San Diego State, Daily Aztec alumnus a finalist for Pulitzer Prize in editorial cartooning

SDSU alumnus Lalo Alcaraz was named a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for his editorial cartoons.

Courtesy of SDSU Newscenter

SDSU alumnus Lalo Alcaraz was named a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for his editorial cartoons.

by Jeanette Giovanniello, Staff Writer

San Diego State alumnus Lalo Alcaraz was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his editorial cartoons, which are praised for his satirical Latinix perspective on the United States and politics.

The comic is praised for Alcaraz’s satirical Latinx perspective on the United States and politics.

Alcaraz’s cartoon career began at The Daily Aztec in 1984. 

He was born and raised in Lemon Grove by his Mexican parents, and said his upbringing has been a major influence in his work. 

“For me, it’s always been about being pro-immigrant, anti-xenophobia and just being decent,” he said. “Support the little guy, the interest of the people.” 

His national comic strip “La Cucaracha” has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and other major publications. The comic strip is the only “political” Latino-themed daily comic strip in the U.S.  His work focuses on both national and local perspectives, but he said that growing up in San Diego has played an important role in his work. 

“I got the feeling growing up that San Diego had its back to Mexico, that they were in denial that this is the most traveled and busiest border crossing in the world,” Alcaraz said. “It’s not hard to believe that, but I always felt like San Diego was kind of embarrassed to be next to Mexico. Growing up Mexican-American is the same thing.“

Now, Alcaraz uses his art to promote Mexican culture and his work has helped pave his way to Hollywood. He currently works as a writer, consulting producer and cultural consultant for “The Casagrandes,” an animated Nickelodeon show. He also worked on the Pixar film “Coco” as cultural consultant, which won an Oscar and is the number one film of all time in Mexico.

“It does have to be done right,” Alcaraz said. “We still have things that are coming to TV where some of the characters and storylines feature Mexican-American themes and they are done terribly. They’re not hiring Mexicans to work on.”

In several different forms, Alcaraz continues to work towards portraying Mexican-American characters and themes to be as authentic as possible. 

“I always feel like my mission was to raise awareness and correct the wrong narrative about us,” Alcaraz said. “It’s a way to express yourself and make it an art form that other people can enjoy and learn from. I feel like I’ve been doing that and am still still doing that this day. I’ve been lucky enough to do it on bigger platforms, like Pixar and Nickelodeon.”

Despite the comic strip awards and big screen successes, Alcaraz said he believes his greatest achievement is creating a platform that Latinx children can relate and look up to. 

“I like when little kids get to see something that I didn’t have growing up, to see somebody that looks like me on TV” Alcaraz said. “A little brown kid gets to see somebody that looks like them and talks like them, has family or an abuela like them and they can relate to that. I think that builds their self esteem.”


A previous version of this story said he was a finalist for “La Cucaracha,” not his editorial cartoons. The Daily Aztec regrets this error.