'Díogenes y el Linyera'. Translation: "Basta! I've had enough! I can't take it anymore. I'm too exhausted to talk about work." - "He did the right thing. He knows that sleeping isn't work." 

Tabaré Gómez Laborde, often shortened to Tabaré, was an Uruguayan-Argentine caricaturist, children's book illustrator, animator and comic artist. He was best-known for his long-running satirical newspaper gag comic 'Díogenes y el Linyera' (1969-2023), about a nameless tramp and his dog, Diogenes. For several Argentine humor magazines, Tabaré created a variety of other features, including 'El Romancero del Eustaquio', 'Vida Interior', 'El Cacique Paja Brava' and 'Bicherío'.

Early life and career
Tabaré Gómez Laborde was born in 1948 in La Paz, Canelones, not far from the Uruguayan capital Montevideo. His father was a tinsmith, who repaired bottoms of pots and stoves. Tabaré credited his uncle, cartoonist Pedro "el Pita" Laborde, as the man who stimulated him and taught him how to draw. Among his other graphic influences were Walt DisneyDante Quinterno and Walter Lantz and children's comics like 'Felix the Cat' (by Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer), 'Little Lulu' (by MargeJohn Stanley) and 'Popeye' (by E.C. Segar and Bud Sagendorf). In his later career, the cartoonists Hermenegildo Sábat and Saul Steinberg were important influences.

At age 12, he already earned money as a waiter in pizzerias, while later working in a ceramics factory. After graduating from high school, Tabaré found work as advertising illustrator in Montevideo, where he was active for seven years, but didn't enjoy his job. Most of his assignments involved technical drawings, with little room for creativity. Through some colleagues, he was led to the magazine La Valota. In the early 1970s, he drew several cartoons, caricatures and comics for magazines like Despegue, La Bocha and Noticias. With fellow cartoonists Pancho (Francisco Graells), Néstor Silva and Blankito (Luis Blanco), he was the driving force behind the magazines La Chacota and La Balota. For the Hechos de Montevideo newspaper, he drew cartoons about association football.

'Díogenes'. Translation: "I remember, Diogenes, that I was tired and at a deposit of household appliances." - "They stole everything! You shouldn't sleep at night!" - "The only thing they didn't steal was the dream." 

Díogenes y el Linyera
In 1969, Tabaré started publishing in the Argentinean press, creating a humor page for the newspaper Noticias and later working for the magazines Satiricón and Chaupinela. Noticias didn't last long, since it was a left-wing newspaper published under a neo-fascist military junta. Nevertheless, Tabaré still moved to Argentina in 1974, since the country was the center of Latin-American comics production. Through the cartoonist Hermenegildo Sábat, Tabaré found a job at the national newspaper Clarín, published in Buenos Aires. For this paper, he drew cartoons and a comic strip titled 'Tabaré Tira La Taba'.

One time, he had drawn a tramp and his dog, purely intended as page filler. By request of scriptwriters Jorge Guinzburg and Carlos Abrevaya, who worked for the magazine Satiricón, he built a comic strip around the duo. And so the daily gag comic 'Díogenes y el Linyera' (February 1977-2023) saw the light, on the back page of each issue of Clarín. The title characters are a nameless, bearded tramp (El Linyera) and his scruffy dog, Diogenes. The mutt's name was inspired by Ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes of Sinope, who lived in poverty at his own free will. Diogenes and his poor owner offer commentary on current, real-life events. Although Diogenes didn't talk, readers could read his ponderings in thought balloons. Some critics have suggested that Tabaré may have been inspired by the U.S. newspaper comic 'Homeless Hector' (1906-1908) by Harry Hershfield, which also featured a dog and his beggar master. However, given the obscurity of this particular comic, it seems unlikely that Tabaré was aware of it. A more obvious inspiration was Charlie Chaplin's tramp character.

'Díogenes'. Translation: "Hello, how are yo doing? Did you miss me?" - "When you have self-esteem, you've won half the battle. I hope they bust the other half." 

Many Argentine readers could relate to comic characters who were poor, malnourished and angry at the system, making 'Díogenes y el Linyera' a big success. Tabaré even used his comic strip to tackle real-life problems that the government preferred to suppress. Still, he always wanted to leave his readers with something to laugh at, because "other pages in the paper will take care of depressing them." To make his stories even more recognizable, his characters are often sitting on the central square of Turdera, where Tabaré lived during the final decades of his life.

Originally, Tabaré worked with scriptwriters Jorge Guinzburg and Carlos Abrevaya. All their correspondence went by mail. He barely saw them in real life, but whenever he did, he took the opportunity to show his gratefulness. Tabaré described Guinzburg's approach as more based on direct punchlines, while Abrevaya had a more intellectual style of comedy. On 8 July 1994, Abrevaya passed away. Tabaré and Guinzburg continued working together until Guinzberg retired in 1996. He was succeeded by Héctor García Blanco, who scripted new gags until 24 January 2007. After that date, Guinzburg returned, but he died after only a year and three months. Since he had written a lot of material beforehand, Tabaré could rely on his scripts for a few extra months, before taking over the entire comic on his own from 23 May 2009 on.

Panels from 'Sueños de un seductor', published in Libro de Sex Humor.

Other comics
While the 'Díogenes' strip established Tabaré's reputation, he made a great many other comics for Argentinean humor magazines, mostly published by Ediciones de la Urraca, such as Humor (also known as Humor Registrado), Superhumor, Sexhumor, Eroticón and Satiricón. He additionally collaborated with children's magazines like Humi, Billiken, Mickey Total and Genios.

Especially in the Argentine humor magazines of the 1980s and 1990s, several notable new creations saw the light, often made in collaboration wihh writer Aquiles Fabregat (AKA Fabre). For Satiricón and Humor, Tabaré made the comic 'El Cacique Paja Brava' ("Chief Brave Straw"). In 24 chapters, written in verse by Fabregat, the feature tells the unsuccessful sexual exploits of a tribal chieftain. With the same writer, and for Humor magazine, Tabaré created the gag comic 'Don Chipote de la Pampa', about a bumbling knight in the Argentine pampas. His name is a pun on Miguel Cervantes' Don Quixote de la Mancha, while the narration spoofs that of the Argentinean epic poem 'El Gaucho Martín Fierro'. In the same magazine, Tabaré and Fabregat also collaborated on the short-lived humor feature 'Romancero del Eustaquio el Impoluto' ("Ballads of Eustachian the Spotless"), about a loner who walks the streets at night, humming pathetic songs.


The most political comic Tabaré worked on was Super Humor's 'Bosquivia' (1982), scripted by Carlos Trillo and Guillermo Saccomano. On a superficial level, the comic appears to be about a bunch of jungle animals, but in reality it was a satire on the Argentine junta that oppressed the country between 1976 and 1983, under respective dictators Jorge Rafael Videla (1976-1981), Roberto Eduardo Viola (1981), Leopoldo Galtieri (1981-1982) and Reynaldo Bignone (1982-1983). However, the authors never ran into trouble, since the authorities had no clue they were being ridiculed through animals. Tabaré drew the first ten episodes, after which the artwork was continued by Raúl Fortin. Tabaré did receive death threats because of another, short-lived comic about an Arab gangster, which he made with writer Aguiles Fabregat during the Carlos Menem regime in the 1990s. They were forced to cancel it instantly. Again with Trillo and Saccomano as writers, Tabaré created the satirical comic 'Villadiego', about the intrigues in a small imaginary town in the interior of the country.


'Bicherío' ("Bugville") was a gag comic starring anthropomorphic bees, ants, flies and mosquitoes in their mini community, which ran in the children's magazine Humi. 'Vida Interior' (1981) in Humor magazine went even more microscopic and made jokes about bacteria, microbes, viruses and other micro-organisms. Tabaré didn't know much about the human body, but luckily his scriptwriter Meiji had a medical diploma. Also a great observer of reality, Meiji scripted 'Protección al Minor' for Tabaré, in which the authors addressed serious issues related to the families and their children, published in Humor magazine.

Tabaré's work also found its way to publications abroad, such as Lui magazine in France, several publications of Editorial Eura from Italy and in the Spanish weekly humor magazines El Jueves, Hara-Kiri, El Papus and Makoki. His work was also published in Norway. El Jueves, for instance, ran Tabaré's wannabe New York gangster 'Max Calzone: Aspirante a Padrino' ("Max Calzone: Aspiring Godfather"), scripted by Julio César Parissi. His adventures were also collected in book form by Ediciones de la Urraca (1993). Another feature that appeared in El Jueves was 'Historias de No Contar' ("Untold stories"), in which Tabaré spoofed pubcrawlers and whore-mongers. Other topical features were 'Historietas en el Telo' (about television) and 'Historias Futboleras' (about soccer). An additional collaboration with scriptwriter Héctor García Blanco was 'Kristón Kolón'.

'Vida Interior'.

As a satirical cartoonist during a military junta, Tabaré had to be careful with which subjects he touched. Military subjects and politicians were off-limits. Sports were used by the dictatorship as propaganda, so poking fun at sportsmen like César Luis Menotti, Guillermo Vilas or Carlos Reutemann was also not allowed. In an interview, Tabaré recounted that he once drew Linyera searching through some garbage cans, and he was requested to remove the swarming flies. On the other hand, with his picaresque humor for magazines like Sexhumor he had an almost, in his own words, "barbaric freedom".

Tabaré's comics and cartoons have been collected in several books, starting with the collection 'El Humor de Tabaré' (Del Pregon, 1974), and then in several releases by Ediciones de la Urraca. Tabaré was also a productive children's book illustrator, working for publishers like Alfaguara, Sudamericana and Colihue. Among the best-known titles with his illustrations were Ema Wolf's 'La Galleta Marinera' (1990) and Javier Villafañe's 'Los Sueños del Sapo' (1995).

Media adaptations
In the early 2000s, an animation studio made about fifty animated shorts based on Tabaré gags, under the title 'Tabaré Se Mueve' ("Tabaré Moves").

'Historias de no contar'.

The University of Alcalá de Henares named Tabaré honorary teacher in "Graphic Comedy". In 2003, Tabaré received the Morosoli Award from the Lolita Rubial Foundation in Uruguay. Since 7 November 2013, Diogenes and his tramp master have their own statue in the Paseo de la Historieta in Buenos Aires.

Final years and death
Tabaré kept working until the bitter end, writing, drawing, inking and coloring his daily 'Díogenes' episodes. Since he wasn't good with computers, he gave each page to his daughter, who lived across the street and sent the material to the newspaper's office. During his lifetime, Tabaré created over 9,000 episodes of his daily strip. In 2021, Tabaré sold several of his original drawings through Facebook and Instagram. He died two years later, in 2023, at the age of 74 in Turdera, south of Buenos Aires, from pancreas cancer. Through their characters, his cartoonist colleagues Sendra, Erlich, Horacio Altuna and Crist paid tribute to him.

Translation: "Look, Mirá! Spring is here!"

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