The last mission of Mortadelo and Filemón: this is Ibáñez's posthumous album, 'París 2024'

It is the last mission of Mortadelo and Filemón.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
03 April 2024 Wednesday 10:33
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The last mission of Mortadelo and Filemón: this is Ibáñez's posthumous album, 'París 2024'

It is the last mission of Mortadelo and Filemón. His last adventures, his last blows and his last gags. Already thinking about the upcoming celebration of the Olympic Games in Paris, Francisco Ibáñez was working on an album in which the famous detectives travel to the French capital, following the instructions of the Super, to protect the athletes from possible drone attacks. The death of Ibáñez on July 15 forever interrupted this adventure, which this Thursday, April 4, arrives in bookstores just as its creator left it.

Paris 2024, which is on sale in Spanish and Catalan, is a special album, different from all the others. Its format is the usual one for the albums in the Magos del Humor collection (in hardcover) and on its spine it bears the number 222. But all the similarities end here. The rest is very different. Neither its cover is standard (because Ibáñez did not draw it) nor is its content.

What will the reader find at Paris 2024?

The reader will find an album that was still being made. It is not the typical adventure with the drawing outlined with a black line nor are its vignettes colored. It is an album with raw drawing, just as Ibáñez did with his usual mechanical pencil. Because Ibáñez continued making his comics, his comics, in the same way as seven decades ago: with a pencil and paper. He vignette by vignette, little by little outlining the drawing. First with a sketch and with some soft pencil lines. And then with a stronger and more marked line. This raw drawing is the one that appears in Paris 2024.

On the right, the album features 19 pencil-drawn pages, all perfectly finished. And on the left are the corresponding texts typed by the cartoonist himself with his inseparable Olivetti. He never wanted to change the typewriter for a modern computer.

The adventure is interrupted forever on a very emotional page 20 that has remained forever half done. As her daughter Nuria explained in RAC1, “if she had lived one more day, that page would be finished today.” Page 20 shows a drawing that is being formed, which is taking shape little by little. The last few bullets on this page are just blanks that we will never know what they would have shown. Under normal conditions, the album would have had 44 comic pages.

What is the drawing of Paris 2024 like?

One of the things that surprises the most when leafing through this album is the level of finish of Ibáñez's drawing, at 87 years old. It is a perfectly defined drawing. With all the elements and details that characterize the author's drawing. There are chases, costumes, explosions, animals, and everything is perfectly drawn: the shadows, the folds of clothing, the expressions of anger, the clouds of dust when the characters run. It is a drawing of great vividness.

Under normal conditions, this album would have then been inked – a process that Ibáñez was no longer in charge of if they were interior pages, but which he did on the covers – and then it would have been colored by a colorist. However, the fact that these last phases are missing is what allows us to know exactly what Ibáñez's work was like and how far it went.

“With Paris 2024 we infiltrate almost stealthily into the study of the great Ibáñez, into the backroom of his endearing world,” writes the novelist and member of the RAE Arturo Pérez-Reverte. The creator of Captain Alatriste maintained years ago that Francisco Ibáñez's career made him a good candidate for the Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious in Spanish literature. In the prologue to this album he defends the literary value of Ibáñez's work and places it within the tradition of the picaresque novel.

Will there be new Mortadelo albums without Ibáñez?

In an interview with La Vanguardia, Nuria Ibáñez, daughter of the Barcelona cartoonist, explained that there is no project to resume the Mortadelo y Filemón series in the hands of other authors. She stressed that the objective is to republish the extensive work of her father, make it always available in bookstores and bring it closer to new readers.