Bananaman

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Bananaman
Publication information
Publisher D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd
First appearance Nutty #1 (16 February 1980)
Created by Writer: Steve Bright, Dave Donaldson
Artist: John Geering
In-story information
Alter ego Eric Wimp (later Eric Twinge but usually referred to as simply 'Little Eric')
Team affiliations Chief O'Reilly, Crow
Notable aliases eric wimp
Abilities Super strength (smashing through steel, fighting, etc.) "the muscles of twenty men, and the brains of twenty mussels",
Flight
Invulnerability
Breathing in space
Helium-boosted heat finger
Intense stupidity
Also equipped with gadgets: Thermal Banana, Banana Laser Gun, electronic thermal underwear.

Bananaman is a British comic book fictional character. He originally appeared in Nutty as the backpage strip in Issue 1, dated 16 February 1980 drawn by John Geering. He has since appeared in The Dandy and The Beano.

Original strip[edit]

The original strip, originated by Dave Donaldson[1] and Steve Bright, written and developed by the latter, and mostly drawn by John Geering until his death in 1999, is essentially a parody of Superman and Batman with shades of Captain Marvel and his British twin, Marvelman and occasionally other Silver Age characters, while also combining comic slapstick with a heavy dose of eccentric British humour similar to Alan Moore's contemporary work on Captain Britain. In the strip, Eric Wimp, an ordinary schoolboy, living at 29 Acacia Road, Nuttytown (later changed to Dandytown after Nutty's demise), eats a banana to transform into Bananaman, an adult superhero, sporting a distinctive cowled blue and yellow outfit complete with a yellow two-tailed cape resembling a banana skin. His superpowers include the ability to fly, superhuman strength (often quoted as "twenty men... twenty big men" but sometimes limitless, with "nerks", "women" and "snowmen" all being used in place of "men"), and seeming invulnerability.

If Bananaman needs extra power, bananas can be eaten for strength boosts, provided by his faithful pet crow; if he does not have enough strength to shatter an ice block, for example, after eating another banana, he will have enough. If he eats lots of bananas in one sitting, he quickly becomes obese in his transformation; if he eats bananas that are not full, he transforms with extra weight in the lower part of his body. There have also been comics where he has eaten a variant on normal bananas, and transforms differently, reflecting the difference in that banana. The effects of eating the bananas are not consistent from story to story. After John Geering died in 1999, Barrie Appleby took over and later Tom Paterson. In 2003, the original scriptwriter, Steve Bright drew it, until 2007. Sporadically from 2007 to 2010 the character appeared in reprinted strips from the John Geering era. For a short time, in late 2008, artist Chris McGhie reinvented Bananaman in a series of new strips. Chris' other work included The Three Bears for The Beano (in 2002) and the characters on Yoplait's 'Wildlife' product range. Two new strips appeared that year drawn by Barrie Appleby as well.

Since the Dandy revamp occurring in October 2010; Wayne Thompson took over drawing Bananaman in a style reminiscent of French cartoonist Lisa Mandel, a popular artist in The Dandy who has previously drawn Jak, Agent Dog 2-Zero and, occasionally, Bully Beef and Chips. In Issue 3515, Wayne's style notably changes and looks more cartoony and detailed. As of spring 2011, Thompson's version of Bananaman appears in full colour over two pages.

From 1983-1986, Bananaman also had his own annual. This was unusual because, unlike many other comics at the time, Nutty never had an annual. Unlike Dennis the Menace and Bash Street Kids, which mostly consisted of reprints these annuals were entirely new material.

In issue 3618, dated 14 January 2012, Bananaman made his debut appearance, as John Geering reprints, in The Beano, however he continued to appear in The Dandy. Another Beano character, Bananagirl of Super School, was revealed to be his cousin.

The Dandy print comic ended in December 2012, but Bananaman is still seen in the digital version drawn by Andy Janes. New Bananaman strips drawn by Wayne Thompson and written by Nigel Auchterlounie and Kev F Sutherland continue to run in The Beano through 2014.

Varying origins[edit]

Eric was rocketed to Earth from the moon as a baby, and gained his powers because the crescent moon resembles a banana. Bananaman resembles Superman in two respects. Firstly, he has a kryptonite-style weakness to mouldy bananas. Furthermore, he even has a Fortress of Solitude-style building at the North Pole, made out of a giant banana. During early board meetings, the designers thought of the aspect of Bananagirl to accompany the series. The girl would have been called Margaret Wimp, and be the "sister" of Eric. This idea was scrapped later on in production, because the concept of two children being related without parents would be too far-fetched for children to understand, however the idea was revived for a Beano comic strip.

In the 1991 Dandy Annual, Bananaman's origin was changed to that of being a normal Earth baby in a maternity hospital, who obtained his powers after unintentionally eating a banana in which General Blight had hidden a stolen supply of Saturnium (presumably similar to uranium, neptunium or plutonium), and accidentally left it next to Eric. However, later issues referred to the first origin as the real one.

Other characters[edit]

Bananaman initially faced a different pastiche supervillain each week, who were often lampoons of the kind of single-issue, uncreatively-named villains that heroes fought during the Silver Age, or tips-of-the-hat to famous supervillains.

Enemies include:

  • Syndney aka Toymaster 10 year old parody of Toyman
  • Witchy Woman parody of Scarlet Witch
  • General Blight, Bananaman's current arch enemy, and a parody of Adolf Hitler. A generic criminal mastermind who in later strips largely replaced the inventive criminal-of-the-week
  • Doctor Gloom, a Doctor Doom homage, Blight's sidekick
  • Appleman, Bananaman's arch-enemy in the early strip who was rotten to the core, parody of Bizarro, created by Dr Gloom, even though in one comic strip his original name was Pete Pippin. In later comics, he becomes an ally to Bananaman
  • Weatherman, a master of controlling the weather from his powerful blimp who works for General Blight
  • Clayman parody of Clayface
  • The Heavy Mob, a group of thieves led by Eddie the Gent, who appeared as recently as 2008.
  • Auntie, a relative of General Blight, a nanny with remote controlled balls of knitting wool as weapons; possibly a parody of Granny Goodness
  • Impossible Man, complete with a quiff who performs impossible things such as hopping at 100 mph
  • Foul Five parody of Famous Five
  • Scotsman, who controls haggis with a set of bagpipes
  • The Nerks, an alien race bent on conquering Earth, led by King Zorg
  • The Lone Changer, a homage to The Chameleon, a shape shifter that can transform himself to ordinary appliances to human beings
  • Bubblegum Bert, a possible homage to the Juggernaut.
  • Evil Taco a character that was planned to be part of the cartoon but was removed because parents said it would promote racism.
  • Skunk Woman, a homage to Catwoman
  • Captain Cream, a topping criminal who commits all his crimes with stale cakes and pastries filled with cod liver oil.
  • Mouseman, a gigantic mouse
  • The Mole, only appeared in TV series, he has control on a drill
  • Fat Cat evil cat who tried to steal Big Ben and Blackpool Tower, among other things, appeared in summer 2011
  • Zookeeper a lazy psychic, who says she can control animals
  • Kiwi Fruit Girl Bananaman hates kiwi fruit, so Fat Cat sent for her to kill him, but he knocked her out

The strip's medium-subverting elements became toned down as the strip gained in popularity, becoming more simplistic to appeal to the new audience. Bananaman gained a talking crow sidekick called simply Crow, and became so stupid he often forgot how to fly or to use the door. Eventually, Bananaman even began to go to school despite being an adult.

Bananaman is allied with Chief O'Reilly, a stereotyped Irish policeman (apparently an homage to Batman's James Gordon or the equally stereotyped Chief O'Hara in the 1960s Batman TV series). He used to wear an Indian feather headdress as a visual pun on Chief, and in later strips wore a hat with a flashing blue light on the top. Chief works in a police station shaped like a giant police helmet, which frequently has to be rebuilt after Bananaman accidentally destroys it. O'Reilly rings up Eric to get him to talk to Bananaman, presumably thinking Eric is Bananaman's assistant of some kind, as in the cartoon series it is made clear that the Chief is not aware of Eric's being the big blue superhero.

Television cartoon series[edit]

Bananaman
BananaMan Introduction Shot.JPG
Title Card
Genre Animation/Comedy
Format Cartoon
Created by Steve Bright
Starring Tim Brooke-Taylor
Graeme Garden
Bill Oddie
Jill Shilling
Theme music composer Dave Cooke
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English, and Spanish
No. of series 3
No. of episodes 40
Production
Producer(s) Trevor Bond
Running time 5 min
Production company(s) Flicks Films
Bananaman Productions
D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd.
Broadcast
Original channel BBC
Original run 3 October 1983 – 15 April 1986

In 1983, the BBC made a cartoon series which included a catchy theme tune and featured the voices of The Goodies. It was produced by 101 Film Productions (Later Flicks Films). Parts of the character were changed for the series: he was now called Eric Twinge, had a distinctive banana-shaped hairstyle rather than punk stubble, and had a love interest (only when transformed) in the form of Fiona, a newsreader based on Selina Scott and also a possible homage to Lois Lane.

Graeme Garden (incorrectly credited as Greame Garden on some episodes) voiced the characters of Bananaman, General Blight and Maurice of The Heavy Mob, Bill Oddie voiced the characters of Crow, Chief O'Reilly, Doctor Gloom and the Weatherman, and Tim Brooke-Taylor voiced the characters of Eric, King Zorg of the Nerks, Eddie the Gent, Auntie and Appleman, as well as narrating the episodes. Jill Shilling voiced Fiona and any additional female characters, including Eric's cousin Samantha (but not Auntie). It lasted for forty episodes between 3 October 1983 and 15 April 1986.

Bananaman was aired in the United States by the Nickelodeon cable network as a companion piece to Dangermouse, but Bananaman never came close to reaching that series' American popularity. The show also aired during the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) after school timeslot and is considered one of the Classic ABC shows.

Some episodes of Bananaman were used in 1997 on the British Cartoon series "The Pepe and Paco show" created by Henson International Television.

Some of these episodes would eventually re-appear in print form in The Dandy in 1998, coinciding with the BBC repeating the series that year, and were reprinted in the comic in Spring 2007, now promoting the DVD. Each episode was roughly five minutes from start to end. Phrases from the show, "twenty big men" and "ever alert for the call to action", are still used in the comic today.

Credits[edit]

  • Painters : Richard Adams, Jane Beecham, Marianne Coldner, Paul Heyward, John Tillet, Anne Whitford
  • Tracers : Janine Arthy, Jacqueline Millar, Olive Scott, Phyllis Vince, Anne Ward, John Tillet, Linda Butcher
  • Checker: Katherine J. Cowan
  • Animators : Richard Cox, Joan Garrick, Geoff Loynes, Janet Nunn, Alan Green
  • Layouts : Gil Potter
  • Backgrounds : Russell Peerman
  • Editing : Morgan Daniels Limited
  • Rostrum Camera : Stephen Williams, Trevor Bond Associates Ltd
  • Music : Dave Cooke
  • Production Controller : Thomas Barker
  • Production Coordination : Thomas Barker, Pat C. Morton
  • Script Writers : Bernie Kay, Terry Ward
  • Producers : Trevor Bond, Terry Ward
  • Director : Terry Ward
  • Made by : 101 Productions
  • Copyright Bananaman Productions Ltd 1983

Film adaptation[edit]

It was announced in March 2014 that DC Thomson in conjunction with Elstree Studio Productions will be producing a Bananaman movie with a release date of 2015.[2][3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Comic creator legend at special Edinburgh Castle event". Historic Scotland. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  2. ^ "Bananaman Movie". Trailer Geek. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  3. ^ "Peel the power! Comic favourite Bananaman is latest superhero bound for big screen". Metro. 18 March 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 

External links[edit]