• Art of Inspiration

    • Quino’s beloved characters, first drawn in 1964, have not lost any of their original wittiness.

    Mafalda turns 50 / 

    Many generations have grown reading the Mafalda comic strips, losing themselves in one of the many volumes that have been re-printed over time. This is undoubtedly due to their poignant relevance, Quino, the comic’s author, considers that: “many of the things questioned by his work continue unresolved.”

    More than forty years after they were originally drawn, the sharp observations Quino made through Mafalda, both in the local Argentinian political scene, and on the global stage; Mafalda’s critical gaze, naïve Libertad (Liberty) or Manolito’s opportunistic capitalist ways, continue to be replicated in the world at the beginning of the twenty-first century with the same mordacity that first resulted in their creation in 1964.

    Quino, whose real name is Joaquín Salvador Tavado Tejón, was born in Mendoza, western Argentina, in 1932. Since the first publication of Mundo Quino in 1963 he has been recognised as one of the finest graphic humourists in the country, whose poetry and poignancy are also praiseworthy.

    It was, of course, the grouchy and irreverent black-haired girl with a red bow that made Quino known around the world. Her origin dates back to a commercial for vacuum cleaners Quino was asked to do, in a recent interview the caricaturist explained:

    I adapted the strip. A named the little girl Mafalda. And I took off with the comic without any plan. Since I no longer had to compliment the virtues of a vacuum cleaner, I made her whiny and grouchy. It was an immediate revenge.

    Even though Mafalda’s adventures officially ended in 1973, Quino, like many other Argentinian intellectuals and artists, had to find exile during the military cue. According to the drawer, “Mafalda was not censored, I think, because in the artistic field, comics were considered a minor genre, which did not represent a historical threat. The drawings did not appear to be intellectual art and they were considered a form of entertainment.”

    Mafalda has historically been compared to Charlie brown, by the American cartoonist Charles Schultz because they share a similar origin and they both criticise the middle classes. Nonetheless, for Quino “Mafalda  belongs to a country were social contrasts are common, one that wanted to integrate her and make her happy, but she refuses and rejects every offer,” while “ Charlie Brown lives in his own childhood universe, where adults are rigorously excluded, except for the fact that children want to become adults. Mafalda lives in constant dialogue with the adult world,” even if she rejects it, “while she claims her right to continue being a child.”

    For this caricaturist, the future is a rigorously utopian place, but one where the past cannot be excluded: “It is our duty to believe that the future will be better, even if deep in our hearts we know it will remain the same.”

    Tagged: Mafalda, Quino, cartoons, argentinian cartoonists, inspiration