By Julia Henríquez
Photos: Demian Colman
On July 20, 2012 the streets of Buenos Aires added a new element to their distinctive je ne sais quoi when a number of comic strip characters, immortalized in magazines and newspapers, came to life in 3-D and began to enliven the street corners in the neighborhoods of San Telmo, Montserrat, and Puerto Madero, leading to the creation of the entertaining Paseo de la Historieta.
It all began on the corner of Defensa Street and Chile, with a little girl in a green dress who has a huge hair bow and some revolutionary ideas: our beloved Mafalda appeared, sitting very comfortably on a bench near the house where she was born. She seemed ready to explain her particular way of seeing the world. As her popularity with locals and tourists grew, other beloved characters began to appear: first Susanita and Manolito showed up to keep her company and then, four years later, several other endearing personalities from Argentine comic strips began guiding us, story after story, to the Museo del Humor in Puerto Madero.
Mafalda, Susanita, and Manolito
Created in September 1964 by the cartoonist Quino, these characters came to stir things up, critiquing the system and the socio-political situation of the time. Mafalda, with her hate of soup and injustice; Susanita, with her dreams of marrying and becoming the perfect mother; and Manolito, with his warehouse and simple-mindedness, made a memorable group of friends.
Súper Hijitus and Larguirucho
Immortalized by the Spaniard García Ferré, these two appeared in 1955 in the pages of the magazine Billiken. Twelve years later, thanks to their great popularity, they appeared on Canal 13 as Argentina’s first made-for-TV animated series.
Súper Hijitus, the magical alter ego of Hijitus, who defeats the nefarious Professor Neurus with his superpowers, and the good-natured, absent-minded, and mischievous Larguirucho, won the hearts of kids and adults alike in their comic strips and cartoon series.
In 1935, the cartoonist Dante Quintero gave life to a character that, from the beginning, had the personality of a savvy, street-smart spendthrift and seducer. So, the place where he stands, facing streets filled with clubs and nightlife, is no accident. This Buenos Aires playboy and lover of the night belongs in this atmosphere. We shouldn’t forget his relationship with Patoruzú (whom we shall meet later.)
Created in 1993 by Sendra, this mischevious son of a middle class family is characterized by his friendliness. Although in the comic strip you don’t see many adults, Matías is a boy who is always thinking about them.
In 1938, Lino Palacio created this adult with the greatest inner child of all. Now an old man, Don Fulgencio refuses to grow up, giving us smile after smile.
In 1973, thanks to the work of Caloi, Clemente was introduced to the world. Soccer fan to the core, this acidic and critical character loves soccer as much as he loves women and dreams of playing for Boca and one day making the national team. He is the ultimate Argentine fan.
Guillermo Divito drew his first girls in 1936, and began to share them with the world in 1941, when he founded his own magazine. They soon became landmarks of fashion, with their sensual shapes and elegant suits. Their curves, envied by many, wore the latest fashion trends before they appeared on the streets of Buenos Aires. Today you can find them placed strategically on a corner where major apparel brands and haute couture vie to be the next big thing on the market.
The oldest of the characters has made us laugh with his adventures in the deep South since 1928. This Patagonian boss, with his love for nature and boleadora rope, his poncho and great strength, will help whoever needs it, because he is full of kindness and ingenuity. Quintero, who his creator defines as “the perfect man, within human imperfection,” has won over half of Patagonia and the heart of all Argentines.
Patoruzito and Isidorito
This comic strip designed for kids features Patoruzú and his godfather Isidoro. Savvy and quite the rogue, Patoruzito of Patagonia always shows his nobility, while Isidorito is a symbol of the vibrancy of Buenos Aires.
Created in 1993 by Nik, this cat with a huge smile, described as an antihero, is a romantic dreamer who has won the hearts of children through comic strips and an infinite collection of merchandise of all types.
In 1937 Héctor Torino gave life to the good-natured Don Nicola, a mustachioed Italian with a prominent nose. The owner of a tenement building in La Boca, he is always eager to help with the trials and tribulations of his tenants.
El Loco Chávez
Created by Horacio Altuna and Carlos Trillo, this comic strip was published in the Clarín newspaper from 1975 to 1987. It follows the adventures of a journalist in Europe who returns to Argentina and writes about daily life. Who could forget El Loco’s “minas,” the parade of women who enchanted our journalist and his fans. In 1978 he had a brief run on television, but the show was censored and suspended by the country’s dictatorship.
La Tía Vicenta (Aunt Vicenta)
The magazine created by Landrú and Oski in 1957 was characterized by its commentary on power and society, illegal mentions of Peronism, and finally, irreverent cartoons about General Juan Carlos Onganía (a military man who was in power after the 1966 coup). That same year a government edict put an end to the publication.
Negrazón and Chaveta
Created in 1971 by Alberto Cognigni, these two characters from Cordoba won us over from the pages of the magazine Hortensia. Negrazón rides a Puma motorcycle and is reflective and a bit mystical. Chaveta is the “biker who always survives,” and Negrazón’s faithful companion.
Diógenes and El Linyera
Diógenes, a loyal, ironic dog, and Linyera, a vagabond, were created for the newspaper Clarín in 1977 by cartoonist Tabaré, in collaboration with the scriptwriters Abrevaya and Guinzburg. After the deaths of the scriptwriters, Tabaré took over the sketches and voices of the comic strip.
Langostino and Corina
Langostino is an optimistic, noble, and lonely sailor who, in his small boat Corina, gets involved in great adventures without even trying. These characters were left to us in 1945 by Eduardo Ferro, in the magazine Patoruzú.
Inodoro Pereyra and Mendieta
This is another human-dog duo, created by Roberto Fontanarrosa in 1972. Inodoro Pereyra is a parody of the “gaucho” of the pampas; his dog Mendieta is actually his seventh son who has taken the form of a talking dog because he was born during a full moon in eclipse.
In 1957, Héctor Germán Oesterheld, who was disappeared by the dictatorship in 1977, created the traveler of eternity, a heroic character who survives an alien invasion in the middle of Buenos Aires and who, through his metaphors, becomes an important critic of the dictatorships the continent faced during this time.
Guillermo Mordillo is known for his silent characters representing love and sports. When the artist was thirty-four and living in Paris, the only job he could find was as a painter. Unbeknownst to him, this would lead him to embark on a new path in life. He drew his giraffe with a round nose for the first time in 1968 and this character went on to become the statue marking the intersection of two walks in Buenos Aires: the end of the Paseo de la Historieta and the entrance to the Museo del Humor (MuHu).
The Paseo de la Historieta also features murals displaying the history of Argentine comics, created by prestigious artists such as Liniers, Oski, and Fontanarrosa, among others. They are another detail that brings magic to this tour.
The Museo del Humor
This is the perfect end to the journey. It brings together, in one beautiful spot, the history of Argentine comics, offering more than forty original magazine and newspaper clippings of the best comic strips the country has seen. It also features temporary exhibits, such as the one commemorating Mafalda’s 50th anniversary, and plays are presented in its café
From North, Central, South America, and the Caribbean, Copa Airlines offers two daily flights to Buenos Aires Monday through Thursday and three daily flights on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through its Hub of the Americas in Panama City. When you reach Buenos Aires, look for the beginning of the tour in San Telmo, on the famous corner where Defensa Street meets Chile, and follow the signs to the Museo del Humor.
The museum is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays it is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free Monday through Wednesday, on other days admission is ten pesos (about one U.S. dollar) for visitors twelve and older. Admission is always free for children under twelve.