Lalo Alcaraz, Mexican-American political cartoonist and creator of the syndicated comic strip La Cucaracha, announced on Twitter on last summer that he’s been hired to work on Pixar’s just-announced Day of the Dead feature “Coco.” Some of his Twitter followers initially assumed that Alcaraz, a respected voice on political and cultural issues related to Mexican-Americans, was joking — and for good reason, opined Amid Amidi at cartoonbrew.com. A couple years ago, Alcaraz was highly visible in attacking the Walt Disney Company.
In 2013, recalled Griselda Nevarez at nbcnews.com, Disney attempted to trademark the Day of the Dead, and Alcaraz, as outraged as many in the Latino community, created a faux movie poster of a skeletal Godzilla-sized Mickey Mouse and named it Muerto Mouse. At the top of the poster he wrote: "It's coming to trademark your cultura!"
Over 10,000 posters were printed and used in protests throughout North and South America, Amidi claimed, as well as during a picket at Disneyland Park.
And that’s not all. Nevarez continues: “And before Muerto Mouse, in 1994, Alcaraz published a book of political cartoons titled Migra Mouse: Political Cartoons on Immigration. On the front cover was Mickey Mouse dressed in a Border Patrol uniform. Alcaraz created Migra Mouse to call out Disney for supporting then-Governor Pete Wilson, who championed Proposition 187 that sought to ban most public services to undocumented immigrants.” INSERT AlcarazMickey HERE; THEN DELETE THESE CAPITAL LETTERS.
But these days, Amidi reported, Alcaraz has softened his tone toward the Disney corporation. “When one Twitter user said Disney ‘just want [sic] money not to teach culture,’ Alcaraz defended the Disney company. He explained that Disney, which generated nearly $50 billion in revenue last year, had learned their lesson about cultural appropriation from his Muerto Mouse comic.”
Reaction from his followers regarding his new role with "Coco" has mostly been positive and encouraging, Nevarez reported. One person said on Twitter that Disney "heard our anger" regarding its attempt to trademark Day of the Dead and "responded correctly in hiring a great talent." Another tweeted that Alcaraz has "put in time, dedication and hard work into this" and that people "should celebrate not hate."
But some, Nevarez went on, questioned why Alcaraz decided to work with Disney after criticizing the company in the past, referring to him as a sell-out and a "Tío Taco," which is equivalent of the derogatory slur "Uncle Tom."
Alcaraz has responded by saying he is "a Chicano artist" who wants to ensure "Coco" reflects the true meaning behind the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday. He also said he hopes to "consult on the story and the look" of the film.
"These movies are being made with or without our input," he said on Twitter, referring to films that reflect the Mexican-American culture. "I believe it's better to have input, don't you?”
Alcaraz has been offering input as a consulting producer on Seth MacFarlane’s upcoming tv series “Bordertown.”