'Mafalda' turns 59

Originally designed for an advertising campaign for household appliances, the comic strip rose to prominence in Latin America and Europe.

The iconic "Mafalda" comic strip turns 59 this Friday. The popular character, created by Joaquín "Quino" Salvador Lavado Tejón, first appeared on Sept. 29, 1964. Originally conceived as part of an advertising campaign for household appliances, "Mafalda" achieved iconic status in Latin America and Europe.

The cartoon's title character, Mafalda, is a middle-class Argentinian girl whose mother, Raquel, works as a housewife, while her father, whose name is never revealed, works in an office and is a plant enthusiast. The family also includes her brother Guille. They, along with Mafalda's friends, Felipe, Libertad, Miguel "Miguelito" Pitti and Susana, are the main characters in the comic, which was published periodically until June 25, 1973.

Throughout the life of the cartoon, "Mafalda" criticized contemporary society and, especially, ironicized the "world of the elderly." In fact, in the first comic, Mafalda discovered that her father did not have to be "the best in the world." In another, the little girl, irritated after breaking the tip of her pencil, emphasized how this "only happens in our country":

"Mafalda" also reflected on more relevant topics in the years in which the cartoon was published, such as evil, the incompetence of humanity and the bad solutions that world leaders proposed for problems such as hunger and war. Libertad Digital Argentina recalls that the cartoon discussed other issues such as state violence, the Cold War, Vietnam, capitalism and, of course, the plight of the Argentinian middle class:

The result of an advertising campaign

Although the first "Mafalda" strip came out on Sept. 29, 1964, its creator, Quino, created the character on March 15, 1962. That year, the Argentinian cartoonist received a commission from the Mansfield appliance company. The company contacted the cartoonist, who already had experience in marketing campaigns. In 1954, he had begun to make drawings for advertisements, and, in 1963, a year after Mansfield contacted him, he published his first compilation book, "Mundo Quino."

However, the destiny of "Mafalda" was not to be an ad, and before the spots saw the light of day, Mansfield ruled out using the cartoon to promote his products. Quino sold the illustrations to the magazine Leoplán, which published the first cartoon. On Sept. 29, 1964, "Mafalda" landed in the magazine Primera Plana, where it was published regularly until March 9, 1965, when Quino abandoned the publication due to differences of opinion. Furthermore, the Argentinian newspaper El Mundo also published "Mafalda" cartoons between 1965 and 1967.

However, the story of "Mafalda" was far from over. As part of the celebration for her birthday, Disney Plus released a documentary titled "Rereading Mafalda." Using artificial intelligence, it shows images of what the cartoons would be like today, in addition to recapping the history the character who rose to fame in Latin America and Europe.

Anniversary of Quino's death

The birthday of "Mafalda" also coincides with the second anniversary of the death of its creator, Quino. The cartoonist died on Sept. 30, 2020, in Mendoza, Argentina, after being hospitalized for several days due to a stroke. He passed at the age of 88 just one day after his most popular character, Mafalda, turned 57.

Archive image of the creator of Mafalda, Joaquín 'Quino'. The cartoonist died on September 30, 2020 at the age of 88.
(Cordon Press)