Translation and adaptation: James Figueiredo
So begins the definiton of “Bear with Me”, an american webcomic, published every Monday, that Bearnerd presents to you now
I first encountered “Bear with Me” by chance, surfing the internet a couple of years ago. I immediately liked the story the web comic told, with simple drawings and brilliant text. I went through the whole archive in one night, having tons of fun with the adventures of Young Andy and his bear friends. The next day I sent the author an e-mail, praising the comic. He sent me back a really nice e-mail, in which he answered all of my questions about the srtip and its characters, which I transcribe here:
The strip is the brainchild of cartoonist Bruin, a.k.a Tim Vanderburg, a
55 years old distinguished middle-aged gentleman living in Madison, Wisconsin. He tells us that the strip came about due to the author’s own frustrations in trying to fit in the bear comunnity.
“For some reason”, says Bruin, “…I felt a bit blocked by the concept of bear “attitude” and to this day I can’t quite get what said attitude should be. From that sprung Andy, a guy that looks like a bear, but doesn’t actually know what makes someone a “bear”. In order to show this confusion visually, had the idea of showing him on and off the ‘bear mode'”.
“This transformation quickly extended to the other characters: Whenever they felt confident about themselves, they’d look like bears. When life turns the tables on them, and they get insecure, the go off “bear mode” and look like “normal” people. That became a drawing challenge, because I had to create two very distinct looks that would still be recognizeable for those characters.” (Editor’s note: That is the most brilliant trick of the series).
Most of the characters reflect different aspects of the author. Andy is the confusion regarding bear culture; Paul is shyness and social awkwardness; Ed is the ambivalence towards aging; Forrest is the wild side. Even Constance shows some not so flattering nuances about the author, regarding social elitism and resistance to change. One of the best story arcs is the one where the characters decide to go to Chigaco, for a a big Bear Fair. “As you must’ve noticed, a lot of my frustrations with the bear community revolves around those events. I had planned the Bear Fair arc to run for three or four weeks, but I found I had so much to say about the subject the whole arc took almost a year. The good news is, now that I’ve vented everything I had to vent about it through the strip, I’m much more relaxed about those things. I still have no intention of going to those events, but at least I’m in the right frame of mind to realize I don’t have the kind of personality that would allow me to appreciate them. Simplu put, I’m NOT a party person, and that’s the person you need to be to enjoy those occasions.
So, to recap: You can follow the strip every week (it’s update every Monday) at the official website, and soon here on Bear Nerd!
P.S.: A little while ago, I got so fired up about this comic I sent Bruin a little fanart I did. I was super happy that he liked it!