University of São Paulo: “The adventures of Nhô Quim” are a historic landmark for comics in Brazil and around the world

The world is increasingly visual, and if human beings have an innate predisposition to hear stories, tell and retell them, today, more than ever, people like to see stories. Among the narratives told by texts and images, the most representative language is that found in comic books. But how did they come about, and who created them? The article in the 9th Arte magazine introduces us to the first comic book character in Brazil, Nhô Quim, and his creator, the Italian-Brazilian Angelo Agostini. In the view of the authors of the article, the absence of balloons – still adopted by many modern stories – does not de-characterize the work as a comic book. This allows us to reopen “the discussion about what would be the first comic book published in the world”.

Predominantly, such pioneering is attributed to Richard Felton Outcault with his Yellow Kid in 1896. But As Aventuras de Nhô Quim was published much earlier in Brazil, in the magazine Vida Fluminense , on January 30, 1869.

Regardless of who was the first to publish in this language, the fact is that comics have established themselves as an incomparable instrument of entertainment for children and adults, “conquering more and more space in schools, libraries, homes, the media and in universities”, not to mention the importance of this language as an eloquent information tool for the reader when it comes to discussing and demystifying issues such as color and race prejudice, stigmas related to disabilities of all kinds, bullying and other topics.

Images also tell stories and record facts and customs of human civilizations: “Drawings and images are used to this day to reproduce the path of holy men on the walls and ceilings of churches.” Comic books bring together art, commitment to reality, fun and culture. The article highlights the importance of other creators in the evolution of comics, such as the Swiss Rudolf Töpffer with Histoire de Mr. Jabot , from 1833, and from the German Willhelm Busch, with Max und Moritz , from 1865, translated in Brazil by “Juca e Chico”. However, it was only in the 1950s and 1960s that comic books gained “the rhythm and model of the current ones”. Maurício de Sousa and Ziraldo Alves Pinto are the most representative cartoonists, today, of children’s comics, recognized worldwide.

A story in which there is an alliance between the image and the text “comes to life” and is configured as an important communication function. Comics are a source of knowledge, culture, entertainment and art around the world. In Brazil they are known as “comics”; in Japan as “manga”; in English-speaking countries we have comics ; and in Italy the fummetti . The authors discuss the various types of comics, various authors, relevant to each era, each situation and complexities related to the issues of being and the world.

Brazilian comics followed, witnessed, disseminated and denounced social, political, economic and cultural issues at each moment in Brazilian history. The language of comics, the narrative, the verbal and non-verbal languages, the use of the text balloon resource, the use of anatomical expression, the scenography, the choice of colors are present approaches.

Without discrediting other cartoonists, such as Outcault “with his brilliant Yellow Kid”, the authors of the article want to show the relevance of cartoonists and artists such as Angelo Agostini, “who if he was not Brazilian by blood, he was by choice”, a pioneer in the art of comics, enchanting audiences of all ages and providing the reader with “dreams, adventures, humor and a critical look at the world”. Called by the authors “as a true comic book”, As Aventuras de Nhô Quim or Impressions of Uma Viagem à Cortetraveled the world and was consecrated both for being a pioneer work in the genre and also, here in Brazil, for telling the story of a representative character from the countryside, naive and clumsy, allowing Angelo Agostini to critically position himself in the face of serious problems that appear in Brazilian urban centers, especially social, cultural and political ones.


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