Juan Padrón was a Cuban animation director and comic artist, best known as the creator of the comic strip ‘Elpidio Valdés’. He was effectively the godfather of Cuban animation and known across Latin America.
In the 1960s he produced sketches and cartoons for Cuban magazines and newspapers. In 1970, he created Elpidio Valdés, a cartoon character (and series) with more than 60 shorts and two feature-length movies. The character appeared in childrens magazine Pionero from 1970.
Elpidio Valdés became a famous and much loved character in Cuban culture. He is a mambí colonel fighting for the liberation of Cuba from Spanish colonialism in the 19th century, in charge of a group of fighters on horseback. The mambÍ liberation army was formed of former slaves and Cuban peasants. Padron also took Elpidio’s name from Cecilia Valdés, the mixed race young female protagonist of a famous Cuban 19th century novel. The character of Elpidio Valdes was intended to help teach Cuban children about Cuban history and nationhood.
Padrón directed six animated feature films in total, 3 of which were the first ever made by Cuban film institute ICAIC once it was established after the revolution in 1959. Padron also made many shorts, especially those with Elpidio Valdés as the main character; and the one-minute comedy sketches for adults “Filminutos”. Padrón later received international attention for his animated comedy feature film for adults ‘Vampires in Havana’.
In 2008, Padrón received the prestigious Cuban National Film Award.
Juan Padron born 29 January 1947, Matanzas, Cuba. Died 24 March 2020.
Watch a 10 minute medley of some of the best moments and jokes in the work of Juan Padron
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