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MAD Magazine Cartoonist Looks Back On 47 Years Of Comic-Con

Video by Katie Schoolov

Sketch artist Sergio Aragonés is one of the rare artists who has been attending Comic-Con since it started in 1970.

The first year, Aragonés went as a visitor. Now, 47 years later, he has his own booth and it is one of the most crowded in the cartoonist section.

“This is great because when you’re a cartoonist, you work at home all by yourself,” Aragonés said. “But when I come here, I realize I’m doing right, because that’s what they like.”

For at least two hours on Thursday there was no break in the stream of fans waiting in line to buy his books and get his autograph.

Photo by Katie Schoolov

A self portrait of MAD Magazine cartoonist Sergio Aragonés at his booth at San Diego Comic Con on Thursday, July 20, 2017.

“In the beginning, there weren’t that many people, probably a thousand or less,” Aragonés said. “Then we went to the convention center because it grew up so much.This is what happens. Masses of people. Millions, millions of people. People dressed like Batman, people with horns, and rifles, and things,” Aragonés said.

Despite the more than 100,000 people who attend Comic-Con, and the sizable crowd at Aragonés’ booth, he said fewer people are coming for the comics.

“A lot of people are interested in movies, television,” Aragonés said. “Many of them don’t even know about comics, which a lot of people complain. But I love it because, like this (comics) they discovered these things when they were kids.”

Aragonés got his start drawing in 1954 when he was in high school. In 1962, he moved to the United States from Mexico and MAD Magazine immediately picked up his work. Since then, he said he has only missed one issue.

Photo by Katie Schoolov

MAD Magazine cartoonist Sergio Aragonés draws himself as a kid in 1954, when he first started drawing, at his booth at San Diego Comic Con on Thursday, July 20, 2017.

Aragonés said San Diego has changed a lot over the years and he attributes a lot of that change to the tourist demands of the growing Comic-Con crowd.

“Comic Con is internationally known, so every time it gets mentioned, San Diego gets mentioned. There’s over 1000,000 people that come. When they come they stay in hotels, they buy food,” Aragonés said. “A city grows according to its needs. I think it’s been for the best. Before it was only sailors, their tattoo parlors, it was kind of a seedy little place. But it has really changed a lot.”

Although the Comic-Con crowd has grown and the focus of the event has shifted from comics to pop culture, Aragonés does not worry about the future of his industry.

“I compare, many times, the comics to horse. Horses were the only way to travel before, so everybody had to have a horse. Suddenly the car comes in, and horse stop being the main way to travel. But horses didn’t disappear. We have horse races, we have Western cowboys, we have movies. Horses are a very valuable thing,” Aragonés said. “Comics are going to be here for a long time. Why? Because people like the feeling of it. What is going to disappear is the bad artists because there won’t be a place for them.”

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Sergio Aragonés poses with one of his fans at his booth at San Diego Comic Con on Thursday, July 20, 2017.

For next year, Aragonés said he hopes there will still be a place for him.

“The old-timers, they keep coming, and they keep saying hello, and you see them grown from kids to adults,” Aragonés said. “It’s a pleasure being here because you’re the recipient of all these years of memories.”

Aragonés turns 80 in September. He said as long as he is alive, he will be at Comic-Con every year.

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