Juan Díaz is the creator of the educational newspaper comic 'Glupy' (1973-1985), one of the few Costa Rican comic strips which gained international attention.

Early life and career
Juan Antonio Diáz Rodríguez was born in the harbor city Puerto Limón, but spent most of his childhood in the capital San José. He showed an early fascination for drawing, and perfected his skills during private lessons from teachers from his birth town, and through a correspondence course in cartooning. At the age of 17, he began his artistic career at the Garnier advertising agency, followed by a job in the animation studios of Emilio Madriz. There he was mainly involved in designing humorous characters.

Creation of Glupy
During this period, he also made his sketches of 'Glupy', by then still called 'Glopi', and drawn in the shape of a balloon. He wanted to use the character in a series of educational shorts for children and youngsters. The character eventually got the name 'Glupy', while his appearance was changed into a green worm with big antennas. A colleague suggested presenting his test strips to a newspaper. In May 1973 the young artist dropped of an enveloppe with 'Glupy' comic strips at the editorial offices of the newspaper La Nación, and according to legend the editor called him back within a couple of hours.

Launch in La Nación
'Glupy' made his debut on 11 June 1973 in the paper's Alfa supplement, with a prominent announcement on the front page. The funny little worm was an instant hit, despite the obvious educational tone. In most episodes 'Glupy' taught his young readers a lesson about animals, nature or environmental issues. Children wrote letters directly to Díaz' character, while primary and secondary schools collected the episodes to use in their lessons. The success also had its downside. Bookshops and a clothing brand began using 'Glupy' as a mascot, without the artist's consent.

International success
By 1980 Díaz got the opportunity to see his strip distributed in other newspapers through the agency Servicio Periodísticos Internacionales (S.P.I.), a subsidiary company of King Featurs Syndicate in the USA. The first foreign paper to pick up the feature was La Nación from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Soon most of Latin America followed, with publications in El Comercio from Lima (Peru), Panorama from Maracaibo (Venezuela), El País from Cali (Colombia) and El Mercurio from Cuenca (Ecuador). At the height of its popularity, 'Glupy' appeared in 33 newspapers from 16 countries. The increasing success and accompanying workload forced the author to retire the strip in 1985 because of health reasons.

Legacy
'Glupy' was not only the first recurring character in Costa Rican newspapers, but also the first Costa Rican strip to gain an international audience. Díaz inspired fellow Costa Rican artist Eduardo Ugalde to create 'Gotsi', a similar character but then in the shape of a droplet of water. The didactic aspects of 'Glupy' urged Israel Hernández to create comics which dealt with Costa Rican local traditions. At the occasion of the character's 40th anniversary in 2013, an overview exhibition was held in the Cultural Center of Spain in San José. The comics collective La Pluma Sonriente/La Pluma Cómic additionally launched a new series of book collections. In 2019 Juan Díaz sued the Vida Abundante Evangelical Church for their character 'Gusi', which was used in promotional spots against sexual abuse in 2015, but showed a similarity to 'Glupy'.


Glupy and his fans from a promotional flyer of the syndicate.

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