Join Jorge Gutierrez for an in-depth discussion in this video Bringing pantomime and acting into cartoons, part of Creative Inspirations: Mexopolis, Animation Studio.
Jorge Gutierrez: As time went by, I remember sort of finding out about your background also in theater in Mexico, with like Jodorowsky. Sergio Aragones: Jodorowsky. Well, again, you are in college, you are doing cartoons, and I loved pantomime. Since I was a kid! My cartoons have no words. Jorge: Then it's all acting! Sergio: Yeah. Marcel Marceau came to Mexico and because we were in the theater group on architecture so we had a pass, so I went everyday.
The university asked them to stay and give a class, a pantomime class, so I joined immediately. And I told him well, I don't want to become a mime. I want to apply pantomime to my cartoons. And he thought it was a very good experiment, that I wanted to apply what he was teaching, and that's what I did. I learned mime, but not to become a performer, but to apply it to work, and it did work a lot. You understand balance, equilibrium, weight, all kinds of things that a mime has to learn, but to apply it to the drawings.
So it did work a lot. That was another of the process of. It was not because I wanted to be an actor or anything like that. Jorge: Well, you act with your cartoons, right? Sergio: Oh yes. Sergio: Not only you act in your cartoons, you direct your cartoons. You choose the costumes in your cartoons. Everything that goes in the cartoon except the music and when it is on paper, but the rest your amenable traits, you have to. Jorge: Eventually as I grew up I got into CalArts, this cartooning animation school, and I remember in one of our storyboarding classes it was about you, and it was about your cartoons and how universally clear all the ideas were.
How you were speaking a language that wasn't restrained to one spoken language, but it was the visual language of cartoons and how well you staged everything. The pacing, how you had animation pacing in your scripts, how like you had anticipation and you had follow-through and really good punch lines, and how they were in movement without movement, because they were printed. And I remember I always wondered like, why don't you do more cartoons? Sergio: I come from gag writing and then I illustrate my gags.
The problem with animation to me, not that it is a problem, is that because of what I do, is that I spend a lot of time thinking, writing gags, and movies?. My father was in the movie industry, he ended up as a producer in Mexico. He made movies. So I grew up in the movie industry and I remember since I was a kid going to the sets to play. And that is not one person's work. Because when I had my earlier jobs, I was working at the studio, doing different things, in editing department and...
But it's such a job that everybody is doing. They have the writing. They have the editing. They have the filming. They have everything. So it's not one person's work. And I realized that I didn't like any of the jobs per se. I liked it all. And I wanted to draw and write my own story. So since I remember, I will sit down anyplace with a piece of paper and write stories and draw them. And because I didn't know the format of how to do comics, because these were not drawings to be shown to anybody. They were crazy.
In a place I am doing something and then I will go like this, because I had more space this way, and then in the back. So when you see the pace, it was like a cacophony of drawing. But it was a story, a complete story. So animation, again, that was it. It was compartmentalized, on writing, on drawing, or things. And I stayed to managing cartoons, because it was what I did best and never regretted it.
Jorge: Yeah, I mean, it's weird, seeing your books all over the world, like, it's pretty amazing. Sergio: But that's one of the great advantage with pantomime, cartoons without words, is like they sell at every place. You go to Turkey and there it is, and Malaysia, and no matter where you go, they like the work. Some people complain that they buy the rights to publish my book and the only thing they have to translate is the title. They have to pay that and not do anything.
I used to go with a friend of mine who also wanted to be a cartoonist. We used to work in a hotel that sold magazines, international magazines. And we'd look at that English magazines like Punch and I couldn't understand anything, and Americans, I couldn't understand anything, because there were words on there. But we have a French magazine, Paris Match, or the German ones. They had a page of guys at the back and they were without words and I understood everything, so it was great.
And that helped me a lot to also, again, to tend to do cartoons without words, because I could understand them and so I figured out well, I want everybody to understand what I am doing. Jorge: Yeah. Sergio, you want to end with like advice to the new generations? Sergio: It's just loving what you do and taking the money equation out of the satisfaction equation. You do something because you like to do it, because you love to do it.
If you want to make money out of something, study money, become a banker, become a salesman. But if you want to be a cartoonist, get into cartooning. Don't try to think, oh, I am going to become a millionaire doing this, because then you are sacrificing a lot of the learning process. So I think people should pay a little more attention to it, or less attention to the money part of it, but a little more attention to the learning part of it. Jorge: Well, Sergio, thank you so much for doing this. Sergio: Por favor! Ha sido un placer. When they stop the cameras, we can continue talking.
In Bonus Features, we follow Jorge to an emotional reunion with his childhood idol, legendary Mad Magazine cartoonist Sergio Aragones.