This is the sixth volume of the Historia de la caricatura en Colombia, an ongoing project of the Banco de la República. Headed by the painter Beatriz González, a team of researchers has since 1987 combed through a century of Colombian newspapers, magazines, and other sources to identify, classify, and (in many cases) rescue from oblivion Colombia’s leading caricaturists.
Martha Segura has prepared the present study, Adolfo Samper, with the collaboration of her subject. Don Adolfo, born in Bogotá in 1900, studied painting there (1913-21) and in Europe (1928-29). His career as an active caricaturist spanned 1921-65. Thus, Samper’s style in the genre initially was influenced by the brilliant Ricardo Rendón and by José (“Pepe”) Gómez, both slightly senior cohorts. By the 1930s, however, Samper had created his own biting caricature style.
His political cartoons in a number of leading Liberal newspapers in Bogotá and other cities would, in themselves, suffice to qualify him for inclusion among this century’s better Colombian political caricaturists. But Samper is also justly celebrated as being the originator of the first Colombian comic strip, Mojicón. Para los niños Mojicón, as the strip was called, first appeared in the Bogotá illustrated news daily, Mundo al Día, in January 1925. Its protagonist, Mojicón, was a mischievous boy directly inspired by Walter Berndt’s Smitty, which ran in the Chicago Tribune and in the New York News. After Mojicón’s demise in the early 1930s came three mordant political strips—Godofredo Cascarrabias (1944), Don Amacise (1946-52), and Polín (1948).
Samper’s Liberal cartoonist’s pen fell on hard times in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Censorship of his work and closure of his party’s newspapers were the result of Conservative hegemony (1946-53). Furthermore, he reaped small financial gain for all his efforts and skill. Wearied and apprehensive of a penurious old age, Don Adolfo relinquished his pen for a bureaucratic post and a pension.
Adolfo Samper, like its talented protagonist, is a fine addition to the growing literature on Colombian political caricature.