Cartoonist says there is no school for cartooning
By Gene Beley
Central Valley Business Times
30 April 2017
It’s not often – if ever – that an architectural graduate with a Master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, ends up as a syndicated cartoonist, TV filmmaker, and author.
But that’s the story of College of Environmental Design alumnus Lalo Alcaraz (M.Arch ‘91), whose editorial cartoons on President Trump and other subjects admittedly draw him a lot of hate mail. This Mexican-American says his favorite piece of hate mail is telling him to “Go back to Africa.”
A political cartoon by Alcaraz two elections back showed Mitt Romney wearing a Mexican sombrero with the caption, “I am the Juan Percent.” Another artistic favorite of his fans is one that shows Geronimo, prominent leader and medicine man from the Bedonkohe band of the Chiricahua Apache tribe, saying, “Show me your papers.”
More recently Alcaraz has gotten a reputation as a professional Donald Trump cartoon drawer, perhaps eclipsing his many other accomplishments including writing credits on the Fox TV show called “Bordertown.” After he gave the commencement address at CED’s 2015 graduation, CED’s Chicano Architectural Student Association (CASA) asked him to draw a cartoon for their quarterly e-zine, ByDESIGN. He told his audience at a recent speech at Delta College in Stockton that he chose “How to draw Trump” as the subject.
“You have to color the face and then go back and add the raccoon eyes because, when he squints, that’s what happens,” Alcaraz said. He said he started drawing Trump’s hands very small and that has become kind of a contest now between him and fellow cartoonists. One fan wrote him and said, tongue-in-cheek, “The hands are too big.”
One of his favorite cartoons is depicting that Mexico agreed to build the wall free and then showed the border being moved up above California and Utah.
Why does he draw cartoons? “I draw to amuse myself,” he said, “and to amuse others to give you some relief from this horror show called our lives — and to get you to think more critically about things. Sometimes you just need a laugh.”
Alcaraz calls President Trump a projector. “He projects what he accuses you of doing. For example, he called Hillary Clinton ‘a sexist pig.’” He drew another cartoon with President Trump, his wife and child, illustrating that Trump had hired illegal aliens, married a foreigner and had an anchor baby.
Alcaraz said there’s no cartooning school. “We’re self-taught. You copy other people’s works and come out with your own style.” He said most cartoonists have come from college newspaper experiences where they had to learn to turn in a cartoon every issue on a deadline. “I’ve been cartooning since I was 19 or 20. College cartooning trained me to do things on time. By 3 p.m. every day I had to have an idea written, drawn out and scanned in, touched up, and delivered to the editor.”
“I never have writer’s block,” he added. “I have no problem cranking out ideas.”
“Charles Schultz, the late Snoopy cartoonist, said a cartoonist’s job was to draw the same thing every day without repeating ourselves,” Alcaraz said. He has a somewhat more leisurely approach: He draws his cartoons in about two days. “The biggest job is, can you be a machine and keep cranking out stuff forever?”