once more, in a 1992 Dark Horse special, before being cast into comic book limbo. That is, until last month, when Oasis Comics put out a new Boris the Bear comic! Researching this column is the first I’ve heard of it, though. Has anyone seen it? Is the book as great as it was in its heyday?
Boris waged a one-bear war on bad comics. And, well, on good comics, too. It was an exciting, energetic series, and now, apparently, it’s back. This is great news. Like I said, he makes a great end to Anthropomorphism Week (though this isn’t the end, now), because he has killed so many funny animals. Ha. He’s also lived in the skin of many of our favorite heroes. That’s ol’ Boris– king of comics.
For more on Boris, hit up Toonopedia, or the Boris the Bear Archive, which is a massive database of cool Boris stuff, and has already refuted what I’ve told you– there was a “Boris Adventure Magazine” in the mid-90’s. This website is everything I could ever want from a Boris page on the internet– and it was only recently translated into English! Awesome. Great timing. Check it out!