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Comic Strip / Mafalda

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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.

In 2009, a statue of Mafalda (and her friends) was unveiled in Buenos Aires.

The main characters are (in order of appearance in the strip):

Contains examples of:

  • 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 a Girly Girl (Jerkass version, but still more typically feminine than Mafalda).
  • Agony of the Feet: The father, in one strip, due to Mafalda's rather... uncomfortable question.
    Mafalda: Dad?
    Father: (Cutting the nails of his toes): Yeah?
    Mafalda: I know that in the newspaper it says it's some kind of insane person, but tell me, what kind of things does a sexual maniac do?
    Cut to the train that the father uses to go to work, with one of his feet bandaged.
  • 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)
  • Animated Adaptation: Two, in fact. First came a monochrome one made during the 80s that focused mostly on the dialogues. Another one was made in the 90s, this one mute (Save for a few cases of Speaking Simlish) and in full color. The contrast between the two is notable.
  • Art Evolution: The early strips have a more brisk drawing style; compare and contrast this with the characters' droopier hair and faces near the end of the strip's run.
  • 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.
  • Better than a Bare Bulb: A good deal of the humour relies on acid comments, sarcasm and Lampshade Hanging.
  • 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.
    • In another strip, Miguelito asks Mafalda if she's still gonna like him when she gets a little brother. When she replies she'll always like him, he throws away the club he'd been hiding behind his back.
  • Black Comedy: Often employed, especially in strips dealing with society or politics. An example is when the kids play "Government", and Felipe and Manolito try to pull a Military Coup (armed with pots on their heads and wooden swords). Mafalda throws them out of her room.
    Felipe: You are not well informed! It never goes this way in reality!
  • Book 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, and whose name (Muriel) we learn later thanks to Susanita.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Felipe and Miguelito, in different ways. Felipe is the daydreaming type, while Miguelito has curious leaps of logic.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Defictionalization: Nervocalm, the preferred in-universe tranquilizer, became a real product in Argentina.
  • Delivery Stork: Discussed in the pre-Guille's birth strips.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: When explaining that her son will be a famous doctor, Susanita claims that "Everybody who sees me will say 'There goes Mrs. Susanita, mother of Doctor Mrs Susanita's son!'"
  • Dirty Communists: The strip was made during the Cold War.
  • Does Not Like Spam: Mafalda and soup, and in another strip, Guille and mortadella. There is even a song dedicated to Mafalda's dislike for soup called "Otra ves Sopa" from the 1972 album "Mafalda y sus Amigos".
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Susanita's rants against the poor wouldn't be out of place in an Ayn Rand book.
  • Dub Name Change: The Swedish names are as follows: Susanne, Filip, Emanuel, Mikael, Fred (Libertad), Lillen (Guille), and Rakel. the father never gets a name. Mafalda? She's Mafalda, of course. What else could she be?
  • Eagleland: Argentinians had a complicated relationship with the USA in the 1960s, and the series reflects this ambivalence. Several strips allude to the cultural imperialism of the US (or its political imperialism, for that matter).
  • Elephant's 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!".
    • Felipe, Mafalda and Manolito are playing with paper planes... correction: Felipe and Mafalda are playing with paper planes; Manolito made a paper boat, which he tries to hurl like a plane which promptly falls to the floor; he wonders where did he go wrong...
    • And then there’s this exchange:
    Susanita: You are a MORON!!
    Manolito: Ha- subtleties to me?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Flowery Cervantian Spanish: In one strip, between Mafalda and Raquel.
    Mafalda: (seeing her mother with a plate of soup): What have you brought to me? Mercy, take away from here your vile concoction (¿Que me has traido? Pardiez, llevaos de aqui vuestro vil brebaje).
    Raquel: As it pleases you, God knows, for it will not be I who becomes a weakling (Como os plazca, vive Dios, que no sere yo la que quede enclenque).
    Mafalda: (surprised at her response): Is she making a psychoanalisis of herself in anonimity?
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Mafalda = choleric (you see her shout often), Susanita = sanguine (optimistic and arrogant), Felipe = melancholic (self-explanatory), Manolito = phlegmatic (rational); also, Sixth Rangers Miguelito and Libertad = Leukine (the former is calm and friendly, but can get quite depressed; the latter is also friendly, while two of every three times she appears on the strip, she's shouting at someone).
  • Freudian Excuse: Lampshaded in one strip where the kids are playing to be gangsters, and Susanita wants to be the leader, but claims that she isn't evil deep inside, but a "product from society" instead.
  • Going Commando: As mentioned, Guille doesn't like pants and underwear...
  • Gold Digger: Susanita.
  • Good with Numbers: Manolito. Unfortunately, he's not good at much else.
  • Gossipy Hens: Oh, Susanita.
    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...!
    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.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Manolito's. Full stop.
  • 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.
  • House Wife: 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.
    • Especially with Susanita. In one particularly noteworthy example, she tells Mafalda that it saddens her to see poor people, and that when they're older, they'll join a cause to help the poor, by organizing fundraising banquets that will serve turkey, chicken, and pork... which is way better than the actual food they would buy the poor with the profits raised: "Flour and semolina and pasta and all that crap they eat."
  • If I Were a Rich Man: On a strip, Manolito daydreams about running a big company and having the Rockefellers owe him millions.
  • Imagine Spot: Felipe lives and breathes this trope, usually centering on getting back at people like his parents or teachers for making him do work or chores or punishing him for misbehaving, and oftentimes involving the Lone Ranger some way or another.
    • As a Running Gag, Felipe's Imagine Spots about there being a reason that he can avoid going to school are immediately followed by a Kick the Dog moment where he is brought back to the real world and things work out as the exact opposite of what he imagined moments ago.
  • Infant Sibling Jealousy: Mafalda has a couple of strips where she is pretty jealous of the attention Guille will receive when he gets born. Meanwhile, Susanita is jealous that Mafalda got a sibling before her. Both get over it fairly quickly, and once Guille is born he becomes part of the group with no issue.
  • Inflationary Dialogue: When explaining that he hates The Beatles, Manolito says they give him a 40-degree fever.In °F  Mafalda tells him that the Beatles are millionaires, doesn't he like millionaires? Manolito replies that makes no difference, they still give him a 37-degree fever.note 
  • Innocent Prodigy: Mafalda. Guille might grow into one.
  • 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. The father 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?"
    • Susanita claims that poor people are poor because they waste the little money they gain in poor-quality clothes and furniture and they can't progress like that.
    • Manolito also dabbles in this. Take his explanation of why you should not fear a nuclear war:
    Manolito: War is a business, and those who make it are good businessmen. My father is also a good businessman. So they won't throw bombs to destroy my dad's store. Dog doesn't eat dog.
  • It's All About Me: Susanita, absurdly self-centered (and self-righteous) for a small girl.
  • 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.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: In one strip, Susanita says that she want to have plenty of dresses when she grows up, and Mafalda replies she wants to have plenty of culture. Susanita replies as follows:
    Susanita: Can you get arrested in the street for being uncultured?
    Mafalda: No.
    Susanita: Try and get in the street undressed.
    The last panel has Susanita crying, and Mafalda walking away with a sad expression
    Mafalda: It's so sad when you have to beat up someone who's right!...
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Even though he friggin' loves money, Manolito still puts his friends as a higher priority over it; you can even consider his father this if Manolito's mental monologue about Doña Pepa is anything to go by. Examples:
    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... Is it really whiskey?
    Manolito: (blushes with shame): No, it actually isn't...
    (Mafalda leaves)
    Manolito: (thinking): Business is business, but friends are friends...
    • And the other one:
    Manolito: (thinking): And there goes Doña Pepa...
    Manolito: (thinking): Who would believe it? With the whole thing about earning a misery for a retirement, she's already in debt with us for seven months...
    Manolito: (thinking while looking at the sky with an annoyed face): And what does the president, minister or whoever is in charge about it? Nothing, after all, we are here to prevent her from starving to death. Go on, lay your heads on your pillows filled with Don Manolo's noodles and sleep well.
  • Logical Fallacies: 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!"
  • 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.
  • Malaproper: One strip has Mafalda ask her father how millibars relate to weather. He starts going on about pressure in millibars, but she interrupts him to clarify that she meant millibars and pressure, not military pressure.
  • Manchild: The Father - 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.
  • Meaningful Name: Downplayed with Libertad; played straight with the tortoise 'Bureaucracy'.
  • Motor Mouth: Susanita. So much, that sometimes others feel like her monologues are overtaking their bodies.
    • The father, sometimes. One in particular happens when Mafalda asks him about his obligatory military service, and he speaks non-stop for half of a day.
  • Mr. Imagination: Several characters, but especially Felipe.
  • 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?!
  • National Stereotypes: Manolito has thick brows, pointed hair and 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.
    • Galician, actually. It just so happens that Argentines joke about Galicians the way Americans joke about Poles.
    • Might be a case of Self-Deprecation on author Quino's since his 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, coupled with her name being "Freedom" 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. At one point Mafalda's dad was going to make a quip when she said "when I was little" but Libertad interrupted him saying that she knows how these things go and "from height, we touch the issue of age and I could make you cry then".
  • 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...
  • 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).
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Mafalda's father, listening to her and her friends playing, decides to join in by making a reference to Sandokan... only for the kids to ask, mystified, who Sandokan is.
  • 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'.
  • Scenery Porn: The national park.
  • Shameful Shrinking: Played with in a strip. When Felipe is called to talk in front of the class, he gets smaller as he walks down the aisle. After the teacher congratulates him on a good job, he walks back to his desk as a giant.
  • She's a Man in Japan: Libertad is a man in Sweden. Why? Because that way, sh... he can be named Fred, which is both a name and Swedish for "peace".
  • Shorttank: Mafalda is a primary school-aged version.
  • 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!"
    • There was a small arc centered around Mafalda trying to figure out the logistics of the Delivery Stork. An alternate theory is brought up by Miguelito when he says his parents told him children come from cabbage patches.
  • 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."
  • Singing in the Shower: In a strip, Mafalda's father is belting out "La Donna è Mobile" while showering... and is greeted by flying tomatoes courtesy of Guille as soon as he leaves the bathroom.
  • The '60s: Men with long hair, bell-bottom pants and British pop music — and not everyone likes it.
  • 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.
  • Spit Take: Raquel and a friend of hers were drinking tea. Mafalda asks "Mom, what's white slavery?" This is what happens.
  • Spoiled Brat: May be an explanation for how Susanita behaves. She is an only child, after all.
  • 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!
  • Talking to Plants: Mafalda's dad loves to do this.
    • Manolito's father tries it, too. Though, it doesn't work.
    Don Manolo: Grow up already, you damned stunted thing!
  • 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. A couple of strips, however, imply that Mafalda's favorite food is pancakes.
  • 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.
  • Unnamed Parent: Raquel's name is mentioned in only one strip, and the father's name is NEVER mentioned at all in the comic.
  • The Voice of a Generation: The comic strip is about the aforementioned little girl and her vision of the world, which is very political. She and her friends became the voice of the children (who aren't listened or taken into consideration for anything, especially in the time the comic strip was released) at the point of becoming an ambassador for UNICEF.
  • 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.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Mafalda's grasp of politics.
    Mafalda: Mommy, do you think 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, do you think Communist China...?
  • 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. Of course, the effect is diminished by the fact that two strips later they're back to arguing.
    How can we be friends if we can't stand each other?
    No idea... but, I'd rather not stand you forever instead of not standing some stranger
  • Young Entrepreneur: Manolito often tries to come up with schemes to bring more business to his father's grocery shop. Most of them backfire.
    • Yank the Dog's Chain: Manolito eventually comes up with the Manolo's Card, which enables customers to buy things and pay another time; it gets popular, too popular at the end.