Join Jorge Gutierrez for an in-depth discussion in this video Jorge interviews Sergio Aragonés, part of Creative Inspirations: Mexopolis, Animation Studio.
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(music playing) Jorge Gutierrez: We are here in Ojai, California, and I am super excited. We are going to be meeting my childhood hero and longtime idol, Sergio Aragones, the great cartoonist. It's been 23 years since I met him, and he pretty much changed my life, so I could not be more excited right now. (singing) (Spanish dialogue) Jorge: This is the man, the legend. I am so excited. Sergio Aragones: Is Sandra working? Jorge: No, she is with the baby.
But she sends hugs and kisses. (laughter) Sergio, I am going to tell you how I first saw your work. When I was, I think, ten years old, and we moved from Mexico City to Tijuana, for the first time I found MAD magazine, because I had never seen them in Mexico.
I didn't speak English very well, and I remember my mom bought it for me, and she sort of said, "This is really good, because you like drawings. You can practice your English." So that was sort of my mom's reason for getting me the magazine. I remember opening it, and I didn't understand anything. I loved the artwork. And then I saw your work on the sides, and I remember thinking like, this is genius, because it doesn't need any words. I don't have to learn English to get all these amazing, beautiful drawings and jokes. And I kind of just became obsessed with getting MAD magazines just for your stuff.
Sergio: Well, it's very curious, because when it came out in Mexico, I was in high school and I couldn't understand it either, because I didn't speak anything of English, and I would go after the guys for them to translate the things, because I loved the drawings, but I couldn't understand anything. And they would run away from me, because, "Oh, there comes Sergio with the MAD magazine," because they knew I got them there to translate, and they couldn't, because it was kind of complicated English. It was not the school English. But the same thing, I was fascinated by the drawings, Don Martin and Bob Clarke and all the guys. I would just keep for hours looking at it, and that's what really motivated me to come to the States.
Jorge: So as time went by, eventually I found Groo, you comic book, Groo the Wanderer, and immediately I became obsessed with it, and I started saving, saving all my allowances to buy them. I was reading one of them and I would obviously like look at your drawings and then like try to copy them. At that point you were--the fact that your name was Sergio Aragones, to me, was like, that's someone like me. There were not a lot of Mexican cartoonists, especially in the U.S., so I started copying your drawings.
I was really, really into it. And my father walked in and saw me drawing this, and he kind of gave me this look of like, 'I am going to humor you to see what you are up to.' So he sat down and he picked up your comic book, and I still remember, it's Groo Issue 50. And he said, "Sergio Aragones, Groo the Wanderer. Hmm, I know this man." And I did not believe him. I am still recovering from Santa Claus and all these things, that, everything that he said that hasn't been true, so I don't believe him.
And he says, "Sergio went to university for architecture," and that was the biggest lie in the universe to me. I said, "Papa, this is a world-renowned cartoonist. There is no way he went to architecture school." And he said, "No, no, I went to school with him," and that seemed like the biggest lie in the universe. So he said, "Jorge, since it's clear you don't believe me, and you will only believe me if you see it, I am going to take you to meet Sergio Aragones, and he will tell you how important it is to go to school." And I was like, "Come on, Dad!" So my dad finds out about Comic-Con in San Diego, and sure enough, we get up really early in the morning, on a Sunday.
We are crossing the border from Tijuana to San Diego. And the whole way there I am really nervous, because I think this is a big lie, and I am kind of embarrassed for my dad. I am like, I can't believe he is doing all this just to make his point. So we get to San Diego, we park, we go into the Comic-Con, and this is the first time I've ever been in the Comic-Con, or my father, and there's people dressed in Jorge: costumes and like really dirty-looking people. Sergio: It's so crazy. Jorge: It's super crazy, and my father is an architect, right, so he is kind of like a little--he is looking around, he is going like, "This is what you want to do? Like this is the world you want to enter?" (Sergio laughing) I am like, "Papa, these are my people." So we go into the Comic-Con, and literally he just asked like, "I am here to see Sergio Aragones," and they are like, "Oh, Sergio is signing over there." So we go to your booth, and there is a giant line of people on Sunday, because I think it's family day, so there's tons of kids, tons of families.
And we get in line, and we are waiting, and my dad looks really serious, like we are there to see the Pope, like this is a pilgrimage. And I don't know how it happened. The way I remember it, you looked up, and he saw you and you saw him. My dad said, "Sergio," and then you stood up and you said, "Jorge," and at that moment my brain exploded. The world turned. Every single thing I didn't believe my father I thought like, maybe they are all true. Maybe everything is true.
And you guys hugged and you said like, to the line, you said like, "Hey, can you give me a minute?" And we went behind your booth and you sat down, and you guys talked a little about school. And then my father said, "Sergio, tell him"--all this is in Spanish--"Sergio, tell him how important it is to go to school." And you sat me down and you looked me in the eye. You said, "I studied architecture. Your father is right.
If you want to do cartoons, it's a very hard career. It's not something that's easy. And look at this place, it's full of people who want to be cartoonists. And the biggest difference between them and someone who succeeds, or someone who is succeeding here, is hard work, school, and even more hard work." Sergio: It's education. What happens sometimes is when you start in any field, we are talking cartooning, you start very young, and the only thing you do is cartoons.
You talk cartoons. You meet cartoonists. And there is nothing wrong with that, but there is whole universe that you can apply to your work. So when you get an education, you go to college, you meet people who are interested in other things. You can continue becoming a cartoonist, but all the other influences that you meet in college, politically, artistically, you start up with at Cine Club -- Jorge: You did that club right? Sergio: You expand your mind. Sergio: Oh yeah! You expand your mind to such extent that when you are doing your cartoons, you have more material to take from, and you just don't become a worker that sits there and inks somebody else's work, because now you can create.
You have a whole complete education. So your dad was right. So was my dad. My dad, same thing. He wanted me to go to college, and I wanted to be a cartoonist. I didn't want to go to college. But one of things I will always thank him is for the fact that he forced me to go to college, and I did, and I learned a lot. So to me it was very, very, very important.
In Bonus Features, we follow Jorge to an emotional reunion with his childhood idol, legendary Mad Magazine cartoonist Sergio Aragones.