Mena portrait. Source: http://humoristan.org/es/autores/mena/
So far in the brief history of this column, I’ve talked about books I’ve encountered as an adult, and which I have approached with the specific interest of studying pantomime comic. Today, though, I want to talk about my earliest memory of a wordless comic. That’d be Cándido, the gag strip by José Luis Mena (Spain, 1935-2006)
As a kid, I loved reading the comic strips section of the newspaper (yeah, those still were around back then!), but my parents didn’t get the paper on a daily basis, which meant I couldn’t really follow the adventure strips, which told a continuous story. I was a lot more engaged by the gag strips, some of them featuring characters I knew from cartoons but also others, like Cándido, that only lived in the funny papers.
Deceptively simple, the strip stars the titular Cándido, a lanky, bespectacled guy with a big nose and three hairs on the head. It usually presents, in three or four panels, what seems like an everyday situation, before solving it with a clever twist by the end. A couple of them were so mind-blowing to my young mind back then, that I still recall them.
While the other titles I’ve featured so far are easily available in compilation books (some of them in multiple editions, even!) I couldn’t find any info online on a book that would feature Cándido´s strip, or even Mena’s art in general. Therefore, what I’m featuring here are samples of variable quality I managed to scramble together on the web.
Finally, as a tribute to Mena (and I regretfully admit I didn’t even know who Cándido’s author was until researching this column), I’m recreating from memory one of those Cándido strips I still recall from my childhood years. I’d never have imagined back then that this seemingly innocuous strip would plant a seed in my head to create my own pantomime comics many years down the road.
If anyone has access to the original strip and could send me an image, I’d love to see how close my memory was to the real thing!