We have to learn to work well with technology, says Mauricio de Sousa

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“There is no Bienal like the other”, guarantees Mauricio de Souza.

Four years after the last face-to-face event, the Book Biennial de São Paulo takes place from this Saturday (2) and, as an enthusiast of the fair, the comic artist will be present on the first day. A veteran of Bienals, he describes the event as “a party”.

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despite the Monica’s Gang his most successful creation, has been in existence for more than 60 years, the author said in an interview with CNN that does not see production or sales decreasing. About 1,500 pages of comics per month are made in the studio of Mauricio de Sousa Produções, the company responsible for managing the products and creations involving the Turma.

The success that lasts for decades also has to do with the presence of Sousa’s characters on different platforms. From the comic book to the cinemas, passing through the apples, he explains that he intends to place his characters “where it is necessary for them to become known”. And he is not frightened by the increasing presence of the internet in children’s lives: “The child does not want just one thing, he wants to play with several toys”.

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“The pandemic was a terrible thing, but there was a time for people to read more, look for more comics and books”, he said, while talking about the increase in sales in 2021.

At 86 years of age, Mauricio continues to lead most of his company’s projects and does not intend to stop creating, nor to start repeating himself. The meetings with the more than 400 employees serve to think about new stories and characters, in addition to discussing the suggestions given by those who read the comics. “The kids have the phone in their hand and want to talk to me too,” he said.

In this conversation with CNN Mauricio de Sousa explained how he intends to continue expanding the universe of Turma da Mônica, spoke of the desire to make young people aware of the importance of the environment and the challenge of occupying digital environments with their characters.

Teach about the environment

Mauricio de Sousa speaks, early Saturday afternoon (2) at the Bienal, about his latest published books. Among them, “Sou um Rio”, the author’s first work in more than 60 years without the participation of Turma da Mônica, which brings the perspective of a river from the beginning of its life until the moment it flows into the sea.

In addition to the lecture, the publisher takes twelve new releases to the fair – among them, a “Small Manual for the Environment” (Editora Girassol) and the comic book “Amigos da Floresta” (Bertrand Brasil), with text by Sérgio Olaya, specialist in in agroforestry.

“I love the party that is the book fair”, he declared. At this meeting, Sousa will be able to address the cause he increasingly intends to defend: environmental preservation.

The author explained that for some time he had wanted to take the issue of the environment more seriously. “I wanted a way to get the message across to kids and especially young people about caring for the environment,” he said.

Sousa considered the reception of the book “Sou um Rio” good, even without the presence of the group that consecrated him as an author, and revealed that he intends to continue exploring this path: “I want to continue making books talking about the environment. I’m studying the topic and a second book is coming without Monica’s Gang, but with messages related to environmental preservation.”

The inspiration to write about the importance of nature came from memories of a childhood lived when river water was still pure. “That Chico Bento of the stories is me. I, who swam in the clean Tietê River, would race in the clean water.”

Through the characters of the Turma or without them, Sousa’s motivation is to convey a positive message to children and young people in his works. For this, however, it is necessary to reach a portion of the youth that spends more and more time in front of screens and less time leafing through comic book pages.

Can the comic book compete with TikTok?

“You used the right word: competition. We have to learn to work well with technology, make stories to put on painted paper and, at the same time, games and cartoons”, said Sousa.

Mauricio de Sousa Produções seems to be learning well.

The Turma YouTube channel has more than 18 million subscribers and almost 13 billion views – for comparison, the singer anita has 16.6 million subscribers and just over 6 billion views – and is periodically fed with new animations.

“And if something different comes along, we will also learn and place the characters where necessary for them to become known, always taking a positive message to the children”, he said.

In 2019, the first live-action film with the children of Bairro do Limoeiro was released in theaters, “Turma da Mônica – Laços”. The sequel, “Turma da Mônica – Lições”, came out at the end of 2021, and the live-action universe should continue to be expanded.

Among so many products and formats, the creator of the Turma revealed that the part of the work he is most proud of is having participated in the literacy of millions of children, who started reading with the Turma comics.

“I’m going to do a survey to find out how many people learned to read with Monica’s Gang. And then I’m having a party, of course,” he says, smiling.

Even exploring other platforms, comics don’t seem to be in the background. In 2021, the sales of Mauricio’s publishing house had an increase of 43%, a number that he explains, in part, by the isolation forced by the pandemic. “The pandemic was a terrible thing, but in the attic of the facts there was the time for people to read more, look for more comics and books”, he said.

For Sousa, children don’t have to choose just one side of the dispute between technology and books, it’s ok to “play with more than one toy”. It’s up to him and his team to keep producing and not repeat it.

Searching for ideas for new characters is part of the company’s day-to-day, but the internet has facilitated contact with children who read, watch and enjoy the Class. “The children who write for us suggest a lot of new things”, he said.

Between real life and comics

Real life and the comic book get mixed up in the designer’s life even before choosing a career. Before dedicating himself to illustration, Sousa had a brief stint in police reporting.

“The first thing I did when they said I would be a police reporter was buy a cape and a hat, just like American detectives in a comic book”, he recalled smiling. “I felt like a character.”

To create the universe of Turma da Mônica, Sousa took the opposite path and sought inspiration from reality itself – from childhood friends with whom he played soccer in Mogi das Cruzes to his own children, all children can make good characters.

For him, this reason explains the readers’ identification with the stories. “[Os personagens da Turma] they are children like any other. They fight from time to time and make up always,” she said.

Because of this, representation is a concern of the author, and Sousa has been asked more than once if there is a possibility of an LGBTQIA+ character coming to exist in the universe of Monica’s Gang.

“It’s not impossible that there is a character like that, but we need to study a little more how we’re going to deal with this subject, which is a little delicate for some readers”, he explained.

Source: CNN Brasil

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