“La Cucaracha” cartoonist moving to Africa?

In November 2002, the face of the Sunday funnies changed forever when a Kafka-on-peyote strip called La Cucaracha—which features the misadventures of an anthropomorphic cockroach and his homie buddies, landed alongside staples like Garfield and Peanuts. The Winslow family probably shrieked in horror thinking their beloved Marmaduke might be turned into street tacos if he ever got out; Beetle Bailey considered joining the Minute Men, and given Mexican men’s love for curvy women, Cathy started daydreamed of finally getting fucked on a regular basis.

Nine years later, cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz still enjoys rattling cages as evidenced during a recent presentation in San Diego’s Centro Cultural de La Raza. Dubbed Cartoonista!, the event focused on Alcaraz’ body of work, and at times managed to incite simultaneous chuckles, gasps, and uncomfortable moments of silence when images like that of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio with a superimposed Arizona-shaped Hitler mustache on his face were projected on a wall.

Afterwards, we caught up with the owner of the coveted pocho.com domain name, and from potential GOP presidential candidates to fictional anchor babies, no topic was off-limits.

 

What’s the biggest challenge facing modern Latinos?

The modern Latino cannot find a good place to buy a fitted sombrero.  Just kidding, I think it’s good that Latinos have become mainstream, but at the cost of losing their identity. But, America has proven that they’ll pull the brown card on you for several generations to come, so maybe I’m being overly cautious on that one.  

Any subject you won’t touch?

I don’t cover religion too much because it can get messy; but if people are using religion to attack other people, I feel its fair game.

Most memorable piece of hate mail?

A guy that wrote in to an editor and said: ‘Go back to Africa.’ That’s how much he hated me, he wanted for me to go back not to Mexico, but a million years back to the cradle of humanity.

Have you ever hired anyone standing outside a Home Depot?

I have not, but I’ve thought about it because I always need god joke writers.

Illegal immigrants are good joke writers?

They’re the funniest guys in town.

George Lopez voicing Grouchy Smurf, good or bad for the Latinos?

Oh, I didn’t know that, really? Good for him. Is that an anchor baby love child belonging to one of the Seven Dwarves and Smurfette? I’d love to see Samuel L. Jackson voicing the black Smurf; that would be great.

If you could have any beloved comic strip character move into La Cucaracha’s barrio or a week, who would it be?

I think the Family Circus family should move in and get ready to be terrorized.

Five seconds to send a message to Michelle Bachmann

(Laughs) Oh my God, I’ve got so many good punch lines, but she’s ultimately the best punch line of them all. I’m very happy that she’ll allow gay marriage if she becomes president, but only hers. How’s that?

 

Cucaracha characters and artwork ©Lalo Alcaraz. Lalo portrait ©Enrique Limón/ El Zonkey Show. A version of this Q&A appeared in the pages of San Diego CityBeat.

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