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Cover of the Marsupilami comic, © Carlsen Verlag

It is very rare, very shy, quite caring, but – for example, if you want to catch it yourself or your children – it can get very very angry: the Marsupilami. It lives in the jungles of Palumbia and measures about one metre. Depending on the specimen, its fur is sometimes yellow, sometimes black, but most strikingly in the combination of yellow with black spots. Not to be overlooked: its tail measures up to eight metres. Rolled up, it serves as a spring, but can also be used specifically for defence. The animal has enormous strength, feeds on fruits, ants, fleas – and piranhas. It speaks in simple phrases (“Huba, huba hopp!”), but can also repeat words or whole sentences. One of the unsolved mysteries of science is that the Marsupilami lays eggs but also has a belly button. And, as is to be expected with such a rare species, the Marsupilami and its children are threatened – especially by a big-game hunter and a jaguar.

André Franquin (1924 to 1997) originally designed the fantasy animal in 1952 for the comic series “Spirou and Fantasio”. Later it was given its own series. The latest issue of the comic, entitled “The Humboldt Animal”, is special in that it is the first time it has been depicted and texted by a German cartoonist in the person of Felix Görmann, who became known under the name Flix with stories such as “The Little Man’s Swimming Pool”, “Lucky Child” (every Monday in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) or “Faust”. Usually, the best-known European comic characters such as Asterix, Spirou or Tintin all come from France or Belgium. In 2018, Flix was the first German-speaking artist to successfully realise an adventure for the Franco-Belgian series with “Spirou in Berlin”.

In the “Humboldt Animal”, Flix tells the story of how the Marsupilami – and by no means only this one – comes from the Palumbian jungle to Berlin in the 1930s, straight from Chimborazo to the museum, as it were. The man behind it is none other than Alexander von Humboldt, who discovered the strange and rare animal during his trip to South America at the beginning of the 19th century – and stowed it away in his boxes. Almost 150 years later – in Berlin’s Museum of Natural History, not all the boxes have been unpacked yet – the Marsupilami, enveloped in magical scents, awakens to new life and suddenly finds itself on the streets of Berlin, where it experiences a fast-paced adventure in search of its three children with the help of its new friend Mimmi.

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