Spirou and Fantasio

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Spirou (left) and Fantasio (right), with the Marsupilami and Spip the squirrel.

Spirou et Fantasio is one of the most successful Belgian comic book adventure series, spawning various spin-off series and an Animated Adaptation.

Spirou is an intrepid hotel groom/reporter working for Le Moustique/Le Journal de Spirou/freelance. With his wacky/ComicallySerious/now wacky again sidekick Fantasio and his pet squirrel Spip, he has many adventures over the globe, fighting Mad Scientists and evil dictators, but also doing a fair bit of actual reporting on the side (Take That, Tintin!).

This series has the distinction of being one the few "work for hire" franchises of Franco-Belgian comics (most of them are owned by their initial creators or their estate). As such, various authors worked on the main series over the years:

  • Robert "Rob-Vel" Velter was commissionned to create the Spirou character to headline the new eponymous weekly "Le Journal de Spirou" magazine. He wrote and drew Spirou's adventures from 1938 to 1943, after which the war prevented him from continuing; his publisher bought the rights to the series and has had various creative teams work on it ever since. These adventures have never been reprinted and are mainly known for the introduction of Spirou's pet squirrel Spip.
  • Joseph "Jijé" Gillain (already a well-known veteran, now mostly remembered for drawing the Western series Jerry Spring) then took over the series (as well as a lot of publisher Dupuis's strips). He introduced Fantasio, whose garish costumes and gaffes made the perfect wacky Sidekick. Overwhelmed by having to handle too many series at once, he gave most of them to the care of various young artists he had groomed for that purpose.
  • Andre Franquin took over Spirou and Fantasio around 1948 (though Jijé did a few stories after the formal switchover). He is credited for creating the most well-known parts of the Spirou universe, including Champignac, the Marsupilami, Zorglub and Gaston Lagaffe. At the end of Franquin's run, the series received the input of Michel "Greg" Regnier for plots, grounding Spirou's adventures in a more realistic geopolitical context. By the beginning of the 70s, Franquin grew bored of the character and left the series (though he kept the rights of a few of his creations, including the Marsupilami and Gaston Lagaffe).
  • Young artist Jean-Claude Fournier then took over the series, updating slightly the look of the characters and giving the characters a more militant outlook.
  • In the 80s, publisher Dupuis found Fournier too slow and started looking into other creative teams, with three of them working at the same time. Nicolas Broca & Raoul Cauvin's contribution (three albums) were quickly abandoned], as well as Yves Chaland's retro take, in favor of Philippe "Tome" Vandevelde & Jean-Richard "Janry" Geurts. They reached a commercial and critical success by updating Franquin's tradition, often with a slightly Darker and Edgier mood. They also launched the spin-off series Le Petit Spirou (about Spirou's youth), which took a lot of their time: after a failed "realistic" relaunch, they left the main series.
  • In the 00s, Dupuis gave care of the main series to Jean-David Morvan and José-Luis Munuera, who tried including elements from each of the previous authors' runs; the lackluster sales meant they were given the boot after only four albums.
  • A series of out of continuity one-shots written and drawn by different artists (Le Spirou de...) started in 2006. Five have been published as of 2009, the more notable being Spirou, journal d'un ingénu, an alternative origin story by Emile Bravo in which Spirou is a young hotel groom in 1939.

The magazine this series was created for, now titled "Spirou", is still being published nowadays. It is now a weekly anthology of various comedy series, as well as serializing various adventure series of Dupuis's catalogue. Throughout the 90s and 00s, its eponymous series barely appeared in it (due to frequent Schedule Slip), though Le Petit Spirou remained a regular presence. This changed with the one-shots, which have been published at thrice the rhythm of the main series so far.


This series contains examples of the following tropes:[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Ahoge: Fantasio has the eight strands of hair that pop up on top of his head.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Cyanure.
  • Alternate Continuity: Lampshaded in Alerte aux Zorkons, in which Fantasio mentions a character from a past adventure whom Spirou has no recollection of, and adds "Well, that was in a different space-time continuum." Fans interpret this as a sign that Fantasio went back, after all the time-travel shenanigans in Aux Sources du Z, and erased the Morvan & Munuera adventures from continuity. A Fourth Wall-breaking one-pager with Spirou and the new artist Yoann having wacky adventures through time until Fantasio and the new writer Vehlmann put a stop to it and pledge to put everything back in order lends some credence to this theory, but the fan dislike of the Morvan & Munuera era also seems to be a factor.
  • Ambiguous Robots: The "clone" or "android" in Machine qui Rève.
  • Animal Talk: Extremely inconsistently handled with Spip; in some early stories Spirou and Fantasio were able to understand him, but later on it was established that while Spip understood humans perfectly well, humans did not understand him. Whether other animals understood him seemed to vary depending on the story, but it is notable that while he was good friends with the Marsupilami, the two were never depicted as having anything resembling a conversation. The rule of thumb seems to be that only the reader understands Spip's comments, but there have been several exceptions.
  • Animated Adaptation: Two of them.
  • Animesque: Spirou au Japon, with lampshades aplenty.
  • Anti-Villain: Zorglub, Ankou and Luna Cortizone.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Almost all of the Count's inventions are based on mushrooms as a main ingredient or an energy source.
    • Also, the Zorglonde, a form of energy designed by Zorglub which can be used to paralyze living things (only the Marsupilami is immune) or to control people's minds.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: In L'Ankou, Fantasio stubbornly refuses to believe that he's dealing with a supernatural creature.
  • The Artifact: Spirou still wears a variation of his trademark hotel groom costume, even though he left that job decades ago.
    • Lampshaded in Des Haricots Partout, when a UN delegate assumes he's the Count's personal bellboy.
    • Spoofed in Le Petit Spirou, where he wears it a little kid and even his parents own the same outfit.
    • Also lampshaded in the short story Back to the Redac, where Spirou is forced to go back to wearing his bellhop uniform (he had more or less discarded it by the end of Tome & Janry's run, and Morvan & Munuera only had him wear it in flashbacks). Why? Because his contract with Dupuis, the publisher of the comic, obliges him to wear it since he's the face of the company and it is so iconic. The next album, Alerte aux Zorkons features him in full uniform again.
  • Apocalyptic Log: in La Vallée des Bannis, Spirou finds a very helpful notebook from a previous explorer. Subverted: the guy has actually survived all these years and helps our heroes escape from afar.
  • Arch Enemy: Zantafio.
  • Author Tract: whenever currents events are alluded to, but especially L'Ankou, an Anvilicious attack against * civilian nuclear power production "defiling" the folklorish lands of Brittany.
  • A Villain Named Zrg: Spoofed. Zorglub's name is a portmanteau of this and "Arglub", which is a standard Written Sound Effect for accidental strangling or drowning in Franco-Belgian comics.
  • Badly-Battered Babysitter: Spirou and Fantasio in Panade à Champignac, while babysitting Zorglub.
  • Banana Republic: Palombia
  • Beardness Protection Program: Inverted briefly in Machine qui rêve. The comic opens with a bearded man being pursued by the authories, who shaves his beard off in a bar's bathroom because his image is being broadcasted on the news channels. It turns out to be a movie that Spirou and Fantasio are watching.
  • Black Like Me: Played anviliciously straight in Le Rayon Noir, when Spirou is turned black by some of the count's phlebotinium.
    • Though pretty hilariously after half of the town's been turned black and back, people comments how the milkman is still black. His answer: "But I've always been!"
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Spip would occasionally do this in Fournier's stories, acknowledging that he was a comic book character, lamenting his lot as an animal sidekick and even occasionally going into rants on how Spirou and Fantasio were lousy comic book heroes.
  • Breakout Character: Both Gaston Lagaffe and the Marsupilami later became lead characters of their own respective series.
  • Butt Monkey: Vito Cortizone, whose bad luck reaches abysmal levels.
    • Justified by the fact that he's been cursed by his Chinese mafia rival.
    • Charles Atan and Renaldo in L'Abbaye Truquée.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Facilitated by the various creative teams working on the series with their own directions, often ignoring their predecessors' work.
    • Due to the lack of reprints, most people think the series started with Franquin's run (Rob-Vel and Jijé's contributions are rarely acknowledged).
  • Canon Foreigner: The second Animated Adaptation featured a character named Zaoki, an Ambiguously Brown Wrench Wench who was the daughter of Zorglub (who was the Big Bad of the series, despite his Heel Face Turn in the comics). She was probably added due to there only being one recurring female character in the comic proper.
  • Captain Crash: Madflying the Australian pilot-for-hire in Kodo le Tyran and Des Haricots Partout.
  • Censor Box: In Le gri-gri du Nikolo-Koba, the diamond of Koli can make people disappear (they come back when it is placed in its special sheath), but it doesn't affect clothes. When a male villain is returned, the frame includes a narrator box with a pointless line (which reads "this is a white square"), conveniently waist-height.
  • Character Development / Characterization Marches On: Early in Franquin's run, Fantasio shifted from a total goofball to The Comically Serious. With the obvious irony of later having to handle total goofball Gaston Lagaffe.
  • Chew Toy: Fantasio in several of the Tome & Janry stories. If a leg needs to be broken, you can bet it'll be his.
    • Also in many Franquin stories. The premise of several of them are based on "Bad shit happens to Fantasio" or feature a huge element of this in the story. A recurring plot is to have Fantasio be the victim of events outside his control. See La Mauvaise Tête[1], Les Héritiers[2], Z Comme Zorglub[3].
    • That makes him turn Genre Savvy when submitted to madness by the mosquito of La Vallée des Bannis.
  • Clear My Name: Fantasio in La Mauvaise Tête.
  • Cloning Blues: Machine qui rêve.
  • Cool Car: the Turbotraction (which somehow disappeared just after Franquin left). Pénélope in the Animated Adaptation.
    • The first model was crashed by Ibd-Mah-Zoud in Vacances sans histoires to be replaced by the second model; in Panade à Champignac, Franquin replaced it altogether with a small Honda coupé. Fournier, who took over, kept the same small car. After that, Spirou and Fantasio would always drive small, cheap cars - Franquin said it first in Vacances sans histoires and Tome & Janry hammered in that Spirou and Fantasio are far from being rich in Spirou à New York.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Fantasio in his early appearances.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Basile de Koch, CEO of Farmarm in Virus.
  • Crapsack World: La Vallée des Bannis features a Lost World with Everything Trying to Kill You (including liberal amounts of Schmuck Bait). If you manage to survive the initial confusion, the madness mosquitoes will turn most of you into raving maniacs all killing each other.
  • Creator Breakdown: Franquin in the middle of QRN sur Bretzelburg. His "last" album, Panade à Champignac, can either be seen as an affective goodbye to the series... or as a big "Fuck you, I'm going to work on Gaston Lagaffe instead".
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Luna, Vito Cortizone's daughter. She disapproves of some of her father's methods but still ends up on his side in the end.
  • Darker and Edgier: a general trend for the series as a whole, and inside nearly each creative run.
    • Machine qui rêve, Tome & Janry's last album, tried reinventing the series as an ultra-serious (and decompressed) techno-thriller. It didn't work.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Spip is the most consistent example of this, but notably in Tome & Janry's early run of the series (he stopped speaking altogether in their later albums). Depending on the Writer, Fantasio indulges a little snarking now and then as well.
  • Deface of the Moon: Zorglub's pet project was to demonstrate his genius by writing a brand name in giant letters on the Moon. It worked, but not quite the way he expected.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Seccotine is the classic terrible woman driver. Also, the oil sheik Ibn Mah-zout, who turned Spirou and Fantasio's car into scattered pieces of scrap metal in just a few minutes of driving it.
  • Easy Amnesia: Zorglub in Panade à Champignac. He gets hit over the head and all his memories come back. Then he gets hit over the head another time and they all disappear. And let's not forget the fact that he's acting like an 8 month old in the first place.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Spoofed in La Jeunesse de Spirou (which has a drunk Unreliable Narrator), averted in Le Petit Spirou (which has none of the other regular characters).
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: In Bravo les Brothers, Gaston gives Fantasio three circus-trained chimpanzees as a birthday present.
  • Evil Twin: Zantafio, although he's actually Fantasio's cousin.
  • The Faceless: Number 2 in Du glucose pour Noémie and the Big Bad in Cauvin's stories.
  • The Family for the Whole Family: Don Vito Cortizone and his family, of course.
    • Also, the Triangle.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Used by Spirou on Ursula in Le Groom vert-de-gris to avoid a patrol of Nazis.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: In La Corne du Rhinocéros, the censorship commission made Franquin remove most of the bad guys' guns, which meant they were now pointing their finger at everything.
  • Femme Fatale: Luna.
  • Fighting Your Friend: Spirou is forced to do this after Fantasio becomes infected by a Hate Plague in Vallée des Bannis.
  • Foe Yay: Fantasio and Seccotine.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Fantasio in his early appearances. Including the mostly forgotten Fanta-Copter: a functional jetpack!
  • Grim Reaper: In L'Ankou, Spirou and Fantasio get to meet the eponymous collector of souls. Because of their unfamiliarity with Breton folklore, they aren't nearly as scared as they ought to be.
  • Hate Plague: Fantasio becomes infected by one of these in La Vallée des Bannis and spends the volume trying to murder Spirou.
  • Heads-Tails-Edge: Luna Fatale.
  • Heel Face Turn: Zorglub and John Helena.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Spirou and Fantasio. Also Champignac and Zorglub after the Heel Face Turn.
  • Hypno Ray: The Zorglonde.
  • Identical Grandson: sort of:
    • Aurelien de Champignac looks exactly the same as his uncle the Count of Champignac, except his moustache points up instead of down.
    • Zorglub's descendant from Le Réveil du Z looks exactly the same as his ancestor, except he's a dwarf.
    • Fantasio and Spirou also have identical family members in Le Réveil du Z, and much to their ancestors' shock, they are Zorglub's descendant's Elite Mooks.
  • In Soviet Russia, Trope Mocks You: Spirou à Moscou barely had time to do all the jokes before the USSR self-destructed.
  • Intimidation Demonstration: One of the early stories has the Marsupilami meet a gorilla, who starts engaging in threatening behavior (chestbeating, ripping trees out of the ground...). Subverted, however, in that it is quickly too tired to actually fight, and the Marsupilami goes by unharmed.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Spirou and Fantasio themselves, of course. Seccotine is a cross between this and Paparazzi.
  • Latex Perfection
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Tome & Janry present the duo this way.
  • Madness Mantra: After Fantasio goes insane in La Vallée des Bannis he develops a tendency to say or yell, "FANTASIO MAGAZIIIIIIIIIINE!" due to the fact that the Hate Plague had made him fixate on the fact that despite them being lifelong partners, their book was still called Spirou Magazine.
  • Mad Scientist: The Count of Champignac, although he gets saner after his debut episode and becomes The Professor. Also, Zorglub.
  • Manchurian Agent: Luna in the animated series.
  • Mistaken for Gay:
    • Seccotine thinks that Spirou is in love with Fantasio and teases him about it in Le Tombeau des Champignac.

Seccotine: Your little Fantasio is well, that's what counts right?
Spirou: What are you trying to say?
Seccotine: Nothing, you're free to love whoever you want...

    • A street-vendor in an old Franquin volume mistakes them for a couple as well.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters:
    • The Marsupilamis.
    • Everything in the Valley of the Banished.
    • The Snouffelaire.
  • Mysterious Antarctica: In Le Voyageur du Mésozoïque, Champignac finds a dinosaur egg in the ices of Antarctica; in Virus, a sinister corporation has a germ warfare research facility located in Antarctica.
  • Nintendo Hard: The Sega Genesis game.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Zorglub and Champignac (although the latter is a mushroom specialist, he can also build submarines).
  • On One Condition: Spirou et les Héritiers has Fantasio and Zantafio face off in three trials mandated by their uncle's will.
  • Only Sane Employee: Fantasio in Bravo les Brothers.
  • Outdated Outfit: Even in the 1970s, Spirou's Bell-boy Elevator Operator uniform was painfully out of place. Since the 90s, authors have finally decided to do away with it.
  • Poorly-Disguised Pilot: Le Nid des Marsupilamis, though the spin-off series would not be created until two decades later.
  • Recursive Canon: Spirou and particularly Fantasio work for Dupuis, the publishing company that produces the Spirou comic. Sometimes they are freelance reporters for Le Moustique, Dupuis' real-life entertainment magazine, and sometimes they work on the staff of the Spirou magazine itself, having to meet deadlines and doing publicity for the comic!
    • In the comic stories, Spirou occasionally meets characters who read the comic and recognize him from it:
      • Jijé had him interact with members of his own fan-club (run by the magazine), Amis de Spirou ("Friends of Spirou"), in the story L'enlèvement de Spip.
      • In Spirou and the Heirs (Spirou et les héritiers), Spirou rescues a boy who is reading his earlier adventure, The Wizard of Culdesac (Il y a un sorcier à Champignac), and who asks him how it ends.
      • In Z is for Zorglub (Z comme Zorglub), a kid helps Spirou when he's looking for Fantasio, having recognized them both from the comic.
      • In Alerte aux Zorkons, a sniper refuses to fire on a Spirou-shaped advertising balloon the heroes are using to cross a military roadblock, because he used to read the comic as a child.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: most of the more serious plots
  • Robot Girl: Cyanure in Qui arrêtera Cyanure?.
  • Ruritania: Bretzelburg is a typical Ruritanian country, with added Fatherland trappings.
  • Schedule Slip: Nearly all the major runs at their end (hence the changes of creative team), but Tome & Janry's was particularly egregious (up to three years between their last two albums)
  • Screwball Serum: The Count once unwittingly drank a toxic drug of his own design, which turned him into a super-intelligent psychopath.
  • Senseless Violins: Seen many times in Luna Fatale.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The mayor of Champignac is fond of speaking in convoluted sentences replete with mixed metaphors.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: In Le Groom vert-de-gris, which take place during WWII era, Fantasio wakes up in bed with Wehrmacht officer Ursula Chickengrüber getting dressed for work.
    • In Le Tombeau des Champignac, Spirou and Seccotine are freezing to death in a Tibetan mountain as their anti-cold drugs are wearing off. As they hold each other to warm themselves, Seccotine notice a mushroom that Spirou is holding just changed color. She correctly guess it's tied to emotions and tease him by asking if he ever kissed a girl, as she always thought he and Fantasio were gay. Cut to a scene outside the mountain with Seccotine saying: "But?! Spirou, what are you doing?" Later, Fantasio comes to the rescue and has very shocked expression on his face when he enters the cave.
  • Show Within a Show: some adventures show the heroes' documentary films. Le nid des Marsupilamis is mainly such a documentary with the titular heroes as a Greek Chorus.
  • Smug Snake: Zantafio.
  • Somewhere a Palaeontologist Is Crying: Le Voyageur du Mésozoique features a dinosaur with pink and yellow spots.
  • Speech-Impaired Animal: Spip, though he does get thought balloons quite often.
    • Strangely, while Spip has a quasi-human intelligence (and the cynicism that comes with it), the Marsupilami, who can utter human words like a parrot does, only has animal-level intelligence. He is clever for an animal, though.
  • Spin-Off: quite a few of them:
  • Super Serum: One of the Count's first inventions is a serum that, when injected, grants superhuman strength for a time.
  • Techno Wizard: the Count of Champignac. Most of his Phlebotinum involves mushrooms in some form, including in the design stage.
  • Temporal Paradox: Dear God. The last album made, Aux Sources du Z, erased the entire series with one of these.
  • The Cameo: Le Groom vert-de-gris is full of them. From old Spirou characters to Tintin, Milou, Müller, Captain Francis Blake and other early 20th century Franco-Belgian characters.
  • That Poor Plant: The Count once experimented a serum on a mushroom, causing it to turn into an ugly, misshapen thing.
    • In QRN sur Bretzelburg, Fantasio convinces the king to stop taking the "medicine" his advisors use to keep him docile. He pours it out on a plant, which immediately wilts
  • Theme Naming: Fantasio's relatives include his cousin Zantafio and his uncle Tanzafio. They somehow manage to be serious characters despite the silly names.
  • They Called Me Mad: Zorglub's backstory - people laughed at his theories in school so he decided to create an army of mind controlled soldiers.
  • Time Travel: In L'Horloger de la Comète, Le Réveil du Z and Aux Sources du Z.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Spirou in Machine qui rêve.
  • Torture Technician: Subverted with Herr Doktor Kilikil in QRN sur Bretzelburg: his methods involve scraping chalk on a blackboard, or cooking a lavish and fragrant meal in front of a hungry prisoner. He's so good at it, in fact, that he eventually becomes a restaurant cook.
  • Under the Sea: Much of Le Repère de la Murène takes place underwater.
  • Underwater Base: The villains of Le Repère de la Murène, the underwater city in Spirou et les Hommes-Bulles.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: Most of the time.
  • Weasel Mascot: Spip the squirrel.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: There has been a lot of ambiguity on where Spirou and Fantasio live, with conflicting hints pointing towards the suburbs of either Paris or Bruxelles. Meanwhile, the location of the quaint small town of Champignac is deliberately ambiguous.
  • Would Hit a Girl: In Paris-Sous-Seine Spirou punches Miss Flanners in the face for being the cause of Spip's death, however, after discovering that Spip is actually safe and sound he is mortified by his actions even though Flanners had still done enough to deserve the punishment.
  • The Worst Seat in the House: In Spirou à New York the title characters are supposed to attend a "car ball" (like soccer, but the players are all in cars, and the ball is also a car) finals match to write an article about it. They are late (since they spend the entire comic on wacky mafia hijinx), but a shady guy sells them the last set of seats. Which are inside the "ball".
  • Writing for the Trade: Mostly averted, as most creative teams made a point of ending nearly every page with a gag or Cliff Hanger because the prepublication schedule could be reduced to as little as one or two pages per week.
  1. He's framed for theft
  2. He is set to inherit a fortune, needs to take part in challenges to get it vs his evil cousin. And the inheritance isn't what he thinks it is.
  3. He breaks his foot, gets kidnapped and then gets brainwashed