Fortunello - Happy Hooligan
Original title: Happy Hooligans
Characters: Fortunello, Flip dog, Checca la mula, Ciccio and Ciccia
Author: Frederick Burr Opper
American Journal / Corriere dei Piccoli
|Country: United States|
Year: March 11, 1900
Gender: Comic Speech Bubble
Recommended age: Children from 6 to 12 years old
One of the first and most important characters in comics worldwide is undoubtedly Happy Hooligan, who in Italy was known in 1910 with the name of Fortunello, thanks to the publications within the Corriere dei Piccoli. The character was created in 1899 by Frederick Burr Opper and published in the Sunday Supplements of the American Journal in New York on March 11, 1900.
Characterized by unkempt clothing and a red jar on his bald head, Fortunello is a wanderer of Irish origins who, despite being perpetually subjected to injustices, never loses his smile and his optimism (in fact Happy, means happy). Despite his name, Fortunello is always haunted by bad luck, which breaks all his enthusiasm in the bud for some good idea or initiative to make ends meet.
Fortunello is generous and never misses an opportunity to help people in need, so it happens that in the company of his dog Flip, one day he kicks away a firecracker that a boy had placed behind a policeman. When the policeman thanks Fortunello, Flip brings the firecracker back by blowing up the policeman, who naturally takes it out on Fortunello, beating him up and taking him to prison.
During his misadventures, Fortunello is often accompanied by his three grandchildren (dressed like him, with a can on his head) who in Italy were also renamed with the name of Fortunelli, archetypes of the classic grandchildren of comics such as Tip and Tap, Qui, Quo and Qua and many others.
In another episode we find Fortunello, who to earn some money agrees to be an assistant to a circus tightrope walker, who will have to lift him with his feet while Fortunello is sitting in the chair. On the evening of the show, the Fortunellis are proud of their uncle who is the protagonist of that number, but when Fortunello turns to greet them, he unbalances the acrobat and falls on him, causing his anger.
A prominent character is undoubtedly the mischievous mule Checca (Maud in the American original), which over the years met with considerable success, so much so that in 1904 he won comic strips all dedicated to his hilarious exploits. Its characteristic is to kick the unfortunate person on duty with his hind legs, which most of the time are Ciccio and Ciccia (Slocum and Mirandy in the original American) the elderly married couple who own the mule.
Initially Fortunello was represented as a thin and short man, but over the years his figure has been characterized differently, as a tall type, with a face similar to a clown and a green checked jacket. Sometimes he is accompanied by his brother Gloomy Gus, also a vagabond but far more fortunate and clever than him, and by Montmorency. Fortunello is engaged to Suzanne, with whom he will marry in 1916 and will give birth to a son identical to his father.
Other characteristic characters of this series are the two eccentric and ceremonious Alphonse and Gaston, a hilarious French comedy couple. Characterized by a strange top hat and a noticeable difference in height, the two spend hours making mutual bows and curtsies with the phrases: "After you, Alphonse."
Opper continued to draw and publish the comics of Fortunello and the mule Maud until August 14, 1932, when he had to stop due to a strong lowering of vision.
Fortunello's comics for the time were very innovative, since they were among the first to constantly use balloons, while before (see Yellow Kid's shirt) the dialogues were written almost everywhere. Fortunello's fame was so important that it is thought to have inspired the figure of Charlot (the Tramp), the famous wanderer character of Charlie Chaplin, while in Italy he was played by the comedian Ettore Petrolini.
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