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Book Notes: Beloved in Argentina, Cartoon Monster Visits Valley

  • A panel from Macanudo: Olga Rules!, by the Argentine-born, Norwich-based cartoonist Liniers, aka Ricardo Siri. Olga is a recurring character in his daily comic strip, Macanudo, which appears in a paper in Buenos Aires. Liniers

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/6/2018 12:05:00 AM
Modified: 4/6/2018 12:05:08 AM

Even though Liniers, aka Ricardo Siri, been publishing his daily comic strip, Macanudo, in one of Argentina’s leading newspapers “for 16 years, oh my god,” the Argentinian-born cartoonist continues to find surprises in his work.

One of them is the popularity of one of the recurring characters: Olga, a toothy, googly-eyed blue monster who’s the imaginary friend of a schoolboy named Martin.

“I have no idea why (she’s so popular),” said Siri during a phone call this week, from his home in Norwich, where he has his studio.

Olga is the star of Siri’s fourth and latest collection of his comic strips, called Macanudo: Olga Rules!. The book hit shelves this week at Norwich Bookstore, and Siri will read from, discuss and sign copies on Wednesday night at 7.

Since creating Macanudo, Liniers’ work has appeared on book jackets, album covers and multiple issues of The New Yorker. He came to the Upper Valley to serve as artist-in-residence at the Center for Cartoon Studies, in White River Junction, and has continued to live here with his wife, Angie Del Campo, and their three daughters.

Siri came up with Olga because he thought Martin, whom he described as a Han Solo-like figure, needed a playmate who could double as a protector.

“I remember being a little kid in school … and all those giants you share the playground with,” he said. “So she started off as a protector and then she became like an avatar for imagination, I guess.”

Though Olga only ever says her own name, it’s somehow always clear what she’s trying to get across: “I’m bored. Pay attention to me,” one plaintive OLGAAAA seems to say, as Martin does his homework. “Hey, long time no see, what are you doing here?” implies another, as Olga runs into a monster she knows, Archie, who’s been lurking under Martin’s bed. (Naturally, Archie only says “Archie.”)

“It’s like with Chewbacca … not to go back to Star Wars again,” Siri said. “But Han Solo always understands him.” Same with R2-D2, he added.

She seems to strike a particular chord with children, even if they’re not the readership Liniers’ work is necessarily geared toward: Olga’s likeness has graced many a birthday cake in Argentina, and the book’s flyleaf shows a selection of Olga drawings that Siri has received from young readers over the years.

“She’s more or less easy to copy,” he said. “She’s so strange and funny, and those eyes looking all over the place. … She actually helps me because even if the joke is not very funny, the drawing is funny.”

Not all of the Macanudo strips are meant to elicit laughs, however.

“You know how you’re not the same person every day?” he said. “Some days I’m very happy, some days I’m depressed, some days I’m very weird and strange. I couldn’t do the same type of strip or humor every day.”

When he looks back on his collected works, he remembers the state of mind that gave rise to each strip, and the circumstances that made him feel that way.

“To most people it’s a bunch of strips, but I read the books almost as a diary that only I understand,” he said. “But I still have fun, every time I sit down to come up with something weird or strange or funny or sad. And I try every day to have something about the strip that takes me by surprise.”

Though Olga’s popularity comes as one of those surprises, Siri looks forward to her big debut in English. (The Olga volume was first published in Spanish in 2006.)

Knowing her, she’ll probably enjoy the attention.

Ricardo “Liniers” Siri will read from, discuss and sign copies of Macanudo: Olga Rules at Norwich Bookstore, Wednesday night at 7. To make a reservation, which is recommended due to limited seating, call 802-649-1114.

Writing for Recovery

People in recovery from addiction, and their family and friends, are invited to express themselves in a free, multi-genre creative writing workshop. They take place Tuesdays from 1:15 to 2:45 p.m. at the Turning Point Center, in White River Junction, through June 5. Led by the film director and producer Bess O’Brien, the program is a collaboration between the Peacham, Vt.-based Kingdom County Productions and the Second Wind Foundation. Emphasis is on stories, not perfect spelling and grammar, and drop-ins are welcome.

For more information about the program, go to or contact the Turning Point Center at 802-295-5206.

Spring Readings

The Marlboro, Vt., author Robin MacArthur, will read from and sign copies of her debut novel, Heart Spring Mountain, at Norwich Bookstore on tonight at 7.

The West Lebanon poet Jeff Friedman is reading from his latest collection, Floating Tales, on Thursday night at 7 p.m. at the Howe Library in Hanover.

Randolph’s fifth annual PoemTown celebration kicks off on Monday night, with a combined dinner and reading with Major Jackson and Didi Jackson at the Black Krim Tavern. For dinner reservations and more information, call the Black Krim at 802-728-6776.

And on Wednesday night at 7, the Kimball Public Library in downtown Randolph hosts an open mic, during which light refreshments will be served.

Woodstock-area poets Pam Ahlen, Anne Bower and Laura Foley read from and discuss their recent work on Tuesday night at 6, during a gathering at Woodstock’s Norman Williams Public Library. Refreshments will be served.

Vermont’s reigning poetry-slam champion, Kurt Budliger, is inviting aspiring poets of all ages and abilities to the Norman Williams Public Library in Woodstock on April 13, to learn about performing verse in public. The gathering starts at 6 p.m.

Hungarian-Canadian poet Geza Tatrallyay introduces and signs his new collection, Sighs and Murmurs, on April 17 at Woodstock’s Norman Williams Public Library. He also will read from a previous collection, Cello’s Tears, and from a soon-to-be released volume, Extinction. The gathering starts at 6 p.m.

Upper Valley native Wesley McNair reads from and signs his new book of poems, The Unfastening, at the Richards Free Library in Newport, N.H., on April 19 at 7 p.m.

The Newport-born McNair grew up in Claremont and graduated from Stevens High School, a period, spent mostly in poverty, that figures in many of his 11 collections of poetry. He started writing poetry in earnest in early adulthood in North Sutton, N.H., and went on to teach poetry in Maine while continuing to write. His awards range from a Guggenheim Fellowship and a PEN New England prize to the Richards Library’s Sarah Josepha Hale medal.

EmmaJean Holley can be reached at or 603-727-3216. David Corriveau contributed to this report.

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