When Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo showed up for the 2002 World Cup games sporting a new haircut, a tuft of hair atop an otherwise shaved head, he unwittingly got a new nickname and an animated alter ego. The Brazilian press would dub him "Ronaldo Cascão (Smudge)" after a character from the popular comic Monica’s Gang, by cartoonist Mauricio de Sousa.
Regarded as the Walt Disney of Brazil, de Sousa collaborated on an ad campaign for Guarana Antarctica soda, which features the soccer player in animated form. The campaign has been so successful that there are now talks of bringing Ronaldo to the tube in an animated series.
Publisher MSP Int’l Inc. is currently in talks with potential co-producers Mondo TV in Italy and CinéGroupe in Canada, and are seeking sponsorship and co-production deals with other companies for a 13×30 series for worldwide distribution. According to Yara Maura Silva, MSP’s int’l vp, the show would focus on sports while delivering positive messages to kids.
MSP is also working to bring Monica’s Gang and other properties to U.S. television, setting sights on Cartoon Network, Discovery Channel and Nickelodeon, to name a few.
Ronaldo isn’t the first soccer great de Sousa has inked. The cartoonist created the hit comic Li’l Pele and has plans of producing a Ronaldo Cascão comic book to benefit children’s charities.