'Capitão Cipó'.

Daniel Azulay was a Brazilian media figure, active in many disciplines, from paintings, children's books, TV shows, video games to comics. Early in his career he made the superhero parody comics 'Capitão Sol' (1967) and 'Capitão Cipó' (1968-1969), but he is best remembered for the 'Turma do Lambe-Lambe' (1975) franchise, which inspired both a children's TV show as well as its own 1983-1984 comic magazine. Always dressed in colourful ties, shirts and suspenders, Azulay gave children a positive outlook on life with respect for the environment. Unfortunately he also suffers the questionable "honour" of being the first comic artist to die from COVID-19, a.k.a. the corona virus...

Early life and career
Daniel Azulay was born in 1947 in Rio de Janeiro as the son of a lawyer. His ancestors were Jews of Spanish, Portuguese and Moroccan descent. Under pressure of his father Azulay studied law at the Cândido Mendes University and achieved a bachelor diploma. After graduation he worked in his father's law firm for three years. But his real passion was drawing. From age 13 Azulay learned drawing through a correspondence course. During recess he didn't even leave the classroom to play outside. He stayed inside to continue scribbling. At age 15 he published his first cartoon on the crossword page of the newspaper O Globo. By the time the young man was 18 he made several sports cartoons for the Jornal dos Sports.

Capitão Sol
Between 1967 and 1968 Azulay published in O Sol, a short-lived tabloid supplement of Jornal do Sports, a paper circulating in Rio de Janeiro. Among his colleagues were artists like Juarez Machado, Vagn, Henfil and Ziraldo. Azulay created the serialized comic strip 'Capitão Sol', a satire of U.S. superhero comics. The main character is Equinox, a young and naïve jounalist who transforms into the superhero Captain Sol whenever he says the word: "Atchim!". Sol's main nemesis is Dr. Proton who wants to obtain a large amount of LSD so he can launch his diabolical FX-plan on mankind. Certain scenes nearly brought Azulay in trouble with the censors, because they poked fun at the real-life dicatorial regime in his country.

Capitão Cipó
In 1968 Azulay created another superhero parody, 'Capitão Cipó', which ran in the newspaper Correio da Manhã between 11 January 1968 and 15 March 1969. The storyline is a satire of the sexual revolution. Cipó is so scared of women that he carries a box of contraceptives with him wherever he goes. Graphically the comic had a more contemporary psychedelic style, influenced by European adult comics like the work of Guy Peellaert and Jean-Claude Forest.

Career in the late 1960s and early 1970s
Azulay's work appeared in many magazines throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, including the Rio Gráfica publications Querida and Garotas with the satirical feature 'A Dama de Filó'. Together with Leon Eiliachar he produced artwork for O Cruzeiro, the weekly published by Assis Chateaubriand and edited by Herberto Sales. In 1971 Azulay published in the magazines JÓIA and Manchete. On the side he opened a store specialized in stamps, city maps, tourist guides and silk prints. His book 'Viagem à Jerusalem', inspired by his travels to Jerusalem, was the most succesful publication of his career at that point.

Illustration for Mais magazine (May 1974).

Azulay also travelled to Florida and California, where he visited the Walt Disney Studios and learned a lot about organisation and management. To his disappointment both the Disney company as well as the National Cartoonists Society refused to give him a job or publish his comics in the U.S. Only 'Batman' co-creator Bob Kane supported him and introduced him to the headquarters of the satirical magazine Crazy in New York. The editors gave him a chance and published two comics by his hand. In issue #9 (February 1975) and #13 (October 1975) appeared 'Crazy's Useless Machines', a series of impractical inventions designed and described by Azulay. Through his connecton with Kane, Azulay also managed to exhibit his work in New York.

'Turma do Lambe-Lambe' record from 1979

Turma do Lambe-Lambe
In 1975 Azulay created his 'Turma do Lambe-Lambe' (1975-1985) franchise, about a gang of children and their animal friends. Their name (literally: "the lick-lick gang") was inspired by the habit of 19th-century photographers to "lick" pictures. It was a long-running children's TV show, originally broadcast on TVE and later Rede Bandeirantes. Their roles were performed by actors, while Azulay hosted every episode. He'd tried to launch a children's series before for the same channel, but the entire project ended up in development hell because the network wasn't very organized yet. Having learned from these experiences he did most of the production himself. When it turned out the network couldn't clear the rights for certain copyrighted songs he wanted to use, Azulay simply dropped the request and wrote and composed his own soundtracks.

The characters were based on many different aspects of his own personality, which he attributed to his star sign: Gemini (or "Twins"). Professor Piraja the owl came up first, since he needed somebody who could educate young audiences. He gave the bird an assistant and cook, named Xicória the chicken. Naturally Azulay needed an unpleasant character too. He created the vain and self-important cow Gilda as a critique of conformity. She is bad at cooking, but loves singing, even though she is hardly any better at this either. Her flamboyant personality was inspired by iconic Portugese-Brazilian singer and actress Carmen Miranda (famous for her tutti-frutti hat). Gilda is good friends with Bufunfa the elephant. Bufunfa is consequently the only character who appeared exclusively in the comics and not on TV. Azulay then came up with human child characters. Pita is a failed but happy-go-lucky magician. His girlfriend Damiana is a happy but curious and sometimes difficult girl. Piparote is a shy lion tamer and forms a couple with Ritinha, a greedy girl who wants to become a businesswoman. Ritinha's hair ribbon was based on a photo of Azulay's mother when she was five years old. The final kid character is Tristinho, a juggler and acrobat, slightly based on the sad clown Pierrot.

'Gilda' comic strip from 1980.

'Turma do Lambe-Lambe' stimulated children to be creative. Azulay not only demonstrated young readers and audiences how to draw, but also how to make their own toys out of "supposed" garbage. The show promoted environmental messages, from recycling to avoiding littering. Azulay actively travelled Brazil and the rest of the world to give lectures and workshops, promoting art, education and social responsibility. He also had a circus act with his characters and recorded audio plays and musical records with them. The cow 'Gilda' had her own comic strip in the newspaper Última Hora in 1979-1980, which was also distributed to other newspapers through the ECAB agency. Between 1982 and 1984 Editora Abril launched a comic magazine about the gang, Turma do Lambe-Lambe, which lasted 20 issues. Ivan Saidenberg was one of the scriptwriters of the title, while Abril's art staff presumably took care of the drawing.

After the show ended in 1985 it returned to the airwaves a decade later as 'Oficina de Desenho Daniel Azulay'. A new character was introduced at this occasion: Azulinho. Between 2003 and 2004 the show was broadcast on Canal Futura. A series of animated shorts aired between 2006 and 2007 on TV Rá-Tim-Bum. Azulay also founded a network of art schools in Rio de Janeiro, named after the TV show: 'Oficina de Desenho Daniel Azulay'. 

Daniel Azulay won the 1975 International Cartoon Exhibition in Athens. His prize-winning cartoon against authoritarianism couldn't be shown in his home country, because Brazil still suffered under a dicatorship. Only ten years later it appeared in Darcy Ribeiro's book 'Aos Trancos e Barancos'.

Final years and death
In the 1990s, Azulay released educational video games on CD-rom. In 2009 he hosted a "how to draw" show at the UOL website. A few years later, in 2013, he launched www.diboo.com.br, which provides drawing lessons for children. Azulay launched his own YouTube account and Instagram account in 2017. In 2015 the Coquetel division of Editora Tecnoprint released the 'Almanaque da Turmo do Lambe-Lambe', with comics and puzzles, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Azulay's famous series. Sadly enough, the man who brought so much joy and knowledge to generations of children, suffered from leukemia during his final years, for which he was hospitalized in 2020. When COVID-19 (or the corona virus) became a global pandemic in March of that year he became contaminated and passed away before the month was over.

Azulay himself appeared in some of the Abril comic stories (artist unknown).


Daniel Azulay on the TV Memory blog

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