May 26, 2024 #ChileDiverse

Condorito: five great milestones of the famous Chilean comic strip 

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In the framework of a new commemoration of Heritage Day, we highlight the cultural value of this popular comic book that celebrates its 75th anniversary.

To talk about Condorito is to talk about Chile, its idiosyncrasy and the diversity reflected in the characters and situations present in one of the most famous national comics in the world. Thanks to its creator, René Ríos Boettiger (Pepo), the adventures of the "pajarraco" and his friends transcended time and frontiers, becoming part of the Latin American cultural heritage, which we summarize in the following milestones.   

1.- Brilliant anniversary: 

In 1943, Walt Disney depicted Chile as "Pedrito", a small airplane that with difficulty crossed the Andes to deliver mail to Argentina. In Pepo's opinion, the drawing did not embody the national soul and, as a way of making amends, he created Condorito, who saw the light of day on August 6, 1949 in the first issue of Okey magazine. 

Pepo Condorito, his most famous character

A mixture of condor and scruffy Chilean huaso, in his debut Condorito is presented as a mischievous and joking peasant, able to overcome setbacks with his wit. Over the years, his appearance became "humanized", his elongated beak became shorter and his features were rounded, acquiring the appearance he retains to this day, when he is about to turn 75 years old.

2.- Diverse and transversal: 

Although the comic did not base its humor on contingency, it implicitly alluded to the changes that our country and the world have experienced over the decades. Condorito has not only played a number of occupations and trades, but has also embodied politicians, sportsmen, scientists, musicians, and film and television artists. 

His adventures have taken him to different countries and historical periods, always in the company of the endearing characters that make up his universe, such as his nephew Coné, the eternal girlfriend Yayita or the faithful friend Don Chuma, whose characteristics reflect part of our identity.

3.- Latin American citizen: 

In the seventies, after more than a decade leading the sales of his magazine in Chile, Pepo decided to expand his work to the Latin American market, with such success that countries such as Argentina, Colombia and Mexico adopted the character as their own. 

Its internationalization continued over the years, to the point that by the end of the last century, Condorito, in the classic comic strip format (three cartoons arranged horizontally) was published in more than 100 newspapers around the world, even in languages such as Italian and Japanese.

The daily contribution: 

The comic styles that predominate in Condorito are white humor and satire, a reflection of a society where jokes about crazy or insane people, mothers-in-law, naïve people, drunks, infidels, doctors and sick people or peasants who had recently arrived in the city were common, all in the midst of situations that are resolved in a ridiculous or extraordinary way, finished off with the phrase "I demand an explanation" or simply with "Plop!", expressions that have been incorporated into the colloquial language of Chileans.

The expression "Plop!" became known thanks to the cartoon and ended up being used in the everyday language of Chileans.

Also, in order for Latin American readers to understand his humor, many of the jokes had to be modified, eliminating Chileanisms and direct references to our country.

5.- The lives of Condorito

On the occasion of its 70th anniversary, the National Library of Chile held an exhibition called "The Lives of Condorito", a journey through different aspects of the character and his circle of friends (and enemies). It is a tribute to its creator, Pepo, who was also part of the political satire magazine Topaze, worked in advertising and "was editor of magazines and teacher of several generations", emphasized Claudio Aguilera, Head of the Department of Prints and Stamps of the National Library, who was also the curator of the exhibition.

With an itinerant character and in collaboration with the Directorate of Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DIRAC), "Las Vidas de Condorito" has been exhibited in countries such as Guatemala, Ecuador, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Learn more about Condorito and Pepo's work, in this link.

Discover more of Chile's living heritage here.


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