Chicago resident Ileana Rodriguez remembers when her parents first introduced her to the Argentinian cartoon "Mafalda" when they came back from a trip abroad and exposed her to a different world from their town in Puerto Rico.
"As a young reader, the fact that Mafalda was a young girl with kinky hair (not unlike mine in the mornings), made me believe that I could also have these smart thoughts and strong points of view," said Rodríguez, 51, a consultant to educational and non-profit organizations.
"I learned about war, politicians, corruption, freedom, women’s rights, gender stereotypes, capitalism, racism and also about hope and optimism," she said.
Rodriguez is one of many people throughout the U.S., Latin America and Spain reacting to the death of the Argentine cartoonist known as Quino, the creator of Mafalda, who died at 88, according to his editor in Buenos Aires.
Joaquín Salvador Lavado, better known as Quino, created an Argentine girl of about five or six with bulging black hair and strong political views. Her inquisitive nature and quick-wit used humor and irony to call for greater democracy in crisis-prone Argentina.The cartoon was eventually published in 27 languages.
"Quino died. All the good people in the country and the world will mourn him," said Daniel Divinsky, his longtime editor, said on Twitter.
Quino was able to use Mafalda's apparent innocence to spread scathing criticism of the dictatorships that plagued Latin America from the 1960s, including Argentina's 1966-1973 military dictatorship.
After a failed 1987 coup against President Raul Alfonsín, Quino published a cartoon of Mafalda saying "Yes to democracy! Yes to justice! Yes to freedom! Yes to life!"
On social media, many expressed what Mafalda had meant to them.
"As a kid I learned the principles of politics, climate change and social differences with Argentinean master #Quino RIP you will be missed, but you voice will live on!", said one Twitter user.
"Growing up reading these comics made it easier to understand the world, and its many lessons- stand up against injustice, condemn violence, fight for human rights- are as relevant as they were whe she was born in the 60s," said another tweet.