In doing research for a recent project (which you’ll find out about at a later date), I was pointed towards a website featuring comic book characters that are now reportedly in the public domain. While going through all those characters, it struck me that there was material there which might be worth mining for future blog posts. As a result, this will be the first of a series of posts on “Forgotten Ones,” which I may do from time to time.
For this inaugural outing, I chose Bee-29, the Bombardier. Bee-29 is unique because so far as I know, he’s the only bee superhero! He only made a few appearances back in 1945, but one of them was in a comic named for him. In the interests of saving column space, if you’d like to read the entry for Bee-29 on the Public Domain Super Heroes site, you can check it out here.
If you’ve visited this site much, you’ve probably picked up on the fact I often like to try to find an angle to approach a character like this, some kind of a different spin I can put on it instead of just reproducing something verbatim. So I thought, “What if in some alternate world, Hanna-Barbera had picked up the rights to this character?” Going down that path lead to my attempt at an HB version of Bee-29 on the faux Gold Key cover you see here, since Gold Key handled most of the cartoon-based comics back in the day.
Let me go on record here and say that I am definitely a fan of the classic Hanna-Barbera look. Yes, I grew up watching those shows, but it’s more than that. Years ago when Hanna-Barbera was located on the 14th floor of the Imperial Bank Building in Sherman Oaks, multiple times a day I would walk by these great framed cels from shows like The Flintstones and The Jetsons, hanging on the walls in the hallway. I saw how well-designed all those characters were, and how strongly silhouette-oriented they were. The HB designers took the restrictions of limited animation and small TV screens, and actually turned them into strengths.
I’ve not had a lot of opportunity to attempt that classic HB look, so this was a chance to venture onto that playground a little bit. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t tip my hat here and say thanks to my good friend Mark Christiansen, who is truly a classic HB master.