Despite a common belief, the industrialization of Spanish animation studios took place only a decade later than in the United States. However, the first experiences happened at the beginning of the 20th century. We can claim that Segundo de Chomón was among the first filmmakers to set up an animation studio in Spain. There, he did intertitles, coloring and tricks for Pathé Frères and Méliès’ Star Films. His first main works were trick films (El hotel eléctrico) of French production, although he tried to start up several studios in Barcelona in 1901 and 1910 (Batllori, 2009). 

The next possibility to make animation a profitable business came with Josep Serra Massana, who in 1934 settled down his own studio to animate advertising for local clients (Artigas, 2001). The Estudi Serra Massana did not survive the arrival of the dictatorship, but an independent short remains: Enric Ferran, who would be part of the golden age of the forties, animated an advert entitled RCA radio (ca. 1934). In this animation, a woman dances naked in front of a man daydreaming near an RCA radio, a freshness in body representation that will become mutilated during the next decade.     

RCA Radio (c. 1934-1935) directed by Enric Ferran, a naked female character appears in the daydream of a man. Filmoteca de Catalunya.

During the Republic, in 1932, illustrators from the right-wing political press of Madrid founded a studio called SEDA (Sociedad Española de Dibujos Animados). They finished around six short films under the command of the illustrator Joaquín Xaudaró, who died in 1933. The studio could not continue because of the lack of profit.

In the 1940s, after the ending of the Spanish Civil War, more than five studios were created in Barcelona. None of them survived the film crises of the 1950s that were triggered by the defeat of Germany and Italy in 1945 and the government shifts towards religious politics. Dibsono Films and Hispano Gráfic Films were created at the end of the conflagration, but later on they combined forces under a joint name: Dibujos Animados Chamartín. Two Spanish distributors, Ramón Balet and Josep María Blay, created its production studio to animate the first European hand-drawn animated feature film in 1945: Garbancito de la Mancha, the first of the three the production company would eventually create. While Dibujos Animados Chamartín tried to survive with minimal government support, Balet y Blay were tightly related to the eminent dictatorship figures (Pagès, 2020). In particular, they received much help for the development of their feature films, with the last one released in 1952. While right-wing political values were not that obvious in Dibujos Animados Chamartín (they produced series featuring famous press characters, advertising and scientific animations), Balet y Blay stories had deep connections with fascist ideologies (Pagès, 2018). Later in the fifties, however, there was no stability for studio developments in Spain.

In the 1960s, the dictatorship’s economy expanded as the government decided to focus on tourism, and the country opened slightly to exterior influences (Manzanera, 1992). Two main studios rose: the Estudios Moro in Madrid (growing thanks to television production and advertising) and Estudios Macián in Barcelona (who took some characters from Estudios Moro to create the next feature film: El mago de los sueños [1966]). New content and themes could appear in animation, but they were always restricted by the dictatorship’s censor laws.

In the 1970’s, a studio set in Barcelona could avoid the strictness of dictatorship production thanks to its links to exterior markets. Robert Balser, the animator behind Yellow Submarine (1968), was one of the founders of Pegbar Productions, which contributed to this situation. He had his regular clients, such as the American ABC and the British Halas and Batchelor, and could offer them high quality animation with low budgets because animators in Spain were cheaper. The underground economy made it possible to animate a pornographic production during the dictatorship that would never reach Spanish theatres.

In 1972, Claudi Biern Boyd created BRB International, an animation company based in Barcelona and Madrid. Specializing in series and with a feature film in its filmography, D’Artacán y los tres mosqueteros (1986), this production company exemplified the opposite trend to that of Balser. Their products premiered in the Spanish market, especially on television, taking advantage of countries with cheaper labor, such as Korea, to outsource part of the animation that sometimes suffered from its poor quality.

The most fruitful Spanish studio of this period was Estudio Cruz Delgado. Delgado started his career in the 1960s after learning animation in Belgium, and he directed four feature films from 1972 to 1989 (San Román and Delgado-Sánchez, 2015). He also diversified his production, working on very successful television series, most of them based on classic authors such as Cervantes or Jonathan Swift, or traditional tales such as The Four Musicians of Bremen or Puss in Boots.

The last animated Spanish feature film started its production when Franco was seriously ill, and couldn’t be screened until the dictator’s death, in 1975. It was called Historias de Amor y Masacre (Histories of Love and Slaughter). The film targeted adults, showcasing the taboos of the dictatorship, including sharp criticisms of Francoism, and featuring explicit content and nudity that had not been seen while the dictator was still alive. The director was Jordi Amorós, who convinced the editor of a satirical journal he was working on, El Papus, to invest in this film made out of sketches from several illustrators of the journal (De la Rosa, 2003). Amorós would be part of the studios that would launch  a great boom of animation in advertising in the 1980s, and would direct the last feature film made in Spain in hand-drawn animation before the arrival of the CGI.

Despite the ups and downs of the dictatorship, with the death of the dictator and the first animated film for adults, Spanish studios of the seventies had tried to regularize a situation that would eventually stabilize during the transition to democracy due to the advent of advertising and television.


Artigas, Jordi. Cinema d’animació publicitari i l’entorn de l’animació catalana a l’època de la República. Cinematògraf, 3, pp. 175-208, 2001.

De la Rosa, Emilio. Cine de animación en España. In: Gianalberto Bendazzi (ed.), Cartoons: 110 años de cine de animación, Madrid: Ocho y Medio, pp. 469-508, 2003.

Manzanera, María. Cine de animación en España. Murcia: Editum, Universidad de Murcia, 1992.

Minguet, Joan Maria. Segundo de Chomón and the fascination for color. Film History, 21(1), pp. 94-103, 2009.

Pagès, Maria. The shift to national Catholicism and the Falange in the Second World War: The case of Garbancito de la Mancha (1945). Journal of Visual Political Communication, 6(1), pp. 81 – 106, 2018.

Pagès, Maria. The Golden Age of Spanish Animation (1939-1951). Animation, an interdisciplinary journal, 15(1), pp. 37-60, 2020. 

San Román, Jorge, and Delgado-Sánchez, Cruz (2015). De Don Quijote a los Trotamúsicos. los dibujos animados de Cruz Delgado. Madrid: Diábolo Ediciones.

Tharrats, Joan Gabriel. Los 500 films de Segundo de Chomón. Zaragoza: Prensa Universitaria Zaragoza, 2014.

Yébenes, Pilar. Cine de animación en España. Madrid: Ariel, 2002.

Maria Pagès Rovira is a faculty member at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Centre de la Imatge i la Tecnologia Multimèdia. Doctor in animation, she is specialised in 2D animation Spanish history and gender studies. Her research work on hand-drawn animated cinema has led her to publish in several books and scientific journals (Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Con A de animación), as well as to participate in Spanish animation forums. She is currently working on a documentary about the woman animator Pepita Pardell, as well as a chapter on Spanish animation in the Animation Encyclopedia that Bloomsbury will publish in 2025.