Bananaman

From Academic Kids

Template:Superherobox Bananaman is a British comic fictional character. He originally appeared in Nutty as the backpage strip in Issue 1, dated 16 February 1980, and, becoming the comic's most popular stip, was promoted to a three-page colour strip on Nutty's front and middle pages, and subsequently a two-page colour strip when Nutty merged with The Dandy comic in 1985. The strip has appeared intermittently since, and is running as of 2005, now a three/four page colour strip drawn by Steve Bright (and before that Tom Paterson).

Original strip

The original strip, written by Steve Bright and mostly drawn by John Geering until his death in 1999, is essentially a parody of Superman and occasionally other Silver Age characters, whilst also combining comic slapstick with a heavy dose of eccentric British humour similar to Alan Moore's contemporary work on Captain Britain. Eric Wimp, an ordinary schoolboy, living at 29 Acacia Road, Nuttytown, eats a banana to transform into Bananaman, a lantern-jawed 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 occasionally limitless), and seeming invulnerability.

Eric was rocketed to Earth from the Moon as a baby, and gained his powers because the crescent moon resembles a banana. He has a kryptonite-style weakness to mouldy bananas, and at one point even a Fortress of Solitude-style building at the North Pole, made out of a giant banana.

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

  • Doctor Gloom, a Doctor Doom homage
  • Appleman, Bananaman's arch-enemy in the early strip
  • Weatherman
  • Clayman
  • The Heavy Mob, a group of thieves led by Eddie the Gent
  • Auntie, a nanny with remote controlled balls of knitting wool as weapons
  • Impossible Man, complete with a quiff who performs impossible things such as hopping at 100mph
  • Scotsman, who controls haggis with a set of bagpipes
  • The Nerks, an alien race bent on conquering Earth, led by King Zorg
  • Bubblegum Bert
  • Skunk Woman, an homage to Catwoman

The strip's medium-subverting elements became toned down as the strip gained in popularity, becoming more simplistic to appeal to the supposed audience as opposed to knowing adults. Bananaman gained a talking crow sidekick called simply Crow, became so stupid he often forgot how to fly, and for some reason started to go to school despite being an adult. General Blight, a generic criminal mastermind, largely replaced the inventive criminal-of-the-week.

Bananaman is allied with Chief O'Reilly, a stereotyped Irish policeman (apparently a 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. Chief works in a police station shaped like a giant police helmet, which frequently has to be rebuilt after Bananaman accidentally destroys it.

Cartoon Series

In 1983 the BBC made a cartoon series which included a catchy theme tune and featured the voices of The Goodies. Parts of the character were changed for the series - he was now called Eric Twinge, had a distictive banana-shaped hairstyle rather than punk stubble, and had a love interest in the form of Fiona, a newsreader based on Selina Scott. Graeme Garden 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, Eric and the Weatherman, and Tim Brooke-Taylor voiced the characters of Auntie and Appleman, as well as narrating the episodes. It lasted for forty episodes between 3 October 1983 and 15 April 1986. Some of these episodes would eventually re-appear in print form in The Dandy in 1998, coinciding with the BBC repeating the series in that year.

In the 1991 Dandy Annual, Bananaman's origin was changed to being a normal Earth baby in a maternity hospital, who obtained his powers after unintentionally eating a banana that the General Blight had hidden a stolen supply of Saturnium in, and accidentally left it next to Eric.

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