Mampato

Themo Lobos was one of the most prominent Chilean comic authors. Although he has created several characters for a variety of magazines, most notably 'Alaraco' and 'Máximo Chambónez', he will be best remembered for his work on the title comic of Chile's best-selling children's magazine Mampato between 1968 and 1978.

The artist was born in San Miguel as Themístocles Nazario Lobos Aguirre. He picked up drawing cartoons while still a child through the children's magazine El Peneca and its comic strip 'Quintín el Aventurero', which was a translation of the British comic 'Rob the Rover' by Walter Booth. Among his other influences were Hergé and Coré. He briefly attended the Chilean Academy of Fine Arts, and later studied at the Chilean School of Applied Arts. At the age of 18, Lobos published his first comic strips like 'Problemitas' in the satirical magazine Pobre Diablo. Also in the late 1940s, he made illustrations and a comic story called 'El Duende Cachito' for the children's magazine Aladino. Lobos made illustrations for advertisements in the newspaper La Nación in 1949. The paper also printed the first appearances of his robot character 'Ferrilo el Autómata' and the pilot 'Homero el Piloto'. These characters would return in several of the magazines that Lobos contributed to in the 1950s and 1960s, such as Estadio, Barrabases and Mampato.

Problemitas by Themo Lobos
Problemitas (1947)

By 1950, Lobos got the opportunity to publish his work in Editorial Zig-Zag's classic magazine El Peneca himself with the series 'Michote y Pericón' and 'Sapolín el Niño Rana'. He later assisted Guido Vallejos in the sports magazine Barrabases, for which he also created comic strips with the clumsy cyclist 'Cicleto', the mediocre soccer player 'Cucufato', the failed boxer 'Boxito' and the powerless sportsman 'Ñeclito' in 1956. Lobos claimed that he drew most inspiration for 'Ñeclito' from his own youth as a skinny person. Lobos' characters for Barrabases were obviously not successful in their sports, but worst of all was 'Máximo Chambónez', whose every attempt at sporting ended in disaster for himself and all the people of the fictional town of Piduquén. Other creations by Lobos for Barrabases were the private investigator Nick Obre and his faithful dog Watson.

The author's most autobiographical creation was probably the family man 'Alaraco'. This overconcerned and overreacting character always made a fuss about something, and interpreted any minor detail as a major tragedy or insult. He first appeared in the pages of the adult-oriented humor magazine El Pingüino from the mid 1950s until 1969, and was then transferred to the Sunday pages of the newspaper La Tercera. His popularity was thus, that the Chilean slang adjective "alharaquiento" (meaning complaining/whining) was changed to "alaraco" with consent of the Real Academia Española. The comedian Fernando Alarcón played the character in the popular Chilean humor TV show 'Jappening con ja' in the 1980s.

Alaraco by Themo Lobos

During the rest of the 1950s, work by Themo Lobos also appeared in Estadio, Flash, Humor de Hoy and Humanoide. In February 1965 Lobos and Editorial Zig-Zag launched Rocket, the first science fiction comics magazine in Latin-America. Lobos served as artist and editor-in-chief, while the other contributors included Abel Romero, Máximo Carvajal, Lincoln Fuentes and Enrique Calvo. When Lobos abandoned the project after only a year, Zig-Zag respected his artistic property and closed the title in March 1966, only to return six months later with the new magazine Robot.


From the second issue of Rocket

In 1968 Themo Lobos was asked by Eduardo Armstrong to join him in his recently launched bi-weekly comics magazine Mampato. He became the artist and later also the writer of the title comic, which dealt with a boy who could travel through time with his space-time belt. The initial episodes were written by Armstong and drawn by Óscar Vega, whom Lobos succeeded already during the first story. Mampato quickly became one of Chile's most successul comic magazines, selling roughly 100,000 copies per issue. It became a weekly in 1971. 'Máximo Chambónez' also reappeared in Mampato, where the feature reached even more popularity.

Máximo Chambónez

Things went downhill after Augusto Pinochet's coup against Salvador Allende's government in 1973. The newly established dictatorship gave a heavy blow to the comics market. One of Lobos' running storylines involving a dictatorships suddenly received heavy criticism. The magazine managed to pull through until January 1978, when the final issue appeared. During a course of ten years, Themo Lobos had made 25 stories with 'Mampato' and his caveman sidekick Ogú. Many Chilean comic authors then left the country or were exiled. Lobos stayed behind, and spent most of the 1980s working for smaller publishing venues. He also worked for foreign clients and made promotional art for properties by Peyo's 'The Smurfs' and the animated series with DC superheroes 'Super Friends'. By 1986 Lobos had gathered enough funds to launch a new comics magazine, called Cucalón. It contained reprints of most of his previous work, including some new material. The bi-weekly magazine ran for 48 issues until 1993. It was followed by a short-lived adventure series called 'Pimpín', in the same tradition as 'Mampato'.

Ogu by Themo Lobos
Ogú

Lobos spent most of the 1990s making illustrations for several institutions, dealing with subjects like the ecology, atomic energy and pollution. The 'Mampato' stories by Lobos were collected in album format by Ediciones Dolmen from 1996. One of his stories was the basis for the animated motion picture 'Ogu and Mampato in Rapa Nui' (2002).

Due to complications in the bronchi, Lobos moved from Santiago to Concon. Some years before his death he suffered from lung failure, which forced him to take an oxygen tank. He passed away on 24 July 2012 due to respiratory failure in the Gustavo Fricke Hospital in Viña del Mar.

Mampato by Themo Lobos

Themo Lobos on the Biblioteca Junto al Mar blog

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