The Marsupilami is a character I remember from family summer holidays to France as a child. At the time my only experience of French and Belgium comics was Asterix and Tintin, but those holidays offered tiny glimpses to a host of other characters and stories, and by far the most fascinating to my young eyes was this leopard-spotted monkey-like creature with the extraordinary tail. It wasn’t until Cinebook started their English reprints of Spirou & Fantasio that I recently got to read my first Marsupliami story, albeit as a supporting character, and now Cinebook have gone one step further by offering us Franquin’s amazing creation in his own series.
Set in the fictional rainforest-clad country of Palombia, this is the green and lush habitat of the secretive and little-known Marsupilami. But one intrepid animal collector is out to change all of that and bag a live specimen to show off to the wider world, thus making himself famous. He’s taken passage on a small boat along a previously unexplored stretch of the Huaytoonarro where the small band of travellers encounter a local native fishing. After much confusion, shouting and pirhana-infested hijinks, the boat leaves the hunter in the care of the native and the hunt begins. Although there is a Marsupilami present, what isn’t known is that it’s a Marsupilami with a family, and he’s a fair bit brighter than your average jungle critter.
Although created by Franquin – the series is also overseen by him – the tale is written by Greg with plenty of gags, slapstick and general absurdity, but what really brings it too life is the artwork of Batem whose style sits perfectly alongside the great Franquin and enhances the madcap shenanigans perfectly. It’s a nicely rounded tale where we’re introduced to the Marsupilami’s world and family while the bad guys get their just rewards, even if, to be fair, the bad guys are more misguided than evil. That astounding tail is a genius creation with much comic potential, and Batem and Greg use it to it’s full advantage.
An excellent start to a new series that does a unique character the justice he deserves. More!
And if you liked that: Check out the excellent Spirou & Fantasio over at www.cinebook.com