September 25, 2020

50 years since Mafalda came to Spain and Franco labeled it as “adult” humor


“What do you think of love, Manolito?” Susanita asks her friend, to which he replies: “From love to what?”. A few words from Mafalda are enough to achieve the usual goal of her cartoons: to question the order of things, not to accept them as they are because they have always been so. It is, for example, to rethink the meaning of love so that it is not romantic, tormented or has to be linked to a partner.

Mafalda against the 'harrier': this is how a character was used "anti-fascist" to apologize otherwise

Mafalda against the ‘harrier’: this is how an “anti-fascist” character was used to defend the contrary

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For Mafalda, falling in love means talking about friendship, empathy or even those little personal tastes, such as being a fan of the Beatles or reading, which ultimately end up making how we are as a whole. It can also be the opposite: selfishness or jealousy, feelings often represented through the parents of the popular girl. It is what can be seen in Love according to Mafalda, a book published by the Lumen publishing house that compiles a series of strips of the character on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his arrival in Spain.

Joaquín Salvador Lavado, better known as Quino, was born in Mendoza, Argentina, in 1932. The son of Malaga and Republican parents, he grew up in an environment that always encouraged him to reflect on authority, his nature, and the reasons for injustice. It all started as an advertising commission in 1962 for the household appliance brand Mansfield. They put several requirements: create a Charlie Brown-style comic strip, starring a family and whose names began with the letter M, in reference to the company.

However, the official birth of Mafalda (out of any commercial agreement) was on September 29, 1964 in the Argentine magazine Primera Plana, where it began to appear with some regularity and become a humorous phenomenon within the country. “Quino begins the great volcano of intelligence in Argentine graphic humor,” said Miguel Rep, graphic humorist, in the documentary film Looking for Quino, which tells the story of the creator of Mafalda through the last interview he gave in 2018

It would be necessary to wait until 1970 for his arrival in Spain at the hands of Esther Tusquets and the Lumen publishing house. It came at the right time: five years before Franco died. As in Argentina, Mafalda was the mirror of a progressive youth concerned with the future beyond the Franco dictatorship. In fact, as the BBC, during the years of dictatorship they forced publishers to put a strip on the cover of Mafalda labeling it as a work “for adults”.

Quino’s characters have also been misinterpreted to represent completely opposite political ideas. This is what happened when Mafalda or Snoopy stickers began to be sold as if they belonged to the Falange. “In the 80s these symbols were used by a certain right around the Salamanca neighborhood (Madrid). They put these figures with Spanish flags, but with the Franco shield”, told this newspaper the journalist Carlos García Santa Cecilia about a story published by him that was on the cover of El País on April 10, 1985. As appears in the text, Quino then stated that he was “deeply upset” about this, since his characters “are in favor of democracy and they are, of course, anti-fascists. ”

Quino, like his works, was also nationalized in Spain. On January 5, 1990, as recorded the newspaper El País, the cartoonist swore on the Spanish Constitution after years wanting to be Spanish officially. “And at this age, does it occur to you to become Spanish?” They asked him, to which he replied: “No, it had occurred to me before, but then Franco was there.”

Mafalda’s influence has proven on numerous occasions to go beyond her vignettes. And, despite turning 50 years of her arrival in Spain, Quino’s lines and sarcasm continue to have an incomparable validity.

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