December 20, 2008 6:32 PM   Subscribe

Tales of the Beanworld ("A most peculiar comic book experience") recently resumed publication after a long hiatus. It's a strange and abstract mix of Native American mythology and culture, with a strong ecological focus, into an wonderfully charming cosmology. While it certainly invites, uh, overthinking, it's also entertaining on a purely casual level.
A sample short Beanworld story is on the Dark Horse Comics Myspace page.
If you have questions about it, the BeanWeb just may have answers, along with illustrations from the comics. There is now a Beanworld Wiki to supplement it, and creator Larry Marder keeps a blog where he talks about things bean.

Okay, now that it's properly introduced... the real point of this post is to link to this awesome Beanworld Flash cartoon, animated by Fashionbuddha and with music by They Might Be Giants!
posted by JHarris (17 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I knew my brief but obsessive early-80s indie comic collecting phase would serve me well. Time to reread my copy of Beanworld #1.
posted by zippy at 6:38 PM on December 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

I never bought a Beanworld comic when they were in the stores, but they were impossible to ignore. I'd often skim through them on my way to more serious purchases.

Like TMNT.
Or Wolverine.
Or some other blathering fanboy nonsense.

posted by lekvar at 6:48 PM on December 20, 2008


Beanworld was one of the brilliant glowing lights of brilliance in a 1980s comic book shop full mostly of twaddle ranging from superheroic universe-spanning adventures to superheroic mutant animal adventures.

I'm thankful that Larry Marder continues his good work.
posted by ardgedee at 7:02 PM on December 20, 2008

Recovering superhero fanbois - always quick to slag the fun stuff when praising the good stuff. Pssht. Lest you forget, Larry Marder was hired to run Image comics when it was first formed.

Comics is comics - some of it is allegorical surrealism, some of it is pretty people in tight pants fighting. In the end, they support each other in an intensely difficult art form that serves a very small audience.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:47 PM on December 20, 2008 [3 favorites]

Aw, I love Beanworld.

Which reminds me:

Old Roomate Scott,

Remember that original Larry Marder drawing of a Bean you had, but lost when you moved to Seattle twelve years ago? I still have it, it's yours whenever you want it. No rush.

- E

posted by louche mustachio at 9:38 PM on December 20, 2008

Thanks for this! The new short story's way better than the Flash cartoon (that music - ugh). I'm really glad Marder is restarting it and hope he still has the spark of innocent magic and wonder that made Beanworld such a joyful eco-anthropological fable. It was one of my fave comics at the time, kept getting richer and more interesting, with new layers to the story, odd new characters and connections, and then it.....just.....stopped. The geek in me was mad at Marder for a long time, and was dumbfounded when he hitched his star to Image's schlock, but I guess I should have thanked him for teaching me to enjoy indies as they happened and not expect anything like closure or a coherent arc of a longer story. I really hated the lesson that "indie" meant "unreliable" (I'd sure learn that one over and over again) since for a while there reading Beanworld was pure comics glee.
posted by mediareport at 9:44 PM on December 20, 2008

Okay, well, technically it's music by The Allman Brothers. But TMBG does do a nice cover.
posted by lholladay at 10:42 PM on December 20, 2008

lholladay, yeah, that was something I noticed after I posted. Well, it is played by them, at least.
posted by JHarris at 11:35 PM on December 20, 2008

It's just wrong for Beanworld, is all.
posted by mediareport at 6:21 AM on December 21, 2008

For the in-joke impaired.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:31 AM on December 21, 2008

But wait, there's a Beanworld Holiday Special comic in print out right now! It's a good introduction to the Beanworld universe for new readers, with enough new stuff to keep old readers interested.
posted by andeluria at 10:47 AM on December 21, 2008

Wow, topical, I just downloaded the entire run of Tales of the Beanworld a week or two ago.

(And, just so you know, I also own 90%+ of the issues in dead-trees format, I spent a long time digging through back-issues boxes to find as many as I could. But those are in my dad's house, 5 states away.)
posted by paisley henosis at 1:02 PM on December 21, 2008

my god, i love the beanworld. Larry's been saying for a while that he was going to pick it back up again. i find myself deeply curious about how any number of story elements are going to sort themselves out... the Dreamishness issue, for example, given how it was a veiled reference to something that was happening in his life at the time (and which has since changed). and there are so many untapped story ideas left.

i've met Larry a couple of times, as a kid, and he was gracious and kind to me. gave me some beanworld action figures at a San Diego comicon when i was like 13. (this is pre-"battle damaged" figures, though we joked about them at the time. my dad and i even planted one that started to sprout just hanging out on a window ledge!)

this comic literally changed my life, and gave my father and i something wonderful to look forward to every (basically) month. we read it up until it stopped trickling out, and i've been keeping my ears and eyes open ever since for more news. i had just sort of assumed that it was gone forever, and that Mr. Spook would be forever left with a pole instead of a fork. i was giddy for DAYS when i found out something new would be happening.

i'm glad to see that other people know and care. it's been very rare indeed to meet anyone who's ever had the beanworld experience. i hope he jumps back in, and i hope it continues until he's all out of ideas.

(i also hope the letters pages that didn't get reprinted in the TPBs everntually get reprinted as well. as a creator, Larry got into more discussions, and more fascinating discussions, with his readership than anyone i've ever seen. he used to admit that he didn't have particular scenarios planned, yet, and talked about using some of the reader's ideas in what he was doing. he even let us in on an in-joke he wrote into the books that no one up to that point had ever noticed. [keep your eyes open for a left-handed hoi polloi in one of the early issues!] you just felt like you were really PART of something when you read the beanworld every issue.)

and if Larry sees this : thank you, sir.
posted by radiosilents at 4:01 PM on December 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've been going through them a bit, and the thing that strikes me as most interesting about Beanworld (of the many interesting things!) is that there's a huge amount of exposition.

There is. Nearly half of it is telling the reader things. But it's really well done exposition! It's presented with energy and wit, and the things exposited are so wonderful (literally, "full of wonders"), that we don't mind.

Beanworld proves that exposition is not all bad. It can be nice, if presented well and the stuff is interesting enough.
posted by JHarris at 5:03 PM on December 21, 2008

(Also, the Hoi-Polloi are among the most charming comic creations I've ever seen. Just big smiling, expressive faces with a single hand. So cool.)
posted by JHarris at 5:07 PM on December 21, 2008

I literally jumped for joy when I saw the comic at my local shop last week.
posted by vrakatar at 6:03 PM on December 21, 2008

Wow. I had completely forgotten about Beanworld. I only had a few issues, and I don't remember how I came upon them, but I read those few over many times. Thank you for the reintroduction.
posted by squarehead at 5:29 PM on December 22, 2008

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