Sergio Aragones' Funnies, which launched July 2011, is different from his other productions in two ways: first, in each issue Sergio includes stories about his own life; second, he writes it all without any help from his usual amanuensis, Mark Evanier.
“When it comes to personal stories,” said Sergio, “I’ve been fortunate that my life hasn’t been quiet. I was born in another country, and I was a Second World War refugee. I came to Mexico by ship. A lot of things happened to me; I traveled all over the world, and I was with Mad magazine. I did military service. Many, many things happened to me. So I have a ton of stories to tell. I met a lot of very famous people. I worked in the movies. I’ve been in a movie and in television shows. I’ve done a lot of things, all the time working as a cartoonist, too. I had to tell the stories, so those are very easy because I remember very well.
“Because it’s humor, I have to find the fun part of the stories. All of them had something funny. If not, you wouldn’t remember it. I look for something that will entertain — and something that might appeal to different ages of readers. Something that happened when I was a kid, something that happened when I was a young man, and something that happened when I was an adult.”
The personal adventures Sergio relates include his experience while in college of being an extra in a Daniel Boone movie, how he made his first “peso” in school doing classmates’ drawing assignments, vacationing in Acapulco and attending a Pablo Casals concert, collecting marionettes, photographing animals with a professional animal photographer, hopping a freight for a long unanticipated train ride with a friend when both were just children, visiting a famous artist in his studio, and the Mad staff trip to Mexico.
Typically, each issue of Sergio’s Funnies offers several one-page pantomime gags, a couple puzzles and games, and a second longer story. Among the latter: a retelling of the Trojan horse story, a variant of the King Kong epic, the origin of the Pinocchio story in a practical joke Carlo Collodi heard, and the invention of the guillotine.
The stories, while mildly amusing in the manner of Sergio’s marginals for Mad, are not boffo fall-down-laughing funny. But the pictures are. Sergio is “cartoonist incarnate”: he draws constantly, and the pictures he makes are funny pictures. The autobiographical tales are engaging and insightful. And they, too — like all of Sergio’s pictures — are crammed with visual details of the comical sort, sight gags galore.
And if you want to know how Sergio fills page after page of pictorial hilarities, visit the Usual Place and read Harv’s Hindsight for July 2008, wherein all is revealed.