Argentine cartoonist Joaquín Salvador Lavado, affectionately known as “Quino″, died Wednesday from natural causes leaving Latin America mourning the man who brought to life a precocious and insightful 6-year-old girl. “Mafalda” is a satirical comic strip with a young girl of the same name who is socially conscious and offered an honest take on the injustices she witnessed. The comic strip was first published in 1964 with Mafalda and her five friends in Buenos Aires reflecting middle-class society and the struggles of political upheavals. His former editor Daniel Divinsky announced his death on Twitter saying the entire world will mourn.
Se murió Quino. Toda la gente buena en el país y en el mundo, lo llorará.
— Daniel Divinsky (@DanielDivi1) September 30, 2020
Mafalda’s age didn’t stop her from pondering life’s heaviest topics from war to philosophy with memorable one-liners including, “It’s funny, one closes their eyes and the world disappears.” She often criticized war and the mistreatment of humans with another strip showing a man walking with a sign that read “not working” for a telephone and she comments that she thought it was for humanity. In another strip she recites the famous “Sana Sana Colita de Rana” healing incantation on a globe of the Earth. And in one anti-fascism strip, she says, “We came for the vaccination against despotism, please.″
“I don’t think the problem is that political systems don’t work very well, it’s that mankind doesn’t work very well,” Quino said in a preface to the 10-year special collection of Mafalda cartoons.
The 88-year-old cartoonist was born in Mendoza, Argentina and moved to Buenos Aires when he was 18 seeking a publisher for his cartoons. Mafalda was actually born after an ad agency hired him to create a comic strip inspired by “Peanuts” and “Blondie”. From 1964 through 1973 he continued promoting the causes Mafalda became famous for until the political upheaval in Latin America began to threaten his safety.
“After the coup d’etat in Chile, the situation in Latin America became very bloody,” he said about the 1973 coup d’état by Gen. August Pinochet in Chile. “If I had continued drawing her [Mafalda], they would have shot me once, or four times,” as those who opposed right-wing regimes in Latin America were preyed upon.
Argentina’s military coup in 1976 led Quino to flee to Italy after receiving death threats and he split his time between Europe and Argentina until moving back to Mendoza in 2017. Local authorities declared a day of mourning in Mendoza province while Argentina as a whole also mourns and many took to Twitter to share the impact of Quino’s work.
RIP to brilliant Quino, the creator of #Mafalda a character who served as the voice of global revolutions, womxn rights, anti consumerism and as an astute critic of middle class respectability across Latin America and the world. #quinoeterno pic.twitter.com/mG73okYFAN
— Arlene Dávila (@arlenedavila1) September 30, 2020
“Well, I suppose that yes, deep down, I want to make the world a better place. One day they said that I was a bitter person with a dash of hope. I think that’s about right,” Quino wrote in the foreword of one of his Mafalda books.