THUNDERBUNNYMedium: Comic books
Published by: Charlton Comics
First appeared: 1977
Creator: Martin Greim
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There have been superheroes like The Flash in comic books, there have been funny animals like Doodles Duck, and there have even been funny animal superheroes like The Terrific Whatzit. But no hybrid of the superhero and funny animal genres has ever displayed the disparities between the forms to quite the same effect as Thunderbunny. Thunderbunny was a
perfectly ordinary superhero, in a world of perfectly ordinary people, who just happened to look exactly like a man-sized, pink bunny rabbit.
Thunderbunny belonged to the segment of the superhero community who transform into their super selves, rather than merely change clothes. Others in that segment included Captain Marvel and Golden Lad. What normal human teenager Bobby Casswell transformed into was a great hero of a now-extinct alien race. In Thunderbunny form, he had the Big Three super powers he was invulnerable (or at least, more durable than most people), had super strength and could fly.
The character was created by Martin Greim, a prominent comic book fan of the time, who featured him in a text story in the fanzine Mass Fan Newsletter. Later, Greim scripted him in a regular comics-formatted story in Comic Crusader Storybook, which was drawn by Gene Day (Master of Kung Fu). This was in 1977.
A few years later, Charlton Comics opened itself to submissions from fans, with creators allowed to retain rights to their own creations. Thunderbunny's first professional venue was Charlton Bullseye #6 (March, 1982). There, he was again written by Greim, with artwork by Mike Machlan (Infinity Inc.). Thus, Thunderbunny helped form a majority of superhero lagomorphs. In addition to him, Charlton published both Atomic/Super Rabbit and Hoppy the Marvel/Magic Bunny at one time or another. In his second and final Charlton appearance, Charlton Bullseye #10 (December, 1982), Thunderbunny was first drawn by Brian Buniak, the artist who became most closely associated with him.
By this time, the basics of the character had been established not just the origin, where Dr. Bar-Ko, last survivor of that alien race, gave Bobby a box into which he'd extracted the essence of his world's greatest hero, Thunderbunny, and Bobby had absorbed that essence, after which he could effect the transformation by bringing his hands together and visualizing the hero, but a little bit about Bobby himself. Bobby was a comic book fan, and took an attitude that's common among comics fans. He found the superhero aspects of his new self loads of fun, but was embarrassed, at best, by the fact that he was a funny animal. But it got worse. As he spent more time in his Thunderbunny state, it became harder for him to visualize his normal self and change back. Thus, Thunderbunny action, tho fun, hastened the day when he'd be stuck that way for good.
Charlton was on its last legs at the time, but Archie Comics (The Shield, Black Hood) was undergoing one of its occasional brief revivals of interest in superheroes. In addition to reviving many of their own, they did a few outside properties they even took a spin with T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. Archie only published one issue of Thunder Bunny (note spelling his name as two words), dated January, 1984, but also ran him in a couple of anthologies and once published a story about him in the Mighty Crusaders back pages.
But Archie soon abandoned superheroes again. Thunderbunny's next publisher was WaRP Graphics, the company that was mainly used for the self-publishing of Elfquest. WaRP's first issue came out in 1985. It was Thunderbunny's first appearance in black and white since the fanzine days. The first two issues were published magazine-sized, like Mad. With its seventh issue (1986) it was switched to the Apple Press imprint, where outside titles like Fish Police and Vietnam Journal were published.
Apple Press's last issue was #12 (1987). His final appearance with the company, whatever imprint, was in WaRP Graphics Annual #1 (1988).
Thunderbunny wasn't picked up by another publisher, so that was the end of him. He never did get stuck that way permanently.