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Bananaman is a British comic book fictional character. He originally appeared in Nutty as the backpage strip in Issue 1, dated 16 February 1980 drawn by John Geering. He has since appeared in The Dandy and The Beano.
The original strip, originated by Dave Donaldson and Steve Bright, written and developed by the latter, and mostly drawn by John Geerin until his death in 1999, is essentially a parody of Superman and Batman with shades of Captain Marvel and his British twin, Marvelman and occasionally other Silver Age characters, while also combining comic slapstick with a heavy dose of eccentric British humor similar to Alan Moore's contemporary work on Captain Britain. In the strip, Eric Wimp, an ordinary schoolboy, living at 29 Acacia Road, Nuttytown (later changed to Dandytown after Nutty's demise), eats a banana to transform into Bananaman, an adult superhero, sporting a distinctive cowled blue and yellow outfit complete with a yellow two-tailed cape resembling a banana skin. His superpowers include the ability to fly, superhuman strength (often quoted as "twenty men... twenty big men" but sometimes limitless, with "nerks", "women" and "snowmen" all being used in place of "men"), and seeming invulnerability.
If Bananaman needs extra power, bananas can be eaten for strength boosts, provided by his faithful pet crow; if he does not have enough strength to shatter an ice block, for example, after eating another banana, he will have enough. If he eats lots of bananas in one sitting, he quickly becomes obese in his transformation; if he eats bananas that are not full, he transforms with extra weight in the lower part of his body. There have also been comics where he has eaten a variant on normal bananas, and transforms differently, reflecting the difference in that banana. The effects of eating the bananas are not consistent from story to story.
After John Geering died in 1999, Barrie Appleby took over and later Tom Paterson. In 2003, the original scriptwriter, Steve Bright drew it, until 2007.
Sporadically from 2007 to 2010 the character appeared in reprinted strips from the John Geering era. For a short time, in late 2008, artist Chris McGhie reinvented Bananaman in a series of new strips. Chris' other work included The Three Bears for The Beano (in 2002) and the characters on Yoplait's 'Wildlife' product range. Two new strips appeared that year drawn by Barrie Appleby as well.
In 1983, the BBC made a cartoon series which included a catchy theme tune and featured the voices of The Goodies. It was produced by 101 Film Productions (Later Flicks Films). Parts of the character were changed for the series: he was now called Eric Twinge, had a distinctive banana-shaped hairstyle rather than punk stubble, and had a love interest (only when transformed) in the form of Fiona, a newsreader based on Selina Scott and also a possible homage to Lois Lane.
Graeme Garden (incorrectly credited as Greame Garden on some episodes) voiced the characters of Bananaman, General Blight and Maurice of The Heavy Mob, Bill Oddie voiced the characters of Crow, Chief O'Reilly, Doctor Gloom and the Weatherman, and Tim Brooke-Taylor voiced the characters of Eric, King Zorg of the Nerks, Eddie the Gent, Auntie and Appleman, as well as narrating the episodes. Jill Shilling voiced Fiona and any additional female characters, including Eric's cousin Samantha (but not Auntie). It lasted for forty episodes between 3 October 1983 and 15 April 1986.
Bananaman was aired in the United States by the Nickelodeon cable network as a companion piece to Danger Mouse, but Bananaman never came close to reaching that series' American popularity. The show also aired during the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) after school timeslot and is considered one of the Classic ABC shows.
Some episodes of Bananaman were used in 1997 on the British Cartoon series "The Pepe and Paco show" created by Henson International Television.
Some of these episodes would eventually re-appear in print form in The Dandy in 1998, coinciding with the BBC repeating the series that year, and were reprinted in the comic in Spring 2007, now promoting the DVD. Each episode was roughly five minutes from start to end. Phrases from the show, "twenty big men" and "ever alert for the call to action", are still used in the comic today.