Eduardo Humberto del Río García aka Rius (1934–2017): The Mexican Cartoonist and Writer Who Fearlessly Critiqued Politics and Religion

The Prolific Mexican Intellectual, Cartoonist, and Author

Eduardo del Río aka Rius (1934–)

Eduardo Humberto del Río García, known by his pen name Rius, was born in Zamora, Michoacán, Mexico, on June 20, 1934, and passed away on August 8, 2017. He is renowned as one of Mexico’s most beloved intellectual figures, celebrated for his roles as a political cartoonist and writer.

As one of Mexico’s most acclaimed cartoonists, Rius authored a prolific body of work that includes over a hundred books, enjoying enduring popularity, particularly among his fellow Mexicans. His writings were marked by his unwavering commitment to progressive and left-wing ideals, which consistently found expression in his critique of neoliberal Mexican ideologies, U.S. governmental policies, and the Catholic Church. Rius was a vocal supporter of the Cuban revolution, as evident in his work “Cuba for Beginners,” and he remained a staunch sympathizer of the Soviet bloc until the conclusion of the Cold War.

Eduardo Humberto del Río García (Rius)

Born: June 20, 1934

Died: August 8, 2017

Pen Name: Rius

Occupation: Mexican Intellectual, Political Cartoonist, Writer

Birthplace: Zamora, Michoacán, Mexico

Eduardo del Río aka Rius (1934–)

A Pioneering Mexican Cartoonist and Author

Rius emerged as one of Mexico’s most renowned cartoonists, captivating countless readers’ hearts, especially in his homeland. His work bore the imprint of a fiery political activist firmly grounded in progressive and left-wing ideologies. These convictions reverberated through his writings, where he fearlessly criticized neoliberal Mexican doctrines, U.S. government policies, and the Catholic Church.

Rius’s advocacy extended to his open support for the Cuban revolution, a sentiment clearly expressed in his work, “Cuba for Beginners.” He also remained a fervent sympathizer of the Soviet bloc until the conclusion of the Cold War.


The Humorous Critique of Mexican Governance

In the 1960s, Rius ventured into cartooning in magazines and newspapers, often addressing political themes. His biting wit found its voice in two iconic comic series: “Los Supermachos” and “Los Agachados.” These works offered a humorous yet incisive critique of the Mexican government.

Bolstered by the success of these comics, Rius embarked on a literary journey. He authored numerous books, each meticulously illustrated and handwritten. These works spanned a broad spectrum of subjects, including politics, vegetarianism, and religion. What set his books apart was their unique blend of humor, accessibility, and intellectual depth. Rius had a rare gift for providing readers with a comprehensive understanding of complex topics while maintaining an engaging and straightforward narrative style.

Eduardo del Río aka Rius (1934–)

International Impact and Legacy

Rius’s influence transcended borders. In 1970, the first English edition of his book “Cuba for Beginners” was published in the United States, shedding light on Cuban history and revolution through humor. While the impact of this work may not have been immediate, the 1976 English translation of “Marx for Beginners” catapulted Rius to international acclaim. This comic strip representation of Karl Marx‘s life and ideas became a global bestseller, marking the inception of the “For Beginners” series by Writers and Readers and later Icon Books.

In the 1990s, Rius continued his engagement with political humor by contributing to magazines like “El Chahuistle” and “El Chamuco,” aptly named after an insect plague and the devil, respectively, owing to their scathing critiques of politicians and religious figures.

Eduardo del Río cartoon

An Inspiration to New Generations

Rius’s enduring success and illustrious career established him as a guiding light for emerging political cartoonists in Mexico. His impact extended beyond the pages of his works, as evidenced by the 1974 live-action film “Calzonzin Inspector,” directed by Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Arau. The film drew inspiration from characters featured in “Los Supermachos.”

Tragically, Rius passed away on August 8, 2017, at 83. His legacy, however, lives on through his extensive body of work and the generations of artists and thinkers he continues to inspire.

Selected Bibliography of Rius’s Notable Works

Rius’s literary contributions were prolific, encompassing a diverse range of topics. Some of his notable works include:

  • Economía para ignorantes” (Economics for Dummies)
  • “Filosofía para principiantes” (Philosophy for Beginners)
  • “La panza es primero” (The Stomach Is First)
  • “Marx para principiantes” (Marx for Beginners)
  • “Puré de Papas” (Mashed Potatoes/Pope Purée)
  • “500 años fregados pero cristianos” (500 Years Screwed but Christian)
  • “ABChe” (about Che Guevara)
  • “Kama Nostra” (referring to the Kama Sutra)
  • “Cuba para principiantes” (Cuba for Beginners)
  • “La Biblia: Esa linda tontería” (The Bible: That Cute Nonsense)
  • “La deuda externa y cómo no pagarla” (The External Debt and How Not to Pay It)
  • “Manual del perfecto ateo” (Manual of the Perfect Atheist)
  • “Mis supermachos” (My Supermachos)
  • “La Iglesia y otros cuentos” (The Church and Other Tales)
  • And many more, each contributing to Rius’s enduring legacy in Mexican literature and political commentary.

FAQ about Eduardo Humberto del Río García, Rius

1. Who was Rius, and what was his real name?

Rius was the pen name of Eduardo Humberto del Río García, a Mexican intellectual, political cartoonist, and writer born in Zamora, Michoacán, Mexico.

2. What is Rius best known for?

Rius is best known for his over a hundred books, which remain widely popular, especially among Mexican readers. He was a fearless political activist, and his works often featured a strong critique of neoliberal Mexican doctrines, U.S. Government policies, and the Catholic Church.

3. What were some of Rius’s famous works?

Rius created two famous comics, “Los Supermachos” and “Los Agachados,” which humorously criticized the Mexican government. He also authored books on various topics, including politics, vegetarianism, and religion.

4. Which of Rius’s books gained international recognition?

Rius’s book “Marx para principiantes” (Marx for Beginners) became an international bestseller. It was a comic strip representation of the life and ideas of Karl Marx.

5. Did Rius participate in any political humor magazines?

In the 1990s, Rius contributed to two political humor magazines: “El Chahuistle” and “El Chamuco,” known for their harsh criticism of politicians and religious leaders.

6. How did Rius’s work impact future generations of political cartoonists in Mexico?

Rius’s success and long career made him a reference point for newer generations of political cartoonists in Mexico, inspiring them with his fearless approach to social and political issues.

7. Was there a film based on Rius’s work?

Mexican director Alfonso Arau made “Calzonzin Inspector,” a live-action film based on characters from Rius’s “Los Supermachos,” released in 1974.

8. When did Rius pass away?

Rius passed away on August 8, 2017, at 83.

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