I looked at Mario Miranda as a mentor, and not as a competition: Alexyz
At 75, Alex Raphael Fernandes, aka Alexyz, is a happy man, lives at home in the town of Siolim, in northern Goa, with his wife, who is a teacher at the neighborhood school. Although he retired several years ago, he goes to school every day, which gives Alexyz time alone, that he spends most of his time working on his cartoon projects. While he is not working on his daily cartoons, he is busy compiling his autobiography, attending events and interacting with students at several state universities. Recently he received the Cultural Award from the State of Goa to celebrate his exceptional work in the field of painting by the Directorate of Art and Culture of the Government of Goa.n On a bright winter morning, he received us with the most cheerful smile, which he then He laughed when he met us at his house. We are surrounded by art on all the walls: cartoons, paintings, cartoons, doodles ... He sits in a cozy chair, before starting to talk with us about all the cartoons, his love for the state, his best memories of Mario Miranda and much more. Excerpts ...
You are getting younger and happier every day! What is the secret of your happiness in a world where too many people are stressed?
It has become a part of me over the years. I think I am blessed with a happy feeling about people and things. I love meeting people. I love to share what I do with my talent, because you receive thousands of other forms. The joy of being alive is what makes me happy! Cartoons is a serious profession and not a fun thing. A cartoonist is always trying to highlight certain things in society that are not good. I am truly blessed to be able to smile and laugh all the time and enjoy life.
Usually it is you who makes everyone laugh. Who or what makes you laugh?
I need to laugh! I keep hitting my head and say that today is not a good day, you better put a smile on your face. Everyday is not good. You read the newspapers and get angry. But I try not to get angry about things I can't change. What is a day in your life like now?
Every morning there is something to do. But before going to work, I do my usual morning walk, just to keep fit. That is a routine. Otherwise, every day is different.
What inspires your daily cartoons?
... What comes on paper. My advice is to make cartoons about current topics, so I keep that.
You have a beautiful house. Do you have a specific place from which you work at home?
The sofa at night, the balcony or terrace during the day. I used to go to a garden or cafeteria in Panaji and finish my cartoons. Since it doesn't need much space and tools, I can work from anywhere.
What are you working on apart from your daily cartoons for the newspaper?
In addition to being part of the events, I am working on my autobiography, my trip to cartoons, which is taking a long time. For this, I have to review more than 12,000 cartoons of mine that I have done over the years. He was supposed to launch it in October last year, but it didn't happen. So I am working to finish it and launch it this year. Since this is a great project, I try not to take more projects.
The cartoon is not just a way of making people laugh, but a great tool for social comments and expressing your opinion. How do you think cartoons are important in the current era?
The cartoon is visual, so even in a 10-column newspaper, the cartoon stands out from the news. I highlight what comes in the document, mostly just Goa related issues. If you watch my cartoons very closely, they are not just a cartoon, they are a work of art. I use many colors and it's like a colorful paint.
Did the fact that you were doing cartoons at the same time when a great guy like Mario Miranda was also working once pressured you?
Mario and I went to the same university: St Xavier’s College and Times of India, where Mario made cartoons, was right next to my university. I always admired cartoons. I even considered doing a PhD in Mario's work. I knew him personally too. First I went to his cubicle, and introduced myself as Goenkar in Konkani, and showed him my cartoons. He saw my work and recommended that I meet a newspaper editor and publish my comic strip in that newspaper. Mario was very useful. I looked at him as a mentor, and not as someone I was competing with. He was very young then, so I always admired him. In fact, I stayed with him at home, I also went to his funeral. He was very kind and very different from the other successful cartoonists he knew, who were quite arrogant.
Who has been your favorite cartoonist and why?
I would say, Mario. He is one of the best illustrators. He often said he was an illustrator and not a cartoonist. His style was very different and fun. I have always liked his type of work. At some point, a little Mario also gets into my work.
In a time when it is so easy to offend someone, how do you manage to work without getting into trouble?
It depends on the paper and how much freedom the paper gives you. I once made a cartoon about a politician and received a call saying don't make fun of him. Even during the turmoil of the language, when they gave me enough space in a local newspaper, I made drawings of 6-8 columns.
Your thoughts on content censorship?
If we are a democracy, there should be no censorship about what we mean, provided it is not yellow journalism. Politicians get away with it, so why should there be censorship for us?
What do you think about the changing context and sensitivity of people ... since what was fun yesterday may not be today?
Every day is another day. Time changes, thought changes. These things are part of life. You have no control over how society feels.
How do you think political correctness affects cartoons?
It all depends on how much freedom you have, rather, how much freedom your work gives you. With so much success, so many roles that take different positions, it's not always easy to get the kind of freedom you expect.
Many young artists enjoy great follow-up on social networks. What do you think of the trend of digital works of art and shared work in social networks?
There are more cartoonists in social networks than in newspapers! The type of cartoons that appear on social networks is quite different from what you see in the newspaper. Social networks give you the kind of freedom that many newspapers will not give you. Many cartoonists ask me, if I get into cartoons, what salary would I get. I find very few young people engaged; Most look for a career with a great salary. They like the idea of being in the spotlight, but they need money to accompany it. I worked in advertising before I started drawing, where salaries were good and there was a lot of glamor. But it is about passion when it comes to cartoons.