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Artist delivers 'emotional punch without violence’

NEED TO KNOW
  • Cartoon strikes cord after verdict, goes viral
  • Cartoonists shares motive behind viral image

EDITOR’S NOTE: Lalo Alcaraz is a cartoonist based in Los Angeles. His cartoons can be found on his website, Pocho.com or in his daily, syndicated comic strip, La Cucaracha. He is on Twitter.

It was Saturday night and the Trayvon Martin case was the last thing on my mind. I was an hour behind everybody else the night the George Zimmerman verdict came down. I was working on some paintings, and wasn't paying attention to the news on the Internets. Suddenly my phone buzzed. My assistant texted me, "NOT GUILTY" plus several bilingual curse words.

I sat back. Then came a numbness from reading the headlines and tweets about the verdict. Soon I realized I hadn't drawn a new cartoon to go with this breaking development, so I did my standard stop gap measure, reaching back into my fairly vast back catalogue of editorial cartoons. I posted this cartoon, which I call “Mom Hug,” to my Facebook page. My insides didn't feel right, but posting that cartoon did. 

Sometimes people don't realize that I have drawn something way in the past, congratulate me for posting my "latest cartoon" and hail my super fast ability to whip something up. I do blast out cartoons on demand on occasion, but mostly I just pull one from the vault. This "Mom Hug" toon was only from last year, so maybe that's why it felt extra fresh. This whole past year it has been heavy on my mind.

I drew this cartoon that depicts neither Zimmerman nor Martin. In fact there is no direct reference to the case. 

There’s something I must confess. I am guilty of being a corny parent. My kids have brown skin, so I identified with black parents who feared sending their kids out and risking an encounter with the extrajudicial violence of vigilantes. I know parents can be overly dramatic worry warts, but that's part of our job. Like Chris Rock said when told by a dad, “I take care of MY kids!” He replied: "You're SUPPOSED TO!"

I wanted to evoke Martin, but also wanted to make it as universal as I could. I knew that feeling of fear must be widespread, I could see it in the public, mainly the black community, and also the Latino community. Of course I wanted to make it have emotional punch without having to be graphic or violent.

Of course the huge attention this editorial cartoon has taken has attracted more than the usual horde of haters to me.

I posted online a screen cap of a tweet informing me that my "cartoon sucks," and that I, as a "filthy beaner" must immediately travel "back" to Mexico, despite my actual birthplace being the US. Others claimed that I got the facts wrong, that Martin's mom was not with him, etc., These nice people don’t realize that the cartoon is symbolic of parents, and not a direct representation of the Martins. Cartoons are REALLY hard for some people.

Other people feel I captured their parent angst exactly, and they say it brought them some kind of comfort. I really hope so, we all need some kind of comfort right now. Badly.

If anybody wants to witness my madness and all my racist trolls, don't miss out on the fun. Continue to let me know on social media what you think of the image. 

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