Madrid, May 22 (IANS/EFE) Argentine cartoonist Joaquin Salvador Lavado, known by his pen name Quino and for his comic strip Mafalda, has been named as this year's recipient of Spain's Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities.
Quino's work holds enormous educational value and has been translated into many languages, a fact that reveals its universality. His characters transcend all geographical settings, ages and social conditions, according to the minutes of the jury.
The award was conferred on Quino on the 50th anniversary of Mafalda, which ran from 1964 to 1973. The comic strip has been translated into more than 30 languages and adapted for film and television.
The son of Spaniards who emigrated to Argentina, the 81-year-old Quino became a Spanish citizen in 1990 and began alternating his residence between Madrid and Buenos Aires.
He created the character Mafalda for what proved to be a failed advertising campaign and the comic strip featuring that six-year-old Argentine middle-class girl was first published in 1964 in Buenos Aires weekly magazine Primera Plana.
In the Mafalda series, Quino reflected the world of adults as seen through the eyes of a group of children. The leading character was an inquisitive, intelligent, ironic, non-conformist girl, concerned with peace and human rights, who hates soup and loves the Beatles, according to the Prince of Asturias Foundation's Web site.
Italian semiotician and novelist Umberto Eco, the 2000 recipient of this same Prince of Asturias award, brought the comic strip to Europe in 1969 and described Mafalda as an angry heroine.
Although Quino stopped drawing her in 1973, interest in Mafalda has not ceased and the comic strip has continued to be published and is now available in e-book format.
In recent decades, Quino has opted for a harsher and darker brand of humor that targets adult audiences and which has been compiled in his collection of comic books.
Those most recent works include iQue presente impresentable! (What an Unpresentable Present!) (2005), La aventura de comer (The Adventure of Eating) (2007) and Quien anda ahi? (Who Goes There?) (2013).
Quino beat out Mexican journalist Jacobo Zabludovsky, Spanish philosopher Emilio Lledo, Congolese journalist Caddy Adzuba and Spanish-American biologist Francisco Jose Ayala to win the award.
Besides Eco, other previous winners of the Communication and Humanities prize include American portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz, Spanish international news agency Efe and Colombian dailies El Espectador and El Tiempo.
US architect Frank Gehry and French historian and Hispanist Joseph Perez and were named earlier this month as the winners of the Prince of Asturias prizes for the Arts and Social Sciences, respectively.
The winners of this year's five other Asturias awards will be announced in the coming weeks.
Crown Prince Felipe of Spain will present the prizes in the fall at a gala in Oviedo.
Along with 50,000 euros (about $68,300) and a sculpture by Joan Miro, each award winner receives a diploma and an insignia bearing the Prince of Asturias Foundation's coat of arms.
Established in 1981, the prizes are regarded as the Ibero-American world's equivalent of the Nobels.
The Prince of Asturias awards are named after the crown prince of Spain.