The inventor of the ‘zapatófono’, the character that inspired ‘Anacleto, secret agent’




Naive, cheerful, clumsy and carefree, Ancleto, the secret agent became one of the great classics of Spanish humor cartoons. A character whose creator, the cartoonist Manuel Vazquez Gallego, always kept a special affection. An imperfect anti-hero, the first cartoons of him were released at the height of spy fiction, when the whole world yearned for him. James Bond of Sean Connery on movie screens. But, although the parody of always 007 It was more than evident, it was not this famous agent that s Vázquez was inspired to create his beloved Anacleto.

In the 60s, shortly before the creator of the chive family either the Gilda sisters gave life to his secret agent, Vázquez had been fascinated by an American fiction series on NBC that was enormously successful at the time, Super Agent 86. Its protagonist was the likeable and incompetent Maxwell Smartwho was also dressed in a pristine tuxedo, but there was nothing agile or eloquent about him.





Agent 86 (1965)

Maxwell Smart: The American Anacleto

It was a little advantaged recontragent who worked for the agency CONTROL, a caricature of the CIA, the supposed spy agency of the United States. In the opposite position is KAOS, a mockery of the KGB, “the international organization of evil” from an unknown Eastern Bloc country. It must be borne in mind that the series, designed by Mel Brooks, was released in the middle of the Cold War.

The definitive Gadget: first mobile in history

Maxwell Smart was played by Dom Adams, an actor who became a star thanks to this character and who won three Emmys for his role in the series. Superagent had a very particular gadget: a phone hidden in his shoe. According to what they say, one day Brooks was in his office, where several phones kept ringing at the same time. He fed up with the noise, but throwing humor, in response, he took off his shoe and began to talk to an imaginary interlocutor. The people present began to laugh out loud. It was then that he decided that this could work: the “zapatófono”.

In 2008, Hollywood could not resist the remake of that television hit and premiered get smarta film starring Steve Carrellin the role of the reckless secret agent (with “shoephone” included) and Anne Hathawayas his inseparable companion.

Ancleto, the secret agent It has a lot of that absurd comedy, of course the parody of the great elite spies and a lot of black humor. apparently simple, With his cartoons, Vázquez was able to place the reader in a certain physical environment with just two strokes., without subtracting a bit of entity to the setting. With very precise control of language and resources, such as onomatopoeia or figures cut out in black, which add value to its brilliant staging. And, of course, the tenderness that his anti-hero aroused.





Cartoon of ‘Anacleto, the secret agent’

Its adaptation to Spanish cinema

In 2015, half a decade after Vázquez brought him to life, Anacleto’s clumsiness came to life in our country thanks to the adaptation directed by Javier Ruiz Caldera that followed the formula that the Americans had been developing for years with their comics of Marvel and DC. The arrival of Anacleto, Secret Agent in the cinema dusted off a page in the history of comics and humor in Spain, eclipsed by the success of the also dilapidated spies Mortadelo and Filemón.





Imanol Arias and Quim Gutiérrez in ‘Anacleto, the secret agent’

with a brilliant Imanol Arias playing Anacleto and Quim Gutierrez Like his son. An action comedy in which a thirty-something man discovers that his father has a double identity. This happens at a time of decline in his life in which his girlfriend has left him and some thugs are trying to finish him off. Thus, he will be forced to come to an understanding with his father and fight against those thugs, while he tries to get his girlfriend back.

The result: a film that wisely and brio mixes the darkest and most authentic humor with some blockbuster special effects. Anacleto, the secret agent (2015) can be seen for free on RTVE Play.

The inventor of the ‘zapatófono’, the character that inspired ‘Anacleto, secret agent’