Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mortadelo y Filemón or Mort and Phil

Mort & Phil (Spanish: 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 Mort (Spanish: Mortadelo), the tall, bald master of disguise named after Mortadella, and his bossy partner, the shorter, pudgier Phil (Spanish: 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".

Mort and Phil 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 (Phil). At TIA (Spanish for "aunt", a parody of the CIA), 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 Mort 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.
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 (Mort & Phil: The Big Adventure). A second movie was released in 2008, Mortadelo y Filemón. Misión: Salvar la Tierra (Mort & Phil. Mission: Save Earth), marking the 50th anniversary of the series.
Mort is a mad detective with pebble glasses and a long nose who usually wears a black frock coat. He is always fighting with Phil, his partner, mostly because he tends to mess things up, usually to Phil's discomfort. His favourite hobby is wearing all sorts of (sometimes outrageous) disguises - professional and historical clothes and gear, animals, inanimate objects, even small-sized vehicles like miniature blimps and mopeds - which he mostly dons for special tasks or when he is on the run from Phil or his boss. He is the sworn enemy of Bacterio because he used to have lush hair until Bacterio offered Mort a "medicine against baldness". (Mort's full name, "Mortadelo", comes from "mortadela", a kind of sausage).
Mort's partner and friend Phil (Pi) only got two hairs and wears a white shirt and red pants. He usually insults Mort because Mort 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.

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