From being the most celebrated cartoonist in Cuba to being an exile in America, the life of Antonio Prohias took some interesting turns. Many are familiar with his most famous creation, Spy Vs Spy, but few know the tale behind the talented artist responsible for the most widely-recognized cartoon from Mad Magazine.
Prohias was born in Cuba in 1921 and started drawing cartoons in his teens. By the age of 25 he was working at the nation’s leading newspaper, El Mundo, and had received the Juan Gualberto Gómez Award, which distinguished him as Cuba’s leading cartoonist.
When Castro came to power in the late ‘50s, he personally praised Prohias for his anti-Batista cartoons. However, Prohias became increasingly disheartened by Castro’s control of the press. Castro’s government accused him of working for the CIA after the cartoonist published several pieces about the state of the freedom of the press in Cuba, causing him to resign his position at the paper.
Now an enemy of those who once sang his praises, Prohias left Cuba for New York City in 1960. Here he spent his days working in a garment factory and his nights working on his cartoon portfolio. Ten weeks after his arrival, he walked into the offices of Mad Magazine and sold them his newest creation, Spy Vs Spy.
The strip was an immediate hit. Featuring a pair of speechless antagonist/protagonist spies dressed in white and black, the strip found fans all over the world and provided laughs for decades. Prohias spent the next two and a half decades at Mad, churning out over 240 Spy Vs Spy strips for the magazine.
Antonio Prohias passed away in 1998 after an illustrious career and nearly four decades in exile. Though he never returned to his native Cuba, this didn’t seem to bother the cartoonist. In a 1983 interview with the Miami Herald, Prohias famously said, "The sweetest revenge has been to turn Fidel's accusation of me as a spy into a moneymaking venture."
To honor Prohias’ legacy, we’ve collected some pretty rad Spy Vs Spy tattoos. After all, what greater honor can an artist ask aside from having their creation exist as a tattoo on a fan?
We hope you’ve enjoyed these Spy Vs Spy tattoos and learning a little bit about the man behind them. We also hope you’ve taken some inspiration from a story about how a man can go from one of the most successful cartoonists in his country to a penniless political exile to one of the most successful cartoonists in a new country. America is a great like that.