Alexander Aramburo Maldonado drew his first picture when he was 60 years old. Born in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico, Maldonado told his own story: “I had school in Mexico for about two years, so when I came [to California] in 1911, I had to learn English. My father died in 1914, so I had to help and sold newspapers—early in the morning and afternoon for 2 cents a paper!—around the time of [San Francisco’s 1915 Panama-Pacific International] Exposition. I also helped the milkman take care of his horse and stuff like that.”
Maldonado was a shipyard worker from the age of 16, a professional boxer who claimed to have never lost a fight, and later a production worker for Western Can Company. He never married, and from 1950 until her death in 1985 he shared a little house in Bernal Heights, a working class neighborhood in San Francisco, with his sister Carmen.