Artist Lalo Alcaraz is encouraging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine in his own creative way – through a series of humorous and informative cartoons.
Alcaraz, who created the cartoon strip “La Cucaracha” and worked as a cultural consultant on the Oscar-winning Pixar film Coco and the animated TV series The Casagrandes, is releasing a weekly series of comic panel drawings to help spread the word about the importance of getting vaccinated to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The work was made for CovidLatino.org, a resource center focused on providing information on COVID-19 vaccines and testing for Latine communities in the U.S.
“The pandemic is a big emergency that we are facing,” Alcaraz told Remezcla. “I wish I could talk to every one of those Latinos who are still hesitant about getting the vaccine. We’re trying to combat that attitude some people have where they’re like, “I’m strong, so I don’t need it.”
One of the cartoons Alcaraz drew was to depict farmworkers who have not been vaccinated. According to a study by Purdue University, more than 565,000 agricultural workers have tested positive for COVID-19 nationwide, without mitigating factors like contracted and temporary labor being taken into consideration. This has resulted in millions of dollars of lost productivity.
Alcaraz’s cartoon features a campesino holding a box of cabbage with the word “vaccinated” above him. In the next panel, the same farmworker is standing in the fields and carrying a box of spherical masses, known as the universal symbol of what the coronavirus looks like. The word “unvaccinated” hovers over him as he looks a lot more anxious than his vaccinated counterpart.
“The whole campaign is kind of aimed at the farmworker population and their families,” Alcaraz said. “They face bad working conditions and get bottom-of-the-barrel treatment. They deserve to be healthy and vaccinated.”
In another cartoon, Alcaraz gives a new interpretation of the popular Lotería card game with an emphasis on vaccinations. The piece is titled “The Things You Can Win in the Lotería of Life If You Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19.” The cartoon features some of the traditional Lotería characters showing the benefits of getting the jab.
For example, “La Dama” and “El Valiente” step out of their Lotería cards to embrace and share a passionate kiss. Their cards have been relabeled as “El Amor.” Alcaraz also changed the original “El Mundo” card to “El Travel” by including an airplane in flight. This represents the idea that by getting a vaccine, it is safer to take business trips or go on vacation.
“The cards really deliver an important message,” Alcaraz said, giving credit to his assistant artist Joaquin Junco Jr. for the work. “Eating well, being healthy and being in relationships are things we should all be able to enjoy.”
Junco, AKA Junco Canché, is a political cartoonist originally from Chula Vista, California, who started partnering with Alcaraz a few years ago on his La Cucaracha comic strip. Since then, he’s worked and brainstormed with him on a series of projects, including those urging Latinos to get vaccinated as a means of creating positive change.