Oliver B. Bumble (left) and Tom Puss (right)
|Launch date||March 16, 1941 |
|End date||January 20, 1986. |
|Syndicate(s)||Oberon, Panda, Big Balloon|
|Genre(s)||Action, adventure, satire|
Tom Puss (Tom Poes in Dutch) is a Dutch comic strip, created by Marten Toonder. Together with Hans G. Kresse's Eric de Noorman and Pieter Kuhn's Kapitein Rob it is regarded as the Big Three of Dutch comics.
Tom Poes was a funny animal comic, published in text comics format. The main protagonists are Tom Poes, a white anthropomorphic cat, and his best friend, lord Oliver B. Bumble (Olivier B. Bommel in Dutch). Because of Bommel's popularity among readers the series is sometimes referred to as the Bommelsaga as well. Toonder received many awards and honorary distinctions for both his illustrations and literary output. In the Netherlands Tom Poes is regarded as literature.
In 1931 Marten Toonder was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he met Jim Davis, a former assistant of Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer, creators of Felix the Cat, who taught him some lessons in drawing comics.
On March 16, 1941 the first Tom Poes comic, Het Geheim der Blauwe Aarde ("The Secret of the Blue Earth") was published in the newspaper De Telegraaf, replacing the Mickey Mouse comic in 1941. Tom Poes himself was already created in July 1939.
The name of the character is a pun on the Dutch pastry "tompouce" and was thought up by Toonder's wife, Phiny Dick. On December 18 of that same year the series was published in the two-weekly Czech magazine Punta. After the war the stories were published in NRC Handelsblad, De Volkskrant, Ons Vrij Nederland, Revue and Donald Duck. In daily newspapers Tom Poes was published as a text comic, like most Dutch comics at the time. In the weekly magazines it was published in balloon format.
Tom Poes features many anthropomorphic characters who are satirical representations of animal stereotypes, though some human characters like gnomes and wizards exist too. The series is set in a fantasy world of an undetermined age. Some elements are modern, like cars and television sets, others are more reminiscent of older centuries.
Tom Poes was originally a children's comic, but as the stories progressed they aimed at a more adult audience by introducing satirical elements and eccentric use of language. Several of Toonder's words and expressions became neologisms in the Dutch language. In 1954 Toonder became member of the Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde ("Society of Dutch literature") and by the time the story De Bovenbazen (The Upper Bosses) was published he was regarded as a creator of genuine quality literature. Tom Poes is still the only comic strip in the Netherlands to have gained such a reputation among the intelligentsia.
The success of the series spread to many merchandising products, including theatrical plays  and a comics magazine. Toonder founded his own studio and collected several talented artists to draw Tom Poes, while he still wrote the stories. Among these were Lo Hartog van Banda, Piet Wijn and Dick Matena. The series was also translated and published in Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland and Sweden.
- Tom Puss: A young white cat. He is clever, brave and remains calm in all circumstances.
- Oliver B. Bumble: A brown bear who is a lord who lives in a castle. Olivier often brags about himself, but in reality he is not very bright and panics whenever actual work has to be done or danger is about. Several of his catch phrases have entered the Dutch language, such as "Als je begrijpt wat ik bedoel" ("If you gather my meaning"), "Een eenvoudige, doch voedzame maaltijd" ("A simple, yet nourishing meal") and "Verzin toch een list!" ("Think up a ploy!")
- Joost: A white labrador who serves as Bommel's loyal butler. His catchphrases are: "Met uw welnemen" ("If you allow me") and: "Het is allemaal zeer betreurenswaardig" ("It's all very regrettable"). In several adventures, he quits, but at the end of every adventure he is back at his post, serving dinner.
- Annemarie Doddeltje: A small cat who is Bommel's girlfriend and in full awe and concern about him. They marry in the final story.
- Querulijn Xaverius Marquis de Canteclaer van Barneveldt: A rooster who is Bommel's neighbour. He is a marquis who often uses French and Latin expressions and writes poems. De Canteclaer is very vain and looks down on all his fellow men, especially on Bommel whom he regards as below his league, and not belonging to the nobility like him. His name is a reference to Chanticleer and to Barneveld, a Dutch town famous for its poultry.
- Wammes Waggel: A naïve goose who can't take a thing seriously and just enjoys life as he goes along. He never understands what is going on around him, despite how serious the matter often is. His catchphrase is "Hihi, wat enigjes" ("Teehee, how unique")
- Officer Bulle Bas: A bull dog who is head of the police. He is prone to aggression and very suspicious. Usually he tries to arrest Bommel and others even though he hardly has any evidence. "Altijd dezelfde" ("Always the same person") and "Wat is je naam, Bommel?" ("What is your name, Bommel?") are some of his standard phrases.
- Brigadier Snuf: A dog who is the right hand of Officer Bulle Bas.
- Bul Super and Hiep Hieper: Two dogs who are crooks. Bul is a bull dog who acts as the boss of the duo. Hieper is a smaller white dog who admires his boss, but is often too panicky to actually take initiative himself.
- Mayor Dirk Dickerdack: A hippopotamus who is mayor of Rommeldam, the characters' home town. He is more concerned about his town than individuals and considers himself above the law.
- Dorknoper: A hamster who works as a civil servant for Mayor Dickerdack. He is very punctual and always wants to do everything according to local law.
- Professor Zbygniew Prlwytzkofsky: One of the few recurring human characters. He is a professor with a long beard who often mixes Dutch and German words in his speech. "Praw! Der hemeldonnerwetter!" are words that come from his mouth.
- Doctorandus Alexander Pieps: A mouse who serves as Prlwytzkofsky's assistant. He often sighs that he'd rather have studied for a different job.
- Captain Wal Rus: A walrus who is a sea captain. He looks down upon everyone who isn't a sailor like him and calls them "overgehaalde landrotten" ("induced land lubbers"). He always mispronounces Bommel's name.
- Professor Dr. Joachim Sickbock: A goat who is one of the major antagonists. He is a mad scientist
- Terpen Tijn: One of the few recurring human characters. He is an egotistical painter.
- Amos W. Steinhacker: A frog who is a money obsessed businessman.
- Steenbreek: A dog who serves as Steinhacker's secretary.
- Garmt Grootgrut: A sheep who serves as the local grocer. Whenever something happens to his shop he complains how "retail salesmen are always the victim." His name became an eponym in the Dutch language: "grootgrutter", used for big store owners.
- Drs. Okke Zielknijper: A llama who works as a psychiatrist.
- O. Fanth Mzn: An elephant who serves as publisher and chief editor of the local newspaper.
- Argus: A sensation seeking rat who works as a journalist. He is a cousin of Alexander Pieps.
- Kwetal: A gnome. His Dutch name can be read als "'k Weet al" (= "I know everything") - but he is a very modest person. In the adventures, it becomes clear that he really knows a lot, but he uses terms and expressions that are not used in the scientific world, and part of his knowledge is about ancient forces and mysteries. He admires modern inventions, but sometimes does not clearly understand why they are useful.
- Pee Pastinakel: Another gnome. He is the gardener of the woods.
- Hocus P. Pas: An evil wizard who is one of the few human characters in the series.
- Pastuiven Verkwil: A rat who works as a button salesman. He often tries to start a fight for matters he presumes to be injustice, including his own small height.
- Joris Goedbloed: A sly fox who is a con-artist. He is also a recurring character in Toonder's other series Panda.
- Zedekia Zwederkoorn: A rat who is a lawyer
In popular culture
On July 12, 2002 a six-meter public monument was built in Rotterdam, honoring several characters from the franchise. It was designed by D.J. Chantelle, Pepijn van den Nieuwendijk, Hans van Bentem and Luuk Bode.
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- Marten Toonder Autobiografie, ISBN 90 234 3803 5, uitg. De Bezige Bij, 1998, hoofdstuk XIII.
- Heer Bommel - Volledige Werken - De dagbladpublicaties Band 1, pagina 189
- Volledige Werken , band 1, pagina 199.
- Frank van der Lecq. "Marten Toonder - De bovenbazen - Hebzucht is van alle tijden - 8weekly.nl". 8weekly.nl.
- "Marten Toonder". lambiek.net. 1 January 1970.
- "NTR - Bommel".
- "Rotterdam - Ode aan Marten Toonder".