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Friday, December 16, 2011

Cartoon-artist Mario: a tribute

By Vijay N. Seth (vinns)

Graphic humorist, fine artist and photo buff, Vijay N Seth (vinns) recounts fond memories of the great Mario de Miranda (1926-2011), who has left a un-fill-able void in the world of popular cartooning.

No longer can we expect to see a new wall with a narrative of animated conversation between Ms. Fonseca and Ms. Nimbupani in their characteristic style-files or streetscapes and fishmongers, musicians, bulging bosoms, spilling beer mugs, wide smiles and the like. How does one pay a tribute to art genius, self-bred gifted cartoonist, graphic humour artist, pure creative illustrator, hawk-eyed with his architectural renderings? Mario de Miranda. Here was a genius who awed professionals and the layman with his astute insight and representation of human nature.

Mario Miranda
vinns with Mario Miranda
With pen & ink that were at his command to churn out lines that every nib would be jealous of, he brushed aside the old school of cartooning using the brush, and set a new norm to use the nib pen and to master it for this branch of art.Mario created characters that gave his daily audience their quota of a smile without malice. His trips around the globe produced subtle close observations of the local musings – a fitting example of how far can one stretch the parameters of this branch of neglected art.  

A rainbow of talent extraordinaire, greatly influenced by cartoonists in U.S. & U.K., Mario was an easy-going gentleman; without the pressures of being temperamental or egoistic. He had a flair for encouraging would-be cartoonists; making friends for life with whom ever he came into contact with.

From cartooning, as perceived by majority of Indians, his pen flowed 'fine art' quality renderings that encompassed all he observed and perfected in last 30 odd years.

It was his initiative that I was introduced to late Jurg Spahrr, the Swiss cartoonist, who was the curator of the International Cartoon Museum 'Summlung karikature' in Basel Switzerland, where I share the archives with Mario. It was in June 1987, when we shared the hotel room in the three days 'Festival international de la Bande Dessine' in Sierre in Switzerland as part of 'India in Switzerland'. And it was barely three years back, in Feb.2009, when he presented me with a personally signed copy of his book.

As a student of fine art at Sir J.J. School of Art in 1965, I would go across to Times of India to observe him at work. He never minded it. That made him my mentor and I too chose to migrate from editorial cartooning to caption-less satirical humour art. His canvas (though on paper) of creativity matured to a level that very few can stake a claim to, in a population of nine hundred million.

Wherever he is now, one can perceive him regaling the heavens with his pen, his wings…To him, all the crow quills bow in respect. I do too. That was Mario Joao Carlos do Rosario de Britto a Miranda. Or simply Mario to us – a perfect human. 

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