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Brazzil - Comics - September 2004

Brazil's Monica Gang to Take On the World

Brazilian comics creator Mauricio de Souza and his characters
like Monica and Jimmy Five are already known in Italy, Portugal,
Japan, Greece, France, and Indonesia besides Brazil. The father
of the most popular comics in Brazil now wants to widen even
more his universe taking his creatures to Arab countries and China.

Isaura Daniel

Picture Monica is a big-toothed girl, owner of a blue plush bunny, and is always fighting with her friends Jimmy Five (Cebolinha) and Smudge (Cascão). Jimmy Five has a problem pronouncing the letter "r," and Smudge does not like water.

They have another friend Maggy (Magali), whose weakness is food, and who is capable of eating ten watermelons in one go. The four are the main characters of Monica's Gang, the most famous comics series in Brazil, recently made into a movie and which may be sold in Arab countries.

Mauricio de Sousa, the cartoonist who created the characters, released movie Cine Comics, with the gang members, last June, and has shown interest in taking his stories to the children in the Arab countries.

"Who knows, we might even have Monica speaking in Arabic," he stated.

Monica's Gang stories are already known in Italy, Portugal, Japan, Greece, France, and Indonesia, through the comics and strips published in newspapers and magazines.

"We are also trying to open the markets in Mexico and China," he added.

Monica's Gang first entered Italy in the form of cartoons. Channel RAI Due has been airing the cartoons for over nine months. The comics only entered the Italian market in June. In Brazil, the Gang became popular through comics.

A total of two million copies are sold a month, currently. The characters, however, are advancing into the audiovisual means of communication. Apart from the movie versions, a cartoon was aired by cable television channel Cartoon Network.

Cine Comics

Jimmy Five, Monica, Maggy, and Smudge had been on the big screen in Brazil in the 1980's and 90's. The cartoons on Italian television and those aired by Cartoon Network are productions from that time, having been recovered. The flick released in June, however, is new. The movie was shown at 150 theatres in Brazil.

Cine Comics tells the story of Franklin, the scientist in Monica's Gang's, who created a machine to transform comics into movies. Jimmy Five, Monica, Maggy, and Smudge go to the movies to see the flicks and see five stories already in comics.

On leaving the theatre to go to the bathroom and buy popcorn, the four meet Brazilian television and music celebrities, including popular singer Vanessa Camargo, and duo Pedro and Thiago, television hosts Fernanda Lima and Luciano Huck, and cartoonist Mauricio de Sousa himself.

Mauricio de Sousa's intention is to take the film, and the other cartoons, to other countries. The first to receive Cine Comics is going to be Italy, next year.

"We are going to change the actors from country to country," stated Mauricio, referring to local celebrities to participate in the movies.

There are already another four Monica's Gang stories ready for filming: Travel in Time, Horacio (a little green dinosaur with big dreamy eyes), Chico Bento (a young country boy), and Magic Star. Investment in the development of this first movie totaled around US$ 1.6 million, and the director was José Márcio Nicolosi.

The Cartoonist

Mauricio de Sousa's creations have 70% of the kid's comic market in Brazil, and have been in print since 1959. At the time, the cartoonist drew Franklin and Blu, a strip about a young inventor and his dog, for newspaper Folha da Manhã, in the city of São Paulo, in southeastern Brazil, where he was a police reporter.

Character Monica was born in 1970, inspired on Maurício's daughter. Currently, 150 artists work with the cartoonist in production of the stories.

The characters are so successful that they generate another 3,000 sub-products, including dolls and licensed games.

In Brazil there are also two Monica's Gang amusement parks, one in São Paulo and another in Rio de Janeiro.

Monica's Gang website:

Isaura Daniel is a Brazilian reporter. This article was distributed by ANBA - Brazil-Arab News Agency.

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