Drawing on satire

His cartoons have been published in L.A. Weekly, La Opinion, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. And on Monday night in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center Ballroom, Lalo Alcaraz, a syndicated cartoonist presented his political and satirical cartoons, “Mexiled” and “La Cucaracha,” to USF. About 40 people of all ages filled the ballroom for the lecture that lasted an hour and a half.

“He is the voice of the Chicano movement,” Manuela Perez, an attendee, said. “He gives me a voice, and he is a great person. I admire him a lot.”

Alcaraz is 37 years old and had his first drawing published in kindergarten at age 5. He started drawing with the Chicano Art Movement, which inspired him to paint murals at the age of 16 and 17. In high school, he was involved in the graphic arts program, and in college, he drew the editorial cartoons for The Daily Aztec, San Diego State University’s newspaper. Back then, at the age of 21, he was getting paid $7 a cartoon.

While drawing cartoons for the college newspaper, he saw remarks in a bathroom stall one day that read, “Go back to Mexico.””It was during the Reagan years,” Alcaraz said. “It is easy to make people hate my guts because of my cartoons.”

After college in 1992, Alcaraz drew self-syndicated cartoons for L.A. Weekly, and then his cartoons were used across the country. Some of his syndicated cartoons, he translated into Spanish twice a week.

Alcaraz uses his cartoons to show his view on different Mexican-American issues.

“It’s a chance to put out my opinion to forcibly make a point,” he said. “The stuff writes itself.”

Alcaraz said there were times he even made people angry in his own newspaper.

Alcaraz presented cartoons of some presidents of the United States, including George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

“My editor used to say, ‘You can’t draw the president like he is some drooling idiot,'” Alcaraz said.

One of his famous cartoons is the “Migra Mouse,” which was a picture of Mickey Mouse as an immigrant. This cartoon was based on the California government getting donations for the anti-immigration campaign. “Migra Mouse” is a part of the series “La Cucaracha.”

The ballroom was in constant laughter throughout the presentation from Alcaraz’s jokes, cartoons and voices of the presidents that he impersonated and characters in his cartoons.

“After my Elian Gonzalez cartoons, I received a lot of letters from Miami residents,” he said. “I haven’t been invited to Miami yet.”

Alcaraz’s last work was his book that he illustrated, Latino USA: A Cartoon History. The book is 160 pages of how and why Latinos are in the United States. It also explores biographies of different people who are both Mexican and American. The book took two years to complete.

Alcaraz said he hopes to write another book with a friend.”I hope, if I get the blessing from the boss,” he said.Alcaraz also promoted his Web site, Pocho.com.

“Go to Pocho.com, or (my daughter) Amya doesn’t eat,” he said.

After the showing of a video that discussed a threatened lawsuit from Emilo Estefan, husband of Latina recording artist Gloria Estefan, Alcaraz ended the presentation. The lawsuit was against a column he wrote for L.A. Weekly on the Latin Grammy Awards and how Latinos are not really on TV that much.

Jackie McCain, Latin American Student Association Vice President introduced Alcaraz and said she also enjoyed the presentation.

“I liked it. I see him as a syndicated cartoonist, and I don’t take (his material) personal,” she said. “I think its funny, and people need to take things a little more lightly.”