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File:Ltgc6-bosko 6285.jpg

Bosko, in his final Warners short, Bosko's Picture Show.

Meet the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit of Looney Tunes: Bosko, The Talk-Ink Kid, the original, all but forgotten debut cartoon character of Leon Schlesinger's animation studio for Warner Bros. during The Golden Age of Animation. Created by ex-Disney employees Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising, Bosko is, as his name tells, a "talk-ink kid" — or more specifically, an inkblot blackface character. His first appearance was in the short pilot "Bosko The Talk-Ink Kid" in 1929, and was noteworthy for being one of the earliest cartoons to feature properly synchronized sound and dialogue in a cartoon. However, his official theatrical debut (the pilot was never shown to the public) was in the original 1930 Looney Tunes short Sinkin' in the Bathtub.

While Bosko was initially what is now considered to be a very offensive character, Rudy and Hugh shortly decided to ditch these racist aspects of him in favor of him being more like an everyman character, from having him own his own businesses, to getting to beat up the occasional white bad guy — pretty progressive for its time, ain't it?

The early Bosko cartoons were very, very different from the Looney Tunes cast that we've all grown up with. Bosko dosen't have much if anything in the way of personality, with the shorts almost always eschewing plot and characterization in favor of slapstick oriented comedy or having the footage timed to a classic song — the former of which were obvious holdovers from Harman and Ising's previous work at Disney, but Harman and Ising's cartoons were noticably more raunchy and wild (at first, anyways).

A few years later, however, due to budget disputes with Leon, Harman and Ising decided to pack up and leave for MGM, taking the rights to Bosko with them — learning from Walt's debacle with Oswald, the duo wisely made sure they owned Bosko in case somebody tried to screw them over. Leon would quickly assemble a new team in an attempt to compensate for this loss, as well as creating a new Expy for Bosko--Buddy, who was basically a whiteface version of him. Those shorts are noteworthy, if only for being some of the dullest, blandest cartoons to ever come out of that time period — in particular, the first short Buddy's Day Out was reportedly so bad that it nearly killed this new studio before it even got off the ground.

At MGM, Bosko became a recurring star of Harman And Ising's Happy Harmonies series of shorts. He initially retained his inkblot design when he first arrived at MGM, but this design and his original characterization (or lack of) altogether were eventually scrapped in favor of a full-on blackface kid with a curious personality, sharing only the original name of Bosko. But the character failed to regain any of his original popularity, and ultimately faded out altogether after a handful of shorts.

While the character has remained in limbo for many years, his cartoons rarely airing on TV, save for the earliest days of television (when the first package of Looney Tunes shorts were initially released to television) and on Nickelodeon in the late 80s and 90s, 25 of his 37 warners shorts have made their way into the Public Domain, as well as the Looney Tunes Golden Collection series. The character also made a brief comeback in the Tiny Toon Adventures short Fields Of Honey. (although he was slightly redesigned to look more like the dog-esque characters of the then upcoming Animaniacs show.) Buddy would also make an appearance in an episode of Animaniacs, The Warners 65th Anniversary Special, to get revenge on the trio, who in their universe were responsible for destroying Buddy's (in real life, non-existent) stardom. (they were brought in to spice up his boring cartoons...)

Noteworthy shorts the character has appeared in:
  • Bosko The Talk-Ink Kid
  • Sinkin' in the Bathtub
  • Bosko's Picture Show[1]
Filmography:

1929

  • Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid: Although it was not released theatrically, it could in a sense be considered the very first entry in the Looney Tunes series.

1930

  • Sinkin' in the Bathtub: The "official" first Looney Tunes short.
  • Congo Jazz
  • Hold Anything
  • The Booze Hangs High
  • Box Car Blues

1931

  • Big Man from the North
  • Ain't Nature Grand!
  • Ups 'N Downs
  • Yodeling Yokels
  • Bosko's Holiday
  • Tree's Knees, The
  • Bosko Shipwrecked
  • Bosko the Doughboy
  • Bosko's Soda Fountain
  • Bosko's Fox Hunt

1932

  • Bosko at the Zoo
  • Battling Bosko
  • Big-Hearted Bosko
  • Bosko's Party
  • Bosko and Bruno
  • Bosko's Dog Race
  • Bosko at the Beach
  • Bosko's Store
  • Bosko the Lumberjack
  • Ride Him, Bosko!: Earliest Warner Bros. cartoon still under copyright.
  • Bosko the Drawback
  • Bosko's Dizzy Date
  • Bosko's Woodland Daze

1933

  • Bosko in Dutch
  • Bosko in Person
  • Bosko the Speed King
  • Bosko's Knight-Mare
  • Bosko the Sheep-Herder
  • Beau Bosko
  • Bosko's Mechanical Man
  • Bosko the Musketeer
  • Bosko's Picture Show

1934

  • Bosko's Parlor Pranks: First appearance of Bosko in an MGM cartoon, as part of the Happy Harmonies series. Consists almost entirely of colorized Stock Footage from previous Bosko shorts.

1935

  • Hey-Hey Fever: Last cartoon to feature the original Bosko design.
  • Run, Sheep, Run: First cartoon to feature the In Name Only Bosko.

1936

  • The Old House

1937

  • Circus Daze
  • Bosko's Easter Eggs
  • Little Ol' Bosko and the Pirates
  • Little Ol' Bosko and the Cannibals

1938

  • Little Ol' Bosko in Bagdad: Last theatrical appearance of Bosko.

1990

1996

  • Space Jam: Makes a cameo as a portrait in the film.
Tropes used in Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid include:
  1. If only for Bosko's alleged use of the f-word.
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