Tales of the Beanworld
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Tales of the Beanworld is an independently published comic book, created by Larry Marder. Beanworld features stories about the life and times of the Beans, minimalistic characters which Marder has been drawing since childhood. The stories borrow concepts from various world mythologies, popular concepts of ecology, and pop culture.
The first issue was published in 1985, and the series ran 21 issues until 1993. The first four issues were printed independently (under the imprint The Beanworld Press). Starting with issue five, the title was released by Eclipse Comics, and ended when Eclipse went bankrupt. A total of four book collections were released, reprinting issues #1–16.
In 2009 Dark Horse Comics republished the contents of the original series in two hardcover volumes, and then published a third hardcover volume with all new material. (A one-shot comic book had been published in 2008.) Marder says that this completes the "Springtime" cycle of Beanworld stories.
In 2012, Dark Horse published a very short volume (vol. "3.5") that collected various short one-shot stories published over the years. This book is called "Tales of the Beanworld."
Dark Horse has announced that Beanworld Volume 4: Hoka Hoka, Burb'l Burb'l! will be published in July 2017.
- Beanish: an artist bean, who creates the "Fabulous Look•See•Show", artwork for the other beans to appreciate
- Mr. Spook: the Beanworld hero, who leads the Chow Sol'jer Army and performs heroic deeds. In addition, he is the leader of the Gunk'l'Dunk Gang.
- Professor Garbanzo: an inventor/scientist bean who also functions as the Beans' primary manufacturer and supplier of tools and weapons.
- Hoi-Polloi Ring Herd: inveterate gamblers, who use "chow" as money. During attacks by the Chow Sol’jer Army, the Hoi-Polloi shove their individual stores of chow into collective piles, then link arms with their neighbors in a circular formation to defend the chow. The Chow Sol'jer Army steals whatever portion of one ring herd's chow they can carry, and leave behind a "sprout-butt." The Hoi-Polloi turn the sprout-butt into more chow, which they divide among themselves. The beans take the supply of chow back to their part of the Beanworld and consume it.
- Gran’Ma’Pa: a large, mute, mostly immobile being resembling a tree which is the beans’ spiritual guardian and physical parent. Among other things, Gran'ma'pa produces sprout-butts for the beans to take on Hoi-Polloi chow raids.
- Boom’R Band: three musician beans, who play tunes for the other beans to enjoy and dance to. Music and dance are both referred to as "boom'n." In certain circumstances, their music can perform additional tasks, such as healing injured beans, and in the case of the band's rhythmist, in the curing stage of Gunk’l’dunk.
- Pod’lPool Cuties: Baby Beans.
- Chow Sol’jer Army: beans which don’t have any other specific task form the Chow Sol’jer Army, who get chow from the Hoi-Polloi. The Army is divided into two squads:
- Spear Fling’n Flank’rs: small elite squadron who wear special masks. They attack and painfully disable the Hoi-Polloi of a ring using spears formed from a Slat and a Chip. They are assisted in this by Mr. Spook and his Trusty Fork (and its successor weapon).
- Chow Pluk’rs: they move in after the Spear Fling’n Flank’rs have done their job, grabbing the newly abandoned chow using Pluk’r Wands formed from a Slat and a Hoop.
- Gunk’l’Dunk Gang: a small, semi-secret society within the Chow Sol’jer Army, whose function is to clean out the "gunk" from the bottom of the Chowdown Pool and process it into Gunk’l’Dunk, a useful adhesive.
- Heyoka: A shamanistic bean, who does everything backwards. Appropriated from the Lakotah Heyoka tradition, as is the beans' characteristic cheer of "hoka-hoka-hey".
- Goofy Jerks: shiny wormlike beings from The Big•Big•Picture, with large heads, buck teeth, dark glasses, and hats (which illustrate their specific functions). Goofy Jerks usually travel in threesomes and perform specific functions stated by the second word in their name.The first ones seen in the series were the Goofy Service Jerks, which brought "Reproductive Propellant" to Gran’Ma"Pa, leading to the birth of the baby Pod’lPool Cuties. Later in the series (but earlier in the continuity, via a flashback / historical tale) were seen a customer satisfaction research team (Goofy Survey Jerks), a medical squad (Goofy Surgical Jerks), and later in both the series and in continuity, a police squad (Goofy Surveillance Jerks). Their leader and judge is the enormous Goofy Sermon Jerk.
- Dreamishness, a sun-like being (possibly the Beanworld's actual sun!) with whom Beanish has daily, secret colloquies. By dancing, he finds he can prolong the ecstatic moment when she pauses directly overhead. Dreamishness can't stand the Goofy Jerks, who refer to her as a "hot babe".
- Chowdown Pool: a large, communal facility which the Beans use for 'eating'. They mix chow taken from the Hoi-Polloi Ring Herd with water from the Thin Lake to produce 'soup'. The Bean community then enters the Pool and takes in nutrients through osmosis.
- Legendary Edge: traditional exit point from the Beanworld, used when Beans wish to explore the Four Realities or hunt for chow.
- Proverbial Sandy Beach: traditional re-entry point onto the Beanworld.
- Thin Lake: relatively shallow but apparently endless layer of water that rests on top of the Four Realities.
- Four Realities: strata of objects from which the Beans make virtually all of their possessions and structures. They are, in descending order, Slats (essentially lumber of various sizes), Hoops (exactly that), Twinks (five-pointed stars), and Chips (flat, triangular solids).
- Bone Zone: During the first published Beanworld story, a processing ship invaded the Beanworld, containing four-armed corn kernels who were led by 'The Mirthful Mossy Mammoth and his Little Clone Son'. A significant number of Hoi-Polloi Ring Herd were murdered and 'processed' into 'Mossy Mammoth Luncheon Meats: Boiled in Butter!', leaving only their skulls. These skulls all collected in a stable 'level' below the Four Realities, although the Beans do not refer to this as an additional Reality. This level also established an additional distance for the Chow Sol'jer Army to travel in order to reach the Hoi-Polloi Ring Herd and the chow.
- Der Stinkle: the lowest level of the Beanworld, literally beneath the notice of both the Beans and the Hoi-Polloi Ring Herd. Apparently analogous to compressed soil that is not quite as hard as sedimentary rock, as the inhabitants have created a vast network of tunnels through it. The author states on his blog that he meant Der Stinkle as a form of Xibalba. Der Stinkle is presumably uninhabited, as the insects (and their leader, Der Kveen) all abandoned it in search of the beans' surplus of 'mountain-grown chow'. Having eaten all the chow, Der Kveen laid thousands of "aigs", which the beans know as "mystery pods" and use for a variety of purposes.
- The Big•Big•Picture: the greater universe of which the Beanworld is one small part. Mentioned briefly by the Goofy Service Jerks, and was partially explored by Heyoka in the final issue of the first run.
- Larry Marder, Beanworld: Wahoolazuma!, Dark Horse Comics, February 2009.