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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Cartoon artist: more than his jokes

Nationally syndicated cartoon artist Lalo Alcaraz spoke to UA students Thursday about Fox’s upcoming animated show “Bordertown.” What began as a talk about his work turned into something more — a discussion about Latino culture in the media.

Set to air in 2016, “Bordertown” has already received hate mail from Latino communities and others who are concerned about Seth McFarlane, creator of “Family Guy,” working on a project that deals with the sensitive subject of immigration.

Alcaraz, a writer for “Bordertown,” is on a tour of the country screening the show to communities, trying to build support for the project.

“Seth McFarlane is attached to it, but he did not write anything on it,” Alcaraz said. “He actually hired five writers in the group, you know: myself, Gustavo Arellano, Vanessa Ramos—who does Comedy Central roasts, … and, you know, in a group of 14, that’s huge. That’s like a world record of [Latino] writers in a writer’s room.”

Bordertown is set in the fictional town of “Mexifornia” and focuses on the relationship between two neighbors, Bud Buckwald — a white border patrol officer Alcaraz calls “the lovable bigot” — and Ernesto Gonzales, a Mexican immigrant.

The main source of contention in the show is that Bud can’t figure out how Ernesto is slightly more well-to-do than he is.

“The show is pretty pro-immigrant,” Alcaraz said. “If anyone should be worried, it’s the anti-hilly billy defamation league.”

Alcaraz also mentioned a new Pixar film, “Coco,” for which he is a consultant. The film is about family and focuses on the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos.

At an early time, Disney had tried to copyright the title “Dia de los Muertos,” and Alcaraz responded with a cartoon featuring “Muerto Mouse” and the caption “It’s coming to trademark your cultura.”

Alcaraz ultimately accepted the role of consultant for the film “Coco” because he wants to be able to influence the way Mexican culture is portrayed.

An audience member decided to start the Q&A early, and asked “Are we going change it just because you are a consultant? You’re not even a writer for the show. Are you opening up historical avenues for our community?”

As the long-time face of Chicano and Latino advocates in the media, Alcaraz was upset by the comments. Alcaraz was the first Chicano to be nationally syndicated cartoon artist, and he cited a lack of Latinos working in the media, especially behind cameras in Hollywood. Alcaraz said breaking through those barriers presents a tough challenge.

He said that this is why “Bordertown” was the perfect concept for a show.

“For about 20 years, I’ve been rejected each time because it’s very tough to get into Hollywood. My show was about a group of Chicanos, and that is not flying in 1994 … or recently. Yeah, it still isn’t. It’s hard. But the genius thing here was that the show is half-white, half-Mexican,” Alcaraz said.

Follow Michelle Jaquette on Twitter.

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