Spanish artist Guillermo Cifré (1922-1962) was a fundamental figure in the so-called Bruguera School of humor that revolutionized Spanish comics in the late 1940s. As the art director of publishing company Bruguera’s flagship publication, Pulgarcito, Cifré applied to comics the principles of fluid dynamicity he had learned during his previous years as an animator. Cifré’s characters caricaturized the effects of Franco’s repressive dictatorship on Spanish society. In 1957, Cifré, alongside other foremost artists of Bruguera, participated in a pioneering attempt to publish their own comics that lasted a couple of years.

Cifré started his career as a professional artist in 1941, when he joined the team of animators working for the animation studios Chamartín, which produced series of short-length animated films like Civilón and Garabatos. There he met for the first time Escobar, Iranzo, and Peñarroya, who would become, just like him, some of the most relevant cartoonists in Spain. In 1947, publisher Bruguera relaunched their title Pulgarcito, which had started in 1921 as a periodical for children, and had been interrupted because of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The new Pulgarcito was conceived as a weekly anthology of comics, to which Cifré and the above mentioned artists, among others, contributed so successfully that they got to be known as the Bruguera School of humor cartoonists. Between 1947 and 1956, Cifré was instrumental to the growing popularity of Pulgarcito, both as art director and thanks to his creation of strips such as: Don Furcio Buscabollos (1947), about a vociferous knight in an anachronistic medieval setting; his best-remembered series, El repórter Tribulete (1947), a satire of the journalistic world; and Cucufato Pi, (1949), around the continuous sentimental failures of a romantic bachelor. For another Bruguera weekly, DDT, he drew many strikingly colorful and well-composed cover illustrations, as well as strips like Doña Filomena (1951), featuring a middle-aged, unattractive spinster, or Amapolo Nevera (1952), about a scrounger who systematically swindles his friends and relatives. In 1957, Cifre and four other important artists (Conti, Escobar, Giner, and Peñarroya), unhappy with the conditions in Bruguera, left this publisher to form their own one, D.E.R. (Dibujantes Españoles Reunidos), and launched the magazine Tío Vivo. For this publication, Cifré produced many cover illustrations and created the series Golondrino Pérez, Rosalía, and El Sabio Megatón. When this self-publishing adventure failed, the five artists returned to Bruguera, where Cifré retook his classic strips and created new ones, like Cepillo Chivátez (1960) and Don Tele (1960). In the early 1960s, Cifre started to work for British comics, like Bunter, but this new venture was cut short by his death at the age of 40. He was the father of illustrator and experimental cartoonist Guillem cifré (1952-2014).

— Jesús Jiménez Varea

Further Reading

  • Alary, Viviane. “The Spanish Tebeo”, European Comic Art vol. 2 no. 2 (Fall 2009): 253-276.
  • Booker, M. Keith(Ed.). Comics through Time. A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. Santa Barbara: Greenwood, 2014.
  • Merino, Ana (Ed.). “Spanish Comics: A Symposium”, International Journal of Comic Art vol. 5 no. 2 (Fall 2003): 3-153.