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Mafalda, Argentinian cartoonist Quino's masterpiece, is perhaps the most popular comic strip in the Spanish speaking world. It could be sketchily described as "Peanuts with politics". Unlike the timeless world Charles Schulz's creations inhabit, Mafalda and her friends are deeply concerned with world politics, war and the state of humanity. The strip ran from 1962 to 1973, with a weeklong hiatus in March 1965 and a longer interruption from December 1967 to June 1968. It's been translated to several languages.
Recently, a statue of Mafalda was unveiled in Buenos Aires.
The main characters are (in order of appearance in the strip):
- Mafalda, the main character. Little Miss Snarker (maybe one of the first examples), a precocious and politically opinionated girl; and no, she was NOT run over by a soup truck, despite what the Fanon may believe;
- Raquel and Ángel, Mafalda's affectionate but nondescript parents;
- Felipe, a dreamy boy with a deep resentment for school, huge insecurity problems and huge teeth;
- Manolito, a shopkeeper's son obsessed with money and business to the point he is quite dumb about everything else;
- Susanita, Mafalda's gossipy best female friend with Hair of Gold and the dream of marrying into riches;
- Miguelito, a Momma's Boy who is somewhat rebellious and sometimes too eager to get into philosophical debates;
- Guille, Mafalda's candid younger brother born around halfway of the strip's run, and
- Libertad ("Freedom", an actual name in Spanish), a girl who's remarkably small. Has left wing leanings.
Contains examples of:
- Absurdly Worldly Children
- Adult Child: Ángel- riding a slide in the park when no one's looking, playing 'pirates' by himself (just when Mafalda and friends walk in on him), and (when prodded by Mafalda) remembering a bit too vividly how much he hated school
- Adults Are Useless: Mafalda's parents are well-meaning but clueless, and no other adult around is much help to Mafalda and her friends.
- Affirmative Action Girl: invoked in the strip as the reason why Mafalda was introduced to Susanita, as before that the only other kids Mafalda knew and played with were male. Ironically, Susanita is The Chick (Jerkass version, but still more typically feminine than Mafalda).
- Alpha Bitch: Susanita has some of these traits.
- Ambiguous Innocence: Miguelito and Guille.
- Angrish, or rather Spangrish: "¡SUNESCAN! ¡DALUNA BUSO!" -> regular Spanish: "¡Es un escandalo, un abuso!" -> English: "It's a scandal, an abuse!" (Raquel storming home and speaking, or, more accurately, yelling about the rising price of the groceries)
- Art Evolution
- Animated Adaptation
- Beach Episode: Mafalda spends a couple of summers at the seaside with her family. Even while sunbathing, she still finds opportunities for political comments.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Arguably between Susanita and Manolito.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Dear God, Miguelito. When the kids play cops and robbers, he demands to be in the cops team. Felipe agrees since he's so cute and innocent... and Miguelito shows them he brought his own needle for torture and all that.
- Book (and World) Dumb: Manolito, due to his interest in being a shopkeeper, simply shuns any information not related with that. His only strong subject in school is Math, and he is atrocious even on things of common knowledge (for example, he apparently thought "John Doe" to be an historical figure, and refers to harakiri as "ikebana")
- In one strip, the class delivers a report about America. Manolito then asks Mafalda "By the way, 'America' isn't spelled with an 'H', right?" When she says no, Manolito is happy that he got it right... then we see a dejected teacher next to a pile of reports all with a map of America on the cover...except for Manolito's which is flipped.
- Butt Monkey: Felipe, Felipe, Felipe. Manolito also qualifies.
- Cannot Spit It Out: At a certain point, Felipe falls in love with a mysterious girl, whom he avoids.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Felipe and Miguelito, in different ways. Felipe is the daydreaming type, while Miguelito has curious leaps of logic.
- Comic Book Time: Mostly played straight with the protagonists staying little children for 10 years, but some aging does occur : Mafalda and her friends start going to school (excluding Felipe, who's already in first grade when he appears), Guille is born and grows into a toddler.
- Also, Mafalda met and befriended Susanita, Miguelito and Libertad at different stages as the strip went on.
- Companion Cube: Mafalda often talks to her globe, which acts as a stand in for the world.
- Comically Missing the Point: In one strip, Mafalda tells Felipe about a report she heard on the radio about how "a nuclear conflict would affect us all". Felipe replies "Wow! That's the first time *I* was ever mentioned on the radio!"
- In another strip, Felipe offers to share some cookies with Mafalda prompting the latter to grimly remark on the injustice that they are eating cookies while so many people are starving throughout the world. Felipe shouts "YOU NEVER CHANGE!" and leaves. Mafalda retorts that that isn't true: she used to be younger.
- After reading the Beatitude 'Blessed are the poor (in spirit), for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven', Susanita imagines a Fluffy Cloud Heaven populated by hobos and urchins...and promptly starts saving money.
- Crapsack World: Even if all the characters live a nice middle class life, Mafalda constantly despairs about humanity and implies that we live in a sad, hopeless world.
- Creator Backlash: Quino is fond of the strip, but he stopped producing it after finding increasingly difficult to come up with gags and punchlines.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Raquel has been able to outsmart Mafalda in several occasions. Once, Mafalda's defeat was so big, that she started eating her soup.
- Delivery Stork: Discussed in the pre-Guile's birth strips.
- Dirty Communists: The strip was made during the Cold War.
- Does Not Like Spam: Mafalda and soup.
- Dream Sequence
- Eagle Land: Argentinians had a complicated relationship with the USA in the 1960s, and the series reflects this ambivalence. Several strips allude to America's cultural imperialism (or its political imperialism, for that matter).
- Elephants Child: Mafalda, and later Guille.
- Epic Fail: Susanita’s attempts at poetry and political speeches fall into this.
- Manolito kicks a soccer ball right into the point of a statue’s sword.
- Manolito breaks a toy bow when trying to shoot an arrow.
- Manolito breaks Guille’s toy car when trying to wind it.
- Manolito’s vacation consists of him sitting sadly in the water basin.
- Manolito misses all pins bowling. Angrily, he yells among other things that he's a moron... and is applauded.
- Manolito tries to repeat Mafalda's hitting a cup with the tip of her finger to make a nice sound, "¡CLINK!". The end of the strip has Mafalda and Raquel sweeping something and Manolito thinking "¡CLINK!".
- And then there’s this exchange:
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Susanita thinks Felipe's feverish after he speaks about altruism.
- Fascist Italy: Miguelito's grandfather is a Benito Mussolini admirer (possibly a fascist immigrant from Italy?). Since Miguelito is too young to have heard of the outcome of World War II and doesn't understand what fascism really is, he is unable to understand why Mafalda glares to him when he repeats what his granddad says.
- Five-Man Band:
- Flanderization: Almost every character had just a little bit of this by the time the strip ended. But Manolito and Susanita had it in spades.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Mafalda = choleric (you see her shout often), Susanita = sanguine (optimistic and arrogant), Felipe = melancholic (self-explanatory), Manolito = phlegmatic (rational); also, Sixth Ranger Miguelito = supine (calm and friendly). Libertad alternates between supine (when she's being friendly) and choleric (two of every three times she appears on the strip, she's shouting at someone).
- Free-Range Children: Mafalda and the others are often seen wandering the streets of Buenos Aires by themselves. It's actually fiting for the time of the comics (the sixties) where children didn't have TV, video games, and definitely not the Internet. So much everyone did was spend time with friends around the neighboorhood's streets.
- From the Mouths of Babes
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Guille and his reactions every time Briggite Bardot is shown or mentioned.
- More than once Guille is not wearing any pants with the tip of his penis slightly visible. The first time, he's running away from his mother holding his pants; Mafalda tells a shocked Felipe that it's "Guille's uncut version escaping censorship".
- When Guille was learning to talk, Mafalda showed him the contents of his diaper when he asked her what her globe was (called)...
- Going Commando: As mentioned, Guille doesn't like pants and underwear...
- Gold Digger: Susanita.
- Good Looking Privates: Susanita fantasises that Manolito's brother in the army is this... until she finds out to her horror that he's not a cadet but a draftee.
- Gossipy Hens: Oh, Susanita.
- Blame it on her mother, who's just as bad. If not worse, there are times when Susanita herself is embarrassed.
Mrs. Chirusi (on the 'phone): Elvira told me EVERYTHING about Mecha and her hubby, and I swear to you that if you look at it the wrong way, the deal is soooo fascinating...!
Kids: . . .
Susanita: *red from head to toe*
- Gratuitous English: Lampshaded to emphasize Argentina's cultural satellization by the USA.
- High-Class Glass: Guille wears his pacifier as a monocle in a strip to look dignified.
- He also has Mafalda prepare him a Pacifier On the Rocks.
- Honest John's Dealership: Manolito, to a hilarious degree. For example, an early strip had Mafalda and Felipe trying to cure Manolito's hiccups by running into his dad's store screaming "TERRORISM! BOMBS! CIVIL WAR!". His immediate reaction is to increase prices tenfold... and his hiccups persist.
- Hot Mom: Raquel is Hollywood Pudgy, but she's cute enough to qualify. Once she was sunbathing on the beach and in a bikini, and Ángel got jealous when a young man peeked at her. Mixed with Hypocritical Humor since Ángel is often portrayed as a Lovable Sex Maniac and the strip itself started with him ogling a girl.
- Libertad's mother is also very pretty, and looks quite younger than she is.
- Housewife: Susanita dreams of being one but her concept of what this means is... uh, it's very special.
- Raquel arguably plays it straighter.
- Hypocritical Humor: Lots.
- Innocent Prodigy: Mafalda. Guille might grow into one.
- Imagine Spot: Felipe lives and breathes this trope!
- Insane Troll Logic: Libertad's bread and butter.
Libertad: You know, retired men should go on strike. Retired People's Strike! Riots all across the country!
Mafalda: Libertad... nothing would happen.
Libertad: How so? I mean, who's going to sit on park benches and complain about the youth of today? And the grandpas! Can you imagine an infantry soldier masquerading as a grandpa? Huh?
- One time Guille got in his parents's bed in the middle of the night, next to his sleeping mom. Ángel muttered he was going to wake her up and he replied "Are you jealous because you didn't know her since birth and I do?"
- It's All About Me: Susanita, absurdly self-centered (and self-righteous) for a small girl.
- Spoiled Brat: May be an explanation. She is an only child, after all.
- Jerkass: Susanita again. Her Jerkassery reached its peak when Mafalda was sad that her family wouldn't go on vacation due to Guille's impeding birth. Susanita (horribly jealous about Mafalda getting a baby brother) proceeded to rub it in at every opportunity.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Even though he friggin' loves money, Manolito still puts his friends as a higher priority over it. Example:
Mafalda: Hi, Manolito. Is the whiskey you sell expensive?
Manolito: No, it's cheap.
Mafalda: Is it imported?
Manolito: No, it's not imported.
Mafalda: Hmmm. Is it good?
Manolito: Er... Nnno. It's not very good.
Mafalda: Manolito... [[spoiler: Is it really whiskey?
Manolito: (blushes with shame): No, it actually isn't...
Manolito: (thinking): Business is business, but friends are friends...]]
- Little Professor Dialog
- Luke, I Am Your Father : Tried by Susanita on Felipe to get a Mother's day gift, because it works in the soaps right? He isn't fooled.
- In the next strip we see she tries the same on Manolito, with similar results.
- Meaningful Name: Partially subverted with Libertad; played straight with the tortoise 'Bureaucracy'.
- Meganekko: Mafalda's mother is a grown-up version.
- Mr. Imagination: Several characters, but especially Felipe.
- National Stereotypes: Manolito has thick brows, pointed hair, has a strong disdain for education and is more than a little obtuse; all these were considered stereotypical Spaniard traits in Argentina at the time (Manolito's father is Spanish). Currently this is becoming more of a Discredited Trope.
- Might be a case of Take That Me since author Quino's father was also from Spain.
- Also played with in one of Mafalda's National Independence Day greetings. "Long live the Motherland!" (beat) "And tango!"
- Never Heard That One Before: Libertad is so used to short jokes that the first thing she does when she meets someone new is telling them quite clearly "Go ahead and say your stupid conclusion. We both know what you are really thinking". When she said so to Mafalda, she got red from head to toe, complete with an Aside Glance.
- It's not the fact that she's small that's the issue: it's the fact that she's small AND her name is "Libertad" ("Freedom").
- No Ending
- Off the Wagon: Guille and his pacifier.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Manolito once tries to advertise his father's grocery store by passing himself off as a newcomer in the neighborhood; he disguises himself by putting on a pair of glasses and combing his hair back. (It doesn't work).
- Rant-Inducing Slight: Libertad's talking about cats. Why do you mention you prefer dogs? She's talking about cats, not dogs, which do not pertain to the sphere of the current discussion! WHY CAN'T YOU PEOPLE BE SIMPLE?!
- Running Gag: Lots of them:
- Mafalda's "soupophobia".
- Manolito trying to sell stale or substandard foodstuffs and his hatred of The Beatles
- Mafalda's relatives dashing to the pharmacy after someone (usually Mafalda) does or says something that causes someone else to have an (off panel) attack of some sort.
- Susanita's constant gloating of her desire of "marry a handsome rich man and have a lot of little kids". To the point that Real Life women acting like this are sometimes known as "Susanitas" in Argentina.
- Felipe's extreme dislike for school.
- Libertad's emphasis on 'simplicity' and 'simple things'.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: In one strip, Manolito makes polite small talk with a store customer while ringing up her shopping. Until...
Manolito: By the way, whatever happened to your husband? I haven't seen him in quite some time...
Customer: NEITHER HAVE I! HE MUST BE FINE! [Leaves without her shopping]
Manolito: [Thinking] "Commercial coldness"... When will I learn? Customers must be treated with commercial coldness...
- Scenery Porn: The national park.
- Shout-Out: Mafalda's visual similarity to Nancy is lampshaded when Miguelito shows her an issue and asks "Who does this look like?". Judging by Miguelito's reaction, she replied "Your granny!"
- Shorttank: Mafalda is a primary school-aged version.
- Soapbox Sadie: Mafalda, mostly, but Libertad can be even more militant than her.
- Miguelito tries to be one, but sucks at it. One soapbox rant about how everything for children is made by adults ends with a dejected "That's because we are ourselves not made by children, but by adults" and the dispersal of the crowd in disgust.
- Shrinking Violet: Reflected in Felipe, the author himself is described as incredibly shy. A friend of his even commented “in Quino’s presence, one always feels like an intruder.”
- The Napoleon: Libertad can be aggressive at times, specially when told about her height. And sometimes, even when not told.
Guille: This girl?
Mafalda: This girl is Libertad!
Libertad: (goes up angrily towards Guille before he can even say hi): And I'm much older than you! Any objections?!
- The Sixties: Men with long hair, bell-bottom pants and British pop music - and not everyone likes it.
- Spit Take: Raquel and a friend of hers were drinking tea. Mafalda asks "Mom, what's white slavery?" This is what happens.
- Strong Family Resemblance: The parents look a LOT like their kids. Mafalda is a short-haired Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette like Raquel, Manolito and his older brother look like younger versions of their father, Susanita and her mom look almost exactly the same, Felipe's mother has his same buck teeth (though she originally didn't have them).
- Lampshaded by Mafalda panicking and hugging Raquel when she sees an old photo of her, in a Soap Opera spoof: "Why didn't you tell me you were my sister?!"
- Take That: And how!
- Mafalda despises Communism, going as far as comparing it with soup.
- Libertad appears as a complete parody of shallow, insufferable, over-the-top, perpetually-protesting liberals. Considering the author’s political stand, this might count as Self-Deprecation.
- Raquel and Angel get quite a lot of vile remarks from their daughter for being a housewife and a salaryman, respectively.
- Talking to Plants: Mafalda's dad loves to do this.
- Manolito's father tries it, too. Though, it doesn't work.
Manolito's father: Grow up already, you damned stunted thing!
- The Vietnam War: Referenced on several occasions. At one point, Mafalda dreams she meets an American soldier and a Viet Cong fighter, and shames them into stopping the war.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Felipe once imagines himself as a German WWII prisoner reporting to the kommandant about his absence. Turns out he was delivering the absence justification letter from her mom to the school's teacher.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Mafalda and Susanita, even when Mafalda herself wasn't really tomboyish by actual standards.
- Values Dissonance: Having certain traits in Latin America will automatically make a girl be considered a tomboy, while still remaining girly by North American standards.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Inverted with Mafalda and her hatred of soup. Played straight in that soup is the favorite food of her little brother Guille.
- And Manolito's.
- True Companions: One of the most endearing, diverse and human groups in fiction. The kids and their relationships are surprisingly deep and refreshing in a genre full of generic Self Insert characters.
- Tsundere: Sometimes Susanita toward Felipe (and maybe Manolito).
- Mafalda may come as a non-romantic version.
- Unit Confusion
- Unnamed Parent: Raquel's name is mentioned in only one strip, and Ángel's name is NEVER mentioned at all in the comic.
- Wall of Text: When she's in full gossip mode, Susanita's speech bubbles eclipse the rest of the panel, and are apparently able to assimilate other characters.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Soup
- With Friends Like These...: All the kids get along (mostly) with Mafalda, but they doesn't always get along between them.
- From an unspecified falling out early in the strip onwards, Susanita and Manolito act like they outright hate each other. Lampshaded in a strip with Mafalda and Susanita speaking about how they have very opposite mindsets and fight over key issues so often no one, even them, knows how or why they are still friends. Then both hug each other.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Mafalda's grasp of politics.
Mafalda: Mommy, what's your opinion of Communist China?
Raquel: My opinion is that you should think about things appropriate for your age!
Mafalda: [blows some soap bubbles and claps] Cute! Cute!... So, what's your opinion of Communist China...?
- You Fail Logic Forever: Manolito is particularly prone to it. In one instance, he's sad because he isn't rich yet. Mafalda comforts him by telling him he'll have plenty of money someday. He answers: "But in the meantime I lose interest on the money I don't have yet!"
- Young Entrepreneur: Manolito often tries to come up with schemes to bring more business to his father's grocery shop. Most of them backfire.