January 23, 2018

Flavour of the week

Friday, July 14, 2017

Landrú liked it, but...

By Nicolás Meyer
For The Herald

The great humourist Landrú (Juan Carlos Colombres), remembered especially for his magazine Tía Vicenta, died last week at age 94. Here’s a personal anecdote that shows both his generosity and the political pressure he worked under. Published here is an effort of mine from the 1960s that Landrú didn’t dare run because of the censorship of the time.

Landrú was amazingly kind in the way he treated a young would-be cartoonist. Tía Vicenta was the Valhalla of humour, yet I was received there by Landrú in person, who with the utmost graciousness looked at and commented on the pieces I brought. Let me tell you, it isn’t always like that in the publishing world.

This was, politically, the time of the Onganía dictatorship, but it was also, linguistically, the time when words like trajería (suit shop, instead of tailor’s, sastrería) first came into vogue in Spanish. Shops were usually named not after their goods or services, but after the people providing them. If they sold bread, pan, they weren’t named panería — there was no such word. The person making the bread being the panadero, the shop was a panadería.

Suddenly, however, shops sought to sound cute by cutting out the middleman — zeroing in on the offering instead. It never reached the point of undertakers (providing burials, entierros) calling their enterprise an entierrería. But that was the trend. Hence the idea for the cartoon, since what churches offer, in the ultimate instance, is salvation.

Most contributors to Tía Vicenta signed their work pseudonymously, like Faruk, Oski or Landrú himself. I chose Nemo, not because of any Jules Verne hero but after my initials, NEM. Then I took it to Landrú’s revered magazine. Why not aim straight for the top?

Landrú was keenly interested in observing (and needling) social trends. He liked the cartoon. He even walked around the office to show it to some colleagues: “Look at this, how good it is.” Coming from Landrú, “Mirá esto, qué bien está” is not a phrase to forget. But he told me he had to say no: he ran enough risks with censors with his own material. He was, after all, soon closed down.

The gag was essentially about language, not religion. But religion was a subject the censors were tremendously ticklish about, and they might give grief over something as tangential and mild as this.

Landrú did run a series of elephant jokes of mine. They were another fad of the time — and had no ideological connotations. (Outside US politics).


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Edition No. 5055 - This publication is a property of NEFIR S.A. -RNPI Nº 5343955 - Issn 1852 - 9224 - Te. 4349-1500 - San Juan 141 , (C1063ACY) CABA - Director Perdiodístico: Ricardo Daloia