Joaquín Salvador Lavado Tejón, better known by his pen name Quino, created the iconic Mafalda comic strip. He gave Latin America a voice in times of political instability and censorship. Today’s Doodle celebrates the Argentinian-Spanish cartoonist’s 90th birthday and is illustrated by guest artist Azul Portillo based in Buenos Aires.
Quino was born in Mendoza, Argentina in 1932. The son of pro-democracy Spanish immigrants, he grew up trying to make sense of his country’s unstable government and institutions. His artistic ambition was encouraged by his uncle Joaquin, painter and graphic designer. Quino was given his nickname to help distinguish him from his uncle who had the same name.
At age 12, Quino enrolled in art school only to drop out three years later when his father died. He moved to Buenos Aires where he dreamed of becoming a caricaturist. After completing his compulsory military service, Quino published his first cartoon in 1954. He spent the next decade perfecting his craft and published a cartoon compilation called Mundo Quino.
Thanks to the success of Mundo Quino, he was commissioned to create a comic strip as part of an advertising campaign for a brand of household appliances. Developing the campaign, Quino created Mafalda, a curious six-year-old Argentinian girl who has a knack for noticing the injustices of the world and antagonizing her parents. The campaign was canceled, but Quino kept the cartoons.
In 1964, Mafalda debuted in Buenos Aires Weekly and quickly gained popularity in Spanish-speaking countries around the world. The cartoon used child characters to provide humorous and scathing commentary on authoritarianism, censorship and inequality. Mafalda captured the changing political landscape of Latin America until 1974, when Argentina’s militant government began targeting and detaining opponents of the state. Due to the unstable political situation, Quino ended comics and went into exile in Milan.
Until his retirement in 2006, Quino created cartoons while dividing his time between Madrid and Buenos Aires. Although he did not revive Mafalda, his later work followed a similar tone focusing on themes of privilege and the plight of the working class told through the use of dark humor.
Quino’s cartoons have been translated into 26 different languages and Mafalda is still in print today. In 2014, Quino received the Prince of Asturias Award from Spain and the Legion of Honor from France. His cartoons are sold online and in bookstores around the world. After his death, many Argentines honored his life by leaving flowers at the foot of the Mafalda statue in Buenos Aires.
Happy 90th birthday, Quino, you’ve created a comic character whose legacy can never be stripped.