The historic cartoonist Enrique Ventura dies at the age of 78

Social networks have been flooded with cartoons starring Groucho Marx.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
24 March 2024 Sunday 22:24
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The historic cartoonist Enrique Ventura dies at the age of 78

Social networks have been flooded with cartoons starring Groucho Marx. Or by someone similar. Far from what some clueless person might think, the illustrations had nothing to do with the American actor and comedian, but with the Madrid cartoonist Enrique Ventura, author of such well-known series as Grouñidos in the desert, whose protagonist is not only called Julius (like Groucho), but he has exactly the same appearance as the performer in his famous films from the 1930s and 1940s – although it was never officially confirmed that it was him. Readers, family and friends wanted to pay tribute to Ventura after his death was announced, at the age of 78, early Monday morning.

The magazine El Jueves, to which he was closely linked, was responsible for making the sad news public on the X network: “Today our partner left us. Legend of El Jueves, in which he was from his first year until 2024. We will greatly miss those walks with Julius through that world in which you could find anything.” On the same platform, other cartoonists, such as Juanjo Cuerda, defined it as a “myth” and the actor Santiago Segura recalled his designs for the film The Knight of the Dragon (1985), by Fernando Colomo, which he described as “authentic wonder.”

After the disappearance of Martínez el Facha (1977-2015), Grouñidos in the desert became the weekly's oldest series. In 2016, the Dolmen publishing house rescued the series in compilation volumes from the first page and recovering some stories that had not been published since then. He created it at the end of the 70s together with the screenwriter Miguel Ángel Nieto, his first cousin, with whom he formed a tandem in other creations, such as Es que van como locos (1972), Maremagnum (1972) or Historias indecentes de la tele (1979). , which parodied television series. Some of these were followed by Ventura himself after Nieto's death in 1995.

Drawn in black and white and in a format of nine vignettes, Grouñidos in the desert soon became a classic of Spanish absurd (and intelligent) humor and recounted the vicissitudes and more or less ingenious reflections of Julius and its own authors. “We didn't introduce it to Groucho when he was alive and I wouldn't do it now either. Groucho was a great comedian, but when you read his books, you lose the desire to become friends with him, because of the bad talk he was. Luckily, Nieto created a more human, kinder character,” Ventura himself stated in an interview in 2013 in El Periòdic d'Andorra.

Neither of them imagined similar success when they decided to leave their respective careers. Nieto studied medicine and Ventura studied architecture because of his ease with drawing. “I soon saw that that was not my thing. And since I hung out a lot with my cousin Miguel Ángel, who was doing more or less like me, we left him in the third year, to the great displeasure of our families. So, to earn some money, we would go to the countryside in Miguel Ángel's car, and I would paint oil paintings that I would sell to family and friends,” he admitted ten years earlier to Tebeosfera magazine.

Years before, at the beginning of the 70s, Ventura started his career in Molinete magazine and continued in Trinca. He has also been a collaborator in other humor publications such as El Papus, Barrabás, Butifarra! or The Raven; and he has worked for other news outlets such as Blanco y Negro, El Alcázar, El Mundo and La Vanguardia. His long career led him to receive various recognitions, including the Grand Prize at the Barcelona Comic Fair (1997) and Caganer of the Year (2002).

In La Vanguardia he drew a daily cartoon between 1997 and 2012, and coordinated the humorous and satirical section of El Burladero. In both cases, he formed a tandem with the journalist and screenwriter Toni Coromina, who died in 2020.