Bear Nuts

Creator/s: Alison Acton
Run: 08/08-current
Schedule: Mondays
Section/s: Chs. 33-37

Website: It's simple but fully featured, with character bios, fan art, wallpapers, a store, and contact info. The comic pages are only about 225 pixels below the top of the page, so new readers should be quickly drawn in by the webcomic's colorful illustrations.

While I didn't encounter any problems using the site, I noticed that the latest page linked in the archives section is from 2011. Considering that the creator just links the first page of each chapter, it's unclear why she hasn't updated the archives in so long, as it'd barely take any time to do.

Writing: With its "Care Bears gone bad" setup, the webcomic features a family of cute bears who are defined by a particular negative aspect. With names like Evil Bear, Gay Bear, and Vanity Bear, and iconic symbols on their stomachs, it's easy to instantly get a sense of each bear's personality. While reading about such one-dimensional characters seems like it'd get tiring after a while, the creator does a great job of shifting the focus around so that no one bear is ever the center of attention for long. With 10 very different bears making up the cast, there's plenty of material for the creator to work with.

The webcomic presents a weird version of a "dysfunctional family" setup, as the characters look and act like children while having problems associated with adults. Three of the characters have serious drug problems, for example, while one's obsessed with pornography, and another wears an S&M outfit. The webcomic could have come across as being much darker, but the creator manages to present the characters' problems as innocuous and even funny because they're in this bright, childish world where there aren't really any consequences. There's also a sense that their disturbing behavior falls into a sort of natural order within the comic, as the characters are so bound to their vices that they can't exist without them. For instance, the character who's always drunk is named Tanked and has a beer mug on his stomach, so it feels normal and acceptable that he's drunk since there's no impression that he has a choice not to be that way.

While the characters are portrayed as all about the same age, Prozac Bear and Gimp Bear try to take on the role of being parent-figures (1, 2, 3, 4). I found this part of the comic to be endearing, as it's easy to empathize with their attempts to keep the bears together as a family, and not just a group who hate each other but are forced to spend time together because they can't leave the zoo they live in. The bears often misbehave like children would, doing stuff like teasing each other and fighting over the TV, so it makes sense that there should be some discipline involved, even though it's extremely difficult since there are eight "children" and only two "parents," one of whom doesn't talk.

Of all the bears, I think Lech Bear is my favorite, as it's oddly fascinating how little of an effort he makes to hide his out-of-control sexuality from the other bears. As for a least favorite, I'd say Nerd Bear, because the "he likes Star Wars, what a dork" gags are somewhat less creative than the rest of the comic. I'm also curious to see more of Death Bear, as he seems like a really weird character, but he only shows up in two pages in the section (1, 2).

Art: The creator's a master of drawing cartoon animals, and the goofy expressions, dynamic poses, and bright coloring make every page pop visually. You can see from the cast page that you can get an idea of each character's personality just from looking at their expression and body language, which isn't a small accomplishment. There's also a decent variety of scenery, as some stories take place in the bear cave, while others take place around the zoo.

There are a lot more panels in this webcomic than usual, and the creator takes the opportunity to use different shapes and sizes to make each page read a little differently. The most creative instance of this is in the action sequences, where the panels are split up into jagged fragments (1, 2). While I generally like the page layouts, I do have a small complaint, which is that having a bunch of small panels can make the scenes feel a little cramped and repetitive at times.

Overall: While Bear Nuts is probably a little too simplistic for me to consider it as one of my favorite webcomics, it's still a terrific comic that's very accessible, and I'd easily recommend it as a high-quality comic that's on the lighter side. Aside from its fantastic artwork, I think the webcomic's biggest accomplishment is managing to combine the worlds of adults and children in a way that's highly enjoyable.


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