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Quino y Mafalda

Obit by Harrison Smith, full of stories:

She was a wise and idealistic young girl, a cartoon kid with a ball of black frizz for hair, a passionate hatred of soup and a name, Mafalda, inspired by a failed home appliance brand.

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 a friend asks why she gave it that name, Mafalda replies that she needs to come back the next day for more information. She can’t say exactly when. . . .


  1. Pedro Franco says:

    It’s a very nice tribute to a wonderful cartoonist, who will be much missed. He truly was extremely influential in Latin America and in Europe, an early global comic artist that’s sadly not more well known in English speaking markets.

    The only thing missing in the tribute that I sorely missed is a description of his successful (if not mega-successful) career post-Mafalda, including his many wonderful humour books that I loved as a child. They have a rather unique blend of idealism and cynicism, bleakness and hope, sweetness and bitterness, whilst being very, very funny.

  2. Hernan Bruno says:

    As an Argentine born in the 70s, I grew up with Mafalda (in collected books). Not every comic strip had a deep meaningful insights and some jokes were rather lame. But many strips and punchlines became classics, and often a silent outlet to a shared feeling of protest. Mafalda is inevitably part of the collective psyche of my native country.

    I consider Mafalda good but overrated, and much prefer other Quino’s cartoons. But I admit that I don’t know of any one comic that had such an influence on a country, like Mafalda had on Argentina, and possibly other Latin American countries in the 60s and 70s.

    What would be the analog in the US? Peanuts (which btw inspired Mafalda)? Nancy? Calvin and Hobbes?

    • jim says:

      To whatever extent there was political commentary in Peanuts, I missed it, despite my large childhood collection of Charlie Brown books. Or maybe it wasn’t that I missed it, maybe it was so trivial that it was boring, which is my general view of Peanuts since about age 7.

      I don’t know how influential they were, but without Calvin and Hobbes or the various iterations of Bloom County, I don’t find much reason to read the cartoons. The joke is the cartoon pages.

      • Phil says:

        I just picked up an old Doonesbury collection the other day. Boy was that a great strip. It’s a pretty lame collection, just a couple of months from a time period that wasn’t especially tumultuous, but it’s still great.

        • Andrew says:


          When Bloom County came out, the consensus was that it was just a ripoff of Doonesbury, but Bloom County kinda grew on me and now I think it’s the better strip of the two. Where Bloom County did better, in my opinion, was with its characters. None of the Doonesbury characters was as charming as Opus.

          • jim says:

            I like Doonesbury too. I dunno, I just think Bloom County was alot funnier, alot more general social criticism, while Doonesbury is more focused on politics. I liked the “Mens Couch” in Bloom County, Milo’s anxiety closet, when Bill the Cat and Bill gates got transposed or transmogrified or whatever, Opus always calling dial-a-mom.


            • jim says:

              Ha, there was a Sunday strip once where Steve Dallas and OPus and the rabbit and others are on the Mens Couch cracking blonde jokes, then a hot blonde shows up and lectures them on their stupidity. She finishes with something like “you oughta take a good hard look at what makes your life meaningful!!” and in the last frame they’re all looking in their drawers.

              Too much for Sunday cartoons I guess. But hilarious.

        • jim says:

          Of the more recent ones I like Zonk starting his dope business. Too funny.

  3. Emmanuel says:

    Mafalda may have been influential even in north america! I grew up in Québec and I cherished all my albums. I even tried to learn Spanish so that I could read the original version. Unfortunately, never got very far with Spanish but I haven’t given up. Mafalda opened my mind to geography, politics, inequality and so much more.

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