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The origins of Bosko go back to 1927. In that year, Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising were still working for the Walt Disney Studio on a series of live-action/animated short subjects known as the Alice Comedies. Hugh Harman created Bosko in 1927 to capitalize on the new “talkie” craze that was sweeping the motion picture industry. Harman began thinking about making a sound cartoon with Bosko in 1927, before he even left Walt Disney. After leaving Walt Disney in February of 1928, Harman and Ising went to work for Universal on the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons until April of 1929. After leaving Universal, Harman and Ising began to market their new cartoon character. In May of 1929, they produced a short pilot cartoon, Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid, that showcased their ability to animate soundtrack-synchronized speech and dancing. The short, plotless cartoon opens with live action footage of Ising at a drafting table. After he draws Bosko on the page, the character springs to life, talks, sings, and dances. Ising returns Bosko to the inkwell, and the short ends.
Honey is a music teacher, her pupil happens to be a kitten who hates the violin. No matter how much Honey tries, the kitten continues to play the violin terribly. She calls Bosko, who happens to be asleep. Bosko’s dog Bruno attempts to awake him, only to fail. He answers the phone himself by knocking it down and answering it with a receiver. Honey asks Bruno to awake Bosko, so he attempts to do it again. He gets help from the phone, using it as a whistle and knocks the receiver down to the ground. Bosko finally awakes and tells Honey that he’ll be over there as soon as he can. When he arrives, he and Honey start to sing and dance and play music.
Bosko’s telephone can’t get its owner to wake up no matter how insistently it rings. The phone beats the alarm clock (also sleeping) with its receiver and orders it to wake up their owner. The panicky clock can’t get him up either. In desperation, the clock stabs Bosko in the rear with its hand. Bosko wakes up screaming, and sleepily answers the phone. It’s Honey. She wants to go on a picnic. Bosko cranks up the car, sends home the little baby cars that try to follow and drives to her place. Soon the two sweethearts are off to the woods. Bosko easily fixes a tire that his dog bit a hole in. He has less luck winning Honey’s forgiveness after whispering an ungentlemanly suggestion in her ear.
In this grotesquely hilarious combination of typical Warner Bros. slapstick and grim wartime tragedy, Bosko is a doughboy in WW1, skipping around the battlefield with nary a worry in the world. Meanwhile, a variety of talking animals and even inaminate objects are being killed in droves and when they fall down, they don’t get back up again. Oblivious to the carnage, Bosko merrily munches a can of beans and uses discarded weapons and ammunition as musical instruments. But our hero is finally galvanized into action when the Enemy goes too far and blows up his precious photo of his girlfriend Honey.
Bosko is a frightened hunter moving stealthily through the jungle. When he notices that a tiger is stalking him, he turns his gun on the beast and shoots. But an impotent bullet falls harmlessly to the ground. Bosko tricks the tiger into singing and dancing with him. Then, when he gets the chance, he removes the tiger’s rear flap, exposing the big cat’s polka-dotted underpants, and kicks him off a cliff. Later, Bosko plays with a baby ape, who spits in his eye. Bosko removes its flap, exposing its bare bottom, and spanks it. The father ape enters, and he’s angry. Bosko gives him a stick of chewing gum. This placates him, especially when he and Bosko stretch the gum out of their mouths and pluck a tune
Bosko is having a grand time on the farm. He dances with a cow and laughs when the cow’s “pants” fall down, revealing polka-dotted underwear. He plays a horse’s tail like a violin. The horse enjoys the music and dances to it eccentrically, even making like an ice skater at one point. Three ducklings and their mother enjoy the music, too, and dance along. Bosko feeds his pigs by dumping a trash can into their trough. The two baby pigs find a bottle of booze in the trough. They and their father all get drunk on it. The father accidentally flings the bottle away from himself, and it breaks against Bosko’s head. Bosko, soaked in booze, is now drunk, too.