'Big Eggo' had been the Beano's cover star for almost ten years
when it was decided that the readers would respond better to a lead
character with two arms as well as two legs. "Look there! It's
Biffo the Bear!" exclaimed Eggo above the Beano logo on the cover
of issue number 326, and there was Biffo, in his shorts, braces and
collar, striding out next to the title panel. The next week, Eggo
was there beside the Beano title, and the first Biffo story took
pride of place on the cover.
Dudley D. Watkins was the artist who brought this humanoid black
bear to life on that first appearance, and would continue to do so
for nearly 1100 episodes, before Dave Sutherland took over, with
staff artist Jimmy Glen succeeding Dave. The strip was silent,
relying on slapstick as Biffo moved through a human world, before
speech balloons began to creep in in 1949 - even still, these could
be few and far between, and many of the strips remained
wordless. More dialogue came in in 1953, when Biffo was given
a new pal to talk to, Buster, a human boy with a bald head and jug
ears who would join in with Biffo's antics.
Biffo and Buster remained the stars of the Beano's front cover
until 1974, when Dennis the Menace took up residence on the front
and back pages. Biffo would continue on an inside page until 1986.
During that time, he also made many guest appearances in the
revived Magic Comic, which ran between 1976 and 1979, appearing
alongside his nephews, 'Cuddly and Dudley'.
Sid Burgon was the artist when Biffo returned to The Beano in
1989. There was no sign of Buster, and the strip had gone back to
its silent beginnings. This later run lasted until 1999, though
Biffo was one of several vintage Beano characters who returned for
a guest appearance in the 70th Anniversary issue, guest edited by
Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park, with Dave Sutherland once
again supplying the artwork.