Tom Poes

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"Tom Poes" (also known as the "Bommelsaga") was a long running Dutch newspaper comic strip written and drawn by Marten Toonder (1912-2005) from 1941 to 1986.

Despite being a comic strip many stories were originally published as an illustrated novel, with three comic drawings on every page and captions below. This was done to avoid criticism that comics were a bad influence on children's reading habits, an idea that was widespread in the 1940s and 1950s. This is one of the reasons "Tom Poes" is considered to be literature by some people. Later the Toonder Studios adapted some of these stories in a more traditional comic book strip form with text balloons.

The stories all take place in a fantasy world filled with anthropomorphic animal characters. Main protagonists are Tom Poes, a noble, courageous and intelligent little white cat, and his friend, Olivier B. Bommel, a vain, but good natured bear who claims to be a "lord" and lives in a large castle. Whenever danger is about Bommel immediately gets scared and encourages Tom Poes to think up a plan to change the situation.

In 1983 an animated film was made: "Als Je Begrijpt Wat Ik Bedoel" ("The Dragon That Wasn't (Or Was He?")).

"Tom Poes" is still the most succesful, highly regarded and influential Dutch comic strip. It started out as a children's comic strip, but started Growing the Beard and became relevant to adults as well. Both drawing style and the satirical stories are praised by comic strip fans. "Tom Poes" inspired many new words and expressions in the Dutch language and became iconic. Toonder has been awarded several times during his long and fruitful career.

Tropes used in Tom Poes include:
  • Anachronism Stew: The series takes place in the mid to late 20th century, but medieval fantasy elements and 18th and 19th century fashion styles also pop up from time to time.
  • Animal Stereotypes
  • Antiquated Linguistics: Marten Toonder enjoyed playing around with language and introduced many new words and expressions to the Dutch language. It's also one of the reasons his work cannot be easily translated.
    • Zbygniew Prlwytzkofsky speaks pseudo German.
  • Author Existence Failure: Author Marten Toonder went with pension in 1986 and died in 2005. No new stories were made since.
  • Bad Cop, Incompetent Cop: Commissaris Bullebas who always misunderstands a situation and especially mistrusts Bommel.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Some characters walk barefoot, others don't.
  • Breakout Character: Olivier B. Bommel
  • Butt Monkey: Olivier B. Bommel, who isn't taken seriously by the other villagers.
    • Garmt Grootgrut, a sheep who owns a store and frequently complains how "small shop keepers are always unlucky."
  • Catch Phrase:
    • "Als je begrijpt wat ik bedoel."- Olivier B. Bommel
    • "Een eenvoudige, doch voedzame maaltijd."- Olivier B. Bommel
    • "Zoals mijn vader altijd zei." - Olivier B. Bommel
    • "Verzin toch eens een list, jonge vriend!" - Olivier B. Bommel
    • "Hihi, wat enigjes"- Wammes Waggel
    • "Fi Donc"- Marquis de Canteclaer
    • "Wie is er weer de dupe? De kleine middenstander!" - Garmt Grootgrut
    • "Ei Ei Ei"- Joachim Sickbock
    • "Ik ga je opschrijven, Bommel, wat is je naam?" - Bulle Bas
    • "Met uw welnemen"- Joost
  • Civilized Animal: Bommel claims to be a lord and the Marquis de Canteclaer is so snobbish that he uses French and Latin expressions to look more posh.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Wammes Waggel
  • Contemporary Caveman
  • Cool Car: Bommel's car, "De Oude Schicht"
  • Cultural Translation: The stories have been translated to other countries, but have never been so succesful as in the Netherlands.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: Joris Goedbloed
  • Evil Wizard: Hocus P. Pas
  • Feather Fingers: Wammes Waggel, a goose, has them.
  • Fictional Country: The entire world is an anthropomorphic animal world. Sometimes humans are seen, but not often.
  • Funny Animal
  • Furry Comic
  • The Ghost: The Ghost in "Het Spook van Bommelstein"
  • Giftedly Bad: Bommel tries to take up painting in the story "Eh... dinges", but is ridiculed for his lack of talent.
  • Good Is Boring: Tom Poes, the protagonist, is the least memorable of all characters.
  • Gratuitous Iambic Pentameter
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Olivier Bommel only wears a coat, nothing else.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Tom Poes frequently stays over at Bommel's castle and always sticks up for him. Yet they are clearly just good friends. The strange aspect of their friendship happens in the final story where Bommel finally marries his long love interest Doddeltje. For no particular reason Tom Poes decides to leave and go into the wide world, thus ending the series.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Despite being the protagonist Tom Poes is treated as a sidekick by Bommel, even though Tom always has to save him.
  • The Jeeves: Joost, who is Bommel's faithful servant.
  • The Jerk: Markies de Canteclaer who acts really snobbish, especially against Bommel.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Olivier B. Bommel
  • Kindhearted Simpleton: Wammes Waggel, who is a literal silly goose who enjoys having fun and never understands any real danger.
  • Loyal Animal Companion: Tom Poes and Bommel: literally!
  • Magic Mirror: Plays an important role in the story "Tom Poes en de betoverde spiegel".
  • Mature Animal Story
  • Meaningful Name: The town's psychiatrist is named "Zielknijper" (literally translated: "Soulpincher"), which became a Dutch neologism later.
  • Neologism: The comic strip introduced a lot of neologisms in the Dutch language like "kommer en kwel", "denkraam", "grootgrutter", "minkukel", "zielknijper",...
  • Pantsless Males, Fully-Dressed Females: Bommel only wears a coat, but no pants. His love interest, Doddeltje, wears a 19th century style dress and bonnet.
  • Police Are Useless
  • Print Long Runners: From 1941 until 1986.
  • Punny Name: All the characters
  • Running Gag:
    • Bommel always boasts about his talents, achievements and aristocratic background, but whenever real danger is about he chickens out.
    • Police officer Bulle Bas always suspects Bommel is guilty, while usually he is not.
  • Scenery Porn: Toonder's drawings are rich with details.
  • Shapeshifting: The dragon, "Zwelbast", is a tiny creature, but can grow to enormous size when he is mad.
  • Slapstick
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Professor Sickbock
  • Somewhere a Paleontologist Is Crying
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Professor Zbygniew Prlwytzkofsky (Met een Z in der midden)
  • Time Machine