The San Diego native, Los Angeles resident is not only the creator of the first nationally-syndicated, politically-themed Latino daily comic strip, “La Cucaracha,” but also the co-author of New York Times Editor’s Pick “A Most Imperfect Union.”
Now the first-generation American is about to up the ante as a writer on brand-new Seth MacFarlane (“Family Guy”) cartoon series “Bordertown,” set to debut on Fox-TV next spring. Carrying on the subversive tradition of similar-minded animated shows such as “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy,” Alcaraz said the show is tackling the immigration issue with his typical social-commentary flair.
“It’s pretty significant because at least half the characters in the animated show will not only be Latinos but Mexican-American and Mexican immigrant characters,” Alcaraz told VOXXI. “There’s a big shift in Hollywood. They’re starting to see the Latino population in the U.S., they finally did the math.”
For those unfamiliar with Alcaraz’s “La Cucaracha,” the social-commentary comic strip from a Latino perspective has been known to ruffle plenty of feathers. The 50-year-old self-proclaimed animation nerd promises everyone will be a target on “Bordertown.” The animated series revolves around the life of Mexican immigrant and father of four Ernesto Gonzales, who deals with neighbor Bud Buckwald, an underachieving white guy with interesting opinions regarding minorities.
“It’s going to be pretty cutting edge for any television show, and everyone’s feathers will be ruffled because everyone gets it,” Alcaraz said. “There are no sacred cows, really. I think some of the Latino audience will be very pleased by seeing a realistic kind of take on realistic characters that the Latino characters will show.
“And then some will say it’s just promoting stereotypes and they’ll close their mind.”
So far the response from test audiences has been positive, with Alcaraz specifically pointing out Hispanic viewers of “Family Guy” loving it.
“I actually spoke to some border patrol agents in El Paso this past week when I was photo bombing their car with ‘Bordertown’ propaganda,” Alcaraz said. “I said imagine ‘Family Guy’ with Mexicans in it and their eyes lit up. I’m not sure they’ll like the portrayal of the border patrol but we’ll see.”
What’s unique about Alcaraz’s perspective is how he’s been on the sidelines documenting Latino American struggles since the ‘90s, but he points out the issues are still the same: immigration and war.
As for what fuels his commentary and craft, a fire was lit decades ago as a child growing up with Mexican immigrant parents in San Diego.
“I saw how we were all treated as a kid,” Alcaraz said. “We were at a different caste level. I didn’t like it, and I grew up angry wondering why am I angry? And then I finally figured it out and got to speak out about it. What’s right is right, and as an artist you’re supposed to do the right thing and help those who can’t speak.”
He added, “I’m happy to have people use my cartoons in marches and rallies. I join in but I’m not a big joiner, although I did join the CultureStr/ke Artist Group. I want to be right there with all of the young artists and keep doing what I’ve been doing for 25 years. That feels right for me, that’s enough for me.”
Alcaraz is in a unique situation. As part of the Latino community, he’s viewed as a spokesperson in a way for the betterment of Hispanics in America. However, he stressed he’s a big fan of, well, laughing, which is why in his opinion he may not be the best one to lead a movement.
“I would never apply for that job, and I don’t think I would pass the vetting process,” Alcaraz said. “I’m not above fart jokes and dirty sex jokes. It all amuses me but I try not to target weak people and the helpless. So, I’m the last guy I think you want as a spokesperson for anything.”