Join Jorge Gutierrez for an in-depth discussion in this video Influencing others and drawing cartoons for a global audience, part of Creative Inspirations: Mexopolis, Animation Studio.
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Jorge Gutierrez: I mean, I am sure you see all these generations have been influenced by you and admire you so much. It must be great to see-- Sergio Aragones: It is a great feeling. It is a great feeling. More to see people that you have met when they were young and they wanted to be cartoonists, and they become cartoonists. That's probably one of the biggest awards that a cartoonist can get, above everything. Jorge: Especially TV animation. I met so many people who not only admire you and admire your work, but you were very kind to talk to them and give them advice, and everyone would look to you as like a really positive-- the godfather of cartooning, but in a good way.
Sergio: People were nice to me when I was here. And I realize how important it was to me the way that people have treated me when I went to places. And I guess that's what you do. It paid, it paid being nice, it is. Cartoon is like generational. We grew up with a bunch of cartoonists and when we met them, I remember when I met Otto Soglow, who was a cartoonist, who did The Little King.
And The Little King in Mexico was a comic strip, and he was great, because it had barely words. I loved his work. When I met him, I couldn't talk. I was mute. So every cartoonist that have worked on the comic strips, I met him at the National Cartoonists Society, and I met him, and I was completely null about these people. And slowly they died because of age. So I am still alive, which I frequent a lot. And now I realize that because of age I am getting to a point that people are coming to me and they like what I do and they grew up with me.
And I tell them well, be nice to people, because very soon you will be here and they will being to ask you the same things. Sergio: So it has been a terrific thing, and still is. Jorge: Very nice! Sergio: Also, I would say that one of the things that I really have always admired about you was that you are a successful Latino artist who came to the U.S. and it's never been an issue with anyone.
Like people talk about you like a cartoonist. They never say like, oh, he is a Mexican or a foreigner, or? Like you kind of broke that barrier and your work speaks to the world. But at the same time, it feels uniquely Mexican and a lot of your sense of humor and a lot of your point of views feel like they have that Mexican flavor that is hard to describe. Sergio: All my early influences they were Mexican cartoonists. Abel Quezada, Alberto Isaac. Many of the guys that I grew were people that worked right there.
And what I read were Mexican comics and Mexican strips and Mexican everything. The thing international, it has become -- because I don't think -- say okay, I'm going to make this cartoon so now everybody understand it. It is because in the beginning, because I wanted everybody to know the cartoon, I will automatically do it. So I don't think about it. I do a cartoon. And when the cartoons are a little too biased to one place, I would always think well, what about my friends in Malaysia, will they understand it? Jorge: Okay. So you do think about the world, like -- Sergio: Yeah, in certain points, when it becomes a little obtuse, the drawing, and I say, wait a minute, will they get this? And if it has a title, then I don't care, because it's a series of cartoons about one subject.
So I figure, well, they will understand it if they read a little more about American culture or something, so then it's fine. But when it's a single cartoon, I try to be in a complete way. One of the things I do when I travel, I love kids and I like to talk to them, and I have gone to different schools to talk to kids, and that has been a total discovery because of what they understand about cartooning. And in many countries they are not familiar with the cartoon word, so they recognize fine art that looks more or less like something but when you do an abstraction, because cartooning is a complete abstraction, to some people they don't know it.
That's funny. They think it's well silly something, but to them it's more like modern art. Except you learn more about the culture of the place by the reactions of the kids of the cartoons. For instance, I was in Kenya and we were doing-- there was a school we were visiting, and there was a-- they were sitting on the floor and the teacher had a board. So I asked permission to make little drawings and I didn't get any reaction from the kids.
And I realized well, of course, they don't react. They don't know what I'm drawing. They are not familiar with this. So I figured out that I drew the guy running from a cow. A cow. They loved it. They laughed so hard. Like I go aaaah and the cow following, because that they understood. That little basic thing about their world, their rural world, they understood. And then I tried to do caricatures of people and then they laughed because, again, they recognize the characters.
And in certain places you make a caricature of the teacher and the kids don't laugh. They are quiet. And they look at each other and then they look at the teacher, and if the teacher laughs, they laugh. But if the teacher doesn't laugh, oh, no way they can laugh about this exaggeration. And in the United States when you go to school, the first thing they say hey, do the teacher, give him donkey ears, dress him like a woman, make him naked. It's a completely different approach and you realize how things change from country to country. But it's fun drawing for kids. Oh yeah.
If you travel one day, just take a part and you go to wherever there's kids and sit among them and start making drawings. It's a kick. Watching their faces, seeing things. The problem is that as soon as you're finished drawing, they want to draw. They take the pen from you and they start drawing. So you just sit there and they just start drawing. Oh yeah, all the time. It never fails. They want to show how they can do it, which is exactly what I want them to do. It's great.
In Bonus Features, we follow Jorge to an emotional reunion with his childhood idol, legendary Mad Magazine cartoonist Sergio Aragones.