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The Brazilian Superheroes

When we talk about Brazil, the first things which generally come to mind
are Carnival, Soccer and the Amazon Jungle, but the land of sunshine has
so much more to show the world. The city of São Paulo, for example,
is a kind of "New York of the tropics" (in the words of Mick Jagger,
when he visited the metropolis for the first time in 1968). And like
New York, São Paulo has comic book superheroes, such as Meteoro,
Raio Negro, Capitão 7, and Mylar--the Mystery Man. In general, the
Brazilian people very much like superheroes, as we'll now see...

Art by Mozart Couto.
In the Beginning

The first Brazilian comic strip was As Aventuras de Nhô Quim (The Adventures of Mr. Quim) of January 30, 1869, by Angelo Agostini, and published in the pages of Vida Fluminense magazine. Agostini was a fighter for the end of slavery in Brazil, which happened in 1883. His strips had social criticism relevant to the times. On October 11 1905, the journalist Luiz Bartolomeu de Souza e Silva published O Tico-Tico magazine, the first publication made for children only. “Tico-Tico” is the name of a bird from Brazil. But this magazine did not present only comic strips, but fun and games too.

Finally, in 1934, the publisher Adolfo Aizen (a Jewish-Russian naturalized Brazilian citizen) put on the newsstands the Suplemento Juvenil (Youthful Tabloid or Youthful Supplement). The Suplemento Juvenil was placed inside some newspapers, and presented for first time for Brazil audience several American comic heroes such as Flash Gordon, Jungle Jim, Mandrake and Dick Tracy, and a Brazilian adventurer, Roberto Sorocaba, created by Monteiro Filho.

The 1941 meeting of Walt Disney
and the Publisher (and great pioneer of comics)
Adolfo Aizen in Brazil.
Three years later, another supplement, A Gazetinha (The Little Gazette) from the city of São Paulo, published O Garra Cinzenta (The Grey Claw) by Francisco Armond (writer) and Renato Silva (artist). The Garra was a kind of pulp horror in comic page format, featuring 100 episodes of one page each. The irony in that story is the fact that the protagonist was a villain, not the hero (in the same tradition as Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu). The success of the Garra Cinzenta was so great that it was published in Europe during the ‘40s. But, until that moment, Brazilian publishers lacked interest in publishing
Home-grown comic heroes...

The “Golden Age” of the Brazilian Superheroes
In 1950 television arrived in Brazil and a “new world” opened to children. The Capitão 7 (Captain Seven) show, transmitted by Record Broadcasting Station, was a great success , and in turn inspired the comic book adaptation, with issue # 1 being dated November 1959. The Captain was the first Brazilian costumed hero.

On the TV show Capitão 7 was an adventurer like Flash Gordon, but in his comic book he had some spectacular super-powers. The plots of stories were by various writers and artists. The most famous authors are Júlio Shimamoto and the editor Jayme Cortez. The Captain Seven comic book was canceled just a few years after the final TV episode.

In February 1965, the GEP Company published the first issue of Raio Negro (Black Bolt), a superhero with a power ring and origin story very similar to that of John Broome and Gil Kane’s Green Lantern. His creator, Gedeone Malagola, later talked about it: “My editors showed me a Green Lantern comic book and requested something similar. I just did it.” Well, Black Bolt did have a relative success between 1965–1967 years, but it’s important to understand that Brazilian readers were not yet acquainted with Broome's Green Lantern. The Raio Negro comics showed the strange Homem-Lua (Moon-Man) by Gedeone Malagola too. An interesting hero, even though he's a hero with an extravagant ball on his head.

1966 saw the entry of Fantar – the Atomic monster by Milton Mattos and Edmundo Rodrigues. Fantar was a giant creature who resembled the later Erik Larsen creation, Savage Dragon, as well as monsters of Japanese movies. But one of the most interesting superhero from that age is Golden Guitar, published by Graúna Company and scripted by Macedo A. Torres. Inspired by the musical movement called “Jovem Guarda” (literally, “Young Guard”, or more idiomatically “Young Generation” or “New Generation”) – which had singer Roberto Carlos as its greatest idol.

Hey true believer! Stan “the Man” Lee and
the Brazilian artist Jayme Cortez
(editor of Captain Seven comic book)
at 1972 New York’s International Comic Organization,
conceived by Claude Moliterni and David Pascal.
In similar fashion, the pop star Reanato Fortuna was the Golden Guitar’s alter ego. He fought against crime with his electric guitar, which was able to emit powerful laser rays. The “Golden Age” Brazilian Superheroes’ high point happened when the Marvel Super-Heroes animated cartoons series (by Grant-Ray-Laurence Company) began to appear on stations around the tropical country in 1967. Publisher Adolfo Aizen put out Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Namor and Captain America comic books (and some time later, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and Daredevil, too) through his EBAL imprint. The “Marvel Fever” inspired other (and small) companies to publish their own characters such as

*Bola de Fogo (Fireball). He’s only a poor carbon copy of the Human Torch;
*Escorpião (Scorpion).Created by artist and writer Wilson Fernandes and editor Heli Lacerda to Taika Company. The King Features accused Taika’s Escorpião of being a carbon copy of the Phantom by Lee Falk, and threaten to sue. So, Lacerda contracted an Argentinian artist, based in Brazil, Rodolfo Zalla, to redevelop the character as an Amazon Jungle defender. This was very good for the hero and his comic was enjoyed by the readers for some time);
*Spectro, by Juarez Odilon;
*Super Heros, by Edrel Company bullpen;
*Morcego (Bat), by Wilson Fernandes;
*Homem-Fera (Beast-Man) by Rubens Cordeiro;
*Judoka (Judo Fighter)was created by artist Pedro Anisio in 1970 to substitute for Charlton’s Judomaster stories in own magazine, after the American company finished producing new material. His book had a long run by EBAL, was great success and the hero starred in a movie around 1973. Since then, this book has never again been published.
*Velta, by Emir Ribeiro (Ribeiro was ghost-artist of Mike Deodato on Thor and Wonder Woman comics in the ‘90s)
*Ultrax – by E. C. Nickel
*Meteoro (The Meteor) by Roberto Guedes – Hey… my “son”! Meteoro is a high school student who gained his superhuman powers from mysterious energy contained within a tiny meteorite, which had been sent to Earth by a representative of the “Universal Conclave”, a cosmic “secret society”. The first appearance of Meteoro took place in Meteoro # 1 (February, 1992), thus making it a part of the “New Age of the Brazilian Superheroes”.

Anyway, the most significant were the heroes created by Eugênio Colonnese, an Italian-Brazilian artist living in the state of São Paulo since 1964. Colonnese is a kind of “Brazilian Jack Kirby” not by his artistic style but because of his powerful imagination and fast pencil. He produced several comic pages each month, with heroes such as

*Mylar (the Mystery Man), a masked alien;
*Superargo (Super-Argonaut), a secret agent and capoeira fighter (Capoeira being a form of dance developed by African slaves in Brazil, with the agility they thereby gained being used as part of their resistance to their Portuguese owners; today, Capoeira is taught in schools as a form of martial arts);
* Pele de Cobra (Snake Skin), an adventurous motorcycle-man;
*Mirza (the Vampire-Woman bad girl). An interesting fact about Mirza is that she appeared in comic books in 1967, two years before Vampirella made her mark on the comic scene; and finally,
*X-Man (Yes! But it’s possible that his creator, Eugenio Colonnese did not know anything about the Marvel mutants at the time). Colonnese’s X-Man was the first Brazilian hero to star in a color story, in 1970. Until that time, Brazilian super-heroes had appeared only in black-and-white magazines.

With the oil crisis in 1973 and the expensive prices of paper, some small companies closed their doors and the Brazilian Superhero comics ceased to exist. In the seventies and eighties the writers and artists “immigrated” to the horror magazines: Calafrio (Chilling), Espektro (Spectre) and Pesadelo (Nightmare), or underground comix such as Porrada! (Punch!), Circo (Circus) and Udrigrudi (Underground).

In the ‘90s the “New Age of the Brazilian Superheroes” started, but that’s a subject for another article.

© Copyright Roberto Guedes. All rights reserved.

*Thanks to John G. Pierce for proofreading.*


Izely Guedes disse…
Primo....em inglês?
A R R A S O U !!!!!!!!!........
Carlos disse…
Guedão, não entendi metade do que está escrito (meu inglês é do nível ginasial hahahaha), mas entendo que foi uma ótima sacada da sua parte colocar exatamente um texto a respeito do quadrinho brasileiro nessa língua, pois dá chance aos possíveis leitores estrangeiros que entrarem no blog de conhecer um pouco dos nossos personagens. Parabéns!
Valcir disse…
Guedes, bom dia!

Feirinha disse…
Fucking nice article, my friend.
Very cooooooooool!
(Bira Dantas)
I am using my daughter`s blog loggin.
He, he, he.
Matt Love disse…
Hey Roberto

Thanks so much for this post! I'm in São Paulo right now visiting friends and playing music... you have provided a useful guide. I haven't really checked out the comics scene, but this gives me some motivation.

I thought it was funny that an authority (Mick Jagger, no less!) has to be cited to introduce São Paulo to the Americans. Having been here 3 times now, I might say "New York is an American city with half the excitement and people of São Paulo," but in fact, I do understand the necessity of the introduction. It's kind of mind-boggling to think back on this now after all my experiences, but before I made friends here, I hadn't even heard of São Paulo.

Americans tend to be insular... but for myself I'll say my life has been tremedously enriched by my São Paulo experiences - and I'm looking forward to adding comic books to that experience.
Robert Beerbohm disse…
this is way cool, really appreciate you filling some of us way up north in on comics history in your country. I have been an avid comics historian since i can remember.


Robert Beerbohm Comic Art
PO Box 507 Fremont NE 68026
Emir disse…
Ótima matéria, Roberto.
Só um pequeno erro: vc inverteu os criadores do Garra Cinzenta. Renato Silva foi o desenhista, e Francisco Armond foi o escritor.
Um abraço.
Roberto Guedes disse…
Já arrumei, Emirzão! Valeu!
It is a great honor to me, Robert.
Bira, my old buddy: THANKS!
Matt, really nice to know that you liked São Paulo. It is difficult generalize, but is can be said that, on the whole, Paulistano people (São Paulo citizens) are some of the friendliest people in the world. I hope you like Brazilian comic books too.
Valcir, take it easy! O Carlão aí já explicou! (rs)
Prima, mais uma vez obrigado! Kisses to you!
Very cool (maneiro).

Excelente iniciativa...Vindo de quem veio...só podemos esperar ações como esta. ROBERTO GUEDES, pessoa de reconhecido empenho no trabalho, estudo e na divulgação profissional e respeitosa dos quadrinhos no Brasil e no mundo.
Peter Wallace disse…
Dear Roberto,

I really enjoyed reading this! It's a whole new world of comics I knew very little about.

Hope you are well. Thank you for sharing this.

Steve C disse…
Susan (my wife) and I spet the day showing a couple from Sao Paulo around Boston, MA USA several years ago, who were here visiting.

These people are no longer with each other but I am Facebook friends with the man of the couple.

I took him to my regular comic book shop and he was pleased to get a ton of good comic book items with the great discount the shop owner gives me.

We have pictures from that day still, I believe it was in 2001 or 2002.

Thanks from me, also, for the interesting essy, by the way!!!
Jamil disse…
Materia muito boa e legal, mas não entendi porque esta em inglês
Valcir disse…
Guedes, bom dia!

Arretado essa sua iniciativa, caro colega.
Regina disse…
Que talento, Bob!
Sucesso aqui e lá fora.
Roberto Guedes disse…
Obrigado, Regina! Beijos!
Jamil, como outros colegas disseram acima, a intenção foi a de internacionalizar a informação, OK? Abração!
Steve, you're welcome!
And good testimony!
Dear Peter,
Thanks for your words.
Best wishes!
Anônimo disse…
Mas tá muito chique o jovem mancebo, hein?
Muito legal.
Andre Bufrem
Anônimo disse…
Great art of Mozart Couto, as well as , the subject in english, Guedes. English is a kindda universal language, so it is not difficult to understand it.
M Santiago
Anônimo disse…
Dear Roberto
Someone told me you have a site in internet, so I decided to take a look! Man, you have improoved a lot since the last time we met (Do you remember when?) I am very happy about you and I am sorry we lost contact but I know that you know were Iam living, so next time you´re passing by here come and visit me, don't be shy, just ring the bell, ok?
Roberto Guedes disse…
Thanks, Delei! You're a good friend, and I will be happy to see you again.