Interview with Monica Sousa

Mônica, 62 years old, is the daughter of Brazilian cartoonist Mauricio de Sousa, the creator of Brazil's most beloved short and toothy figure. She served as inspiration for one of the most famous comic book characters in the country, Monica, who is completing 60 years of her creation, now in 2023.

By Alethéa Mantovani and Christian Pedersen
Automatic translation with GoogleTM Translate (no editing)*

Mônica Sousa says that having served as an inspiration for such an important character was an honor, as she receives the affection of the fans and feels very grateful for all of this. “Today I love all the affection I get from fans and people who love Mônica. It’s very tasty!” – account.

Mônica Sousa. (Foto: divulgação)

In addition, Mauricio de Sousa’s daughter goes further and says that the character Mônica inspires her too, as she learned from her to conquer her space and seek what she wants. “There is no infallible plan capable of defeating me when I decide something. Today, I fight for what I believe in, I fight for my convictions, and that gives me strength and determination” – she emphasizes.

For her, the balance of these 60 years of creating the character that bears her name was very positive, as Mônica is loved by fans of four generations, she became an ambassador for Unicef (United Nations Children’s Fund) and lent her strength to defend the Rights of Children and Adolescents. In addition, she is responsible for representing the remarkable women in the Donas da Rua project, which has the support of the UN (United Nations Organization) Women.

The story of Mônica, the most famous tooth in Brazil

An iconic character of a generation, Mônica was initially conceived to be the supporting character of a previous creation by Mauricio de Sousa and to be part of the Cebolinha strips, in the newspaper “A Folha de São Paulo”, in 1963. However, the public soon identified with her, thanks to her remarkable, captivating and even effusive characteristics, which made her the protagonist of her creator’s comics. For the cartoonist, she fell in favor with the public because she was the first female character with a prominent role after the creation of some male characters. To create her, he observed the behavior and physical characteristics of his daughter Mônica Sousa, and transferred them to the character in a more caricatured and exacerbated way, of course. And from then on, she had so much space in the stories that she won her own magazine, in 1970. Since then, Mônica has gained more and more prominence and has become the star of the comics, increasingly famous and loved in Brazil and in countries like Japan, United States, Italy, Spain, Germany and others.

Mônica Sousa. (Foto: divulgação)


WAVE – What was it like growing up at the same time that Mônica was developing and becoming an icon of Brazilian culture?
MÔNICA SOUSA – For me, it is an honor to have been the inspiration for the creation of the character Mônica, who conquered the hearts of Brazilian families since her first appearance, back in 1963, in the strip that was then owned by Cebolinha. When I was little, I didn’t realize that the character existed. Over time, that changed and I came to understand the attention my father received for being Monica’s father. As a teenager, I didn’t like it so much, I wanted to be recognized for my style, not Monica’s (laughs). Today I love all the affection I get from fans and people who love Mônica. It’s very tasty!

WAVE – What do the current Turma da Mônica stories need to have to attract new readers if we consider that the media can be strong competitors?
MÔNICA SOUSA – Turma da Mônica was inspired by real children and, regardless of the platform, their stories address values that have been present since the beginning of the group, such as friendship, respect and representativeness. We do not consider the media as competitors, since we are present in all of them. Over the years, Mauricio de Sousa Produções has reinvented itself. The stories that emerged in comics gained different formats to attract different audiences. Today, we have the editorial part, which includes printed publications, such as comics, graphics from the MSP label and other books illustrated by the group, and the audiovisual part, which includes animations, series and feature films aimed at different audiences, serving from the pre-school, with “Vamos Brincar com a Turma da Mônica”, to “Turma da Mônica Jovem”, aimed at 9 to 12 year olds, to name just a few of the contents in which we are present on the various platforms.

WAVE – How are people’s reactions when you claim to be the inspiration behind the character Mônica? What was the most unusual?
MÔNICA SOUSA – Many people are curious to know to what extent I am similar to the character inspired by me, if I am really angry like in the comics. My father said from the beginning that I would grow up, follow my path, while Mônica would remain a child. Generally, people are surprised to learn that we have points in common, but also many differences, because at the same time that we are similar, she has already created her own personality.

WAVE – Cebolinha and Cascão used to get beat up when they called Mônica toothy, short, etc. What’s the best way to deal with bullying these days?
MÔNICA SOUSA – The character Mônica is a seven-year-old child and it is natural at that age that there are some conflicts with peers, after all it is a period in which they are still discovering their limits and preferences. From the moment they discover that fighting can distance friendships, there is an awareness that they need to learn to live together and respect differences.

WAVE – What was it like growing up as the daughter of a famous and iconic cartoonist?
MÔNICA SOUSA – It is an honor for me to be part of this family that inspires so many others, both in Brazil and around the world. I am very proud and grateful, because my father always supported me in all decisions.

WAVE – What would you say today to that quarrelsome little girl, but with lots of little friends too?
MÔNICA SOUSA – The character Mônica inspires me. I learned from her that it is possible to conquer my space and pursue what I want – and there is no infallible plan capable of defeating me when I decide something! Today, I fight for what I believe in, I fight for my convictions. It makes me have strength and determination. To her I would say: “Thank you so much for so much and for also being the inspiration of thousands of other ‘street owners’ around the world”.

WAVE – What is your assessment of these 60 years of the character?
MÔNICA SOUSA – The balance I make is very positive, for being loved by fans of four generations. Mônica became a UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) ambassador, lending her strength to defend the rights of children and adolescents, and is responsible for representing notable women in the “Donas da Rua” project, which is supported by UN Women. In addition to carrying the values of friendship, respect, diversity and inclusion, she has played a very important role in empowering girls since the 60s. And this importance is only going to grow.

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