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New exhibit celebrates Mexico’s comic book pioneers

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Delia Elisa Larios y Orozco’s Adelita predates Wonder Woman in the world of comics by six years. Photo: Courtesy

An exhibition featuring the lives and works of several of Mexico’s most iconic cartoonists is being hosted at El Templo, a restaurant and bar in downtown Mérida.

The exhibition at El Templo is fairly basic but is a great point of departure if you are interested in early 20th century Mexican comics and pop art. Photo: Courtesy

The exhibit, which organizers describe as a tribute, coincides with the 150th anniversary of the birth of pioneering illustrator and lithographer, Juan Bautista Urrutia.

Bautista Urrutia is best known for his cartooning work in Mexico City newspapers, as well as his character Ranilla, who eventually branched out to a stand-alone comic book format in 1922 and is considered one of the earliest examples of Mexican comic book characters.

As much of Bautista Urrutia’s work was done under commission for tobacco company El Buen Tono, his characters are often seen smoking. Photo: Courtesy

Strips and standalone books of the early era of Mexican comics in the 1920s feature themes and characters centered around contemporary events including the Mexican Revolution.

They mostly belong to the Western genre, which includes plenty of shootouts, persecutions on horseback, and the downing of evil villains.

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Also featured in the exhibition is the work and story of Delia Elisa Larios y Orozco, the creator of Mexico’s first female superhero, Adelita, who starred in a comic first published in 1936 called “Adelita y las guerrillas.”

In the comic strip, Adelita, a woman from Jalisco, seeks vengeance for the death of her brother and takes on an ever-expanding rogues gallery of villains. 

A fearless Adelita on horseback seeks justice for her slain brother. Photo: Courtesy

This is until she meets her main antagonist known as La Tigresa del Bajío (the Tigress of the Bajío) who is equal to her in strength and with whom she does battle on several occasions.

The exhibit can be seen at El Templo on Calle 59, across from La Mejorada park, and will be open noon-10 p.m. daily until Saturday, Aug. 14.


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