EXPIRED: 05/25/10 – Gabriel Vargas, 95, was born in Tulancingo, Hidalgo, Mexico. His father died young, and his mother had a hard time keeping her 11 children alive during the years of Depression. In 1930, through a stroke of luck, Vargas’ artistic talent was noticed by the Director of the Institute of Fine Arts, who offered to give the boy an art education in France. Vargas didn’t want to leave his mother and family, however, and instead asked for a job as an artist on Mexican magazine Excélsior.
At the age of sixteen, he won a contest and was asked to create his first comic strip, the ‘Superlocos.”
Not long after he struck gold. At age 19, Vargas created “La Familia Burrón,” one of Mexico’s most-loved comic strips. It described in quirky detail the travails of a lower-class Mexican family, their extended family and the barrio where they lived.
Week after week Mexicans loved to follow stories of the father, Regino Burrón, a barber, and his inventive and irrepressible wife, Borola Tacuche de Burrón.
La Familia Burrón became iconic as a touchstone of the nation’s popular culture, selling as many as 500,000 copies of the pocket-sized comic book every week for decades.
Vargas stopped drawing the strip himself in 1971, hiring other artists to continue the work. But he bought a publishing company and continued to put out the books for many more years.
He was awarded Mexico’s National Journalism Prize in 1983 and the National Sciences and Arts Prize in 2003.
He died in Mexico City.