Culture, Visual Arts

Miriam Alonso, humour on the island

A long time ago she was the leader of Cuba’s cartoonists but because she was practically the only female caricaturist in the country, her work wasn’t seen as funny.


Miriam Alonso, humor 3 - Miriam Alonso
Miriam Alonso

Charly Morales Valido


43 years ago she graduated from San Alejandro’s illustrious Academy of Fine Arts, and since then she has worked for, what is perhaps Cuba’s most famously comical publication, the magazine Palante.

Now 65-years-old, and with almost 45 years devoted to the art of making people laugh through her drawings, her career has been honoured by colleagues from various countries in the International Biennial of Humour.

Her comic strips are like her gaze, peaceful, serene and not over the top. She is more likely to identify herself with feelings, people and situations, and then offer them a gentle smile.

Miriam Alonso, humor 1Miriam, as she signs her cartoons and serious pictures, relies on the talent and strength of third millennium cartoonists to recognise the masterpieces of the genre.

During the tribute, Prensa Latina spoke with the artist on the challenges of graphic comedy in Cuba and the potential of women in this realm, long dominated by men.
Regarding comedy, what are women’s strengths?

Women are very observational. A colleague of mine from Argentina claims that humour is “a crazy old thing” and that men tend to be more daring and rebellious towards certain subjects, those of which she has taken a more comical approach to. Women also notice certain details that men don’t; they are more sensitive to certain issues and this is one of their strengths. Perhaps, this is why there have been many more male cartoonists than females.

Miriam Alonso, humor 2What topics interest you?

I like costumbrismo (society’s customs and manners). Years ago, I created a character, Talla el Peluso, who was built around a caricature of my dad. He was a baseball player and used to tell me many anecdotes when I was younger, which I sometimes use in my comic strips. Sometimes I invent stories, but if I do, they are just about daily life.

What has Palante meant to you?

Imagine, I left San Alejandro in 1969 and almost on the same day as I graduated I was already working for Palante, alongside professional and famous people, and popular and renowned caricaturists who have each left their mark on Cuban comedy.

There were not many young people in this group, but it was the cream of the crop of Cuban caricature. I’ve spent my whole life working for Palante, and now I’m Sub-Editor, we also have a female Head Editor (Mercedes Azcano).

How do you see its development?

Miriam Alonso, humor 4 - Mercedes Azcano
Mercedes Azcano

In the last International Biennial of Humour, I was involved in selecting work and I saw lots of great pieces from female cartoonists. It is not a question of whether or not these women will one day publish a caricature as they already are systematically doing so. Also on the deciding board was Mexican Cintia Bolio, whose caricatures are part of a travelling exhibition of 44 women that was recently exhibited in China. This just goes to show that there are female professionals in this genre.

Generally speaking, what does Cuban graphic comedy need?

Space to publish. Caricatures have been damaged because they are rarely seen in published art, despite their prominence in contemporary press.

Could digital media be an alternative?

Without a doubt, comics are already ready for it.


(Translated by Emma O’Toole)




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