By Bel Hernandez
Reprint from Latinomagazine.com
Lalo Alcaraz does not shy away from controversy. He invites it. In 2002 his satirical comic strip, La Cucaracha, the first nationally syndicated, politically themed Latino daily comic strip, was heralded as one of the most controversial comic strips in American history, often cited along with Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury. The hate letters claiming La Cucaracha was “anti-white” and demanded it be yanked from the over 60 newspapers it appeared in.
Alcaraz was born in San Diego and grew up straddling two cultures, not American enough for some and not Mexican enough for his relatives, an identity crisis that led him to realize he was Chicano. “A Chicano is a politically conscious aware Mexican-American,” explains Alcaraz. “I consider myself a Chicano artist. My work hopefully shows that I want to promote Mexican and Chicano culture, plus that I want to defend the rights of immigrants.”
Though he earned a master’s degree in architecture from Berkeley, it was his upbringing that shaped his outlook in life. “My attitude in life came from seeing my family and myself struggle and be mistreated like second class people, just because we were Mexican,” Alcaraz recalls. “I inherited my parent’s Mexican wit and outlook. Mexicans are very cynical and can be very pessimistic about life, but deal with it by laughing at their own tragedies and misfortunes. I needed to find a way to deal with the feelings of anger and fight back with humor and satire.”
And fighting back with humor is what he has always done. For over twenty years Alcaraz has attacked Hollywood, satirized politicians, made fun of the establishment and has led social activist campaigns like the one against Disney’s attempt to trademark Dia de los Muertos. In addition to his comic stip, Alcaraz published the satirical Pocho Magazine which can now be found online at Pocho.com. And further extending the Pocho brand, he is also a creator and host of the Pocho Hour of Power which claims the tag line “Political Satire Radio” on KPFK in Los Angeles. He has also written several screenplays, but “they went into turnaround, AKA perpetual limbo. They were probably ahead of their time, like a lot of my work,” Alcaraz explains.
Finally, in 2013 the break he was looking for came by way of a call from his good friend Gustavo Arellano, editor of the OC Weekly and author of the Ask a Mexican column. He set up a meeting for Alcaraz with Mark Hentemann, creator of the new FOX animated series Bordertown. To read the rest of the article at LatinoMagazine.com CLICK HERE