N.L. bear cub inspires online art frenzy

Andrew Robinson
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Viral web illustrations shine spotlight on RCMP officer’s close encounter

Two years ago, RCMP Const. Suzanne Bourque’s online profile skyrocketed thanks to a photo taken by a fellow officer of her with a small bear cub that had snuck up on her from behind.

Now, the photo has found new life in popular culture as the inspiration for digital artwork shared by hundreds of thousands of users on a popular blogging website.

After Tumblr user “lemonteaflower” — who describes herself as an 18-year-old named Ami — saw someone post the image of Bourque standing next to the curious bear cub alongside a road in central Newfoundland, she followed through on a suggestion that the pair would make a great cartoon.

She called her mystery-solving duo Miss Officer and Mr Truffles and came up with four illustrated panels. One is a title panel introducing the two characters, while the other three depict them in different scenarios, one of which shows the pair belting out the lyrics to the hit Spice Girls song “Wannabe.”

Reached this week at the RCMP’s Whitbourne detachment, Bourque said it was quite the coincidence the artist chose that song.

The irony in this is that I used to listen to them all the time growing up, and they were my favourite,” laughed Bourque, who was stationed in Glovertown when the photo was taken in the summer of 2011.

Lemonteaflower’s post with the four images was shared almost 200,000 times as of Friday afternoon. On Wednesday, the image-hosting website Imgur listed her work as the most viral images online for that day.

Her work has inspired others to create fan art depicting the two characters. A YouTube video has had over 30,000 views. Fans wrote songs about Miss Officer and Mr Truffles, one of which had over 8,000 plays as of Friday afternoon.

Bourque is appreciative of the artist’s creation.

I thought it was pretty cute, I must say. When I opened (the website), I didn’t know what to expect at first. I thought it was just one picture, but it was a mini comic strip. I thought it was pretty crafty and really made in good taste. It was quite clever.”

While she is surprised the photo from 2011 is still finding an audience, Bourque admits to periodically hearing from family and friends who tell her they’ve come across the image on different websites.

It’s still making its rounds, that’s for sure, and it surprises me that it’s still gaining popularity apparently.”

The Telegram made multiple attempts to reach lemonteaflower through her Tumblr account. On Wednesday, she shared some thoughts about public reaction to her work.

The Miss Officer and Mr Truffles compliments are so adorable,” she wrote in a post to her Tumblr account that originally appeared in all-caps with no punctuation. “I want to post all of them but I’m scared I might spam too much, but still I love you people. You’ve been so nice about it. I’m just so happy I drew them. Thank you for being so nice about it.”

Bourque later sent her a personal message, which lemonteaflower shared on her Tumblr site.

I just wanted to let you know that this 'miss officer’ saw your work and absolutely LOVED IT! Your idea and creativity made my day! And when I’m having a rough one at work, I’ll be looking at these to make me smile!”

It was reported in June 2011 that fish and wildlife enforcement officers with the Department of Justice had to euthanize the bear cub after it was caught approaching patrons of a restaurant located on the Trans-Canada Highway in central Newfoundland.




Twitter: @TeleAndrew


Organizations: RCMP, Spice Girls, Department of Justice Trans-Canada Highway

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Glovertown

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