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Mafalda is a comic strip written and drawn by Argentine cartoonist Joaquín Salvador Lavado, better known by his pen name Quino. The strip features a 6-year-old girl named Mafalda, who reflects the Latin American middle class and progressive youth, which is concerned about humanity and world peace and rebels against the world bequeathed by their elders. The strip ran from 1964 to 1973 and was very popular in Latin America, Europe, Quebec, and in Asia, leading to two animated cartoon series and a book.
The character Mafalda and a few other characters were created by Quino in 1962 for a promotional cartoon that was intended to be published in the daily Clarín. Mafalda's name was inspired by David Viñas's novel Dar la cara. Ultimately, however, Clarín broke the contract and the campaign was canceled altogether.
Mafalda became a full-fledged cartoon strip on the advice of Quino's friend Julián Delgado, at the time senior editor of the weekly Primera Plana. Its run in that newspaper began on 29 September 1964. At first it only featured Mafalda and her parents. Her friend Felipe came on the scene in January 1965. A legal dispute arose in March 1965, which led to the end of Mafalda's Primera Plana run on 9 March 1965.
One week later, on 15 March 1965 Mafalda (the character at the age of five) started appearing daily in Buenos Aires' Mundo, allowing the author to follow current events more closely. The characters of Felipe, Manolito, Susanita and Miguelito were created in the following weeks, and Mafalda's mother was pregnant when the newspaper shut down on 22 December 1967.
Publication resumed six months later, on 2 June 1968, in the Erica weekly Siete Días Ilustrados. Since the cartoons had to be delivered two weeks before publication, Quino was not able to comment on the news to the same extent. After creating the characters of Mafalda's little brother Guille and her new friend Libertad, he definitively ceased publication of the strip on 25 June 1973.
The comic strip is composed of the main character Mafalda, her parents and a group of other children. However, the group was not created on purpose, but was instead a result of the development of the comic strip. The other children were created one at a time, and worked by countering specific aspects of Mafalda. The exception was Guille, Mafalda's brother, who was introduced during a period when the author did not have other ideas.
- Mafalda: Mafalda, a six-year-old girl, with a great concern for the state of humanity and a proverbial hatred for soup. She often leaves her parents at a loss by asking about mature or complex topics. As an example, she gets chided to concern herself with childlike things instead of asking about China's communism; in response, she pretends to play with bubbles in soapy water only to promptly proclaim that she is done and then restate the China question once more. Her incisive observations often leave the adults at a loss. Although she uses her intelligence to manipulate her parents into letting her do what she wants at times, she is shown to be very benevolent and righteous, and does what she can for her family and friends. Mafalda is generally a pessimist to the point of being accused of being so by her friends; to this she responds that things are not so bad as to stop discussing them.
- Mamá ("Mom") (Raquel, 6 October 1964) and Papá ("Dad") (Alberto, 29 September 1964): Mafalda's parents are a very normal couple, without any particular distinguishing features. Mafalda is often very critical of her mom's housewife status; her dad often tries to avoid Mafalda's snarky remarks and questions, although he very much sympathizes with the kid's scary view of school life. He is an avid horticulturist, and proven capable of rambling on about specific topics if given the chance. Raquel appears to have been a talented pianist with Mafalda's father having a job as some sort of insurance agent who occasionally smokes. Their car is a Citroën 2CV, which was a popular entry-level model for middle-class Argentines in the 1960s.
- Felipe (19 January 1965): A dreamer who is usually lost in his fantasies and imagination, and also deeply scared of school, even though he's the brightest and oldest member of the gang. He often wages intense internal battles with his conscience, innate sense of responsibility, and top school grades that he hates ("That is the worst good news I've ever been given!"). A consummate procrastinator, he loves to play cowboys and read comics, especially the Lone Ranger. Late in the series, he also has a crush on a girl named Muriel (name given by Susanita). He is characterized by his hair and buckteeth. When Mafalda drew a picture with an uncanny likeness to him, she says she used a shoe with a carrot at an angle for a model.
- Manolito (Manuel Goreiro, Jr., 29 March 1965): The son of a Spanish shopkeeper. He is sometimes referred to as gallego (Galician), as his surname hints at such an origin, but it is common practice in Argentina to refer to Spanish migrants as Galicians. While his family business is but a small, local grocery store, he seems ambitious with his career, and is more concerned with notions of business, capitalism and dollars, than anything else. He's always promoting the store and its products in street graffiti and even in ordinary conversations. He's shown to be simple minded, but sometimes appears creative when it comes to business plans. He never goes on a vacation because of his father, who owns the store they work in; both appear to enjoy making money and upon Manolito suggesting closing shop and go on a vacation for a few days, his dad appeared to have fainted from shock. The quality of the products sold is often questionable, as many people have complained to him and/or his father often. Manolito is characterized by his brush-like hair, which runs in the males of the family, and in one strip it is seen as growing quickly back right after it has been shaved.
- Susanita (Susana Beatriz Clotilde Chirusi, 6 June 1965): A frivolous girl with curly blond hair, who displays stereotypical feminine traits; her life revolves around femininity, gossip, dreams of marriage and maternity, and woman antagonism. Her dream is to be a mother and dedicated housewife and often fantasizes about the possibilities, which often leads to arguments with Mafalda. She is, however, the latter's best female friend despite their bickering ("Well... you know... I'd rather freak out at you than at a complete stranger") She and Manolito seem to be at odds, but tolerate each other for Mafalda's sake, although it is shown that Susanita is more often the perpetrator of their bickering; as the attacks are often one-sided, Manolito is caught off guard most of the times, but on occasion he gains the upper hand. At times, she seems to have a crush on Felipe. She is sometimes shown as a glutton, usually regretting sharing with her friends or tricking them out of their snack.
- Miguelito (Miguel Pitti, 1966): About two years younger than Felipe and one year younger than Mafalda and the others, characterized by his lettuce-shaped hair. He appears in the series sometime later. Somewhat of a rebel, most of the time he is a little too eager to get into philosophical debates. Although he is characterized as "innocent" by his friends (and, indeed, proving to be very naive at times), he often surprises them with coments ridden with cynism, pedantry, and even sociopathy. A descendant of Italian immigrants, his grandfather is very fond of Benito Mussolini. He appears to have a harsh, houseproud mother, whom he is frightened of.
- Guille (Guillermo, 1968) or Nando in some translations: Mafalda's little brother. He loves soup (much to his sister's chagrin), has a pathological dependence on his pacifier, and he and Mafalda have a pet tortoise called Burocracia (Bureaucracy). Somewhat cynical and prone to histrionics, with the prime target being their mother. He is a bit of a troublemaker and appears to share the same trait as his sister in terms of bringing up awkward topics of discussion.
- Libertad (5 February 1970): "Libertad" is a given name in Spanish, which means "Freedom". The girl is of small stature (a little shorter than Guille although she is around the age of the other kids), a reference to the impotence or small stature of freedom. Libertad appears somewhat later in the series, after Mafalda befriends her at the beach during a vacation, were she introduces herself to Mafalda, and, after an awkward silence, she inquires: "Have you drawn your stupid conclusion yet? Everyone draws their stupid conclusion when they meet me". She is the most politically radical character of the comic strip, more even than Mafalda herself. She took the place of being the political one while Mafalda became more well rounded in her topics of discussion. Although she claims to be fond of simple people, she often overthinks or overreacts to her friend's opinions on simple topics, like vacations or pets. She often gets in trouble with her teachers due to her point of view.
- Muriel: Felipe's crush. Although he could never actually speak to his neighbor, it appears that Susanita knows everything about her, as well as everything else, because of her gossipy behaviour. Although she is not part of the gang, she appears occasionally on strips always featuring Felipe's lack of concentration when she is near, or his attempts to encourage himself to make conversation with her, attempts of which Felipe has never been able to carry out due to his extreme shyness.
The characters aged at about half the real time-scale while the script ran. They also went through minor changes largely due to the evolution of Quino's drawing style.
Books and translations
Most strips that were not too closely tied to then current events were chronologically republished in ten small books simply named Mafalda and numbered from one to ten, with two strips on each page. This excludes the very first ones, published in Primera Plana, but never reprinted until 1989.
The Argentine editions are as follows, published by Ediciones de la Flor (except for the first five books, which were first published by Editorial Jorge Álvarez):
- Mafalda (1966)
- Así es la cosa, Mafalda (This is the way things are, Mafalda) (1967)
- Mafalda 3 (1968)
- Mafalda 4 (1968)
- Mafalda 5 (1969)
- Mafalda 6 (1970)
- Mafalda 7 (1972)
- Mafalda 8 (1973)
- Mafalda 9 (1974)
- Mafalda 10 (1974)
- Mafalda Inédita (Unpublished Mafalda) (1989)
- 10 Años con Mafalda (Ten years with Mafalda) (1991)
- Toda Mafalda (The Whole Mafalda) (1992)
The editions differ in other countries: in Spain the small books are numbered from 0 to 10 and the full compilation is called Todo Mafalda, all published by Editorial Lumen; in Mexico the small books go from 1 to 12 and are currently published by Tusquets Editores.
Although most strips were translated into different European languages as well as into simplified and traditional Chinese, there were only a few publications in English. In the United States of America, his only published work is The World of Quino (1986). Beginning in 2004, however, Quino's publisher in Argentina, Ediciones de la Flor, started publishing English-language collections of Mafalda strips under the series title Mafalda & Friends.
Quino has opposed adapting Mafalda for cinema or theater; however, two series of animated shorts featuring Mafalda have been produced. The first, a series of 260 90-second films, was produced by Daniel Mallo for Argentine television starting in 1972. These were adapted into a full-length movie by Carlos Márquez in 1979 and released in 1981. It remains relatively unknown. In 1993 Cuban filmmaker Juan Padrón, a close friend of Quino, directed 104 short animated Mafalda films, backed by Spanish producers.
Mafalda has occasionally been pointed out as being influenced by Charles Schulz's Peanuts, most notably by Umberto Eco in 1968, who contrasted the two characters. Quino states he does not understand the reasons which led Eco to point out the alleged influence. While Eco thought of Mafalda and Charlie Brown as the voices unheard of children in the northern and southern hemispheres, Quino saw Mafalda as a socio-political strip, firmly rooted on family values. This is one of the reasons adults play a starring role in the strip, while they are never seen in the Charlie Brown universe. Quino does, however, acknowledge the influence of Schulz's work on his, in that Quino extensively studied Schulz's books in preparation for an advertising campaign he was working on in 1963. The advertising campaign was scrapped but he reused some of the material for the Mafalda series a year later.
Some people think the appearance of Mafalda's character resembles that of the main character in the U.S. comic strip Nancy (called Periquita in the Mexican edition, which was in general use in Latin America) — and there is a reference in the strip where Miguelito buys a magazine and it has Nancy on the cover, then he asks Mafalda who she looks like. In the next panel is implied that Mafalda replied, "¡Tu abuelita!" ("Your granny!"), a phrase similar to "Your mama!" in English, as Miguelito stares at the magazine wondering, "My granny?".
In 2009, a life-sized statue of Mafalda was installed in front of Quino's old home in the San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires.
In 2010, it was announced that the city of Gatineau, in the province of Quebec, had sought and obtained permission to name or rename a street after Mafalda, as part of a project to establish a neighbourhood named after famous comic strips and bande dessinée characters.
- Gibson, Andrew. "The Celebration Of Cartoons and Comic Strip Art". Smashing Magazine. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
- Liu, Sylvia. "Mafalda: A Classic Comic Strip for any Age". Sylvia Liu Land. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
- Gravett, Paul. "Comica Argentina: A Rich Culture Of Cartoons & Comics". paulgravett.com. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
- El Mundo de Mafalda, ed. Marcelo Ravoni, Editorial Lumen, Barcelona, 1992, p. 44
- Quino's official site, http://www.quino.com.ar/spain/publicaciones_argentina.htm
- Quino's official site, http://www.quino.com.ar/spain/publicaciones_espana.htm
- Quino's official site, http://www.quino.com.ar/spain/publicaciones_mexico.htm
- Cinecin, retrieved June 7, 2009
- (Spanish) "Lo que dice Umberto Eco sobre Mafalda". Mafalda.net
- Quino interview by Lucía Iglesias Kuntz, UNESCO Courier journalist
- Passage Mafalda; Le nom des rues d'Angoulême
- Prochainement à Gatineau...la rue Mafalda, Cyberpresse, March 8, 2010