Review by Frank Plowright
The Monte Urticando volcano lies deep within the Palombian jungle, and on its slopes is the only place in the world where the comitl cactus grows, flowering only every fifteen years and releasing a very distinctive smelling pollen. What effect with this have on our Marsupilami family?
It’s the three babies that take centre stage for most of this album, along with an entire menagerie of fantastic creatures found in the vicinity of the volcano, including the Imalipusram. Each has devised survival techniques for an arid location where it’s eat or be eaten, and the creative team supply one fantastic trap made from natural materials after another.
As with the previous Black Mars, André Franquin may have top cover billing, but his internal credit is as “director”. In practice this meant he worked out a plot with Yann, who provided a script for Batem to illustrate in Franquin’s style. In José-Louis Bocquet and Eric Verhoest’s Franquin biography Batem recalls him enjoying the collaboration and making suggestions, but no longer having it in him to produce a complete page of art, self-doubt always setting in. It’s noticeable that while Batem’s still drawing in an approximation of Franquin’s pages, itself some achievement, there are indications of his own style shining through, a long sequence with a mountain cat being an example. The drawing throughout is delightful, and the focus on three baby Marsupilamis tips the cuteness level off the scale.
More than the previous Marsupilami solos, this is almost a sequence of animated gags run together with a David Attenborough voiceover supplying the captions. It’s consistently inventive, brilliantly drawn and heartwarmingly funny.