Portuguese heroes

Today’s book, Macho-Alfa, the first of four volumes about the misadventures of a Portuguese superhero, by Filipe Duarte Pires and Osvaldo Medina, raises two micro reflections, the first of which has to do with the absence of characters of Portuguese comics in our collective imagination.

It is true that they are not many and, for the most part, inconsistent; but, for us, what determines this void is the inexistence of a publishing industry, as is the case in the United States, in the Franco-Belgian universe, in Italy and in Brazil. Around here, it is the small publishers who take the risk and cannot demand miracles from them.

On the other hand, the press, which is also in difficulties, does not help; examples such as Bartoon (1993), by Luís Afonso, were never many. But we are always ten million, what the devil, and the few but good ones we have, were Portuguese comics any other reality than an almost niche hobby, and the story could be different; it adds, for better or for worse, that all these paper heroes disappear when the authors leave.

Some of them could have continued around, in public space, if we were something else: Quim and Manecas (Stuart Carvalhais, 1915); Zé Pacóvio and Grilinho (Cardoso Lopes, 1924); Tomahawk Tom (Vítor Péon and Roussado Pinto, 1950); The Guard Ricardo (Sam, 1971), The Spy Acácio (Fernando Relvas, 1978), Jim del Mónaco (Louro & Simões, 1985) and Porto Bonvento (José Ruy, 1988), not to mention those who still stir: Pitanga (Arlindo Fagundes , 1985), O Corvo (Luís Louro, 2005), Super Pig (Mário Freitas and Carlos Pedro, 2006) Dog Mendonça (Filipe Melo and Juan Cavia, 2010), Homem Voador (2011, Álvaro and José Pinto Carneiro).

Macho-Alfa has the particularity of being Portuguese and the only superhero in (his) universe. Clumsy and deadly, he also dispatches innocents without meaning to. David Ferreira – given his name – is therefore an unemployed superhero who rents himself to a reality show as a way of life, much to the dismay of his father, António Martins, police commissioner, and his girlfriend, Raquel Bastos, journalist and blogger. The idea is interesting, the design fulfills, the board-to-board sequence is achieved, but you need to take a chance on humour, avoid the commonplace, the harmless joke (saying bad words is not particularly bold).

Jim del Mónaco, by Luís Louro and ToZé Simões, is now unpublishable by any editor who wants to avoid problems with the new inquisitors of the culture of cancellation. (Who remembers the copious Gina and the black Tião?) If there’s one thing fanatics don’t know about, it’s irony, and they have too much acrimony, as much as their sense of humour. Making fine and non-malicious humor is hard these days.

And we always remember a text by the great José Régio (1901-1969), one of the freest spirits of the 20th century, the poet of Cântico Negro (“I’m not going there”), who in an essay wrote something like this: I am not content to criticize my time, but to be against my time – a time of totalitarianism, that is. Second micro-reflection: humor is either daring or harmless, and as such, irrelevant. Let’s wait for the next albums.

Alpha-Male, vol. 1
Text: Filipe Duarte Pina Design: Osvaldo medina



R, de Recruta Zero / Beetle Bailey (Mort Walker, 1950). It’s sort of the Gaston Lagaffe of comics. The stories take place in the Camp Swampy barracks, and the entire regiment is the protagonist, from Sergeant Mullet and his dog Otto, to Lieutenant Mironga, a black military man with sympathies for black power. A vast gallery of one of the best American comedy series, in which a common soldier, sloppy and lazy, whose motto is: “Don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”


1984 – Or Graphic Romance, by Xavier Coste. Comic book adaptation of the famous dystopian novel by George Orwell (1903-1950), a denunciation of totalitarianism that consecrated expressions such as big brother or news-language. (Water Clock)

L’Inferno di Dante, ilustrações de Paolo Barbieri. “Let all hope, you who enter here”, could be at the entrance of a Nazi concentration camp, no difference, except poetry, compared to the first part of the Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), whose seventh centenary of the death this edition marks (Sergio Bonelli Editore).

Source: Jornal i by ionline.sapo.pt.

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