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Mortadelo and Filemón (Mortadelo y Filemón)

Mortadelo and Filemón (Mortadelo y Filemón)

Mortadelo y Filemón is one of the most popular Spanish comics series, published in more than a dozen countries. It appeared for the first time in 1958 in the children's comic-book Pulgarcito drawn by Francisco Ibáñez. The series features Mortadelo, the tall, bald master of disguise named after mortadella, and his boss, the shorter, pudgier, and two-haired Filemón Pi.

Initially, they were private detectives operating as Mortadelo y Filemón, Agencia de Información, but now both serve as secret agents in the Técnicos de Investigación Aeroterráquea (TIA is the Spanish word for "aunt", a spoof both on CIA and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) which translates into "Air-Earth Investigation Technicians".

Mortadelo and Filemón can be described as a pair of walking catastrophes, and no matter what kind of mission they are assigned they always manage to get it wrong. The results are almost invariably extremely violent, and most often directed towards Filemón. At TIA, which combats "enemy organizations" like RANA ("frog") or ABUELA ("grandmother"), they interact with their boss, the bad-tempered Superintendente Vicente; with Profesor Bacterio, a black-bearded, disastrous scientist parodying James Bond's Q; and with the fat, blonde secretary Ofelia, a parody of Moneypenny, whose attempts at seducing Mortadelo always fail.

The series is especially popular in Germany as Clever & Smart. After the 1980s, the albums have featured current news, like computer sabotage, the AVE, Islamic terrorism, Spanish and European politics, and specials for the Olympic Games and the soccer World Cup.

As the cover above shows, Ibáñez likes to introduce whimsies unrelated to the action especially in covers. A water tap can sprout from a tree, two mice may be chatting, a vase can contain a foot or an eggplant,... An eerie example happened in the final page of "El 35 aniversario" (1993) where a New York scene features an airplane crashing against the World Trade Center. This attracted attention after the 9/11 attacks of 2001.

Ibáñez issues several albums a year. Several animated series were also produced. There was a movie based on the series, made in 2003 in Spain, under the name La Gran Aventura de Mortadelo y Filemón (Mortadelo & Filemon: The Big Adventure). A second movie was released in 2008, Mortadelo y Filemón. Misión: Salvar la Tierra, marking the 50th anniversary of the series.

Mortadelo is a bald detective with pebble glasses and a long nose who usually wears a black frock coat. He is always fighting with Filemón, his partner, mostly because he tends to mess things up, usually to Filemón's discomfort. His favourite hobby is wearing all sorts of (sometimes outrageous) disguises - animals, inanimate objects, even small-sized vehicles like miniature blimps and mopeds - which he mostly dons on special assignments or when he is on the run from Filemón or his boss. He is the sworn enemy of Bacterio because he used to have lush hair until Bacterio offered Mortadelo a "medicine against baldness". ("Mortadelo" comes from "mortadela", a kind of sausage).

Filemón Pi is a Mortadelo's partner. He's only got two hairs and wears a white shirt and red pants. He usually insults Mortadelo because Mortadelo is really clumsy, but is often at the receiving end of any mishaps which come their way, mostly in the shape of their outraged boss. As the leader of the two-man team he is a very educated gentleman and an expert in a variety of fields, such as biology and geology.

Spain, 1997, Mortadelo and Filemon

Spain, 1998, Mortadelo and Filemon

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