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Péricles (O Amigo da Onça - The Jaguar's Friend)

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Caricaturist and cartoonist

Péricles (O Amigo da Onça - The Jaguar's Friend)

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Last update: 29/09/2017

By: Virginia Barbosa - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

Caricaturist and cartoonist Péricles de Andrade Maranhão was born on 14 August 1924 in the Espinheiro neighbourhood, Recife.

He studied at Colégio Marista in the 1930s and published his first drawings in the School Magazine. In 1939 he sat the public examination for the Pernambuco Department of Transit and was classified in second place.

In 1942 he moved to Rio de Janeiro where, thanks to a letter of recommendation from Aníbal Fernandes, he joined Diários Associados, owned by Assis Chateaubriand. He introduced himself to Leão Gondim de Oliveira, the editor of the illustrious magazine O Cruzeiro, and began to work on 6 June 1942. Although he had previously published drawings in the periodical O Guri in March 1943, his first comic character appeared in the magazine A Cigarra. He called it Oliveira, o Trapalhão (Oliveira, the Clumsy), which was also published in the Diário da Noite of Rio de Janeiro. At A Cigarra, Péricles had a long career with his drawings and pages of his creation, such as: Cenas Cariocas (Rio Scenes) which satirised life in Rio de Janeiro; Miriato o Gostosão, a confirmed luckless flirter; O Negócio Foi Assim (The Deal Was Like This), in which the victim, generally a loser, tried to cover up his failings by lying about sucesses; O Rádio por Dentro (Inside the Radio), which satirised the artistic world; and A Piada do Mês (Joke of the Month).

The character O Amigo da Onça (The Jaguar’s Friend) arose from a request by Leão Gondim: he needed a character that incorporated not only the cunning and humour of people born in Rio but also those from other places who lived there.

With defined lines and stylised forms, Péricles gave life to a character that always had slicked-back hair, a pencil moustache, was always elegant, wore black pants, a white suit and a bowtie, who insisted on taking advantage of everyone, putting the other characters he spoke to in humiliating and baffling situations. Leão Gondim called the character O Amigo da Onça (The Jaguar’s Friend) based on a joke en vogue at the time:

Two hunters were talking in their camp:

- What would you do if you were in the jungle and a jaguar appeared in front of you?
- Come on, I’d shoot him.
- But what if you didn’t have a gun?
- Well, then I’d kill him with my knife.
- And if you didn’t have a knife?
- I’d beat him with a stick.
- And if there were no sticks?
- I’d climb the nearest tree!
- And if there were no tree?
- I’d run away.
- And if you were paralysed by fear?
Then the other, already annoyed, replied:
- Hey, are you my friend or the jaguar’s friend?

O Amigo da Onça is Péricles’ most successful character and one of the most popular in Brazilian graphic humour. It debuted on 23 October 1943 in the magazine O Cruzeiro and was published uninterrupted for over twenty years. Even after the death of its creator (1961), the character still lived on the magazine’s pages with unpublished originals until February 1962. Afterwards, it continued to be drawn by Carlos Estevão until 1972. Also in O Cruzeiro, Péricles illustrated the texts by Millôr Fernandes in the Pif-Paf section for ten years.

Péricles was an innovator as much in the drawings of his characters as in his communication with the public through a means which “made fun of institutions like marriage, the army and the social hypocrisy in the appearance game.”

It is interesting to note that O Amigo da Onça appeared in the last Brazilian political periodical allowed by the New State, when the press suffered from systematic censorship and dictatorial political and social policies. Because of censorship, many Brazilian graphic humour artists saw their production weaken. The caricatures that attacked and criticised the government ceased to exist in and gave their places to customs that reflected the social values of the time.

The caricaturist Péricles was able to win over generations with his characters, especially with O Amigo da Onça. Some researches see an alter-ego of the unstable personality of its creator in O Amigo. A deep-rooted bohemian, Péricles, with the passing of years, had rare moments of lucidity and, from a balanced and patient man, became progressively more aggressive.

On 31 December 1961, dressed as his illustrious character: white suit, polished shoes and slicked-back hair, Péricles de Andrade Maranhão wrote two notes complaining about loneliness and… departed.




Recife, 26 March 2010.
Translated by Peter Leamy, March 2011.
Updated on september 29, 2017.

sources consulted

ALMEIDA, Carol. O cara-de-pau que fez a fama de O Cruzeiro. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 10 mar. 2010.
MARANHÃO, Paulo. A família Maranhão: do Cunhaú a Matary. Recife: Comunigraf, 2001. p. 315-319.
PÉRICLES. Biografia. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 10 mar. 2010.

PÉRICLES [Foto neste texto]. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 01 set. 2017.

PÉRICLES de Andrade Maranhão. Disponível em:<>. Acesso em: 10 mar. 2010.

PÉRICLES e seu amigo da onça. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 10 mar. 2010.
PÉRICLES. O Amigo da Onça também é da safra local. Disponível em:<>. Acesso em: 10 mar. 2010.
SILVA, Marcos Antonio da. Prazer e poder do amigo da onça. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1989.


how to quote this text

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Péricles (O Amigo da Onça – The Jaguar’s Friend). Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.