Mafalda, a 50 years old little girl

Mafalda comic cartoon art by QuinoThis year is the 50th anniversary of "Mafalda", the main character of one of the most important comics of Argentina in the world. The author, cartoonist Joaquin Salvador Lavado, well known as Quino, was born on July 17, 1932 in the city of Mendoza, Argentina. He was called "Quino" since he was a little boy to difference him of his uncle, Joaquin Tejon, painter with whom at the age of three he discovered his profession: cartoonist. When he finished the elementary school he signed in the School of Fine Arts, which he would leave years later to dedicate himself to draw humor comics. In 1954 he installed in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and start looking for a job.

The first years in the big city were difficult, he was only eighteen years old and had to survive three years of a hard economical situation, until he achieved to publish in the magazine "Esto Es" his first page graphic humor. Since that moment until today continue to be published his humorous drawings in countless newspapers and magazines of Latin America and Europe.

His first humor book was published in 1963: "Mundo Quino" and after this one he wrote many others. One year later, in 1964, he created his master piece character: "Mafalda". Through Mafalda and her friends and parents, Quino reflects about politics, economy and society always with a touch of humor.

The comic was translated into ten languages and exported to 26 countries. Quino often remarks his extreme shyness, he says that in the character of "Felipe" he put characteristics of himself like the suffering of going to school and his shyness. To buy a pencil he used to walk around the store, he made himself terrible problems for such a thing.

"Mafalda" is a little girl of six years of age, with its characteristic black short hair and her restless mind, always concerned by the future of humanity and peace, which would become the symbol of several generations.
She is curious and restless, ironic and represents the idealistic and utopian inspiration to make a better world. She would like to study languages and work in the United Nations to contribute to world peace. She has a turtle as a pet, called "Bureaucracy", because it moves in slow motion. Mafalda loves The Beatles music, the peace, human rights and democracy. She enjoys the cartoon of Woody Woodpecker, her favorite dessert is pancakes, she usually plays cowboys in the park with her friends. The things she dislikes are war, injustice, racism, and of course the soup.

Her name comes from the character of an Argentinean movie. She was born on September 29, 1964 in the magazine "Primera Plana", she was also published in the newspaper "El Mundo" and the "Siete Dias Ilustrados" magazine. But her first appearance was in an advertising of home appliances.
Quino invented Mafalda and her family to be included in newspapers and magazines as a comic, showing that she and her family used the appliances, the idea was to do a creative way of advertisment trough the comic.

Quino kept some of this comics and years later a friend of him, that was a drafting secretary in a magazine, asked him for something different of the usual humor pages that Quino used to deliver, he showed him the comics of Mafalda, and his friend published them without telling him. This was the beginning of Mafalda and her friends as a daily comic.

Mafalda commented about moments of history such as Vietnam War, the space travels, J.F. Kennedy's murder, the human rights, feminism, between others.
Quino has declared several times that he was surprised of the repercussions that his drawings had in different cultures, he said: "Mafalda is based in argentinian topics and I always wondered how can other cultures understand it".

In 1988 Mafalda almost become a distinguished citizen of Buenos Aires city, it would have been the only comic character to achieve this honour , but according to the law this title could be only applied to people. The project was justified saying that Mafalda symbolizes the best of the young people spirit who are not resigned to abide by the established order and intend to modify and enrich it with their own ideas. The only attempt to declare her as a distinguished citizen shows the importance of the character in the national culture.
In 1995 was inaugurated in the neighbourhood of Colegiales, Buenos Aires, Mafalda's Square, in 2005 the square was reinaugurated but this time with the participation of the band "The Shouts", a Beatles look alike band, they came out of a Citroen 3CV (the car that used to have Mafalda´s father), balloons with messages of peace were released and the people read an open letter to Quino who was finally declared distinguished citizen of the city. Some of Mafalda's famous quotes are displayed in the square. For example: Mafalda listens in her radio "The Pope made a new call for peace" and she comments "The phone was busy as always, right ?".


The passengers that travel by subway across Buenos Aires can enjoy of a mural of 15 meters of Mafalda and her friends in the tunnel that connects the stations Peru with Catedral; and in the old neighbourhood of San Telmo, in the corner of the streets Chile and Defensa, there is a sculpture of Mafalda sitting in a bank, a few metres away where Quino used to live when he created her. In the entrance of the building there is a phrase that says "Here used to live Mafalda".


To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Mafalda in the embassy of Argentina in Paris a video was shown and in black walls were painted all the characters of the comic.
The mini expo "Mafalda, a girl of 50 years" is shown in Italy, France and Costa Rica. It recreates the environment of life-size, street and home and all the different characters: Miguelito, Libertad, Manolito, Guille, Susanita, Felipe and Mafalda.

Mafalda mural at Buenos Aires Subway with the author
As if there were sufficient grounds for celebration this year Quino won in Spain the price "Principe de Asturias". The jury noted that "on the 50th anniversary of Mafalda,Quino lucid messages remain valid for having wisdom combined with simplicity in drawing the line with depth of thought''.
More than three decades ago Quino stopped drawing her, at June 25, 1973 Mafalda appeared for the last time. He prepared the farewell this way: in the number of June 18, Mafalda´s friend Susanita told the reader "You do not say anything I told you but it seems that the precise and accurate within a little while readers who are sick of us will be able to enjoy our pleasant absence very soon". One week later as the final chapter of the great story of Mafalda and her friends all the characters were together and Mafalda said "The director says that from today we can give readers a break but if one of us moved to another magazine, we kicked grabs".

After the last publication, from time to time Mafalda appears, for example in the campaign for the Ten rights of the children from UNICEF, at the end of the 70´s, she warned "To respect these rights, eh, not going to happen as with the Ten Commandments".
The writer Julio Cortazar said once "Does not matter what I think of Mafalda, what matters is what Mafalda thinks of me", and Gabriel Garcia Marquez added: "After reading Mafalda I realized that what approximates you more to happiness is the quinoterapia".
Mafalda always is gonna be a child and all of us as we continue reading her, but no matter how much time passes by, I will never like the soup!


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