CLAREMONT - If laughter and applause is any indication, syndicated "La Cucaracha" cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz made a strong impression on students during a recent visit to El Roble Intermediate School.

"It was really cool, really interesting and really fun," said Alex Castro, 13, about Alcaraz's presentation which featured comics, sketch book drawings and commentary.

Alcaraz visited students last week as part of a new Claremont Museum of Art arts education project, called ARToon.

"They were bright kids who asked great questions," Alcaraz said after his presentation.

The goal of his presentation was not political, he said, despite numerous drawings and artwork with a Mexican Mitt Romney declaring he was the "Juan Percent," leftist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara with a capitalist Nike logo on his beret and his own "La Cucaracha" strip.

One of cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz’s political cartoons is shown as he talks to students about his work.
One of cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz's political cartoons is shown as he talks to students about his work. (Jennifer Cappuccio Maher/Staff Photographer)

"I don't tell them what to think," Alcaraz said of his presentation to the class. "I show them what I do."

The goal of the project is to give a voice to middle school students through cartooning, officials said.

Lori Evans Lama in collaboration with El Roble Intermediate School directed the program, which started started Feb. 5 and continues for six weekly after-school lessons ending with a March 22 public exhibition and April art wall display at the Packing House.

Award-winning editorial cartoonist Anne Cleaves discussed her experiences and give a political cartooning history on Tuesday while comic book artist Javier Hernandez will support students in creating characters and stories on Feb. 19.

The first 40 students who applied and filled out a registration form were accepted into the ARToon program.

But last week Alcaraz, creator of the daily L.A. Times syndicated "La Cucaracha" comic strip, started the first ARToon lesson in working with students and focusing on cartooning in a strip format.

"I like to parody things," Alcaraz told the class of his cartooning style and that he grew up reading MAD Magazine. "I like to make fun of them. I make images people are familiar with and then I twist them around a little bit."

Andy Tavarez, 13, said he learned more about cartooning from Alcaraz's presentation.

"It was very interesting," Tavarez said. "He showed how much detail you can put into drawing with shading."

To learn more about the program, contact 909-621-3200 or info@claremontmuseum.org.

After Alcaraz and the ARToon program concluded, local high school students from a Claremont Museum of Art ARTstART program taught art lessons to the students.

wes.woods@inlandnewspapers.com 909-483-8549 or on Twitter @ClaremontNow