Believe it or not: based on a Real Life
is a long-running
(1982) Flemish comic book series, based on the popular Flemish comedian and singer Urbanus, who also writes the stories. The strip itself is drawn by Willy Linthout. It's by far one of the most popular comic strips based on a celebrity, and thanks to the popularity of the comedian in the Netherlands also a success there.
The stories revolve around Urbanus, a ten year old boy with a full beard, who is basically a bad boy. His father, César, is a drunk
, pipe smoking fool who constantly cheats
on his very pious wife
Eufrazie (Usually Played for Laughs
). Urbanus has two pets: a yellow dog with a floating head just above the lower jaw
called Nabuko Donosor and Amedee the intelligent fly
. Just like the real Urbanus the characters all live in the village Tollembeek. The strip has many secondary characters who are all either stupid or corrupt, or both. Urbanus
is a children's comic strip, but has a lot of bawdy, blasphemous and violent jokes.
Urbanus provides examples of:
- Alcoholic Parent: Cesar.
- Amusing Injuries: Pretty much Once per Episode.
- Animated Adaptation: One short cartoon film was made, called "Het Lustige Kapoentje".
- Anti-Hero: Urbanus, who is just a bad boy.
- Anyone Can Die: Urbanus and the rest of the cast have died several times over the cause of the series. In "Vaarwel Eufrazie" Urbanus' mother Eufrazie dies, but is reincarnated and brought back in the next few albums.
- April Fools' Plot: The album "De Hete Urbanus" takes this as a plot development start.
- Art Evolution: The early albums were very amateuristic, yet over the years this has improved.
- Art Shift: Frequent cameos of other comic strip or cartoon characters can be found in the strip. The authors also collaborated with comic strip author Merho of De Kiekeboes to have a special crossover album.
- Backwards-Firing Gun: In "De dochter van Urbanus", there are three of them.
- The Barnum: The scoundrel Jef Patat tricks Urbanus and other villagers often. By the time they understand what has happened it's usually too late.
- Black Comedy: Extremely dark comedy! In Leute voor de Meute Urbanus is executed in a big budget spectacle where his torture is done in such a way that the audience will be entertained by it! In De Depressie van Urbanus he tries to get himself killed so that he can stay with his deceased girlfriend in Heaven. First he wants to commit suicide, but when he learns that the Christian faith doesn't allow such people in Heaven he tries to make his deaths appear as an accident.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Characters frequently address the audience.
- Breast Expansion: Eufrazie implants silicones into her breasts in the album "Urbanus zijn snippelepipke rekt uit".
- Buddy Cop Show: René and Modest, two brainlessly agressive cops.
- Butt Monkey: Dikke Herman, a fat kid with glasses, rabbit teeth and a large quiff, usually ends up being punished or beaten. Sometimes justified, but not always.
- The Cameo: Many over the years.
- Christianity Is Catholic: All churches are Catholic, Urbanus' mother is a pious woman and Urbanus frequently visits Heaven and Hell.
- Comedic Hero: Urbanus
- Come to Gawk: In the album Leute voor de Meute the government decides to recreate bread and games activities to keep the people happy. As a result of this initiative prisoners are tortured in front of an audience for their amusement.
- Composite Character: In-universe, Nabuko Donosor actually is two characters, usually treated as one.
- Conspicuous CG: The 3D album.
- Corrupt Church: The local priest is a hypocritical drunk who frequently visits the town's whore.
- Creative Closing Credits: At the end of "De Sponskesrace" the stories continues on the grey back cover of the album, because the characters are late with the conclusion of the story.
- Cross Over: Urbanus had a crossover with the comic strip De Kiekeboes in the album "Kiekebanus".
- Cultural Translation: This comic is as Flemish as it gets. All characters speak Flemish dialect. Sometimes a small caption explains an expression to the Dutch readers.
- Death Is Cheap: The main characters have died numerous times, but always find ways back to life.
- Dirty Old Man: Most adult characters on occasion, but Cesar and Nonkel Fillemon regularly.
- Fat Comic Relief: Dikke Herman, an obese school boy with glasses, buck tooth and a large quiff is a frequent Butt Monkey.
- Female Angel, Male Demon: Cesar and Eufrazie on the few occasions when they die and go to heaven and hell respectively.
- Freestate Amsterdam: The Netherlands are depicted this way in the album "De Laatste Hollander" (The Last Dutchman).
- God Is Evil: God is a character in this series, but depicted as a cranky and vengeful old man. He can be nice sometimes, but Urbanus' antics often driven him crazy.
- Good Grief, Another "Peanuts" Shout-Out!: In Nabuko Donosor Loopt Voor De Voeten César tries to get rid of the family dog Nabuko Donosor by leaving him behind in the woods. There, tied to several trees, many famous comic strip dogs can be seen, including Snoopy.
- Home Base: Tollembeek, Urbanus' home village.
- House Wife: Urbanus' mother, Eufrazie.
- Humans Are Bastards: Most characters don't seem to have any kind of conscience.
- Humans Are Morons: Especially the inhabitants of Urbanus' village.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Eufrazie is practically saintly in her religion. Played for Laughs, as she often becomes the Butt Monkey because of this, but also often an important plot point.
- Innocent Prodigy: Urbanus is a child with a beard. Sometimes he is childishly naive or innocent. Other times he thinks just like an adult.
- Inter Species Friendship: Urbanus' best friends are a fly, Amedee, and Nabuko Donosor, an alien dog species.
- Least Rhymable Word: One story has a man obsessed with rhyming having to come up with a rhyme word for "Herfst" (The Dutch/Flemish word for "Autumn"). He fails, and which makes him so mad he breaks the walls of the prison he is in.
- The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: Het Zwarte Winkeltje had one of these, that appeared whenever Urbanus was nearby.
- Losing Your Head: Nabuko Donosor the dog's head and upper jaw float above the rest of his body.
- Mad Scientist: Professor Schrikmerg and Professor Kattebakvulling.
- Man Child: Urbanus, who is a little boy with a full grown beard, just like the real-life comedian.
- Manipulative Bastard: Urbanus.
- Moonwalk Dance: In one album Urbanus, Amedee and Nabuko Donosor visit Michael Jackson in his Neverland Ranch and try to impress him by performing the moonwalk. As they slide out through his door he is able to close it and get rid of them.
- Named After Somebody Famous: Urbanus, just like the comedian he is based on, is named after several medieval popes of the same name. Nabuko Donosor is named after Babylonian king Nebukadnezzar II. Baker Adolf is named and modeled after Adolf Hitler.
- National Stereotypes: The comic strip uses stereotypical imagery when depicting countries.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Averted. King Boudewijn of Belgium, Queen Fabiola, Flemish singer Eddy Wally and the Pope are frequent targets.
- Not Growing Up Sucks: One story featured a sorceress who was cursed by her master/mentor to remain a child forever because she abused her powers to turn her brother into a crow. She desperately wants to break the curse because she mentally did mature and now wants a steady relationship, but because of her body still being that of a child she can't get one.
- Only Sane Man: Amedee the fly.
- Photo Comic: The album "De Hete Urbanus" was done in style of a photo comic.
- Police Are Useless: René and Modest are two dumb fools who just want to beat up anyone, for no reason at all.
- Police Brutality: René and Modest are two policemen who are very fond of beating suspects up.
- Print Long-Runners: Since 1982.
- Raymanian Limbs: Nabuko Donosor, whose head is split above the lower jaw. His upper head is completely separate and has a separate sentience from his lower body, making him technically two characters, Nabuko and Donosor. They are usually treated as one character, making him a literal Composite Character.
- Really 700 Years Old: Urbanus' uncle, "Nonkel Fillemon", was over hundred years old, but never seemed to die. This irritates Urbanus' family, because they want to inherit his fortune.
- Reference Overdosed: Several references to other comics, TV shows, films and Dutch and Flemish pop culture stuff.
- Sadist Teacher: Urbanus' teacher, Mr. Kweepeer.
- Self-Insert Fic: This comic book is based on a fictional child version of the script writer Urbanus. Despite looking a lot like the real-life comedian (including the beard!) and all action taking place in the Belgian village Tollembeek, Urbanus is depicted as a normal child with no relation to the real-life celebrity.
- "Het fritkotmysterie": Urbanus steals Donald Duck's sailor suit.
- "De Hittentitten zien het niet zitten": Urbanus is attacked by The Smurfs, but they are then kidnapped by two representatives of the Hanna-Barbera studios.(Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble) to make a series about them.
- "Urbanus op Uranus": Urbanus visits Marc Sleen, creator of Nero, so he can borrow one of Adhemar's rockets. In the same album he participates along with the TV show "Micro-Macro".
- "De Pretparkprutsers": Urbanus is sent to a lunatic asylum where Willy Linthout himself, Mr. T, Prime Minister Wilfried Martens, Professor Silicone and Phillippus the prophet are present. Later Urbanus is set free and replaced by two "bigger lunatics", which turn out to be the Flemish comedic duo Gaston & Leo.
- "De Vettige Vampiers": Billy Bunter and Bessie Bunter have a cameo.
- De Kiekeboes: A special comic strip in which Fanny interviews characters from other comic strips, Bij Fanny Op Schoot has her talking to Nero, Cordelia, Natacha, Suske en Wiske, Cowboy Henk, IJzerbroot and Olga Lawina, De Rode Ridder, FC De Kampioenen and Urbanus, among others.
- Several to Tintin:
- In De Tenor van Tollembeek Urbanus performs in China, where we can see Tintin and Snowy in a riksha, a reference to The Blue Lotus.
- In Nabuko Donosor Loopt Voor De Voeten César tries to leave their dog behind in the forest. When he arrives there several dogs from other comic strips and cartoons are left behind by their masters too, including Snowy. Later he donates them all to a Chinese restaurant.
- In De Harem van Urbanus, Urbanus tries to find a new female lover by making an introduction video where he poses next to all kinds of objects from the ''Tintin franchise. When he accidentally breaks them all Amedee the fly angrily shouts to him: "Hergé's widow will sue us in court!"
- In De Afgedankte Stripfiguren Urbanus meets comic book characters who have been cancelled and desposed off, mostly from comic strips no longer in publication, including Tintin.
- Urbanus tries to sell Tintin figurines in De Gouden Bedpan.
- Sdrawkcab Alias: The character Ed Luived is actually Satan in disguise. ("De Duivel" is Dutch for "The Devil".)
- Take That: One gag in "30 Floppen" features Jommeke from Jommeke announcing all the good deeds he will perform that day. In the final panels Urbanus, Amedee and Nabuko Donosor interrupt him, because his Incorruptible Pure Pureness destroys the vulgar atmosphere of his own comic strip.
- Talking Animal: The animals in the Urbanus household, as well as some other animals, can speak. When an animal eats soup letters mixed with rotten eggs, they become very intelligent and can speak as well.
- The Theme Park Version: Belgium and Holland, mainly.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: Urbanus in "De kleine tiran".
- Uncle Pennybags: Nonkel Fillemon, Urbanus' rich uncle.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Urbanus disguises himself as a girl in "Urbanellalla".
- Yank the Dog's Chain:
- Urbanus never inherits his rich, old uncle's money.
- This happens all the time to Urbanus and his family.
- Your Cheating Heart: Cesar, who constantly chases after other women.