Comics / European Comics

Spirou et Fantasio: Le nid des Marsupilamis

By Patrick Bérubé
May 29, 2009 - 20:34

Since classic European comic books are so widely available in public libraries, I own very few of them. But when I went to a flea market recently and found a copy of Spirou et Fantasio volume 12 for a few bucks, the occasion was too good to pass up.

Spirou is one of Europe most recognizable comic book characters. Franquin is so closely associated to him that he often get credited for creating the character even if he took it over from Jijé in 1946. In all, 19 "albums" were created by Franquin and the one reviewed here is the 12th of the series and was originally published in 1959 (but serialized in 1956 in the Journal de Spirou). It was one of my favourite as a kid mainly because it really focused for the first time on the mysterious Marsupilami (the animal companion of Spirou and Fantasio) 

Spirou and Fantasio are supposed to do a conference about one of their latest adventure. At the last minute, it is cancelled in favour of a new one from a mysterious reporter just back from the virgin forest of the Amazon. The duo will have no other choice than to attend this new conference if they want know what this is all about. It turns out that the this mysterious reporter is no other than their old friend Seccotine who after many weeks spent in the jungle caught glimpse of a wild marsupilami. For those not familiar with Franquin's work, the Marsupilami is a rare yellow and black animal with a long tail and incredible strength doubled with a kind nature (if not angered!). We then follow Seccotine's documentary which present us the live of the animal in it's natural habitat. We are treated to is feeding habits (piranha anyone?), it's mating patterns and the birth of his family.

The story in this album is quite entertaining and presented in an original way. What could be better than an animal documentary complete with  narration to make us discover one of the series more original character. I remember reading this as a kid and greatly enjoying it. Even today I still do and that's what is great with Franquin's work. There is action, suspense, love and drama all wrapped up in a good dose of humour and lightness that makes it very accessible to everyone. If compared to the other comic book of the series, this is probably one of the most "poetic" and intimate.

Inside front cover illustration. For some odd reason, I always liked this image.

As for the artwork, Franquin is one of the original Belgian's Charleroi style cartoonist so his style is very dynamic and cartoony. There is a sense of movement and expression to the characters that are rarely seen in today's more realistic series. Of course, these page were created more than 10 years after his professional debut so you can see a certain confidence in his work and that he feel comfortable with the various characters.

Even more than 50 years after it's creation, the plot and the art of this comic book are still quite enjoyable. I do feel however that my English writing does not do justice to Franquin's talent so go find a copy somewhere. Even if it's in French, it will be easy for you to grasp the cartoonist genius he was.

Rating: 9.5 /10

Last Updated: June 23, 2021 - 00:45

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