First of all, I would like to apologize for not publishing this sooner. One thing after another keeps cropping up and I never seem to get to reviewing an author’s work. At the time, Quino (the artist in question) had just died so I feel bad that I didn’t get to it in a timely manner. Interestingly, Google did feel the man was important enough to commemorate with a Google banner. -Ron
Today [30 September 2020] I woke up with very sad news. Mr. Joaquín Salvador Lavado Tejón, better know as Quino passed away, at the age of 88, in his home country Argentina.
In the year 1964, Quino made a comic strip about a little girl that challenged society. The comic ran for only 9 years, but that was enough time to make Argentina, as well as many other countries, fall in love with this little girl and her shenanigans.
Mafalda was initially planned to serve in advertisements for the “Mansfield” product line for the Siam Di Tella company, but quickly became it’s own independent idea. A local newspaper also offered to publish it with the advertisements removed, but in the end Quino decided to publish his strip in the magazine Primera Plana.
Mafalda: But… Why do I have to do it?
Mom: Because it’s an order and I’m your mother!
Mafalda: If it’s a matter of titles, I’m your daughter!
And we graduated the same day, no?!
The first strip was published on 29 September 1964, one day and 56 years before Quino’s passing.
The comic moved to the newspaper El Mundo just one year later, but the newspaper shut down in December of 1967. The next year the weekly Siete Días Illustrados resumed the publication until the strip concluded on 25 June 1973.
The comic was a mirror of Argentinian middle class and progressive youth during that time period, but at the same time touched topics that are still of concern today, like world peace, communism, capitalism and the way society operates.
Mafalda is an innocent but critical 6-year-old, very concerned with the state of human kind. She very often poses questions or makes observations about serious or mature topics that adults are unable to answer. She hates soup—which is a running gag in the strips—sometimes used metaphorically for different topics. She’s also a big Beatles fan.
She has a younger brother, Guille, who in contrast loves soup! He’s also a troublemaker and, like his sister, also has the tendency to bring complicated topics from an even more innocent point of view.
Mafalda’s parents are a regular middle-class young couple. Her mom is a housewife—very common for that time in Argentina—and her father works as an insurance agent. Both try to avoid Mafalda’s tough questions about adulthood, work, society and school.
Mafalda also has friends who appear in the comics. One is Manolito whose family owns an almacén (a type of traditional shop), called Don Manolo, and usually represents the capitalist point of view. He loves soup and hates The Beatles. He’s always trying to make money.
Felipe is the oldest member of the gang. He’s a bit lazy and also a dreamer, very often worried about school. He loves to play and likes The Beatles.
Susanita is a very, very girly child; she loves gossip and other stereotypical female traits of the period. She dreams of becoming a mother and a housewife one day which usually leads to arguments with Mafalda.
Libertad—which means freedom in Spanish—is a really short girl, the same age as Mafalda, but shorter than Guille. She’s the most political and radical of the children, often touching upon even more complicated topics than Mafalda. She was the last character to be added to the strips. All the children’s parents are secondary characters in some strips.
In the year 1972, one year before the strips ended, Mafalda was developed into an animated series. Running for 52 short episodes. The show was very popular and aired in multiple countries including Spain.
In the year 1976, Argentina was ruled by a military dictatorship; but even in that hard political climate, a Mafalda movie was developed. It was released in 1981.
The last time Mafalda was animated was in the year 1993, with a short series titled Mafalda Animada; it was just a collection of strips turn into shorts.
Quino worked on over 20 different books and comics, but Mafalda became his best-known work. You can still see his legacy to this day in and all the generations Mafalda has touched.