Quino, 88, world-famous Argentine cartoonist: "Mafalda"
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2020-09-30 19:02:39 UTC
(when you scroll down, the photo of the books has Spanish editions on the left and the English editions - Mafalda & Friends - on the right)

The Argentine cartoonist Joaquín Salvador Lavado, who created the character Mafalda, has died aged 88 in Mendoza, the city where he was born.

Mafalda, the cartoon about the adventures of a six-year-old girl of the same name, is immensely popular in the Spanish-speaking world.

Lavado wrote and drew the comics between 1964 and 1973 but they are still being reprinted to this day.

Mafalda is so popular she even has her own statues in Argentina and in Spain.

The comic, which first appeared in the Argentine weekly Primer Plana in 1964, features the daily life of Mafalda, the daughter of a typical middle-class Argentine couple, whom she often baffles with her insightful questions.
Mafalda hates soup and wants world peace.

Mafalda's wit and her sharp observations of the adult world ensured the comic's popularity, which was translated into 26 languages.

Quino drew the comic strips for nine years until in 1973, he decided to stop. Asked about his decision, decades later, the graphic artist said he wanted to avoid repetition.

"It's the same for many artists - for example, I've had enough of Botero's chubby people," he said referring to the Colombian painter whose paintings feature portly animals and characters.

He also said that the changing political landscape in Latin America influenced his decision to stop drawing Mafalda.

"After the coup d'etat in Chile, the situation in Latin America became very bloody," he said about the 1973 ousting from power of Salvador Allende by Gen August Pinochet in the neighbouring country.
"If I had continued drawing her [Mafalda], they would have shot me once, or four times," he said referring to the attacks on artists and intellectuals who opposed right-wing military regimes in Latin America.

Quino left Argentina for Italy in March 1976, days after a military junta had seized power in his native country. Thousands of political opponents were rounded up and killed under military rule.
After democracy returned to Argentina in 1983, Quino split his time between Buenos Aires, Madrid and Milan.
He continued to work as a cartoonist until he retired in 2006.

Lenona's profile photo
2:58 PM (now)

(shorter obit)


There are many obits in Spanish and other languages, of course.


By Reuters

BUENOS AIRES - Argentine cartoonist Quino, the creator of Mafalda, the inquisitive and quick-witted girl who used humor and irony to call for greater democracy in the crisis-prone country, has died at the age of 88, his editor reported Wednesday.

Joaquín Salvador Lavado, better known as Quino, recently suffered a stroke and, despite the fact that doctors managed to temporarily stabilize him, his condition worsened, local media reported.

"Quino died. All the good people in the country and the world will mourn him," said Daniel Divinsky, his longtime editor, said on Twitter.

RIP to brilliant Quino, the creator of #Mafalda a character who served as the voice of global revolutions, womxn rights, anti consumerism and as an astute critic of middle class respectability across Latin America and the world. #quinoeterno pic.twitter.com/mG73okYFAN

— Arlene Dávila (@arlenedavila1) September 30, 2020

Quino created Mafalda, an Argentine girl of about five or six with bulging black hair and strong political views. The cartoon was eventually published in 27 languages.

He was able to use Mafalda's apparent innocence to spread scathing criticism of the dictatorships that plagued Latin America from the 1960s, including Argentina's 1966-1973 military dictatorship.

After a failed 1987 coup against President Raul Alfonsín, Quino published a cartoon of Mafalda saying "Yes to democracy! Yes to justice! Yes to freedom! Yes to life!"
2020-09-30 19:52:13 UTC
Some of what I posted in 2012:

(Unofficial site for the strip itself. Has an English version - you
have to click on "Gallery.")

(this includes strips with Libertad)

(this has a LOT more detail about the characters)


"Mafalda has occasionally been compared to Charles Schulz's Charlie Brown, most notably by Umberto Eco in 1968, for reasons Quino states he does not understand. 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."

(A 45-second video of Mafalda's enthusiasm for her first day of school - no need for sound, really! Quino is a master of non-verbal cartoons)

(More videos - some of them have have subtitles!)


And, from a site I can't find anymore:

"If anything I think this comparison has more to do with character design than content. While Mafalda looks like she might be some distant relative of Lucy Van Pelt, her strong political slant has more in common with Aaron McGruder's 'The Boondocks'. A child of the 60's, Mafalda was often concerned with the Vietnam war, the civil rights movement, and she loved the Beatles. Her comic strips predate me, but they were nonetheless present and relevant in my own childhood, as I'm sure they still are for new generations of readers around the
world." )

(2004 Christian Science Monitor article about Quino)

(2004 article about the process of translating "Mafalda." You can read the original article - in Spanish - by clicking at the top, if you like. Excerpt: "There was no recent English translation because, Divinsky explained, the North American editorials considered to too sophisticated Mafalda "for the American children". And the English of England said that it looked like Peanuts, that he is more or less like saying that a table looks like a horse because it has four legs.")

(Brief bio from 2005. Excerpt: "Quino is a master of emotions. Anger, happiness, confusion, and sadness are his staples and he's one of the most skilled cartoonists at using them not only for maximum effect but as the actual plotline. Some of his books have no captions or speech whatsoever. Instead, expressions and wordless thought bubbles convey everything that's needed. Even the signs in the scenery are entirely symbolic. He's not above a little blasphemy--his divine caricature of an old man with a beard and triangular halo is definitely not the work of a good Catholic boy.")

One source has it that "Mafalda" has been translated into more than 20 languages - about as many as "Calvin & Hobbes." However, it was not translated into English until 2004. There were 10 original books in Spanish - and the English-language edition of volume # 8 (and maybe 9?) have been released so far. It's titled "Mafalda & Friends." (Some stores mistakenly say that that edition is in Spanish.)

"Mafalda" can be described as: "Doonesbury meets Peanuts in Buenos Aires." (And indeed, his praises have been sung by Schulz, Trudeau and Gary Larson! Another comparison was made - to "The Boondocks." See below.)

Mafalda is 5 years old (she does age, at half-speed) and is always worried about the global situation and plans to be an interpreter at the U.N. when she's older so she can translate politicians' insults into compliments and bring about world peace. Strong patriot, wise, progressive, loves the Beatles and hates soup.***** Has a turtle named Bureaucracy.

The other child characters include:

Felipe, an amiable, procrastinating, daydreaming boy. Loves the Lone Ranger.

Susanita, a bourgeois racist little girl who dreams only of Cinderella, rich husbands, babies, household goods and canasta parties. Always wears a very maternal bubble-cut hairstyle and pearl stud earrings. Fights with Manolito. Talks non-stop.

Miguelito, a narcissistic pseudo-intellectual with feathery hair to match. His Italian family keeps an antiseptic house and worships Mussolini.

Libertad, a tiny, fierce but naive left-wing revolutionary. She resembles Charles Schulz's Sally in her hair, energy, and academic cluelessness.

Manolito, the greedy capitalist stooge. Literally blockheaded, with a crewcut. He helps his father in their low-quality grocery store, plans to own a chain of supermarkets, is (usually) culturally illiterate, and when an angry customer wants to return a rotten salami, says "lady, nobody gets to return their newspapers when they don't like the news!" Worships Rockefeller. Hates the Beatles. Fights with Susanita.

Guille, Mafalda's lisping pacifier-hooked macho baby brother who is also hooked on Brigitte Bardot. Loves soup. Causes frequent embarrassment in typical toddler fashion.

*****From what I understand, decades ago (during the Depression?), soup used to be the only thing most Argentines could afford to eat, so naturally it was mandatory for kids to eat it and the saying sprang up "si no comes la sopa no vas a crecer," which means "if you don't eat your soup you won't grow." From this, Quino turned soup into a symbol of governmental oppression. In real life, Quino loves soup.

Ediciones de la Flor tried to get a deal with Scholastic Book Services, but they said "Mafalda" was too sophisticated for children. Let's prove them wrong! They then published the translations themselves.

Quino has also many collections of his wordless cartoons. One is "The World of Quino," which won praise from multiple famous cartoonists.)

Someone said that Mafalda is what Lucy in "Peanuts" would be if Lucy read newspapers.

Excerpt from "Quino, on the Funny Side of Freedom" (2000)

Another excerpt:

Q: Certain pseudo-scientific studies circulate on the Internet arguing that Latin American children who read Mafalda tend to hate soup. Some girls have actually been named after her. A magazine even chose her as one of the 10 most influential Argentine women of the 20th century. Isn’t this a heavy responsibility?

A: Absolutely. But the real responsibility for me is facing a blank page each week on which I can say whatever I please. Someone once told me that hundreds of people would love to have their own weekly page to say whatever they liked. Becoming aware of that responsibility made me feel dizzy, but as for the rest, it’s none of my business.

(timeline of Quino's life)

(VERY long)

2020-10-01 18:25:30 UTC
This has a much more detailed timeline of his life:


You can see plenty of his work on YouTube as well.

One book collection of his wordless cartoons released in the U.S. was The World of Quino (1986), praised by Garry Trudeau, Gary Larson, and Charles Schulz, among others. From an Amazon customer in 1997:

"...There are lots of funny folks around, but no one walks that tendentious tightrope between the truely funny and the all-too-painfully-true like Quino does. Whether he's crafting one of his one- or two-page comic vignettes or dashing off a gag, his stuff is urbanely harrowing, poignant, jocular, profound, lighthearted, scintillating, insightful, melancholic, piercing, or some new and exciting combination of the above.

"The greatest pity of Quino relates to the fact that his work is virtually unknown in the U.S. This is particularly odd as he long ago made an aesthetic decision which should have served as a concession to the U.S.'s largely monolingual culture; most of his comics are wordless. To appreciate Quino requires only a handful of things; to be human, to have eyes that work, to have been subject to the griefs and glories of Western Civ, and to have not totally lost your sense of humor..."

One of Quino's better-known wordless comics, featuring Pablo Picasso's "Guernica."
("...the Nazi German bombing of Guernica, Spain on April 26, 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. Guernica depicts suffering people, animals, and buildings wrenched by violence and chaos.")


And here's a fun analysis of it:

2020-10-03 19:26:53 UTC
More obits.

(And, what is taking NPR and The New York Times so long? Even the New York Post has an obit!)



...Although her creator, a cartoonist known as Quino, drew her regularly for just nine years, the Argentine comic strip “Mafalda” became a cultural touchstone across Latin America and Europe, examining issues such as nationalism, war and environmental destruction just as Argentina’s democracy was giving way to dictatorship.

When Mafalda spots workmen trying to locate a gas leaks, she asks: “Are you searching for our national roots?” In another sequence, Mafalda’s pet turtle is revealed to have an unusual name, Bureaucracy. When (Miguelito) asks why she gave it that name, Mafalda replies that he needs to come back the next day for more information. She can’t say exactly when.

“In Argentina I had to censor myself, because when I started to draw in Buenos Aires they clearly told me ‘no military, no religion, no sex,’ ” Quino once said, according to the Agence France-Presse. “And then I talked about all that, but in another way.”...

...The comic strip was translated into more than 20 languages and established Quino as Argentina’s most famous cartoonist as well as a symbol of the movement for democracy and human rights after military uprisings in 1966 and 1976. “He said with humor what nobody dared at the time, and in such a way it could not be censored,” President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said in 2014...

...Even the strip’s best-known gag, Mafalda’s hatred of soup, was a cover for political commentary. When Mafalda realizes her mother is cutting out a newspaper recipe for soup, she condemns freedom of the press. Noting that everything left-wing Cuban dictator Fidel Castro says is condemned in Argentina, she asks why Castro doesn’t praise soup and let the rest of the world think it’s bad.

“The soup had a political meaning,” Quino once told the Mexico City newspaper Reforma. “It was the governments that one has to swallow daily, especially in the dictatorship era in Latin America. It was really an allegory about that.”

Near the peak of the comic strip’s popularity in 1973, Quino announced he would no longer continue “Mafalda,” declaring that the cartoon had run its course. Privately, he was also concerned about the country’s turn toward authoritarianism. He later recalled visiting magazines that published his work, only to find their offices bombed or pockmarked with bullets.

"If I had continued drawing her, they would have shot me once, or four times,” he said, according to BBC News...

...The son of Spanish immigrants, Quino was born in Mendoza on July 17, 1932. He later recalled growing up in confusion, trying to distinguish the good Spaniards from the bad as his pro-democracy parents told him about Franco and the country’s civil war....

...When the military dictatorship began hunting down, torturing and disappearing its political opponents in 1976, he went into self-imposed exile in Milan with his wife, Alicia Colombo. They later split their time between Madrid and Buenos Aires, where he drew cartoons for newspapers such as Clarín. He received Spain’s Prince of Asturias Award in 2014, and his wife died in 2017. They had no children.

In a tribute for the Spanish newspaper El País, journalist Álex Grijelmo wrote that Quino was sometimes asked what Mafalda would be like if she were alive today. He replied “that she was probably already dead, because she would have been one of the disappeared.”

Years earlier, before the disappearances began in earnest, he had drawn Mafalda seated before a globe, daydreaming about becoming a U.N. interpreter. If one delegate told another that his country was disgusting, she mused, she would intentionally misinterpret his words and say he found the country charming.

“And troubles and wars will be over and the world will be safe!” she said, before something else occurred to her. “Promise me,” she told the globe, leaning forward to make her point clear, “that you will last until I grow up.”

2020-10-03 19:39:01 UTC
This one is short, but it has a very pretty photo - it must have taken days, even with a big team, to make the backdrop! (Probably not the right word, since there's no paint involved, I think.)


2020-10-06 21:19:18 UTC
(news video in which a man brings flowers and sips wine on the street in honor of Quino)

(from the Associated Press)

(NPR short audio and transcript)

(this includes videos of the animated Mafalda movie and three non-Mafalda animated works by Quino)

(probably the longest obit of all, from the Buenos Aires Times)

I think this is from Le Monde:


Near the end:

...If the problems on earth have changed since the time when the series was published, Mafalda remains forever the guarantor and the embodiment of a universal right: that of “Remain a little girl who does not want to take on the adulterated universe of her parents”, as the Italian Umberto Eco wrote in a preface in a complete anniversary.

“The problem in our world is that children lose the use of sanity as they grow older. They forget at school what they knew at birth. They marry without love. They work for money and, having entered adulthood, drown not in a glass of water but in a bowl of soup ”, regretted Quino in an interview with World, in 2014.

...Affected by sight problems, he finally put down his pencil in 2006. It was after the attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that the designer, close to Wolinski, made one of his last public appearances in January 2015: “Mafalda would have felt a terrible pain”he said, holding a sign in his wheelchair ” I am Charlie “.

Quino described himself as follows: “A pessimist who, despite everything, has the illusion that his work can make a difference."

Finally, the New York Times obit!

Do please open it if you can - it includes a classic strip about a "patient."


By Daniel Politi.

About half of the obit:

...In her youthful innocence, Mafalda said out loud what many preferred to keep quiet. And she couldn’t help but ask her frazzled parents basic questions that often left them stumped. “Mom, what would you like to be if you lived?” Mafalda asks, while her mother is doing housework.

In another strip, Mafalda is standing in front of her class, conjugating the verb “trust.” “I trust, you trust, he trusts…” She then turns to her teacher: “What a bunch of naïve people, no?”

The cast of characters grew to include friends, a younger brother and a turtle named Bureaucracy, a nod to the slow-moving government offices that Argentines knew all too well. In one strip, Mafalda tells her mother she will play government with her friends. “Don’t cause trouble,” the mother says. “Don’t worry,” Mafalda replies. “We aren’t going to do absolutely anything.”

Quino decided to end Mafalda in 1974, saying he wanted to stop before it became predictable. He later added it would have been dangerous to continue the strip amid rising political violence ahead of Argentina’s military coup d’état of 1976.

“If I kept drawing her, they’d have hit me with one or four gunshots,” he said in 2014.

Less than four months after the coup, three priests and two seminarians of the Pallottine order were killed in a Buenos Aires church. Next to the bodies, the assailants had placed a Mafalda poster they had ripped down from the wall, in which the girl points to a police baton and says: “See? This is the stick to dent ideologies.”

"I luckily did not see that at the time,” Quino said in a 2014 interview. “When I found out years later, it was one of the ugliest things I’ve ever felt.”

When Quino was asked years later whether he imagined an adult Mafalda, he said she surely would have been one of the tens of thousands of people who disappeared during rule by the brutal military junta from 1976 to 1983.

Although he stopped drawing Mafalda, new generations continued to fall in love with the irreverent girl who hated soup and loved the Beatles as compilation books became mainstays in family libraries. Quino revived the beloved characters for special occasions, including UNICEF’s Declaration of the Rights of the Child and, more recently, as part of a Covid-19 campaign.

Statues of Mafalda have been erected in Buenos Aires and Spain. There is also a plaza bearing her name in Buenos Aires, and a subway station there with giant Mafalda strips on the wall.

After Mafalda, Quino pursued a darker humor that was even more overtly political in drawing doctors, psychoanalysts, police officers and judges in cartoons that criticized authoritarianism, highlighted the plight of the working class and exposed inequality and privilege.

In one strip, a skinny man is seen rowing a boat holding a group of men in tuxedos around a long table in a storm. One turns to him. “What do you mean you aren’t rowing anymore?” he asks. “Aren’t we all on the same boat?”
Humor “puts in evidence the absurd things we do as human beings,” Quino said in a 2015 interview.

Political leaders of all stripes, including President Alberto Fernández and his predecessor Mauricio Macri, joined Argentines in expressing their grief on social media upon news of Quino’s death. Mr. Fernández declared a national day of mourning on Oct. 1.