is a fictional animal species starring in two Belgian comic book series that got adapted twice into an animated series. Marsupilamis are monkeylike, black-spotted yellow creatures with an insanely long prehensile tail, from the Banana Republic
Marsupilamis were created by André Franquin
for the Spirou and Fantasio
album Spirou et les héritiers
(Spirou and the Heirs
) in 1956. Capturing one of these elusive and fictional critters was the goal of one the trials the title heirs were tasked to do to receive their inheritance. The captured marsupilami (nicknamed "the Marsupilami
") became a Team Pet
for the duration of Franquin's run, serving as Plucky Comic Relief
, Big Guy
and Deus ex Machina
, thanks to his ever expanding
list of anatomical peculiarities. When Franquin left the series, he kept the rights to the species, and the appearances of the Marsupilami dwindled in his birth series, before finally stopping in 1970. He remains one of the most popular characters
of the series.
In 1987, Franquin decided to create his own publishing company, Marsu Production, and launched a spin-off
comic about a family of marsupilamis, unrelated to Spirou's pet. They too started in Spirou and Fantasio
, being the subject of a documentary within the series
in the album Le nid des marsupilamis
(The Marsupilamis' Nest
). Mainly drawn by Franquin's assistant, Batem (Luc Collin), the series counts 22 albums in 2009 and is geared toward a younger readership than Spirou and Fantasio
In 1992, a first Animated Adaptation
was launched. Produced by Disney
, it only lasted a season and had little in common with the original, beside the name and the general appearance of the hero
. The title Marsupilami could talk and was a laid-back smartass
rather than a volatile Papa Wolf
. All of the supporting cast was original. He was accompanied by his buddy, a big ape named Maurice, and met a lot of African animals
A second cartoon was created in 2000 by a French production company. Much closer to the original than the Disney one in the first season, it was rechristened My Friend Marsupilami
for the second season and centered upon a French human family that came to live in the middle of the Amazonian forest to study the marsupilamis.
In 2012, a French live-action movie, Sur la piste du Marsupilami
(On the trail of the Marsupilami
) was released. Loosely based on the Franquin comics, it tells the story of a French reporter and his guide, who stumble upon the legendary Marsupilami.
And yes, that's two characters, one comic, one film, two cartoons and a publishing house all named Marsupilami.
The Marsupilami provides examples of the following tropes:
- Applied Phlebotinum: Is there anything the Marsupilamis' tails are not good for? They can use it as a lasso, as a fist, as a big spring they can jump on... In fact, the Marsupilami himself can be categorized as an Applied Phlebotinum in the Spirou series. How many times has he conveniently revealed New Powers as the Plot Demands?
- Breakout Character: As explained above, the Marsupilami started out as the Team Pet of Spirou and Fantasio.
- Badass: Marsu eats piranhas and killer ants, rips trees out of the ground, and punches out lions and crocodiles, to the point where he is the most feared creature in the jungle. Yeah, he qualifies. And he savagely beats up a martial arts master who he saw as a threat to his masters, the two of them stopping him just shortly before he killed him.
- Banana Republic: The marsupilamis live in the jungles of Palombia, a Latin American country with a chronically unstable government.
- Cartoon Creature: The title characters.
- Cartoony Tail: Of course.
- Catchphrase: "Houba!" (the full phrase is "houba houba hop!"), present in both comic and animated series. Female marsupilamies go "Houbi!" and juveniles "Bi!". It's a big deal when they graduate to the adult versions.
It's nearly the only syllables they can ever utter, although it depends on the material. Franquin's work on Spirou has the Marsupilami growling, roaring and making all sorts of noises beside "Houba!" He could even mimic human speech like a parrot, a trait rarely used in other adaptation.
- Distaff Counterpart: The Marsupilamie
- Green Aesop: Destroying the Amazonian rainforest is bad, mmkay?
- The Kiddie Ride: From the makers of the offensive Donald Duck ride, in the same offensive pose◊. Pass the Brain Bleach, please!
- Natural Weapon: The Marsupilami's tail is as good as one.
- Portmanteau: "Marsupilami" is one of the words "marsupial", Pilou-Pilou (the French name for Eugene the Jeep, a character Franquin loved as a kid) and "ami", French for "friend".
Tropes specific to the Marsupilami comics and the French cartoon:
Tropes specific to the Disney cartoon: