Carlos Conti Alcántara (1916-1975) was one of the most important artists working for Pulgarcito and other magazines published by Bruguera publications that renewed Spanish comics’ approach to humor in the late 1940s and 1950s. Among the many comic strips he created, the most successful one was El Loco Carioco. Additionally, Conti was an extremely prolific and imaginative producer of gag cartoons about daily-life situations for magazines and newspapers. In 1957, Conti and other important artists of Bruguera embarked on a groundbreaking but ephemeral attempt to self-publish their comics.

Before becoming a professional cartoonist, Carlos Conti worked as an insurance agent and fought General Franco’s army during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). In 1945 he started contributing a daily gag cartoon to the newspaper La Prensa, which he would go on doing till the year he died. Conti’s long-lasting connection to publisher Bruguera began in 1947, when he joined the team of cartoonists producing the weekly magazine Pulgarcito. Soon one of most representative members of the so-called Bruguera School, Conti created strips like Mitío Magdaleno, Don Eulalio, and La vida adormilada de Morfeo Pérez. Themost popular one was El loco Carioco, featuring a psychiatric patient with a lyrical, dreamy vein in permanent contrast to the intolerance of Spanish society. Another considerably successful strip by Conti was Apolino Tarúguez, hombre de negocios, whose eponymous protagonist is an snappish businessman perpetually plagued by the inefficiency of his tiny submissive secretary, Celedonio, whom Apolino addresses as “slave”, thus enacting a comical employer-employee pattern common to many strips from the Bruguera School. Aesthetically, since the mid-1950s, Conti’s art evolved toward a minimalist style characterized by bold, seemingly spontaneous lines of great expressiveness, showing a tendency to graphic solutions reminiscent of cubism.In 1957, Conti was one of the five Bruguera artists (the other four being Cifré, Escobar, Giner, and Peñarroya) who left this company to found their own one, D.E.R. (Dibujantes Españoles Reunidos), and launched the innovative weekly comic Tío Vivo. Conti was the art editor of this publication until, after a couple of years of economic uncertainty, the quintet returned to Bruguera. Conti recovered the authorship of his classic series and created new ones, like Aquítienen a Marcelo con suhermanogemelo (1959), Don Fisgón (1961), Don Alirón y la ciencia-ficción (1969), and El Doctor No y suayudante Sí (1969). In the 1970s, he wrote scripts for some series with art by Jan, including Doroteo, Felipe Gafe (1974), and the very popular Superlópez (1975). Besides his comic strips, Conti produced gag cartoons for Bruguera magazines, as well as newspaper supplements, like Atodo color (1952-1955), and satirical magazines, like Pepe Cola (1959) or Mata Ratos (1975).

Further Reading

  • Alary, Viviane. “The Spanish Tebeo”,European Comic Artvol. 2 no. 2 (Fall 2009): 253-276.
  • Booker, M. Keith(Ed.).Comics through Time.A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. Santa Barbara: Greenwood, 2014.
  • Merino, Ana (Ed.). “Spanish Comics: A Symposium”, International Journal of Comic Art vol. 5 no. 2 (Fall 2003): 3-153.