Jose Carioca is a Disney comics character.
He is a pal of Donald Duck. José (or "Joe" as he is commonly known in the USA, and "Zé " as he is commonly known in Brazil) became so popular that he starred in two feature-length films and a cartoon short, had his own newspaper strip for two years and is a recurring guest star in the "Ducks" comic books. In his native Brazil, José is actually a leading character in his own comics, and his fame as a cultural icon is probably equivalent to that of Mickey Mouse's in the USA.
In the 1940s a series of films were planned featuring José and a pretty parrot named Aurora, but they never made it past the storyboard process. However, Aurora, Joe Carioca's girlfriend (also called Rosinha [Portuguese] or Rosita [Italian]), shows up in a large number of comics done in both Holland and Brazil, so the fact that she isn't in an actual cartoon didn't stop her from becoming a star. José's best friend is a crow named Nestor, who appears to have the same relationship Goofy does to Mickey Mouse, though José tends to take full advantage of Nestor's gullibility. Other friends include a dark-skinned dogface named Pedrao, (Pedro or Peter), and a country bumpkin duckbill named Afonsinho ("Little Alphonse"). José also has two nephews named Zico & Zeca. His arch-rival for the affections of Aurora is a rooster named Zé Galo in Portuguese [Galetto in Italian (a.k.a. Joe Cock or Joe Cockerel in English)]. Another of his typical adversaries is Aurora's father, Roca Vaz, because he disapproves of José's affection for his daughter. The Aracuan Bird, also known as the "Clown of the Jungle," and Panchito the Mexican Rooster are two other friend's of Donald and José's were introduced in "The Three Caballeros." The Aracuan appeared in two other cartoons as well and in Brazil, the Aracuan Bird stars in his own stories, in his own universe of birdbeaked characters. José made a cameo appearance in "Alice in Wonderland" where he was one of the jurors present at the Red Queen's trial of Alice.
Brazilian comics began regularly featuring José (whom they now called Zé for short), starting with O Pato Donald 434 (1 March 1960) which features a Zé Carioca story "A Volta de Zé Carioca" ("The Return of Zé Carioca"). Story begins with Zé Carioca in a plane returning to Rio de Janeiro. He has supposedly spent the past ten years in Hollywood as a famous film star and felt it was time to return home. However, once he deboards the plane no one seems to recognize him. When he goes after some of his creditors they think he is an impostor. It's Carnaval (a Brazilian strong tradition). He enters a masquerade contest to win the cash prize because he is now starving, but he places LAST place as Zé Carioca impersonator! A ship arrives with American tourists, among whom are many of his friends: Donald, Daisy, Mickey, Scrooge, the Nephews, Minnie and even Brer Rabbit, Tinker Bell, the Three Little Pigs and Pluto. They recognize him but no one wants to hire him as a tour guide. Soon he spots another group comprised of the Beagle Boys, Captain Hook, the witch from Snow White, Big Bad Wolf and Brer Rabbit's nemeses. Nearly every bad guy in Disney Universe. He discovers that the crooks' plan is to capture all the good guys. The bad guys succeed in kidnapping the Mickey, Donald and the rest and take them to Hook's ship. Nobody believes Zé when he tells the police, because everybody thinks he's still an impostor. Finally Zé saves everybody with the help of Tinker Bell's magic fairy dust. After that everybody finally believes he's the REAL Zé Carioca. Jorge Kato was the first Brazilian artist for Zé Carioca.
His next Brazilian appearance is in his own comic book title "Zé Carioca" which is actually the alternate title to O Pato Donald, apparently renamed in Zé's honor. First Zé Carioca issue was dated Jan. 10, 1961 issue is #479 (numbering followed O Pato Donald's numbering). On the cover of that issue Zé Carioca is playing football (soccer). The main story is "Zé Carioca Contra o Goleiro Gastao" ("Joe Carioca versus Gladstone for the goal"). Donald, Daisy, the Nephews, Aurora (Rosinha) and Gladstone appear in this tale which features Brazil's famous soccer player Pele renamed Peleco. Gladstone is Zé's rival for Aurora's love in this story. After this issue O Pato Donald begins to alternate it's title with "Zé Carioca" featured on every other issues, but continuing with a consistent issue numbering.
A curious tradition began in 1962 where the Brazilian comic book studio began publishing counterfeit Mickey Mouse (mostly by Paul Murry) and Donald Duck (mostly by Carl Barks) stories where the artists would simply remove all images of Mickey or Donald and replace them with images of José. Apparently the most utilitarian stories for counterfieting were the ones which featured Mickey and Donald in their domestic "suburban" roles, inwhich José's redubbed tales would take place in his own neighborhood rather than Duckburg or Mouseton. This is believed to have been the origin of José's nephews Zico & Zeca, who replaced Mickey's and Donald's own nephews (of course one of Donald's was eliminated completely) in these stories. This counterfeiting was apparently O.K. in Brazil where the residents were not familiar with the Murry or Barks comics in their original form. However fans eventually recognized the stories, and even noticed glaring artistic errors (such as silhouettes and shadows of Mickey or Donald which were not properly disguised, i.e., José with a Mickey Mouse shadow). These stories, of course, would also typically have José teaming up with Fethry or Goofy. For example, Zé Carioca #689 (Jan. 18, 1965) has Fethry arriving by train to visit his cousin José, apparently a counterfeit of "Topolino" #453 (Aug. 2, 1964) in "Paperino e il fanatico igienista" ("Donald Duck in A New Way of Life") where Fethry visits a zoo and makes a new suit for [sic] José. The regular "adventure" stories featuring Donald or Mickey were left intact and presented as main features for Donald and Mickey as needed.
Rosinha ("Little Rose", a.k.a. Aurora) appeared as José's girlfriend since the second Brazilian Zé Carioca story (first issue of ZC comic book), but she originated from the American newspaper comics (where she was not name), and was the daughter of a millionaire. Her father's current name is Roca Vaz, but in the strips republished by Editora Abril in 1965 -when the counterfeits ceased and before original José comic story production restarted -- his name was Gaitulino da Silva (in a free translation it means something like "Richman Smith"). Rosinha's English name, Aurora, is probably a homage to the popularity of the native Brazilian Aurora Miranda, who co-stars with Donald and José in "The Three Caballeros."
Shortly thereafter Editora Abril started to create a universe for Zé Carioca, naming his hometown Vila Xurupita, and adding a supporting cast with characters like Nestor, Pedrao and Afonsinho. The fictitious Vila Xurupita is a neighborhood located someplace in Rio de Janeiro, and is considered a lower class neighborhood in the suburbs (in Brazil poor or lower middle class people live in the suburbs). In the old syndicated comic strips Joe Carioca's ambition was different. It was Brazil in the middle and late forties. Joe tended to hob-nob with wealthy people. This was how his courtship with Rosinha actually started. Apparently Roca Vaz and Rosinha do not live in Vila Xurupita, since they are richer than Zé, Nestor, Pedrao and the others. In the first stories Roca Vaz liked Zé Carioca, but now he despises him, probably after after he discovered Zé was a hustler.
Zé Carioca's personality in the cartoons was reminiscent of typical comradeship of the native Brazilians. But in the comics he was more of a social climber: a poor parrot trying to get his share of the high-society, sometimes hustling (making money by doing things that are not exactly legal). This Zé Carioca also owed money to nearly everybody. There was an association called A.N.A.C.O.Z.E.C.A. (Associacao Nacional dos Cobradores do Zé CArioca) - that translates more or less to: The National Zé Carioca Debt Collectors Association) which was a recurring plot device. At this time Nestor became something more of a sidekick in order that Zé would have someone to talk and act with.
After this, possibly because of the bad public relations resulting from this corrupted version of José Carioca, the Zé Carioca comic book didn't feature Zé Carioca stories. Abril ceased the counterfeits and republished, for a short time, the original strips, then they were banned. During the early 1970's new Zé Carioca stories began publishing and Zé had a new artist, Canini. After a long run, Canini's art style became looser and more and more cartoony, more like editorial "political" cartoons, than like comic book art. Finally Canini was fired around 1977 when Abril decided to return to a more traditional "Disney look" for José's comics. Other artists like Luis Podavin and Moacir Rodrigues took over the feature. Since the early 70's, with Canini and after his departure there has been new Zé Carioca stories production.
Now Abril creates around 100 pages Zé Carioca stories each month, because Zé Carioca is published every 15 days and his mag has 64 pages, full with Zé Carioca stories. Along with Abril's Disney line expansion came a large range of Brazilian-produced stories. Not only Zé Carioca, but a lot of secondary characters in the Ducks stories got their own features. The hillbilly Urtigao (Hard Haid Moe) was extremely popular among Brazilian readership, and Fethry Duck as Morcego Vermelho (Red Bat) was created in Brazil as well his yellow nephew Biquinho (Dugan Duck), entirely conceived by Editora Abril's staff. Also featured in many issues of Zé Carioca, and most likely inspired by Fethry's superhero alter-ego, is Zé Carioca's own secret hero identity, Morcego Verde (the Green Bat). Zé Carioca's first super-hero alter-ego was "Super Super" (ZÉ CARIOCA comic issue #499, May 30, 1961 - in reality #499 was #11 because the numbering followed sister comic O PATO DONALD) - that story was created in Brazil. In that story Zé is hired as an actor to play a super-hero role in a television show. Zé is a fiasco as the super-hero "Super-Super" until he obtains actual superpowers when two aliens in a flying saucer accidentally dispose of a magnetic cloud and let it fall on Earth, and the cloud hits Zé Carioca. Zé's powers, however, disappear a short time after. But he continues in the role of the Green Bat and even joins the Duckburg superhero association.
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- Walt Disney Comics Digest 51
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