There is a chance that I met him perhaps once, but my memory is vague. Upon his death in 1970 (I was 5 years old) I recall gathering with my grandfather and other family members at my great uncle’s residence (I presumed). I can remember wandering around, as kids do, but very aware of the somber mood in the dim room, and I laid my hands on his desk simply because it was his (I presumed).
My mother’s cousin Joseph was the self-appointed family historian and compiled much of the Pazmino family history. Joseph died in late 1993, but when he became very ill some years earlier he prudently began getting his affairs in order and I received several parcels from him containing many of Victor’s comic strips, scrapbooks and original artwork. Joseph knew I was bit of an illustrator myself and thought I would truly appreciate these pieces of, not only family history, but a bit of American cultural history as well.
Below is a brief history of Victor Pazmino.
- Victor Pazmino at his drawing board
- Víctor Estenio Pazmiño
Born June 24, 1899, in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
His father was Víctor Manuel Pazmiño, of the Pazmiño family of Quito, Ecuador, who had moved to Guayaquil in 1897. His mother was Lelia López, whose family was also from Quito. Lelia’s father was Felicísimo López, a political activist in Ecuador, and her mother was Francisca Romero, niece of Gabriel García Moreno, President of Ecuador (1861-1865 and 1869-1875). Víctor Estenio was named after his father, Víctor, and his uncle Estenio López, who had died just two years earlier at the age of 17. Víctor Estenio’s godfather was Eloy Alfaro, future president of Ecuador, who was a friend of Felicísimo López.
Coming to America
Felicísimo López, Víctor Estenio’s grandfather, became the Consul General of Ecuador, a position to be held at the Ecuadorian Consulate in New York City. So, on February 1, 1900, he, along with Víctor Manuel and Lelia, and their (then) only child, 8-month old Víctor Estenio, left on their journey to America. It was a two-week trip, traveling by boat up the Pacific coast to Panama, taking the train across land, then again by boat up the Atlantic coast, to New York City. They arrived on February 14, at night, and stayed at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in Manhattan. Felicísimo and Víctor M. went to see Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera House, while Lelia stayed at the hotel watching little Víctor E. The family moved in to 6 Agate Court in Brooklyn (Stuyvesant Heights area).
During the next ten years or so, little Víctor Estenio would get four younger sisters (one of whom died at the age of one year), and three younger brothers. During this time, the family moved to 65 Rutland Road in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens area of Brooklyn. Víctor attended school while living here. The family later moved to 2114 Glenwood Road (also known as Avenue G) in Flatbush. He was living here when he registered for the draft during World War I. The registration card (dated September 12, 1918) shows that he was a student at the Pratt Institute at the time.
Víctor was in the habit of sleeping late in the mornings. When he woke up, he would go immediately across the room to his desk to start working on his drawings. He had a large cane that he would use to bang on the floor, a signal to the women of the house downstairs that he was up and ready for his breakfast. They brought it up to his room, so he could work while he ate. He would also frequent Prospect Park.
Víctor Estenio Pazmiño was an artist for American newspaper strips and comic books in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Mostly using his initials VEP as his signature, he began working on comics and panels in the mid 1920s, starting with ‘Frolicky Fables’ in the Daily Mirror (1925-26). This was followed by the syndicated feature ‘Figgers Family’ (1927-28), before he began working for the comic books published by Dell.
For Dell, he drew comic strips and cartoon pages like ‘Bush League Barry’ and ‘Jimmy Jams’, as well as the entire ‘Clancy the Cop’ book. He additionally produced gag cartoons for Ballyhoo Magazine, and made ‘Seaweed Sam the Rhyming Rover’ and ‘Goofie Gags’ for the Famous Funnies comic book. By the late 1930s, Pazmino was working on funny features for comic books by other companies, mainly through the Sangor Studio.
He created many features for Better/Nedor/Pines, including ‘Jr. Wizard’, ‘Peter the Pooch’, ‘Kid Bagdad’, ‘Basil the Bold’, ‘Butch’, ‘Frankie Fiction’, ‘Mortimer Magic’ and ‘Puss an’ Bimbo’. He drew ‘Hedda and Tails’ for Fawcett’s Whiz Comics, ‘TNT Todd’ and ‘Ace G-Man’ for Centaur’s Keen Detective Funnies, ‘Billy Brains the Boy Marvel’ for Harvey’s Champ Comics, and contributed features like ‘Jetsam Joe’, ‘Laffy Daffy’, ‘Spots’ and ‘Uncle Walrus and Willie’ to Rural Home titles like Laffy-Daffy Comics.
In the 1920 US Census, Víctor, age 20, is shown as being an “Operator” in a “Machine Factory,” and his father is shown as being a “Publisher” for a “Trade Paper.” In April 1930, the Census shows him aged 30. This would have been near the beginning of his artistic career. He was still living at 2114 Avenue G. His occupation is listed as “Cartoonist,” and the industry is shown as “Pictures.” It states that he “Worked on own account,” as opposed to being a wage or salary worker. Also, his father is listed as being an editor for a magazine, and his brother as a reporter for a newspaper.
Víctor lived at 480 East 23rd Street in Brooklyn. Víctor never married nor had any children. He died on June 6, 1970, in Brooklyn at the age of 71.
Thanks to my distant cousin Chris Mosher who compiled most of VEP’s bio. http://mosher.mine.nu/vep/
- VEP comic covers
- Original VEP artwork from my personal archive
- Clancy the Cop comic book by VEP from my personal archive
Gabriel García Moreno was born in Ecuador on Christmas Eve in 1821 to wealthy aristocratic parents from Spain. In addition to Gabriel’s most notable achievement of serving two terms as Ecuador’s president, and subsequently being assassinated, he was also my fourth great uncle on my maternal grandfather’s side.
Following is what information I found online about this controversial statesman.
Gabriel García Moreno (1821-1875) was an Ecuadorian lawyer and politician who served as President of Ecuador from 1860 to 1865 and again from 1869 to 1875. In between, he ruled through puppet administrations. He was a staunch conservative and Catholic who believed that Ecuador would only prosper when it had strong and direct ties to the Vatican. He was assassinated in Quito during his second term.
García was born in Guayaquil but moved to Quito at a young age, studying law and theology at Quito’s Central University. By the 1840’s he was making a name for himself as an intelligent, eloquent conservative who railed against the liberalism that was sweeping South America. He almost entered the priesthood, but was talked out of it by his friends. He took a trip to Europe in the late 1840’s, which served to further convince him that Ecuador needed to resist all liberal ideas in order to prosper. He returned to Ecuador in 1850 and attacked the ruling liberals with more invective than ever.
Early Political Career:
By then, he was a well known speaker and writer for the conservative cause. He was exiled to Europe, but returned and was elected Mayor of Quito and appointed Rector of the Central University. He also served in the senate, where he became the leading conservative in the nation. In 1860, with the help of Independence veteran Juan José Flores, García Moreno seized the presidency. This was ironic, as he had been a supporter of Flores’ political enemy Vicente Rocafuerte. García Moreno quickly pushed through a new constitution in 1861 which legitimized his rule and allowed him to start working on his pro-Catholic agenda.
García Moreno’s Unflagging Catholicism:
García Moreno believed that only by establishing very close ties to the church and the Vatican would Ecuador progress. Since the collapse of the Spanish colonial system, liberal politicians in Ecuador and elsewhere in South America had severely curtailed church power, taking away land and buildings, making the state responsible for education and in some cases evicting priests. García Moreno set out to reverse all of it: he invited Jesuits to Ecuador, put the church in charge of all education and restored ecclesiastical courts. Naturally, the 1861 constitution declared Roman Catholicism the official state religion.
A Step Too Far:
Had García Moreno stopped with a few reforms, his legacy may have been different. His religious fervor knew no bounds, however, and he did not stop there. His goal was a near-theocratic state ruled indirectly by the Vatican. He declared that only Roman Catholics were full citizens: everyone else had their rights stripped away. In 1873, he had the congress dedicate the Republic of Ecuador to “The Sacred Heart of Jesus.” He convinced Congress to send state money to the Vatican. He felt that there was a direct link between civilization and Catholicism and intended to enforce that link in his home nation.
García Moreno was certainly a dictator, although one whose type had been unknown in Latin America before. He severely limited free speech and the press and wrote his constitutions to suit his agenda (and he ignored their restrictions when he wished). Congress was there only to approve his edicts. His staunchest critics left the country. Still, he was atypical in that he felt that he was acting for the best of his people and taking his cues from a higher power. Is personal life was austere and he was a great foe of corruption.
García Moreno’s many accomplishments are often overshadowed by his religious fervor. He stabilized the economy by establishing an efficient treasury, introducing a new currency and improving Ecuador’s international credit. Foreign investment was encouraged. He provided good, low cost education by bringing in Jesuits. He modernized agriculture and built roads, including a decent wagon track from Quito to Guayaquil. He also added universities and increased student enrollment in higher education.
García Moreno was famous for meddling in the affairs of neighboring nations, with the goal of bringing them back to the church just as he had done with Ecuador. He twice went to war with neighboring Colombia, where President Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera had been curtailing church privileges. Both interventions ended in failure. He was outspoken in his support of Austrian transplant Emperor Maximilian of Mexico.
Death and Legacy of Gabriel García Moreno:
In spite of his accomplishments, the liberals (most of them in exile) loathed García Moreno with a passion. From safety in Colombia, his harshest critic, Juan Montalvo, wrote his famous tract “The Perpetual Dictatorship” attacking García Moreno. When García Moreno declared that he would not relinquish his office after his term expired in 1875, he began to get serious death threats. Among his enemies were the Freemasons, dedicated to ending any connection between church and state.
On August 6, 1875, President Gabriel García Moreno went to the Cathedral in Quito to adore the Blessed Sacrament as he did often. Leaving the Cathedral, his assassins sprang into action. Faustino Rayo, the leader of the band, suddenly attacked the President with a machete while his comrades opened fire with revolvers. Recalling his previous words, García Moreno shouted “Dios no muere” (’God does not die’). Still concious, he was brought back into the Cathedral and was laid before the altar of Our Lady of Sorrows. There he received the Last Rites and finally expired.
On his person at the time of his death were found a relic of the Cross, a Scapular, and his copy of The Imitation of Christ, which he read from every day. His body lay in state for three days to accomodate the crowds of mourners wishing to pay their respects to their fallen leader. A draft was found of an upcoming address to Congress which was read out to that body a number of days after his funeral. In it, he proclaimed:
“If I have committed faults I beg your pardon a thousand and a thousand times, and this forgiveness I beg of all my countrymen with very sincere tears, begging them to believe that my desire has ever been for their good.. If on the contrary, you think I have succeeded in anything, attribute it in the first instance to Almighty God, and to the Immaculate Dispensatrice of the treasure of His Mercy, and then to yourselves, to the people, the army and to all those who in the various branches of government have helped me with so much intelligence and fidelity to fulfill my difficult duties.”
Upon learning the news, Pope Pius IX ordered a mass said in his memory.
García Moreno did not have an heir who could match his intelligence, skill and fervent conservative beliefs, and the government of Ecuador fell apart for a while as a series of short-lived dictators took charge. The people of Ecuador didn’t really want to live in a religious theocracy and in the chaotic years that followed García Moreno’s death all of his favors to the church were taken away once again. When liberal firebrand Eloy Alfaro took office in 1895, he made sure to remove any and all vestiges of García Moreno’s administration.
Modern Ecuadorians consider García Moreno a fascinating and important historical figure. The religious man who accepted assassination as martyrdom today continues to be a popular topic for biographers and novelists: the latest literary work on his life is Sé que vienen a matarme (“I know they are coming to kill me”) a work that is half-biography and half-fiction written by acclaimed Ecuadorian writer Alicia Yañez Cossio.
Herring, Hubert. A History of Latin America From the Beginnings to the Present. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1962.
- Gabriel Garcia Moreno
- The assassination of Gabriel Garcia Moreno
- The painting Moreno had commissioned upon consecrating the republic. It still hangs in Quito.
- This sanctuary was inaugurated and blessed by the Pope John Paul II in his visit to Ecuador the 18 of January of 1985. It was built to recall the consecration of the Ecuadorian state to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, during the presidency of Gabriel Garcia Moreno in 1873. It is 115 meters of height and it has 24 internal chapels that represent the provinces of the country.