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Monday, November 28, 2022

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Lalo Alcaraz

Alum Lalo Alcaraz Creates Controversial Comics

The man behind La Cucaracha recalls his start in cartooning at SDSU.
By Lorena Nava Ruggero

Lalo Alcaraz has a split personality. One side represents “Eddie,” the other “Cuco.”

But, it’s not a psychological problem—the two are characters from Alcaraz’s daily comic strip, La Cucaracha, which skewers politics and pop culture with a decidedly Latino bent. The comic artist and writer returns to his hometown this week during San Diego Comic-Con International.

No stranger to controversy

“To me it’s a slice-of-life ensemble comic strip with a cast of thousands, but it mainly centers around two guys that are basically me,” Alcaraz explained. “Eddie who’s a regular, run-of-the mill guy, and Cuco Rocha, who is such an angry Chicano activist that he turned into a cockroach. They react to the headlines and other cultural topics.”

Alcaraz is no stranger to controversy. He first cultivated his talents at San Diego State University as a student in the 1980s. He was involved with the Chicano student activist group, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA), and was an editorial cartoonist for The Daily Aztec.

“My political formation happened at State,” he said. “It was the ‘80s and the campus was so conservative. It was all about Reagan and capitalism. It was a great time to learn how to become a political activist and political artist.”

Unexpected success

While the Lemon Grove native never imagined becoming a professional comic strip artist and writer—he majored in environmental design and hoped to become an architect—he’s found a great deal of success in the field.

Now, his daily comic strip is syndicated in more than 60 newspapers across the country. In it, he explores political issues affecting Latinos, from Arizona’s SB 1070 to the naming of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court. But, Alcaraz doesn’t apologize for his views when confronted by those who disagree.

“I’m not in the job of creating a dialog,” he said candidly. “I’m just there to fight back. It makes me glad to be able to fight back.”

Even though it runs alongside other general comic strips in the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Currents section, some have suggested it run in the Opinion section alongside Doonesbury, another politically bent comic.

“When I was at State, I read Bloom County and Doonesbury in the Daily Aztec,” he said. “I thought one day I would love to do a comic strip.”

Future aspirations

Flattered to be compared to Doonesbury, Alcaraz still has higher aspirations. Inspired by Aaron McGruder’s The Boondocks, a daily comic strip and animated program on Cartoon Network exploring African-American issues, Alcaraz hopes to bring Eddie and Cuco to the small, or big, screen some day.

To learn more about Alcaraz, be sure to read the profile of him in the fall issue of 360: The Magazine of SDSU, online Sept. 20.