Introduction On Racism Epigraphs A History of the Pulps A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Glossary and Character Taxonomy Breakdown by Country of Origin Bibliography Table of Contents The Best of the Encyclopedia
Patoruzu. Patoruzu was created by the Argentinian creator Dante Quinterno and appeared in the comic strips “Aventuras de Don Gil Contento” (1928-1931) and “Patoruzu” (1931-1977).
Patoruzu is a native Argentinian who is a member of the Tehuelche tribe. When Patoruzu comes of age he is made the chief of the Tehuelche. However, though the chiefdom comes with gold, cattle and land, it also comes with an obligation, to win the three feathers of the tribe: "the first by his defense of the oppressed, the second by his power to right wrongs, and the third by his humility." Although Patoruzu has plenty of humility he sets out on a quest to earn the three feathers. Patoruzu travels to Buenos Aires, where he picks up Renaldo, a petty thief who tries to steal money from Patoruzu. Patoruzu then goes to America, where he helps an Apache tribe and receives in return a magic flute which will convert any listener to the "path of reform and goodness." Patoruzu uses the flute on Renaldo and then goes in search of the Devil himself.
* I'm including the two Patoruzu comic strips in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because they're fun to read and because they were historically important. Dante Quinterno had a regrettable tendency toward caricature, so that his characters' faces, including Patoruzu, were exaggerated for comedic effect. As seen in the image above, the result is, at least as far as Patoruzu is concerned, a mess that borders on racism. Other than that, though Quinterno's writing and art are generally solid--the two comic strips make for entertaining reading--and what he did with Patoruzu in the strips was historically important. In an unusual coincidence, Patoruzu's evolution is like Big Chief Wahoo's: both begin as secondary characters in comic strips about white protagonists, both prove to be more popular than the ostensible protagonists of the strip, and both get spun off into their own very successful and long-lasting comic strips. In the case of "Patoruzu," however, the comic strip proved to be culturally significant in its home country. Like all the countries of the Americas, Argentina's relationship with its Indigenous Peoples has been full of friction (to say the least). In the mid-twentieth-century, racism and a subtle form of genocide toward the Indigenous Argentines was the norm. But Dante Quinterno, via "Patoruzu," not only argued against the genocide and more broadly the mainstream Argentine treatment of Indigenous Argentines, but portrayed Patoruzu as a worthy hero on an epic quest. There were other, more literary portrayals of Indigenous Argentines during the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, but Patoruzu was far and away the most popular Indigenous Argentine character being published during those decades--and that mattered, since Quinterno and the strip were arguing directly against the anti-Indigenous racism of mainstream Argentine society.
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