Originally created 04/09/06

Baldo's adventures coming to 'Chronicle'

The Bermudez family is coming to Augusta.

There's a doting dad; Tia Carmen, a loving live-in aunt; Gracie, a precocious grade-schooler; and Baldo, a typical teen and the star of the comic strip that bears his name, which makes its debut Monday in the comics section of The Augusta Chronicle.

Baldo will get a tryout through April.

The comic strip finds humor in everyday life and addresses cultural issues unique to its characters and their Latino heritage, according to Hector D. Cant. The Texas resident is responsible for the dialogue, and Carlos Castellanos, of Florida, draws and inks the 6-year-old strip.

"It's more than a family strip. It's a different perspective; how people deal with things in different ways,'' Mr. Cant said in a telephone interview.

Baldo recently dealt with scam artists targeting Latinos. Scammers cheated Tia Carmen, telling her she could share in lottery winnings if she would put some good-faith money up front. Mr. Cant said he came up with the idea after reading a newspaper report of an older woman victimized in a similar scam.

The series generated a massive response, including accolades from the Florida and Texas state lotteries.

Future strips might address Latino teens' recent protests over immigration policies.

But Mr. Cant said he and Mr. Castellanos try to avoid daily political commentary.

"We do it when we feel there is something out there,'' he said.

The long-distance collaboration via the Internet has worked well for Mr. Cant and Mr. Castellanos, who didn't meet in person until more than a year into their production of the strip.

Mr. Cant works up drafts and e-mails them to Mr. Castellanos, who makes drawings that he sends to Mr. Cant. It takes about a week to do a week's worth of strips, Mr. Cant said.

Story arcs generally spring from Mr. Cant's research; he regularly mines the Internet and print outlets for ideas.

"I read a lot of stuff, and for me a lot of inspiration comes from looking at experiences and giving a twist that only our characters could give a situation,'' he said.

Baldo is partially a product of Mr. Cant's and Mr. Castellanos' life experiences, but all of the characters have a bit of their creators in them. For Tia Carmen, Mr. Cant said, he draws from his relationships with his mom, grandmother and aunts.

While Baldo is an average teen, dreaming of girls, soccer and cars, his little sister is more positive, a smart little girl with ambitions and wrongs to right.

The issues and jokes may change, but the characters in Baldo will remain in that comic strip time warp where characters never age.

"The thing about comics is that the characters become reliable and familiar to people," Mr. Cant said.

Baldo is getting a tryout Mondays through Saturdays through April. Tell us what you think. E-mail tharon.giddens@augustachronicle.com, or mail comments to Tharon Giddens, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928.

Reach Tharon Giddens at (706) 823-3347 or tharon.giddens@augustachronicle.com.


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