For over two decades, New York Times best-selling cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz has been creating poignant, political and controversial comic strips through the irreverent lens of his American experience.
Launched in 2002, his nationally syndicated comic strip “La Cucaracha” was the first politically driven comic strip dealing with Latino life and culture, garnering Alcaraz both acclaim and criticism. Why do his baby-faced caricatures cause such strong reactions?
“It’s that step away from showing actual people and showing caricatures of them that tricks people into swallowing the message that’s behind the comic,” Alcaraz told Fusion Live host Mariana Atencio.
“You know how they say ‘don’t read the comments section’ on the Internet because it’s just full of trolls … well, that’s been my life for 25 years,” he added.
Alcaraz has had a prolific career as an artist and an activist, beginning in the mid-1990s when Proposition 187 was first enacted in California.
In response to the proposition and an explosion of anti-immigrant sentiment, Alcaraz created the character Daniel D. Portado. The satirical character urged Mexicans to simply “self-deport” — a term Alcaraz coined as a joke.
Alcaraz said he sees history repeating itself in the current immigration crisis.
“It’s come back full circle to the proposition 187 era of regular people feeling empowered to be anti-immigrant, and it’s happening again because we haven’t solved it in 20 years,” he said. “And we need to do something, but I don’t know what its going to take. I’m not very optimistic.”
Alcaraz continues to tackle injustice through his work. Considered one of the most prolific Chicano artists in the country, his projects aren’t limited to his infamous comics. He is also a radio host, a teacher, and a web entrepreneur — he recently launched the satire site Pocho.com with his friend Al Madrigal.
No matter the medium, his message is clear: “I’m just anti-stupidity… Lots of things piss me off and I try to call it.”