Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

Home > News Story and Obituary Archive

Gabriel Vargas, 1915-2010
posted May 26, 2010


The cartoonist Gabriel Vargas, a major figure in the Mexican arts and a cartoonist who delighted millions in work that managed high sales levels over five different decades, died on May 25 after a lengthy illness. He was 95 years old.

According to his entry at Lambiek, Vargas was born in the central Mexico city of Tulancingo, in the state Hidalgo. He had ten siblings. After the passing of Vargas' wealthy merchant father, the remaining family moved to Mexico City. Despite turning down educational opportunities that would separate him from his family. Vargas continued to press for work at a young age, eventually winning a 1930 contest that helped him get a foot in the door and taking a position as draftsman at the paper Excelsior.

imageVargas' first hit was Los Superlocos, which was a sturdy feature for the magazine Pepin, which ran Monday to Friday.

His signature strip was was La Familia Burron, which began in 1937 after Vargas was challenged to create a feature with a female lead. It was the story of a low-income family -- the patriarch was a barber -- struggling with the give and take of everyday life under the realities of economic hardship and surrounded by friends and neighbors in a quirky but generally recognizable barrio. Vargas would draw it from its inception until the early 1970s. He would later become the feature's publisher in addition to its creator.

He won Mexico's National Journalism Prize in 1983 and the National Science and Arts prize in 2003. In 2009 he received an honorary doctorate from the University Of Hidalgo.

He continued to cartoon, providing freelance work to the magazine Gentesur.

According to wire sources, Vargas had been ill for years preceding his death, although exactly from exactly what malady he suffered beyond cardiovascular complications is unclear.

Vargas' passing was announced by Mexico's National Council of the Arts and Culture. A memorial service was held yesterday.

thanks, Tat Bestand. I'd appreciate any correction to any of the above; there's some grind to the facts of what was being published where that I can't suss out with as much certainty as I'd prefer.