Fall had settled firmly on the land and with smoldering clouds scudding across a leaden sky, the day remained gloomy and dark. Bomble Manor, however, was warm and cozy, and a crackling fire kept the wind from rushing down the chimney. (The Omniverser)
Of all the questions surrounding Olivier Bomble’s presence in these pages, two require extra thorough answers, especially at this time of the year: Is Bomble Manor a haunted house? And does the good squire believe in the Headless Horseman?
Bomble Manor is Squire Bomble’s legendary ancestral home, bought with cash money soon after the gentleman moved into the area. At the time, the ancient keep was known as ‘The Dragon’s Lair,’ suggesting a rich and awesome history, possibly filled with goblins, ghosts and spirits. How the purchase of an old building bestowed pedigree upon the buyer has been the cause of some speculation, but it is certain that not long after the historic sale, Ollie Bomble became known as ‘Squire Bomble.’ At least, that’s what his inner circle took to calling him—his best friend Ocelot, his manservant Jobes and his biographer, Mr. Marten Toonder himself. And since the door of the manor is always open to us, the readers, let’s address him by his proper name and call him Squire Bomble as well.
Back to the question of magic and haunted houses. When you visit Squire Bomble’s world, you cannot go far without running into magical creatures, both good and evil. The kindest of these are probably the timeless ‘wee folk,’ forest gnomes and other protectors of Nature. They rarely interact with us, and only one of them, Knowall, has taken an interest in Squire Ollie; in fact, believes him to be the greatest ‘brain giant’ and force for the good the earth has ever seen. Even when at one time Squire Bomble (unwittingly) sent in an army of earth moving equipment to uproot half the ancient forest where the magical folk live, at least he halted the devastation halfway through and so, by a different reckoning, singlehandedly saved half the world. In other words, Bomble cannot do wrong in Knowall’s eyes and that alone should count as a feat of magic, given what we know about this lumbering lummox of an antihero, who mostly survives by the seat of his pants and his good friend Ocelot’s wits.
Inside the tree there was some commotion, and now an elfin graybeard stuck his head out of the trunk. He blinked a few times at the light, but then recognized his visitor as the brain-giant Bomble, the greatest mind ever to cross his path. Squire Ollie, in turn, stared at him as if a woodland gnome were the last thing one would expect to find in the woods, but soon recovered from his surprise. (The Mega Moguls)
At the opposite end of the spectrum are the dark wizards of the world, the most devilish of which would certainly be W. H. Hardyspice, practitioner of evil for evil’s sake. Actually, even wizards sometimes need to make a dollar, and so there is Hardyspice Travel Service for those with a strong enough stomach for magical adventure. “Travel is not about telling pretty stories afterwards,” he challenges Squire Ollie, “It’s about living to tell the tale. How about that experience? Are you up for that as well?”
And so the gentleman steps right into it, embarking on a feverish journey through the worst of his nightmares. And quite literally, too, in horrific dream sequences that only end after he finally finds his way home. It’s a dangerous world out there, and it’s amazing that Squire Ollie would even want to set a foot outside of Bomble Manor when inside the walls of his keep all is so well. Or is it...? But that’s a story for another day.
The old man’s cackle bounced bloodcurdlingly off the walls of the courtyard, and Squire Bomble started losing color fast. “You want me to travel in that thing?” he asked with a shudder. “In a glorified wheelbarrow?” (The Wild Ride)
Is Bomble Manor a haunted house, then? Is it possessed by goblins, ghosts and spirits? Even the brightest, sunniest morning may give way to dark and hollow feelings once the sun goes down and shadows grow longer. Add to that a creaky door and the unexpected rush of air coming from an empty room, and even the bravest soul will think twice about spending time in such an eerie destination. But walking away from trouble is not in Squire Bomble’s nature. He may be rash and opinionated, but he is also kindness itself and it radiates wherever he goes. And what about his home? It was abandoned by evil spirits long ago and is now filled with a different kind of spirit, the generous spirit of a gentleman of quality who welcomes his friends, both old and new, as guests to his dinner table to share good times and a laugh. It’s a warm home, Bomble Manor, and a welcoming home, a good place to visit when the world outside is too cold for comfort. Enjoy your Halloween!
© Images Toonder Company, Netherlands
‘Tales from the life of Olivier B. Bomble, gentleman,’ was serialized in Dutch newspapers for many years, and Squire Bomble, his good friend Ocelot and many others have become household names in the Netherlands. This is their first appearance in the US after the successful translation into English by Adrian Meerman, a Sparta resident.