Bosko made his first appearance in a test reel called Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid
(1929), which its producer-creators, Hugh Harman
and Rudolf Ising
(aka Harman-Ising), used to sell a series to Warner Bros.
for distribution. Shortly after, the happy-go-lucky figure appeared in his first theatrical short, Sinkin' in the Bathtub
(1930), which paired him with his girlfriend Honey.
In his early appearances, Bosko is a Negro boy, or at least a crude caricature of one, resembling a blackface minstrel with a comic Southern Negro dialect. The animators soon forgot this characterization. He and Honey seem like weak copies of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, only without any features that would identify them with a particular species. A porter once said to the animator Jack Zander
, "I want to ask you something about that character you've got. I know Mickey Mouse, and Krazy Kat, and Oswald the Rabbit ... but Bosko the what
Despite his empty personality and the indistinct nature of his very identity, Bosko was the star cartoon character for Warner Bros. for a few years in the early 30s, until the team of Harman-Ising left Leon Schlesinger Studios
and took Bosko to MGM with them. Bosko survived there for two cartoons before he was redesigned as a realistic black boy with an overactive imagination. In other words, he was a different character with the same name. He didn't last long in that guise either. By 1940, Bosko was forgotten at the two studios that had distributed his cartoons.
Bosko did make kind of a comeback, serveral decades later, when his cartoons were reran on TV and he played a major role in Tiny Toon Adventures: Fields of Honey (#1.30)
, in 1990Source: Leonard Maltin
, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons
, NY, 1987, p. 225.See also: Behind the Tunes: Bosko, Buddy and the Best of Black and White