Argentine Talents: Quino

mafalda

One of the most emblematic characters of Argentine culture is a little girl named Mafalda.  Through her eyes, locals and foreigners alike have reflected on society and humanity’s many contradictions. Joaquín Salvador Lavado, better known to us as Quino, created the popular character, which even has her own statue in San Telmo.

The famous comic strip, which catapulted the artist to fame, ran from 1964 to 1973 and was translated to over thirty languages. It is still read today, as are other of his comic strips that are published weekly in the Clarín newspaper. His works are known for depicting an affectionate yet cynical portrait of reality and everyday life.

The Museo del Humor in Puerto Madero is a great place to see both his, and other renowned Argentine comic artists’ work.

New in Town: Museo del Humor

(Photo by Nelson Piedra)

Recently, a new museum was inaugurated in the city, celebrating the local comic and caricature scene. The museum exhibits a collection that spans from the 1800’s to the present and depicts different political and cultural stages of the country.

Artist César Hipólito Bacle, who produced a series of lithography’s that mocked the porteño women’s exaggerated hairdos, first introduced comics and caricatures to the locals in 1837. From then on the genre moved from fashion to politics and became very popular as an expression of dissident political opinions. So much so that president Juarez Selman prohibited Eduardo Sojo, a Spanish journalist and caricaturist who founded the Don Quixote magazine in 1884, to draw his caricature.  Later the magazine supported the 1890 revolution and played an important role in the downfall of the Juarez Selman Government.

Another very important magazine at the time was Caras y Caretas. This magazine not only characterized and illustrated the political situation at the time, but also, gave a lot of importance to the cultural icons that forged the national identity, such as the gaucho. Caras y Caretas became emblematic throughout twentieth century Argentina, and incorporated many novelties that were then copied by other smaller publications.

In the thirties comic strips acquired an increased notoriety as there began to be illustrated adaptations of different stories and books such as Hansel and Gretel and Robinson Crusoe. During this period the famous Patoruzu comic strip, by Dante Quinterno, was published in La Razon and El Mundo newspaper, and depicted the life of an innocent Telhuelche Indian with supernatural strength who was tutored by a playboy porteño. Later on it became an independent publication reaching record circulation.

During the next decade comic strips flourished and began to incorporate different themes, mocking world leaders during the Second World War, and also showing some of the cultural changes in western society, as for example the role of workers and women.

During the military dictatorship local publications dwindled as censorship was instilled, however it was during this period that some of the most renowned Argentine comic artists appeared including Quino who commercialized his work abroad with his emblematic character Mafalda, and later Caloi and Fontanarrosa, amongst others.

Now a day’s comic art is still very much alive in the local culture, and many of the mentioned comic artists are well known by a large part of the population.

The comic art museum brings together all the different periods and characters of this important tradition which has helped to define the local identity.

Museo del humor

Av. de los Italianos 851, Puerto Madero

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat-Sun 10am-7pm.

Tickets: 10 pesos.