Published in 1980, Ziraldo Alves Pinto’s (1932-) O Menino Maluquinho is one of the most acclaimed Brazilian illustrated books for kids, being edited and translated several times since them. More than 2.5 million books were sold since them, solidifying Ziraldo has an author of children’s literature.
Before O Menino Maluquinho, Ziraldo had already published two books targeted specifically to kids: Flicts (1969) and O Planeta Lilás (The Purple Planet, 1979), and led a comic book title called Pererê (1960-1964; 1975), also published in album format (1972, 1976). Prolific as a visual artist, Ziraldo worked in different areas, like advertisement, editorial cartoons, and also helped edit Pasquim, considered as an important political and cultural alternative newspaper critical to the Brazilian dictatorship (1964-1985).
Originally published by Editora Melhoramentos, O Menino Maluquinho took two months to reach completion and stars a fussy and happy kid, freely inspired in Ziraldo’s own memories, which explains the pot on the head, used as a hat, and the Napoleon-like pose, two of his famous visual marks. Other book characters are his girlfriend Julieta, his fellow Bocão, the smart Lúcio, the little kid Junim and Herman, Maluquinho’s antagonist. The cast of characters turned to be a quick success and in 1980 the book had already sold one hundred thousand copies. It resulted in a cultural phenomenon next only to Mauricio de Sousa (1935-) and his Monica’s Gang. In fact, the universe of O Menino Maluquinho was adapted and published in comic book format by Editora Abril in 1989, a few years after de Sousa had left the same publisher. During the 1990s Editora Abril and Editora Globo would publish other comic book formats, albums, and collections. A commemorative edition celebration the book’s twenty-five years of publication, a book full of illustrations of important Brazilian characters paid tribute to Ziraldo’s character.
Beside comic books, O Menino Maluquinho was adapted to theater and opera plays, movies, comic strips, videogames, toys, theme park, songs, and TV shows. The main characters are used as commodities to sell products like CD-ROMs and school notebooks; the comics are produced by a studio, Megatério, under Ziraldo’s supervision. One could say that O Menino Maluquinho gained a cultural life of its own, celebrated in Brazil as a symbol of an ideal and innocent childhood. When visitors enter Carating, Ziraldo’s born city, they encounter the main character of the book celebrated with a huge monument.
— Ivan Lima Gomes