Image of El Botones Sacarino

Fransisco Ibáñez: El Botones Sacarino

Fransisco Ibáñez & André Franquin

Everyone who takes a look at the comic albums in the series El Botones Sacarino (literally: the sweet piccolo, Tom Tiger in Dutch) will be able to see that the Spanish author Fransisco Ibáñez must have been reading the albums of Gaston Lagaffe by André Franquin from Belgium. The resemblance between the two main characters is striking. They both work at an office, doing nothing useful as it seems and making the most terrible blunders all of the time. They also look similar (see image on top of page). The face of El Botones is almost an exact copy of Gaston's face. Their clothes are different. However the clothes of El Botones remind me of one of the other comics figures once drawn by Franquin: Spirou.

The image on top of this page was taken from a gag of El Botones Sacarino which is almost identical to gag 294 of Gaston Lagaffe. This is the gag in which Fantasio mistakingly sends Gaston's cheese to a publisher in New York. I posses only few Botones gags that as clearly copied as this one. It is true that many Gaston themes recur in El Botones: the problems with doors and elevators, the cat in the armchair and the bowling ball. However the figures are different. The guy replacing Fantasio in the gag shown here (sir Winston in Dutch) looks more like mister Dupuis. And in later Botones gags there is another character that is some kind of intermediate between Botones and his boss (Humbug in Dutch). It is he who gets the blame for all the blunders of Botones. It is a role which no one will envy: the poor man is subject to something that is characteristic for the comics of Ibáñez: extreme violence.

Image of Safari callejero

Fransisco Ibáñez: Mortadelo y Filemón: Safari callejero

When I was rereading my Mortadelo comics recently I stumbled upon a scene which reminded me of something I had seen somewhere else. It was the first page of Safari callejero (Paling en Ko op safari in Dutch) in which a burglar attempts to break in an office and gets scared away by a group of mad animals. It was a nice scene but it reminded me of Gaston Lagaffe. In that comic there are four gags where burglars try to enter the Spirou editorial building. Subsequently they get buried under a load of books or get scared away by green men or strange musical instruments. In the fourth one the burglar gets caught by Gaston's pets. I went through my Gaston collection and found the following image:

Image of Gaston gag 472

André Franquin: Gaston Lagaffe: gag 472

The most striking resemblance between the two images is the shape of the chimney on the left. Other similar parts of the two images are the surface of the roofs, the body position of the burglars and, my favorite, the little trials in the air of their footsteps. Great! I don't doubt that at least 99% of the Mortadelo series is original work but the careful observer might perhaps notice influences of some other comics.

Last update: October 28, 2006. erikt(at)