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Bosko was first introduced to the world in Comical Funnies, a comics ‘zine co-published by John Holmstrom (already well-known from his recently-deceased PUNK magazine) and Peter Bagge (a nobody at the time). Comical Funnies also published comics by Ken Weiner, Bruce Carleton, Drew Friedman, and J.D. King.
Bosko became Holmstrom’s signature character, appearing in many publications during the early 1980s: the Village Voice, The Soho Weekly News, the East Viilage Eye, Stop! magazine, Twist comics, High Times magazine, and many others. Bosko was even the mascot for a short-lived rock club called Rock City, and made appearances on some record covers Holmstrom drew for bands like The Cooties. For some weird reason, Bosko never became popular. Bosko’s comics were either dropped from these publications for being offensive and obnoxious, or else the mags just plain went out of business. Every comics syndicate rejected Bosko comics at least once. Bosko’s cartoonist John Holmstrom is almost universally reviled for creating Bosko and inflicting him on the world. Holmstrom’s artwork has been called “crude,” “weird,” and “bizarre.” (And that was by people who enjoyed it!)

No mystery. Bosko is funny at a time comic strips are expected to be serious and literary. Bosko offends many by being stupid and obnoxious at a time when comics are supposed to be literate and intelligent, competing with The Great American Novel and Holocaust documentaries. Bosko wants to drag the comics medium back to a more innocent time—when people laughed out loud at comics and called them “funny books.” 
Holmstrom went back to cartooning in the early zeroes (2000s), and Bosko started reappearing. In the early 2000s Bosko showed up in Danny Hellman’s Legal Action Comics. Bosko also got his own comic book--in full color, no less! 
Here are some of the kinder words about John Holmstrom's Bosko:

Bill Sherman

Comics Journal
Winter 1981

“…Full of urban hostility and pre-sexual behavior. Typical of the latter is Holmstrom’s Bosko, a crew-cut misfit whose idea of a good time at a party is to shake beercans and squirt them at people. Bosko is Ignatz Mouse in the city, using drinks instead of bricks… His interests are dominantly asexual… Bosko’s main interests instead lie in the aggressive pursuit of laughs, rather like one of (Tex) Avery’s less libidinous creatures (Screwy Squirrel, for instance).” 

Lou Stathis

Heavy Metal, 1983

“Dedicated to the Mongoloid Humor Aesthetic. Ex-Punk Grand Wazoo returns to tickle the guffaw glands of dumb-yok devotees with his broadly-exaggerated, moronic style…”

Screw magazine
"Bosko scares us. He scares us because we see ourselves in him. He scares us because he shines a light on our misanthropic, perpetually hungover boorishness. He puts into sharp relief our disdain for pretty much everything. He reminds us of why we are not more popular. We love him"

Wayne Ranelli
Sugarbuzz Magazine
"Not only the perfect accompaniment to your favorite CD but coincidentally makes great toilet reading and I’ve been studying it’s apparent stool-loosening properties so Use With Caution!"

Hervé St.Louis


"Bosko’s creator likes to collect rewards about how bad and disliked Bosko is. He even says that Bosko is America’s least favorite cartoon character. Just to piss off Holmstrom, I’ll say it. I liked this strip and although Bosko curses readers and tries to gross out people. This comic book is not as disgusting or insulting as it claim to be. In fact the plot and jokes are funny enough. I didn’t feel insulted by reading this. I’ll say Bosko is really a nice guy who doesn’t get a clue and in the end is a harmless pit bull. Holmstrom tries too hard to be nasty and comes off as rather tame and nice.

The artwork has the same quality as the plot. Holmstrom draws as if he could not and that the artwork was ugly. He tries to include a few puking scenes that really aren’t that gross. Sure, Bosko is one hell of an ugly guy, but the drafting quality of the strip is solid."

© by John Holmstrom, 2008