A Cartoonist in the Family

July 9, 2009 at 2:55 am (La Familia) (, , , )

My grandfather’s brother was a notable cartoonist whom you can find mention of in any number of serious comic strip aficionado’s archives or blogs. His name was Victor Pazmino and commonly signed his work with his initials VEP.

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
Victor Pazmino at his drawing board
Víctor Estenio Pazmiño

Born June 24, 1899, in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Family History

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).

Youth

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.

Cartooning

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.

Census Data

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.

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Thanks to my distant cousin Chris Mosher who compiled most of VEP’s bio. http://mosher.mine.nu/vep/

VEP comic covers
VEP comic covers
Original VEP artwork from my personal archive
Original VEP artwork from my personal archive
Clancy the Cop comic book by VEP from my personal archive
Clancy the Cop comic book by VEP from my personal archive
Víctor and his mother Lelia López-1942

Víctor and his mother Lelia López-1942

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