Very simply, Baldo is a daydreaming teenager who's trying to be the coolest kid in school. In the meantime, he'll settle for a good game of soccer and building the sweetest lowrider car. That's the short answer. But Baldo is much more than that.
In Spring 1998, Hector Cantu called up Carlos Castellanos and launched Baldo with these words:
"HEY CARLOS, LET'S DO A NEWSPAPER COMIC STRIP!"
It was a simple premise: The adventures of a teenage boy and his family.
"There were hardly any second thoughts on what the strip would be about," Hector says. Since the beginning, it's been called "Baldo" and it's always included the characters known as Gracie, Dad and Tia Carmen.
A month's worth of daily strips were sent to the major newspaper syndicates. The first batch was well-received and Hector and Carlos were encouraged by syndicate editors to produce a second round of strips.
By Summer 1999, a contract was signed and in April 2000, "two years after that initial phone call," Baldo was launched nationwide by Universal Press Syndicate. It's the company's first comic strip that features Latino characters and themes.
Baldo is a teenager who lives between the influences of his U.S. and Latin American cultures. And while the strip has a strong father figure, there is no mom.
"Having just one parent will help us focus on the relationship between father and son," Hector says. "People are still curious about Baldo's mom."
"Is she dead? Are they divorced? Did she go to the pulga and never come back? We'll answer those questions as the strip unfolds."
The female influence in Baldo, though, is strong. Baldo's younger sister and great aunt are important supporting characters. Gracie is the voice of reason. She's always bringing Baldo back down to earth. Tia Carmen is always doing what she can to help everyone, sometimes going a little overboard.
The result is a strip whose "warmth and gentle humor will appeal to all readers," says Greg Melvin, an editor at Universal Press Syndicate. "What makes Baldo great are two classic, time-proven elements: good writing and good artwork."
"We hope this is the beginning of a long, wonderful journey," says Carlos. "We want Baldo to be the best comic strip around. We're working hard to make that happen."
In the end, Carlos and Hector say, the main goal of Baldo is to simply bring a different perspective to the comics pages.
"Growing up Latino in the United States can be a great experience," Hector says. "It can be hard. It can be an exciting experience. It can be rewarding. It can be funny. We hope that through Baldo we can share some of the humorous part with people everywhere."