I'm a well-known cat lover, but I like all sorts of animals. Squirrels, for example. Above is Grisoune (GrayZone for English-language badassery) holding a walnut I gave her for Christmas. She lives in the roof of the edifice I work in and climbs up there on a tree outside my window. While Squirrels don't exactly have the geek market penetration of felines, there are still a fair number of squirrels in animation, video games and comics. So which are my five favorites? Let's see. (Warning: Chipmunks are not eligible for inclusion, but flying squirrels are, by virtue of their species name.)
5. Spip. Snowy to Spirou's Tintin, the adventurous bell boy first encountered his squirrel sidekick in his very first adventure, and though the Marsupilami became the more popular animal of the series when it and its outrageously long tail premiered 13 years later, Spip has always been at Spirou's side either as comic relief or for the occasional rope-nibbling rescue. He even eventually learns to speak and comment on the action(!), but Spirou and Fantasio lose the ability to understand him in later adventures. Unlike most Franco-Belgian bandes dessinées, Spirou suffered through many different authors, and Spip's fortunes, wit, skills and relationships went up and down depending on who was scripting him. So while I wanted to pay tribute to my French language heritage by including him, the lack of consistency keeps him at #5. (Interestingly, a "spirou" is the Walloon word for squirrel, which makes his use in the stories a Belgian pun.)
4. Ch'p. Yes, having an anthropomorphic squirrel in the Green Lantern Corps is abject silliness, but I love all those weirdo Lanterns - G'Nort and that mass of spores and Mogo the living planet - and Ch'p WAS part of the 80s team that lived on Earth after the Corps' collapse that time. He makes me want an Earth-1 Zoo Crew! But perhaps he wouldn't be on the list if he hadn't had a tragic end in Green Lantern: Mosaic, inextricably linking him to my favorite Green Lantern of all, John Stewart. Poor Ch'p. Being drawn more realistically was the death of him.
3. Secret Squirrel. Of all the Hanna-Barbera cartoon animals, my favorite as a kid, the one that whose toons didn't come up nearly enough in the rotation (at least by the time I was watching . I just loved the spy theme and all the gadgets (Inspector Gadget was a pale copy, IMO). Agent 000 was voiced by Mel Blanc, that's high quality casting, right there. They made some more in the 90s, I've got to check them out...
2. Tippy-Toe. Squirrel Girl has had two squirrel "familiars", and though Monkey Joe was first, Tippy-Toe, her current sidekick gains from the existence of the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl series in which she stars. She's gone toe to tippy-toe with MODOK and won. She's funny and she's adorable. I don't think Squirrel Girl's adventures would be quite the same without Tippy to bounce off of.
1. Rocky. If being the new kid on the block gives you an advantage in this competition, there's still no substitute for being a beloved veteran, and what can I say, Rocky the Flying Squirrel is near and dear to my heart. I used to do the whole of Rocket J's magic trick skit (with Bullwinkle) all the time, and still have the impulse to say "And now for something you'll really like" in June Foray's high voice when exposed to something lame. His naive optimism is sweet, and there's something joyful about his flying around with jet engine sounds or floating in mid-air. And you know, I love squirrels, but the very idea of a FLYING squirrel is amazing. Catching sight of one jumping from tree to tree is truly wonderful. For all those reasons, Rocky is my #1.
But maybe you have other, nuttier ideas. Maybe for you it's the slapstick genius of Scrat, or the anime stylings of the Acorn family, or the bad fur day of the squirrel known as Conker. Let us know in the comments.