Published in the main newspapers in Brazil over 30 years, including the State of Mines, the strips from the series “A Caravela”, by cartoonist Nilson Azevedo, are now part of a book of the same name. The work will be released this Friday (5/8), at the 11th International Comics Festival (FIQ), in Belo Horizonte, and also brings together, in 128 pages, other stories by the author, such as “Pindorama”, “Situao”, “Milagre dos Peixes” and “As Invases Portuguesas”.
“A Caravela” was made with funds from the Municipal Cultural Incentive Law of Belo Horizonte.
Nilson says that the initiative for the book came from his friend, filmmaker and economist Carlos Machado. “He signed me up for the City Hall cultural project. The biggest job was putting together so many originals, 230 strips of ‘The Caravelas’,” he said.
‘A battalion of cowboys bar the entry of the legion of superheroes’
The comic strip “A Caravela” was published for the first time in the newspaper State of Mines, in 1975. With irony, sarcasm and humor, the cartoonist tells the story from the point of view of two sailors, Manuel and Joaquim, in the period of the great navigations. While the first is a farmer, who, after a night of drinking, wakes up in a Portuguese caravel, the other is a literate commoner, who, inspired by the adventures of Marco Polo, wanted to reach new horizons.
In the fiction, Nilson not only tells the story of the two sailors, before arriving in Brazil, but also takes up Western history, citing some facts, such as freedom of the press, the French Revolution and workers’ rights. In addition, to make the strips believable, the artist carried out a thorough research to build the designs of the vessels, clothing and accessories for the characters, objects and weapons.
“My great-grandmother was an indigenous person from the Puri people, and that’s why I always wanted to tell the story of Brazil and its discovery in comics. I was very revolted by the fact that, in comics, there are only American and French heroes, for example. My sisters and I identified more with the Indians than with the cowboys present in American cinema. So, I decided to do works dedicated to our history, as in the case of ‘As Caravelas’ and ‘Pindorama'”, he said.
“I admired American comics, I learned to draw from them, but I missed our heroes. The ‘official’ Brazilian history tends to be told from the perspective of Portuguese nobles and leaders, such as Cabral and Fernando de Magalhes. In my stories, the protagonists are two poor sailors and the indigenous people,” he said.
I started to question myself about our heroes in the comics, like Zumbi dos Palmares, Tiradentes, Felipe dos Santos, Andr Rebouas and Maria Quitria.
Timeless and rescue of history
For him, many problems in Brazilian society came with the Portuguese caravels, which makes the strip a political, critical and timeless work. “Inequalities, religious repression, prejudice…. Many of these ills, unfortunately, continue, even if they have changed a little. It all started in 1500,” he said.
The comic strip, according to the cartoonist, expresses the fairy tale and, from the drawing, it is possible to transfer readers to remote times. “I deal with fundamental human values and I believe they are still valid. Some became even more current, compared to the past, because of the current experience in Brazil. With the book, there is also a greater meaning, because when it was published in the newspaper, the circulation was daily, which separated the stories”, he said.
Because of the large collection, Nilson has plans to publish other books that remake his works and even unpublished characters. “I’ve worked in several places, so I intend to do a work that tells the contemporary history of Brazil. Despite the censorship, the cartoons explore what has happened in the country since the 64 coup. Also, I want to continue with ‘As Caravelas’ and gather other comic strips, like ‘Negrim’”, he said.
Who Nilson Azevedo
The friendship with Raul Soares, a native of Minas Gerais, who was born in Caratinga, a nearby city, began when Nilson was 14 years old. “He changed my life and it was because of him that I chose the profession of cartoonist. Until Perer, I had never seen a comic strip where the hero was black, with indigenous people, flora and fauna that are typically Brazilian,” he said.
In 1963, Ziraldo published the first story of the cartoonist and even made a caricature of him. In 1967, Nilson began to publish in the supplement of Jornal dos Sports, where the editor was the author of “O Menino Maluquinho”, and then began to make strips for newspapers, such as O Cruzeiro, O Pasquim, State of MinesDiário de Minas, Folha de So Paulo and Jornal do Brasil, among other great Brazilian communication vehicles.
He also recalled the editor of the extinct supplement ‘Gurilndia’, from EM, Andr Carvalho, who removed the strip “Luluzinha” to publish “Negrim”. “It was a record audience and lasted three and a half years. The character appeared weekly in the newspaper and traveled through the countryside of Brazil. If it weren’t for my experience with Raul Soares, I wouldn’t have been able to make the comic. Also, with other artists, we made ‘Mordaz’, for the newspaper. Andr was a genius, I owe him a lot,” he said.
Relevant works that are part of the national communication
In “Pindorama”, Nilson portrays the encounter between Europeans and indigenous people, which, initially, was friendly and, shortly afterwards, became hostile and oppressive. “As Invases Portuguesas” was created in the 1980s and 1990s and tells the stories after the arrival of the Portuguese in Brazil, faithfully and without losing the outstanding characteristics of the cartoonist, with a lot of humor and biting criticism.
Day and Time: Friday (5/8)
Location: Minascentro – Avenida Augusto de Lima, 785, Centro.
Within the program of the 11th FIQ – International Comics Festival