Meet Detective Chimp

“Meet Detective Chimp”

The story opens with Sheriff Chase of Oscaloosa County, Florida, introducing us to Bobo, a remarkably intelligent chimp. Bobo can even talk—after a fashion. He knows two words: “ooo,” which means ‘you’, and “eee,” which means, not surprisingly, ‘me’. Armed with this extensive vocabulary, Bobo will soon amaze you with his ability to solve dastardly crimes!

Doing his best David Attenborough impression, Sheriff Chase informs us that a full-grown chimpanzee “is by far the most intelligent of all animals.” Who says comics ain’t educational? Bobo demonstrates his amazing intellectual capacity by riding a bicycle to the store to collect groceries (!) and feeding the other animals at the farm where he lives. Sheriff Chase hopes that his owner, Fred Thorpe, is paying Bobo union wages. As if.

Bobo on a bicycle

Some time later, the Sheriff gets a call: Fred Thorpe has been brutally murdered. Bobo, who had been found in the room with the body, is distraught. The Sheriff’s keen brain quickly determines that as Bobo had been in the room at the time of the murder he may know who the killer is. Bobo shrieks, “Eee… eee… eee..!” and leads Sheriff Chase to his car (Luckily, this time, “eee” doesn’t mean “me”, cos, y’know, that’s Bobo’s first case wrapped up before it even starts!).

The lawman drives as Bobo gesticulates to indicate the killer’s location—or so Chase hopes.

It's murder!

The chimp actually leads him back to his own office and his secretary, Pete Drummond. Disappointed, Chase sends Bobo back to the farm. “If only they’d listen to me…” thinks the chimp. Though he can’t talk, it’s lucky for us that Bobo, like Krypto, can think in English.

While Chase goes off investigating. Drummond heads for the farm. Bobo, in his cage, is not happy. “Bad man alone with me now! His face evil—like it was when he killed my master! He will kill me too..”

Under cover of darkness, Bobo engineers his escape from his cage and flees into the night. His “jungle heritage instinct” aids him as he dodges Drummond’s bullets! The secretary won’t be stopped, however, and keeps coming after him.

Bobo is shot at

Sheriff Chase arrives, and Drummond tries to convince him that Bobo is the killer! Bobo meanwhile has released Tombo the gorilla from his cage. “That’s the bad one, Tombo!” he tells the big ape.

Bobo and Tombo

Drummond, suddenly confronted by several hundred pounds of angry gorilla, spills the beans to Sheriff Chase: “Help! I-I’ll tell you everything! I killed Thorpe–”

It seems that Thorpe was murdered because he’d discovered that Drummond had once killed a man. Drummond tried to pay Thorpe for his silence, but the farm owner had refused.

“Our case is closed, Bobo!” says the triumphant Sheriff, and he orders Bobo a box of bananas.

“Boy oh boy!” thinks Bobo.

Bananas

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And, yes, this is quite a bananas story! It’s very cute though, and beautifully drawn by Carmine Infantino. You’ll not soon forget the sight of Bobo the chimp, clad only in baseball cap, cycling around collecting the groceries and essentially running the farm! Infantino had a long career drawing comics, and the adventures of the Detective Chimp was some of his personal favourite work—in common with many of the “giants” he was never a fan of super-heroes.

Given that the title tells us Bobo is a detective chimp, he doesn’t actually do a whole lot of detecting for this inaugural outing. None at all, in fact: he just happens to be there as a witness when the red mist descends on Drummond.

Silver Age great John Broome scripted what was clearly supposed to be just a one-off tale. Someone must’ve liked it, however, as Detective Chimp went on to become a sporadic series running as a backup in Rex, the Wonder Dog comics. Now there’s a title the likes of which you don’t see in comics any more!

Images ©2012 DC Comics