Tico Times Cartoonist Featured in U.S. Book
DECADES of sweat and tears at thedrawing table have earned Costa Ricancartoonist Arcadio Esquivel a place in theweighty volume “Political Cartoons of theYear 2005,” by Daryl Cagle’s ProfessionalCartoonists Index.The distinction caps two years of worksubmitting cartoons on a daily basis forsyndication in English and Spanish publicationsin the United States.“It’s a big deal. They do a very rigorousselection. I sent them 500 cartoons andthey chose five,” Esquivel told The TicoTimes.ESQUIVEL, 46, has drawn The TicoTimes’ editorial cartoon for 22 years,through decades of news, from CostaRica’s role as spectator and mitigator ofthe isthmus’ political turmoil in the 1980s,to natural disasters such as HurricaneMitch, to the country’s rapid transformationfrom a coffee and banana producerinto the tourism mecca it is today.The work of the impeccably groomedand dressed cartoonist may be the easiestpart of a newspaper to swallow, butEsquivel, though a purveyor of laughsand graphic insight, is one of the fewartists who might say his work is stressful.“It’s fun, but it’s a little stressful, eventhough you may not believe it. You have tochoose the subject, but you also have todecide how to extract humor from the subject.It’s very difficult,” he said.“Sometimes I have the idea, but I have tofigure out how to make the graphic part.And there may only be minutes left beforethe deadlines. Not always, but sometimes.”THE stress is exacerbated by both thenature of the news beast – always changingand always needed by deadline – andhis own scheduling demands.Esquivel – who uses his first name tosign his cartoons – works for two cartoonsyndicates, Cagle’s and the French CourierInternational, and two newspapers, includingThe Tico Times and the Panamaniandaily La Prensa; teaches two classes perweek at the University of Costa Rica; hasa half-hour instructional drawing programon TV’s Channel 13 called El Mundo deArcadio (Arcadio’s World) and is nowworking on his 14th how-to-draw book,this one for children.When not wading through his crammedwork schedule, he whiles away his freetime with a cup of coffee in a café orwatching historical documentaries, which,he said, he enjoys more than movies.He was born in Alajuela, northwest ofSan José, and lives in the suburbs of thecapital with his wife, two sons, ages 11and 14, and daughter, age 9.HIS career began with doodles in highschool.“My friends drew comics, and I wantedto compete with them, so I began todraw as well. They were funny drawings,mostly of people hitting each other andthings like that,” he said.He considers his contract withCagle’s Professional Cartoon Index, nowin its second year, his greatest careerachievement.“There are not many Latinos there,” hesaid. “They most often ask us to chooseissues that are pertinent to the UnitedStates and the world, but also to LatinAmerica.”He gleans ideas from news Web sites,CNN and Larry King Live.Every day he goes online for newsupdates, browsing through Yahoo!,Google and Hotmail’s news services.THE cartoons that caught Cagle’sinterest for the new book poke fun mostlyat U.S. politics.One released after the U.S.-ledbombing of Afghanistan and before theU.S.-led invasion of Iraq portrays U.S.President George W. Bush squeezedbetween two sticks of dynamite. Anotheris a jab at Bush’s well-padded campaignfund, in which the Republican party,depicted as an elephant, is looking atBush’s head, the top of which is openedlike a treasure chest and dollar billsare spilling out. The elephant says, “I seethe money, but where are the brains?”Another depicts a tiny Uncle Sam choppingat the base of an immense, blacktree trunk printed with the word“DEFICIT” in block, white letters.ESQUIVEL’S work and books areavailable on the Internet through his sitewww.cartoonarcadio.com.