O Amigo da Onça by Péricles

Péricles de Andrade Maranhão, who signed with simply Péricles, was a Brazilian cartoonist. He was the creator of 'O Amigo da Onça' ("The Jaguar's Friend"'), a well-known cartoon feature from Brazil. It first appeared in the illustrated weekly O Cruzeiro on 23 October 1943, and stood out for its satirical, critical and ironic view on society.

Born in 1924 in the Espinheiro neighbourhood of Recife, Péricles de Andrade Maranhão published his first drawings in the school newspaper of the Colégio Marista. He settled in Rio de Janeiro in 1942 and began an association with Assis Chateaubriand's newspaper group Diários Associados. He was the creator of several features for the magazine A Cigarra, including his first comics character, 'Oliveira, o Trapalhão' ("Oliveira the Clumsy"). The character also appeared as a comic strip in O Guri, the bi-weekly comics supplement of the Rio newspaper Diário da Noite. Other creations for A Cigarra included 'Cenas Cariocas' ("Scenes of Rio"), a satirical view of Rio de Janeiro, 'Miriato o Gostosão', about a flirter without luck, 'O Negócio Foi Assim' ("This was the deal"), starring losers who try to cover up their failings, 'O Rádio por Dentro' ("Inside the Radio"), a satire of the artistic world, and the joke-of-the-month feature 'A Piada do Mês'.


Comic strip from O Cruzeiro (1950)

'O Amigo da Onça' made its first appearance in O Cruzeiro on 23 October 1943. It was created by request of editor Leão Gondim, who wanted a character with a broader appeal than merely the Rio audience. Main inspiration were Howard Baer's cartoon feature 'Enemies of Man' from the American magazine Esquire, and Guillermo Divito's character 'El Enemigo del Hombre' from the Argentine magazine Patoruzú. Péricles' elegant character, with his slick hair and pencil moustache, had a cunning talent for bringing others in humiliating situations. His name was based on a popular joke of the time, in which one person keeps asking another person what he would do if a jaguar would attack him. The other keeps coming up with answers, but the interviewer keeps coming up with alternative situations. At the end, the second person answers annoyed: "Hey, are you my friend or the jaguar’s friend?" 'O Amigo da Onça' quickly became one of Brazil's most popular cartoon characters. The phrase "O Amigo da Onça" even became a popular saying, referring to someone who always gets a friend in trouble.

O Amigo da Onça by Péricles

Péricles continued the feature for nearly 20 years, while also providing the art for Millôr Fernandes' section Pif-Paf for ten years. The artist commited suicide by gassing himself in his appartment on New Year's Eve 1961. He had hung a sign with "Don't strike a match" on his door. Several authors made an attempt to continue his popular strip, but were not quite successful because the strip was too much connected with its creator. The first to try were Maranhão's friend Getúlio Delphim and Zé Geraldo, who signed their work together as "Equipe de O Cruzeiro", and continued the comic for two years. Then came Carlos Estevão, who worked on the comic from 1964 until his death in 1972. The comic knew a popular revival in the 1990s, when José Alberto Lovetro, Sergio Morettini and Octavio Cariello began creating new strips for Sémanario.

A theatre play written by Chico Caruso starring Paulo Betti and Grace Gianoukas was was performed in 1988. Ofeliano de Almeida's short film 'A Última do Amigo da Onça' ("The Last Friend of Oz") was released in 2005, and portrayed a meeting between Péricles (played by Osvaldo Mil) and his creation (Fábio Lago).

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