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Mortadelo y Filemón

Mortadelo y Filemón (Mortadelo and 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 on CIA, not The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which was translated in Spain as "El hombre de C.I.P.O.L") 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 : Mortadelo is a mad 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 - professional clothes and gear, 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: 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 man and an expert in a variety of fields, such as biology and geology. Vicente /"El Superintendente", "Súper" or just "El Súper": He is the boss of Mortadelo and Filemón and is usually called " Súper" or "El Súper" by his underlings. He is bald and has got a dense moustache, which makes him the object of mocking abuse by his underlings as a human walrus. He is very short-tempered and usually angry because Mortadelo and Filemón fail in their missions, leaving a spectacular mess. Just as often, however, he ends up as the one being chased by his underlings, as his often short-sighted assignments cause them grief to no end. Pr. Bacterio : TIA's black-bearded scientist. Mortadelo says Bacterio is the reason for his baldness (he had tried a new hair-styling concoction on Mortadelo's then-lush mane, which made the hair fall out instead) and therefore the doctor is the unwilling recipient of Mortadelo's practical jokes. His inventions, which are to assist Mortadelo and Filemón in their assignments, often fail quite spectacularly, mostly because they achieve the opposite of what they are supposed to do, and sometimes they work well, but in the most unexpected moment. ("Bacterio comes from "bacteria", germ). Ofelia : The fat and vain secretary of the Superintendente Vicente. She is still single and would like to get attached (usually with Mortadelo), but so far her attempts have been in vain. She is quite touchy about this and being called fat, and reacts with corresponding violence - and with her considerable weight, this is nothing to be ignored. She was the first female character created for the series, due to censorship reasons during Francisco Franco's government. Irma : The boom secretary of the Súper. Mortadelo and Filemón are in love with her (much to Ofelia's chagrin), but she is not interested. This character disappeared from the series after only 24 volumes. F. Ibañez: The creator of the series himself has a number of appearances, either by name or in cartoon form. Mostly he is (humorously) portrayed as the bald and bespectacled "Artist of the Nation", in perhaps the same league as Pablo Picasso. On several occasions, the series' characters often long for being "as rich as Ibáñez". "Rompetechos"/the Mole Eyed Guy: A small man with a rather oversized head, receding black hair and a small moustache in a black suit. He is always put in as a comic relief character; although he wears glasses, they must either have the wrong prescription or are totally ineffective, because his eyesight is totally down. This causes him to react in ways which causes some inconvenience to Mortadelo and Filemón if they happen to cross his way. He both has his own comic series (little known outside Spain) and cameoes in Ibañez' other works. The Minister: Vicente's boss (and the only person who he ever toadies to). His appearance changes constantly throughout the series. In recent appearances has been replaced by a caricature of the President of the Government of Spain's. Señora Superintendente: The wife of Vicente (also with an everchanging face). While he may hold the rudder in the TIA, she holds the rudder in their household. Bestiájez : The giant agent of the TIA. He usually has to hunt down Mortadelo and Filemón because they don't want to do their missions. A rather minor character, his face has changed many times in the past. Many other agents appear, most of them having descriptive surnames ending in "-ez" ("Bestiájez" comes from "bestia", beast). Casimira Nitorta: An expert in "secret chases", she has a penetrating and incisive glance. She's also a relative of "Rompetechos".

In other languages

  • Catalan: Mortadel·lo i Filemó
  • Danish: Flip og Flop
  • Dutch: Paling en Ko
  • English: Mort & Phil
  • French: Mortadel et Filémon (Futt et Fil)
  • German: Clever & Smart
  • Greek: Αντιρίξ και Συμφωνίξ
  • Italian: Mortadello e Polpetta
  • Norwegian: Flipp og Flopp (earliest pocket editions), Clever & Smart
  • Portuguese: Mortadelo e Salaminho (in Brazil), Salomão e Mortadela (Portugal)
  • Slovenian: Mortadelc pa File
  • Swedish: Flink & Fummel
  • Turkish: Dörtgöz ile Dazlak
  • Finnish: Älli ja Tälli (used to be first Nopsa ja Näpsä)
  • Spanish: Mortadelo y Filemón


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