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Mortadelo




Mortadelo Eyes: Black
Hair: None, originally black
Race: Human


Occupation: Field operative for T.I.A.
Legal status: Spanish citizen
Marital Status: Single
Group affiliation: T.I.A. (Técnicos Investigación Aeroterráquea)


Story: Mortadelo is a master of disguise. On missions, he is usually the one with all the "brilliant" ideas, which usually gets Filemón into trouble.


Continuity: Mortadelo y Filemón
Company: Editorial Bruguera
First app.: Comics: Pulgarcito #1394 (January 20, 1958)
Movies: La Gran aventura de Mortadelo y Filemón (2003)
Creator(s): Francisco Ibáñez
Country of origin: Spain Spain


Background notes: Mortadelo and Filemón is one of the most popular comic books in Spain, and without a doubt the most popular Spanish comic. The team of agents is best described as a surreal version of Napolon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, the agents from U.N.C.L.E. Like Solo and Kuryakin were agents of U.N.C.L.E., Mortadelo and Filemón are agents of T.I.A. (tia = aunt), and like any respectable agents, they have a number of gadgets, and take on missions to save the World.

Mortadelo and Filemón didn't start out as secret agents. In the beginning they were detectives like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, in the series Mortadelo y Filemón, Agencia de Información. Mortadelo was the detective and Filemón was the assistant, which is quite contrary to today where Filemón is the group leader. The series at the time was heavily influenced by commedians like Chaplin and Abbott & Costello, but as time went by, the two gradually changed into their own, loosing the characteristics that made them Holmes and Watson, like hat, umbrella and pipe. The disguises that also made Sherlock Holmes famous was kept, and today it is the most defining characteristics of Mortadelo. In the first many years of its existence, the series was also very influenced by the censorship of Franco's regime. For many years pictures of women were forbidden, as they didn't want the readers to spend too much time on the comics. If a woman appeared, she was trimmed so she looked like an asparagus with a big head. One of Ibáñez own examples of the censorship he encountered is that he once drew a dog chewing a bone. In the eyes of the censors the bone was obviously a phallus and had to be removed.

Mortadelo y Filemón, Agencia de Información started in the magazine Pulgarcito #1394 from January 20, 1958. The magazine was published by Editorial Bruguera and consisted of a number of comics, running only a few pages per issues. The series quickly became popular and by 1964, it had the prestigious placement of the middle pages in the magazine.

The agents as we know them today did not occur until 1969, in the story El Sulfato Atómico. The stories at the time appeared in the comic Gran Pulgarcito and each story ran over 11 issues with 4 pages in each issue. Soon after they would be collected and published in hard cover albums. The story El Sulfato Atómico was collected in an issue of Ases del Humor, and with the introduction of the choleric boss Superintende Vicente (El Súper) and the mad inventions of Professor Bacterio the series evolved to new levels of hilarity and popularity. The stories at the time were heavily influenced by the paranoia of the C.I.A. and if not the actual series then the source of inspiration that created James Bond and Man from U.N.C.L.E., sending the two agents out to save the World at major events like the Olympics and the Soccer World Championship, and thwart dictators in countries like Tirania (i.e. Albania).

Mortadelo y Filemón was finally transferred to movies in 2003, where Mortadelo was played by Benito Pocino. The movie was a very close adaption of the types of stories and also the gags and slapstick violence from the comic. Also the movie made a short trip into 13, Rue del Percebe, another one of Ibáñez' series. Filemón's mother was the concierge there and during a visit by Filemón and Mortadelo something silly obviously had to happen, and the front wall of the house fell off, revealing the apartments of the house as fans of the series 13, Rue del Percebe, knows them.


Related links/characters:
- El Súper
- Filemón
- Ofelia
- Professor Bacterio


Cross cultural references:
If you enjoyed this character/series, you might enjoy
Hendrik IJzerbroot/Agent 327: Martin Lodewijks Dutch secret agent. Not quite as surreal as Mortadelo and Filemón.
Steve Pops/Agent H2O: Jacques Devos very secret agent. Not quite as surreal as Mortadelo and Filemón.