Bosko was the creation of ex-Disney animators Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising. He first appeared in an unreleased pilot film called Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid, which was created by Harman & Ising as a tool to sell the idea of a Bosko series to Hollywood film distributors. It was Leon Schlesinger who convinced Warner Bros. to distribute the series, with him acting as the middle-man. The series was named "Looney Tunes", and the first entry -- Sinkin' in the Bathtub -- premiered on or about April 19, 1930.
Bosko (voiced by animator Carmen Maxwell) is a more-or-less human version of Mickey Mouse. At first he displayed some characteristics of a stereotypical African-American, though he is probably best categorized as a non-descript living blob of ink. He appeared in a wide variety of roles, including big-game hunter, construction worker, hobo, Mountie, hot dog vendor, and World War I aviator -- and that's just in his first year!
His girlfriend Honey (voiced by actress Rochelle Hudson) was not nearly as versatile. She existed mostly to accompany Bosko on his adventures, and to use her feminine wiles to add more substance to the plot. Nevertheless, she always stuck by Bosko, and was not shy about giving him an occasional kiss. If Bosko tried anything more however, Honey would probably smack him in the face. Bruno -- the Pluto-like dog Bosko discovered on a hunting trip -- was a less than faithful companion. He caused Bosko much dismay by sadistically faking his death on more than one occasion. Wilber, the little kitten Honey gave music lessons to, also tagged along once in a while. Wilber was very good at causing Bosko much distress, either by getting into dangerous situations, or by being just plain cruel.
Bosko appeared in thirty-nine Looney Tunes, but it couldn't last forever. Harman and Ising left Warner Bros. in 1933, and since they retained ownership of him, they took Bosko with them to MGM. Bosko returned in late 1934 as one of the recurring characters in Harman-Ising's "Happy Harmonies" series. These shorts were done in color, but not much was done to Bosko except to give him a red shirt and blue pants. A short time later however, Bosko and Honey were given a radical makeover. They were transformed into African-American children! Bosko appeared in only nine Happy Harmonies before he was retired permanently in 1938. Until...
The producers of the television series Tiny Toon Adventures rescued Bosko and Honey from cartoon oblivion -- literally! In an episode entitled "Fields of Honey", Babs Bunny is told by a mysterious voice to build a theater that shows nothing but Honey cartoons. It seems that because her cartoons have not been seen in years, Honey has become old and withered. But when her cartoons are viewed by an audience again after all these years, the laughter rejuvenates her. The mysterious voice is revealed at the end to have been Bosko. Not only are Honey and Bosko redesigned to be dog-like characters, but Honey is shown to have been funnier and more personable than she or Bosko ever were! The radical redesign was done because of fears that Bosko and Honey would be considered offensive if shown in their original form. Perhaps that was a bit of an overreaction, but it's comforting to know that old cartoon characters don't die, they just become politically correct.
For more images take a look at Jon Cooke's Unofficial Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies Page.