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Brer Bear

Brer Bear Eyes: Black
Hair: Brown fur
Race: Bear

Occupation: Farmer
Marital Status: Married
Known relatives: Missus Bear (wife)
Four sons and one daughter seen.
Group affiliation: The Dirty Dozen, the Foul Fellows' Club (sometimes called the Badfellows' Club)

Story: Brer Bear is the farmer who's living in the forest with his wife and kids. Often he is trying to catch Brer Rabbit or stop the Big Bad Wolf from stealing his chickens.

Continuity: Disney
Publisher(s): Disney
Dell Comics
Gold Key
First app.: Cartoons: Song of the South (1946)
Comics: Walt Disney Sunday Strip, October 14, 1945
Creator(s): Bill Walsh
Paul Murry
Country of origin: USA USA

Background notes: Brer Bear in his original form is actually a very old character. European fables going back centuries are full of stories about bears and other animals acting like people. In 1880 Uncle Remus: His Songs and sayings, the first of four volumes by Joel Chandler Harris, was published. The stories were folk stories with introduction by Uncle Remus the storyteller. The stories were told with a southern accent making Brother Bear into Bre'r Bear, Brother Rabbit into Bre'r Rabbit and so on. The stories were transferred to cartoons in 1919 with the release of three Uncle Remus/Bre'r Rabbit cartoons. Bre'r Bear was not in these cartoons. He did not occur until Disney released Song of the South in 1946, where his voice was done by Nicodemus Steward. He has made a few cameos like Who Framed Roger Rabbit from 1988 and From All of Us to All of You from 1951 after this, but Song of the South is his only real appearance in cartoons so far.

Before his appearance in cartoons, Brer Bear (note the difference in spelling by Disney) was introduced in Walt Disney Sunday Strip in 1945. He was created along with Brer Fox as a predator who tried to catch the rabbit Brer Rabbit. The rabbit would of course outsmart the two hunters every time. After the cartoon Song of the South, the bear was introduced in Walt Disney Comics along with Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox. After a few stories, a comic book version of the Uncle Remus stories named Uncle Remus and his Tales of Brer Rabbit was introduced. Later reprints had the Uncle Remus introduction replaced with introductions by Disney characters. Apparently there has been some concerns about racism in the portrayal about slaves. The introduction was short lived, and the stories returned to the original format.

Where Brer Fox stayed a sort of villain like the Big Bad Wolf, Brer Bear's role changed over time. With the introduction of Missus Bear and a bunch of kids in 1946 he was changed into a family man; one of the few fathers in the Disney Universe. Like the fables the bear would appear as the hard working farmer and the hero of the tale, sometimes he would be smart and sometimes not. He would still be the villain and a member of the Foul Fellows' Club from time to time though, trying to get Brer Rabbit or Molly, Brer Rabbit's girlfriend.

Stories with Brer Bear are still produced today on a regular basis. The original stories were produced in USA but during the 1960s the production of stories started in Europe, and gradually more and more of the stories were produced in European countries. Mostly countries with a strong comic book tradition and appreciation for Disney stories like France, Netherlands, Denmark etc. Today most of the stories about Brer Bear are from Netherlands.

Having been around for so many years, Brer Bear has been turned into merchandize though not very much. A few (very nice) teddy bears, figurines, pins etc. Most of it is related to Song of the South.

Related links/characters:
- Disney Characters
- Brer Fox
- Brer Rabbit
- Li'l Bad Wolf
- Missus Bear
- Molly Rabbit
- Three Little Pigs
- Zeke Midas Wolf/Big Bad Wolf