VII: Argentina


Mafalda is a comic series that I have grown to love, it features a 6-year-old girl of the same name, who reflects the Argentinian middle class and progressive youth. She is concerned about humanity and world peace, and has serious attitude problems but in an innocent manner. It’s an Argentinian comic by Quino and I was initially put off trying to read it just due to how tricky I found it to get hold of an English language translation.

My Spanish has been improving, so eventually I decided to just try my best with reading the original language edition. As it turns out, reading a comic is generally easier than trying to read a novel in a foreign language. However, some of the jokes proved almost impossible for me to understand. That said, there was a real sense of reward when I did fully understand a joke quickly enough to actually laugh out loud! I didn’t mind not understanding every joke, because I find the character of Mafalda to be just so adorable and fiercely independent and endlessly curious.

When I first moved to Spain, I had conversations with people for whom Mafalda is just such a visual cultural reference that they actually found it kind of bizarre that I hadn’t really been aware of her. Granted, the comics were published some years ago now, so sometimes the cultural/political references seem a little dated. But more often than not, the situations that Quino highlights in his comic strip of Mafalda, are issues that exist across borders and time zones and years – so they still work now.

I really enjoyed this series of comic books…of which I have to admit I’ve only read the first two…so far! I find it endearing how Mafalda sees the world and how her perspective as a child somehow enables her to ask the adults in her life questions about the world that many of us perhaps used to wonder about as children. But that somehow perhaps we don’t ask those same questions as much when we ourselves become adults, there’s sometimes a sense of accepting that it’s the way things are (or as Quino puts it “Así es la cosa, Mafalda”/”This is the way things are, Mafalda“).

Mafalda has been a joy to read and it’s also given me a fresh insight into the perceived cultural differences between South American Spanish cultures and Spain. My favourite image was one of Mafalda with a globe of the world. She asks her dad if the reason why people in Spain are generally wealthier than the people in Argentina is because the people in Argentina are “upside-down” and that their brains/intelligence must fall out!!! I can’t do the joke justice in mere words, the real humour is in Quino’s drawings.

About the photo, it’s of a mini statue made of Mafalda that is in Buenos Aires. If I ever get the opportunity to go to Buenos Aires I’d like to check this bench out!