The Marsupilami is a brilliant cartoon creation. Comically funny, biologically absurd, but somehow grounded in enough reality to carry it all off. You might well be aware (because I’ve been banging on about them) of the Marsupilami books. They tell the tale of the South American rainforest where the Marsupilami lives with his family. They’re chock full of love for Franquin’s most excellent character. And yet, after reading this book, it would appear that we’ve been cheering for a different Marsupilami (I’ve typed that word quite a lot now, haven’t I).
The tale opens with Fantasio being tapped up to present his recent wildlife discoveries at a conference. Unfortunately, time’s tight for him and Spirou to put the film together. By the time they’re able to confirm they can do it another filmmaker has beaten them to claim the gig, leaving them both dejected. To make matters worse, they have an altercation with an inconsiderate and utterly oblivious moped rider. Arriving home they discover their old friend Cellophine is this mysterious new filmmaker and she has the first conclusive footage of the unique Marsupilami in its habitat. And we know it’s not our Marsupilami, because he’s still living with Spirou and Fantasio. The rest of the tale is turned over to her wildlife film, which, to all intents and purposes, is a template for the Marsupilami books. If you like them you’ll love this, and vice versa.
To cap it all off, the back of the book contains a bonus tale of gangsters and martial arts where Spirou has to step up and save a baby from a kidnapping. This includes a very early showing of Gomer Goof, which, like the Marsupilami, is just a gift that keeps on giving. Again, if you like him here, you’ll love his books, and vice versa.
These stories are 60 years old but are as fresh and exciting as though they were created yesterday. This is all down to Franquin’s talent for comedy and his enviable penmanship. Easily one of the greatest cartoonists who has ever lived. Reading a book like this certainly evokes an air of nostalgia, but you won’t enjoy it for that alone. It’s punchy, funny, clever, and exquisitely drawn. If you like cartoons then Franquin should, without question, be on your bookshelf.
And if you liked that: Plenty more Spirou & Fantasio, and Marsupilami, at www.cinebook.com