Being only a six-year-old, she understood the world better than most of us. She wore her bushy hair in a bow, she loved The Beatles, and she read her father’s newspaper often. She said what we all thought, but were too scared to say. Her name was Mafalda.
I’m not sure what Joaquin Salvador -better known as Quino- was thinking about the first time he sat down to draw black-and-white comic strips for magazines back in the early sixties. But I’m certainly glad he did. I remember getting a collection of Mafalda when I was about ten, and I still reread it every other day. Each page is full of laughter and reflection. The kind of smart jokes that bring a smile to people’s faces. Even if it took them three readings to understand them. Even if they were tangled with a cruel truth.
The last slide reads: “These things only happen in this country!”
1964, the first comic strip of Mafalda for the Argentinan magazine Primera Plana
(sources at the end of the article)
Mafalda, she despises exams as much as any kid does, she likes to play with her friends and she can barely stand the smell of soup. Through his work, Quino also criticizes a world of injustice and discrimination. It started in Argentina, and the battles it fights regarding society, economy, and politics. But some pieces of ink and paper came to reflect the whole western world. Mafalda talked about war and corruption and class. She held people accountable. She was not scared to speak her mind. And what my ten-year-old self thought while reading it was that maybe, I can voice my thoughts too. And maybe, if enough people realized what these kids did, there was still hope for change. She not only taught me about this world and the real struggles it faces, but she empowered me too. Quino’s work still resonates with me.
So, now that you know just how much these comic strips mean to the people and to me, let me tell you about the dimension of Mafalda. She has a playful brother and lives with her parents in a small apartment in Argentina. Every year or two, Quino added a character to the comic strips. There is Felipe, a master procrastinator who likes to read cowboy comics instead of paying attention to his teachers. We have Manolito, the son of a store owner who would never lend you a dollar (or a peso, in this case). Mafalda’s best friend, Susanita, is a girl who dreams of becoming a mother and would probably blast “Material Girl” by Madonna through the speakers. Miguelito is the youngest, a boy who likes to reflect, dream, and wonder how will he buy candy without his mother noticing. And the last character to be introduced, Libertad, likes simple people and, despite being small, she makes sure to be heard. Every character is said to represent important aspects and stands of society. But hopefully, by the end of this article, you will pick up one of the comic strips and realize what each of them means.
Last slide reads: F$MS
Even though Quino kept writing the comics for about nine years, he managed to make every interaction fresh and fun. Going to the beach, long afternoons listening to music, playing in a plaza, walking to school. Day-to-day actions, never losing the rebellious edge, and innocent fun. Plus, they can always be more relatable than expected.
Last slide reads: “It’s hard to gather motivation to go down into this world.”
Even if it was translated to 15 languages and edited in 30 countries, I’ve noticed that this generation is just about to forget Mafalda. Well, try me, gen z. I’m not letting that happen.
By the end of this month, it will be 57 years since Quino’s first Mafalda comic strip went out to the public. And I dare say, even with all the new technologies and investigations, the world hasn’t changed as much as it should have. The topics Mafalda was advocating for during the spring of 1964 remain in demand of attention. If she could see us, she would probably shake her fist and call us “zanahorias” (carrots, in Spanish). Or maybe she would acknowledge our slow but steady progress.
Salvador, J. (1964). Primera tira de Mafalda [Cartoon]. Buenos Aires, Primera Plana.
Found in the article:
GDA. (2019, September 29). Hoy, hace 55 años, se publicó la primera tira de Mafalda. El Nacional:
Salvador, J.(2015). Mafalda 5 [Cartoon]. Buenos Aires: Ediciones De La flor. (Pg 81).
Salvador, J.(2015). Mafalda 7 [Cartoon]. Buenos Aires: Ediciones De La flor. (Pg 4).
is a young planster with too much passion and too little time on a day. She has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, whether they are thoroughly researched flash fiction pieces or improvised bedtime stories.