Bruno the Bandit
|Bruno the Bandit|
|Current status / schedule||Ended|
|Genre(s)||Humor / Fantasy|
Bruno the Bandit was a webcomic drawn by Ian McDonald about an incompetent bandit in a fantasy setting. The strip began on July 20, 1998, and a new strip was posted every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until October 23, 2009. It is published online by Keenspot, and in print by Plan 9 Publishing. Bruno the Bandit was nominated for Best Fantasy Comic in the 2002 Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards. McDonald is currently on indefinite hiatus.
McDonald developed the comic starting from his parody strip "What if Conan the Barbarian Was Garfield's Owner?", Conan becoming Bruno and Garfield becoming the microdragon sidekick. It began as three or four panels in black and white and laid out horizontally, published six days a week. Strips also appeared laid out vertically, with varying numbers of mixed orientation panels. Double-height strips and occasional solid colors appeared in 2001, at the end of which posting changed to thrice weekly. The strips were colored from April 4, 2003 until April 16, 2003 by Dominic and from May 30, 2005 to December 14, 2007 by colorist Lynn Blackson. The strips from the launch until July 5, 2001 have been translated into German.
The comic's plots often leverage anachronistic elements. A wizard cell-phones Bruno right when he's creeping past a sleeping serpent, for example, to warn him about it. After a handful of the first month of strips used deliberately anachronistic punchlines, the author realized he should use only the lightest touch. Bruno simply lives on an Earth-like planet in an alternate material plane with such-and-so magic, and such-and-so technology. Internal combustion engines are not strictly required to etch silicon. The punchline, "look! He's using a fax machine!" is not good enough, and the best punchlines help the user forget about these blended cultural elements.
BtB humor relentlessly rakes up our modern foibles and hypocrisies. For example, in Rothland (Bruno's homeland) barbarians prefer to be called Wilderness-enhanced, and books of great evil are released in paperback, for the benefit of evil wizards everywhere. There are many homages to other comics, such as Garfield (the most referenced), Peanuts, Sandman, Conan, and others.
The strip was organized in short story arcs. Some of the stories last for only 6 strips. The longest one as of late 2005 took 72 strips. There is continuity between the sagas, but gags drive the story more than long-term plot development.
Religion and Philosophy
Bruno's world has a complex history (often retrofitted onto Bruno's ancestry), springing from an elaborate religion founded by an ancient and wise prophet named "Ailix". Combining aspects of Buddha, Mohammed, and Jesus this peaceful and enlightened system of justice and non-violence has led to as much conflict as real world religions.[clarification needed]
So the greater the gulf in time and philosophy between Bruno, his victims and accomplices, the greater the distinctions between his endless corruption and their enlightenment. Bruno stubbornly clings to his evil ways (which include torture, murder, investment fraud, and clubbing baby seals) in the face of overwhelming evidence of the Machiavellian power of enlightened self-interest.
The Enemy of Ailix is a demon god named "Xu'buxx" and his crafty hench-man...uh...Hench-bird named "The Bluebird of Happiness". Both use Bruno and others for their own ends.
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The main characters are:
- A strong and ambitious thief. Not very bright, but has gathered some fame as a bandit over the years. Currently, Bruno is 38 years old. He wields the "Sword Of The Truth," a magical sword that is located in the caves beneath Mt.Grislydeth in the land of Maliceria, according to Milo, but according to Bruno his sword is not rare. Instead it was mass-produced in the factories of Asuton. (Even though Bruno's "Sword Of Truth" is not so rare, it is still a lethal weapon and also has a digital alarm clock.)
- Bruno's sidekick. A micro-dragon, she tricked Bruno into becoming her boss. She acts as the conscience/brain of Bruno, but will betray him for her own benefit on any opportunity. There's a running gag where Fiona mistakenly gets referred to as a baby dragon, which annoys her.
- An evil wizard, he is one of Bruno's many foes. However, since Bruno is not exactly good, they have allied (and betrayed each other) many times in the strip. In fact, Bruno meets Fiona for the first time during a mission for Maledict.
- Bruno's mother. She was a Warrior hottie in her youth. From time to time, she dons her old outfit to help her son. Think Xena, warrior princess...sixty years old.
- Bruno's father. He was a bandit until recently. He lost an arm somehow, which hasn't been explained in the online strip archives. However, we know he had both arms while Bruno was 17 years old. The reason why is explained in a bonus story in one of the printed books. He is married to Eunyce. He is as bad as his son, but not as stupid. Sometimes he has his wife put her old warrior outfit back on in order to relive "old times." The lack of an arm is a joke – he is a "one-armed bandit."
- Constable Oswold
- Bruno's least favorite representative of the elite Rothland Imperial Guard. Rothland's above-ground institutions hobble themselves with ineffective and corrupt laws and regulations. Oswold's narrow-minded focus on obeying the law frequently prevents him from dealing with even the simplest of petty crimes, committed right under his nose.
- The Fame Vampires
- Beautiful, undead, talented creatures whose life energy depends on the constant adulation of fans. If they lose their fan-base, and if the number of cameras on them reduces to zero, they dissolve into a grey powder. They can be reconstituted, with the utterance of the correct punch-line, into a normal Human, a Häzbin, a Warrior Hottie, a Stage Mother, or a Fame Vulture. The latter crave infamy, and their life energy depends on continuous tabloid-oriented scandal and public opprobrium.
- Evil, often inept creatures from beyond known dimensions of space and time. One, a Dread Lord known as Num'thkul (numbskull), works as a bartender in Bruno's hometown. His ex-wife, a hideous female demon known as Shub Megawrath, has ten thousand children sired by Num'thkul, child number 666 being the most well-known and evil, possibly due to his name being a satanic number.
- Bruno the Bandit (Plan 9 Publishing) ISBN 978-0-9660676-7-5
- Bruno the Bandit: Most Wanted (Plan 9 Publishing) ISBN 978-1-929462-22-3
- "Comic Strips - Bruno the Bandit © 2000 Ian McDonald".
- "Comic Strips - Bruno the Bandit © 2000 Ian McDonald".
- The 2002 Cartoonist's Choice Awards Archived December 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- "This Bruno Is A Barbarian". Comixpedia. February 2006. Retrieved 2008-02-22.
- "The Conan/Garfield parody that started it all". brunothebandit.com. 2000 or earlier. Retrieved 2008-02-22. Check date values in:
- Bruno der Bandit, Heike Brand, comicstrips.de, (german)