Review by Frank Plowright
The 1990s Marsupilami series has been variable, and Fordlandia is disappointing. It attempts to pack too much in, for starters featuring almost every prominent character seen in the series to date, and ends up squeezing Marsupliami out of his own story.
As was the case with the more successful Baby Prinz, André Franquin collaborates with Yann and Batem, but in a way that defies classification. He’d feed in story and joke ideas, and provide a few character sketches, but the final script and art were down to Yann and Batem. The plot revolves around a series of characters chasing each other to the overgrown Fordlandia of the title, explained in the sample art, as both the Marsupilami’s mate and Black Mars have been abducted. Eventually all chasing groups unite for a rescue attempt.
Artist Batem is exempt from any responsibility for the disappointment. This is the usual first rate (and under-rated) cartooning seen in every album to date, although it’s noticeable that while the art remains broadly in the style of Franquin, Batem is gradually becoming more individual. His inclinations, though are for multiple characters, busy action, lushly created backgrounds, and most importantly for great comedy expressions.
Yann’s plot makes sense in the end, but leads to a concluding joke set up so many pages beforehand that most readers will have forgotten about it. From the earliest pages, though, Yann has to ensure his vast cast have viable reasons for being where they are at the end, and there’s not nearly enough of the Marsupilami. There area few good visual gags, the jaguar here almost just a punching bag, and there’s a lot of energy, but Fordlandia doesn’t hold together well. The Gold of Boavista is translated next, and it’s better.