How an Award-Winning Cartoonist Got His Start: Lalo Alcaraz in The Daily Aztec

September 19, 2023
Lalo Arcaraz cartoon

Lalo Alcaraz is an award-winning American cartoonist, producer, writer, and activist. His comic, "La Cucaracha," was the first nationally syndicated, politically themed Latino daily comic strip. In 2019 and 2020, Alcaraz was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and, in 2022, he was awarded the annual Herblock Prize presented by the Herb Block Foundation to honor excellence in editorial cartooning, a prize the judges noted as deserved owing to Alcaraz’s “courage and unapologetic focus on . . . civil rights.” 

William Nericcio, professor of English and Comparative Literature and Comics Studies scholar at San Diego State University, says: “Just as with Garry Trudeau's early comics for ‘The Yale Daily News’ and Chris Ware and Berkeley Breathed's pathbreaking comics for ‘The Daily Texan,’ Lalo Alcaraz's brilliant efforts for ‘The Daily Aztec’ served as a magnificent incubator of sorts. At SDSU, Alcaraz honed his chops and developed his edgy style - it's no surprise that his works ended up being touted by the Herb Block Foundation, and that his writing and illustrations have fueled filmed hits like Coco with Pixar."

Alcaraz was born in 1964 in San Diego, California, to Mexican immigrant parents from Sinaloa and Zacatecas. He received his bachelor's degree "With Distinction" in Art and Environmental Design from SDSU in 1987, and his master's degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley in 1991.

As an SDSU student, Lalo's cartoons appeared in "The Daily Aztec" from 1985 to 1987 under the name Eduardo Lopez. "The Daily Aztec" is SDSU's independent student newspaper. This collection digitizes each of his cartoons that appeared in the newspaper. Print versions can be viewed in the SDSU Library's Special Collections & University Archives.

Scott Walter, Dean of the SDSU Library, notes that, with his focus on civil rights in American society, Alcaraz’s work is “a perfect example of the ways in which comics can address, and teach about, issues of social justice, which is a focus for our work with campus colleagues and community partners through the Center for Comics Studies.” 

When Alcaraz saw the collection, his response was, "This is AMAZING! Thanks for this, I really appreciate it and also I forgot to say I can’t believe I did so many cartoons …!" 

Enjoy this newly created digital collection

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