Cantú said Baldo’s heritage gives him a unique perspective on relevant issues. When one and a half million Latino students marched out of schools and colleges to demand fair immigration regulations, Cantú felt Baldo should take part as well.
So in the guise of a student reporter, Baldo took to the streets and sought to present information from both sides of the debate. Cantú said most of the dialogue came directly from newspapers articles. The strip sparked an outcry of hate mail. “We didn’t set out to say what was right or wrong; we wanted people to talk, and they talked to us, often in a very bad way,” Cantú said.
Sometimes the strip reflects real personal and painful incidents. “I am always looking for ideas and storylines,” Cantú said.
Discrimination is a sore issue with many readers and Cantú’s inbox is often filled with complaints, accusing him of making the “white guy too arrogant” or accusing minorities of being too sensitive. “Some even say they have never ever experienced discrimination in this country,” he said.
Cantú sees claims of reverse discrimination as an effort to desensitize; “If everyone is a victim of discrimination, it begs the question: ‘Does it matter anymore?’” On the other hand some Latinos find his humor paints them in a negative light and accuse him of perpetuating the same stereotypes he hopes to dismantle.
Cantú acknowledges the comic can not bare the burden of satisfying everyone but ‘as long as it brings a smile to someone, Baldo has done a good job.’ Often, the negativity becomes inspiration for a new script that defuses angry flames with a good dose of humor.
Stone isn’t surprised that some feathers get ruffled when the strip generalizes cultural norms. She would like the strip to focus on higher education and present strong role models.
“That is where Gracie comes in,” said Cantú. The feisty little chica is a strong role model and exhibits a delightful thirst for knowledge and an eagerness to be an Ivy League graduate, noble prize winning-supermom-president.
“I am convinced there is an ‘I hate Gracie Fan Club’,” said Cantú. He imagines a group of Goth teenagers fuming over Gracie’s perky sunshine attitude and says perhaps there will be a storyline based on them too.
Cantú is currently working on a script that addresses domestic violence. Cartoons are difficult work—“they require the perfect balance of words and illustrations; so without one, the other doesn’t make sense,” he said.
Cantú has published two comic books based on Baldo. The strip was briefly in queue for becoming an animated cartoon to be aired on Univision but it never made the cut. Always looking on the bright side, Cantú said, “Well, at least I have a theme song,” which he shared.
Visit baldocomics.com for some hearty chuckles.