With what can seem like a nonstop torrent of complex political news coming at Americans on a daily basis, many people are craving humor as a way to escape — and make sense of — everything that’s happening.
“I’ve gotten so many messages from people saying, ‘We need you now more than ever!'” says cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz.
People are turning to Alcaraz because he’s used his cartoons — including La Cucaracha, the first nationally-syndicated, politically-themed Latino daily comic strip — to talk about issues for more than two decades. His work is the subject of a new book, “Lalo Alcaraz: Political Cartooning in the Latino Community” by Hector D. Fernandez L’Hoeste.
Lately he’s turned his focus to President Donald Trump’s administration and its impact on the Latino community in particular.
He says his family taught him the importance of seeing humor even in times of fear. “You have to laugh at your tragic life or else you’re going to be crying all day long,” he says.
Alcaraz has lived and worked in Los Angeles for years, but he grew up in San Diego regularly crossing the border. Alcaraz says his mother lived in Tijuana for 10 years and was originally undocumented when she immigrated to the United States.
“It completely shaped my outlook,” he says of his time living on the border. “I have that dual outlook of being a pocho, not being an American enough for the U.S. and not being Mexican enough for Mexico.”
In addition to his daily comic strip, Alcaraz also served as a contributing producer and writer on the 2016 Fox animated series “Bordertown” about the fictional border city of Mexifornia.
“Growing up on the border, we all make fun of immigration because it’s a way of coping with a strange reality,” he says.
While his humor has a new target — the Trump administration — the immigration topics like the border and immigrants taking American jobs have stayed more or less the same since he started 25 years ago.
“You can take one of my old cartoons from the late ’80s or ’90s and just change the date and they would pretty much apply today,” he says. “I’m hoping it was just preparation to fight this hopefully one last time.”