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Rasmus Klump

Rasmus Klump Date of birth: November 17

Eyes: Black
Hair: Brown fur
Race: Bear

Occupation: Captain on the ship Mary II
Marital Status: Single (engaged)
Known relatives: Mary (mother)
Brother, unnamed

Story: Rasmus and his friend Pingo found a steering wheel in a junkyard and after Pelle told them it was a steering wheel for a ship they decided to build a ship. The ship was named Mary after Rasmus' mother and right after building and naming the boat, Rasmus, Pingo, Pelle, Skæg, and Pildskadden went out to see the World [1].

On their way around the World, they experienced a lot of things and met a lot of people. Along the way, Frømand, Gøjen and Knalle joined the team, although only Gøjen stayed with the group. On their journey, the ship Mary was destroyed (only the steering wheel was salvaged) and they had to build a new ship [2]. The ship was named Mary II and it is the one they still use.

Continuity: Rasmus Klump
Publisher(s): P.I.B.
First app.: Berlingske Aftenavis (November 17, 1951)
Creator(s): Carla Hansen
Vilhelm Hansen
Country of origin: Denmark Denmark

Background notes: In the late 1940's Presse Illustrations Bureau (P.I.B.) in Copenhagen had a lot of success selling the comic strip "Strudsen Rasmus" to the newspapers. When the creator Jørgen Clevin stopped the series, P.I.B. needed another series to replace it. They contacted Carla and Vilhelm Hansen, who have done other projects for P.I.B. the previous years, and asked them to create a new comic for kids. The only condition for the series was the name Rasmus for the main character.

In the summer of 1951, the first version of the series was created, having a small turtle called Rasmus. P.I.B. liked the idea but having a main character that was small and slow was not possible. Carla and Vilhelm agreed to find a new main character and by august 1951, the small bear in the red trousers with white spots was presented for P.I.B. The turtle was not forgotten and Carla and Vilhelm demanded that it became a part of the new series, which it did under the name Pildskadden.

In the beginning the bear should have been called "Bjørnen Rasmus" (Rasmus the Bear). Carla Hansen protested arguing that we all have a surname and so should the bear, and the name "Bjørnen Rasmus" was way too violent for a series for kids. The surname became Klump after a Golden Retriever named Klump that lived in the apartment under Carla and Vilhelm on Jagtvej in Copenhagen (In UK and USA, the name Rasmus Klump was translated to Petzi).

The series was written originally by Carla and drawn by Vilhelm, even though Carla was not credited for her contribution until the third album (Rasmus Klump træffer mutter Ansjos). The daily strip was also done by Carla and Vilhelm in the beginning but it was taken over by Per Sanderhage and Tove Nørgaard (text and art respectively) in 1965.

The series plays a major role in the introduction of comics in the public libraries. In the fifties and sixties a discussion similar to the one in USA leading to the Comic Code Authority was going on in Denmark. Comics were not considered literature and were by some referred to as sewer literature. Despite the efforts of the cultural elite to make kids read books instead of comics, the comic books became more and more popular. In the end, the libraries had to accept comics on the shelves. The first comic to be accepted in the libraries was Rasmus Klump. It has not yet been possible to find the exact year but it happened between 1971 and 1973.

In the beginning, Rasmus Klump was a daily strip. It wasn't until 1952 the series was collected as a book. The books, like the daily strip, did not have word balloons but text written below. This was a fairly common way of making comic at the time and was used in series like Alex Raymond's "Flash Gordon", Hal Foster's "Prince Valiant" and Burne Hogarth's "Tarzan". Having the text under the pictures made the series easier to read for kids and was not abandoned until 1981 (Rasmus Klump møder Tik Tak og andre venner).

Rasmus Klump was transferred to other medias than comics. In the sixties at least three cartoons were made, based on the books (Rasmus Klump bygger skib, Rasmus Klump til søs and Rasmus Klump på skattejagt). The contract was on 13 episodes, but both the episodes and knowledge about the series has apparently been lost. Again in 1984 a series of cartoons was made (13 episodes). Like the first series, it was of questionable quality but shown around the World and later released on video. Having a continued success, Rasmus Klump was made as cartoon once again in 1996 with 26 episodes of 5 minutes and an additional 26 episodes were released in 1998. The last episodes were both new stories and adaptions of the original comics by Carla and Vilhelm Hansen.

Another media for Rasmus Klump was stamps. In 2002 a series of four stamps with Danish cartoon characters was made, one of which was Rasmus Klump and his friends. The stamp was elected as the stamp of the year in 2002.

One of the companies to recognize the potential of Rasmus Klump was Nordjyske Bank who made Rasmus Klump piggy banks. I have not found any information on when the bank started using Rasmus Klump, but I remember seeing the piggy banks in the late seventies. Currently both Nordjyske Bank and Amagerbanken offers Rasmus Klump piggy banks and savings accounts for kids.

Expanding the presence outside comics further is the Rasmus Klump-prisen (Rasmus Klump Award). The award is given each year to a person or organization that thru its work embodies the philosophy in the Rasmus Klump stories about friendship, fidelity, and posing as a good example for the Danes. The award is an original drawing of Rasmus Klump, a Pingo statuette and 25.000 or 50.000 DKK. The ceremony takes place in Copenhagen Town Hall followed by pancakes being served. Traditionally the person or organization receiving the money passes it on to charity. The award was given the first time in 1998 to his Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, known as Pingo among his friends.

Names around the World:
BelgiumPol (dutch)
Petzi (french)
ChinaPipi xiong (皮皮熊)
DenmarkRasmus Klump
Faroe IslandRasmus Tøppur
FinlandRasmus Nalle
GreenlandRasmus Klump
NorwayBamse Bjørn
PolandMiś Poldek
SwedenRasmus Nalle
Barnaby Bear
Bundle (sometimes)

Related links/characters:
- Frømand
- Gøjen
- Jabiduttiperslikkenberg
- Knalle
- Pelle
- Pildskadden
- Pingo
- Skæg

References: 1: Rasmus Klump bygger skib
2: Rasmus Klump på Robinson Crusoe's ø