Oliver B. Bumble

Oliver B. Bumble

Oliver B. Bumble (Olivier B. Bommel in Dutch language) is a fictional anthropomorphic bear and one of the two main characters, the other being Tom Puss (Tom Poes in Dutch) in an originally Dutch series of comic books bearing the name of either one main characters in their name, written by Marten Toonder.


Publication history

The first Tom Puss stories were told as illustrated novels, published in daily installments in the Dutch newspaper, De Telegraaf. "Tom Puss" first appeared as a replacement for the Mickey Mouse-strip in 1941. Later on, Tom Puss was turned into a comics series in a stricter sense. The series literary standards are considered to be quite good by many Dutch people, with many real sounding made-up Dutch words, references to archaic Dutch and different regional and class-based dialects and a proper well formed sentence structure.

Sir Oliver B. Bumble was introduced in the third Tom Puss story in 1941. At first, he was just a supporting character, but he quickly became the series' main character; as Tom Puss was noble and heroic, most stories depended on the more flawed but good hearted Oliver B. Bumble to initiate the events of the stories. The last story, published in 1986 ends the story with Bumble getting married to his neighbor, Miss Doddel and settling down.

In total there have been over 600 Tom Puss stories, most of them featuring Oliver B. Bumble as one of the main characters. Bumble and Puss' stories have been translated into many languages and published worldwide. There has also been an animated movie called "Als je begrijpt wat ik bedoel" ("If you know what I mean", one of Bumble's catch-phrases), released in 1983. Toonder created various short animated movies as commercials for Philips in the 1940s starring Puss and Bumble.

In February 2007 the Nederlandse Programma Stichting started a 440 part Radio drama based on the Bumble and Puss series, hosted on radio 4, which broadcasts concert music and sometimes jazz and radio 6 and radio 1 the series ended in December 2009. Fansites have also reported that a new film and animation series might be planned.


Sir Oliver is a bear of nobility (or rather, so he portrays himself), an eloquent gentleman (though with a stutter when upset) who enjoys the finer things in life. He is quite wealthy, but always tells others that money is of no importance and is generous to his friends. He lives in castle Bommelstein, where his butler Joost sees to his every need. He is a modest bear though; he always dresses in a simple, checkered coat and his car, nicknamed "De Oude Schicht" ("The Old Bolt (of lightning)"), is reliable, but not extravagant. Extravagance is a trait Bumble doesn't possess, following his dear father[1]'s lessons of modesty and common sense. Sir Oliver is a kind being, though he does tend to act before he thinks. He also tends to blame others for his own mistakes. As he is a "gentlemen of weak constitution", he has no heart for conflict, but in the end he will always help his friends in need.


The claim that the B. in Olivier B. Bommel would stand for Berendinus is semi-canonical at best. A middle name is not found in any of the original stories and —according to the author— did not exist. Bommel was intended to be an American, though it is possible that he did indeed return to ancestral grounds. The lone initial was part of the American attributes of the character. The source of Berendinus was the answer by an editor in the Tom Poes magazine, and thus one given with a semblance of authority, which explains the popularity of the claim.

Related to this is the play in the original series with the meanings of the Dutch word heer, which does mean gentleman, though it does not mean member of the nobility, which Bumble as American would not be, he is rich, very, very rich and tries to live like a gentleman. Another meaning is lord, as in (absolute) ruler, as owner of his castle he turns out to have been the lord of the land for almost the entire series in the last story. "Sir" rather obscures this essential part of the character as it rather suggests some noble title under lordship. An acceptable translation might be Oliver Bommel Esq.

  1. ^ His father does not appear within the stories, but is often referred to: "As my good father said: '...'"

Catch phrases

Oliver B. Bumble uses several catch phrases:

  • "If you know what I mean", usually used at the end of nearly any speech he made.
  • "Like my dear father always said: ..... and I abide by that."
  • "Money is of no consequence"

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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