The Marsupilami 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 insanely long Prehensile Tails, from the Banana Republic of Palombia.
Marsupilamis were created by André Franquin for the Spirou & 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 created his own Marsupilami comic book series, soon taken over by artist Batem (backed by numerous teams of writers, including, in the first few books, Michel Greg, the creator of Achille Talon), that is still running to this day. While readers frequently get confused, the Marsupilami seen in this series and Spirou's one aren't the same character, in spite of their being absolutely identical in appearance; a Retcon eventually showed they were twin brothers. There were two Animated Adaptations of the series, the first sticking very close to the tone and feel of the comics, and the second one bringing in a new set of human characters (who were later integrated into the comics) and adopting a slightly more angular, anime-like artstyle.
In 2012, a Franco-Belgian live-action movie, HOUBA! On the Trail of the Marsupilami (Sur la piste du Marsupilami) starring Alain Chabat, Jamel Debbouze and Lambert Wilson was released. Loosely based on the Franquin comics, it tells the story of a French reporter and his guide, who stumble upon the legendary creature in Palombia.
In 2020, a two-part comic series by Frank Pé and Zidrou was published by Dupuis in France titled Le Marsupilami de Frank Pé et Zidrou, taking place at Belgium in 1955 and reimagined Marsupilami's start of life in Europe in Darker and Edgier way. The English translation, titled Marsupilami: The Beast, was published in 2021 by Europe Comics.
In 2021, publisher Microids and developer Ocellus Studio announced a 2.5D Platformer titled Marsupilami: Hoobadventure, in which three Marsupilamis work together to take down a ghost they accidentally released from a sarcophagus they were toying with. It released on November 16, 2021 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam with English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish language options, and North America also got a "Tropical Edition" in retail which includes both two sticker sheets and a door hanger along with the game.
And yes, that's two characters, two comics, one film, three cartoons, a video game and a publishing house all named Marsupilami.
The Marsupilami provides examples of:
- Banana Republic: The marsupilamis live in the jungles of Palombia, a Latin-American country with a chronically unstable government.
- Binomium ridiculus: The Marsupilami's scientific name is "Marsupilamus fantasii".
- Breakout Character: As explained above, the Marsupilami started out as the Team Pet of Spirou and Fantasio.
- Cartoon Creature: The title characters. To emphasize, they have the build and general behavior of apes, yellow fur with spots like a big cat, a name derivative of the word “marsupial”, and they lay eggs like monotremes, on top of having very long and dexterous tails.
- Cartoony Tail: Of course.
- Character 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 adaptations. In the Disney series, his other phrase besides "HOUBA!" is "I'm Marsupilami, and this is my gorilla pal, Maurice!"
- 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".
- Swiss-Army Superpower: 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. Combined with their New Powers as the Plot Demands in Spirou, they're a supremely versatile species.