Gus Arriola, best known for the comic strip Gordo, has died at the age of 90. Arriola, like many artists during the Great Depression, spent time in the animation industry as it was one of the few places an artist could earn a steady living.
Arriola started at the Mintz studio as an inbetweener. When MGM started their in-house studio in 1937, Arriola moved over and started working his way up the ladder. He was more interested in the story department than in animating and he first worked on story for Hugh Harman on cartoons like The Lonesome Stranger (1940) and Abdul the Bulbul Ameer (1941). In addition to story sketches, Arriola also did character designs. Moving over to the Rudy Ising unit, Arriola worked on Dance of the Weed (1941), Bats in the Belfry (1942), and The First Swallow (1942).
In 1941, he sold Gordo as a comic strip and continued it until 1985. Gordo was notable for its Mexican locale and Arriola's interest in promoting Mexican culture. He was an excellent designer whose daily strips were crisply drawn with judiciously placed black areas. The Gordo Sunday strips showed off Arriola's flair for colour.
In 2000, Robert C. Harvey and Gus Arriola collaborated on Accidental Ambassador Gordo, a generously illustrated biography of Arriola.