David Gonzales

David Gonzales is a Mexican-American cartoonist from Richmond, California, currently living in nearby Hercules. He is the creator of the ‘Homies’ line of toys, a series of 2-inch figurines based upon Chicano (Mexican American) characters.

Gonzales began drawing comics while he was in high school. The characters of these amateur comic stories were barrio guys, as Gonzales grew up in the tough streets of a poverty-ridden barrio. The main character of his strip was called ‘Hollywood.’ Eventually, he made his way to ‘Lowrider Magazine,’ where he had his monthly comic strip, also named ‘Hollywood.’ In 1997 he began to develop a series of characters based on people from his life. He admits that the ‘Homie’ character, ‘La Gata’ (‘The Cat’) is loosely based on his wife. Gonzales slowly but steadily introduced the ‘Homies’ to the public through his comic strip at ‘Low Rider.’

He also sold ‘Homie’ products on beach stands across California. Gonzales drew his characters on t-shirts, which were later sold to customers. In 1998, he released the first set of ‘Homies,’ sponsored by ‘Low Rider.’ The figures were also sold in supermarket machines that year. He initially had trouble selling his product, in particular because the LAPD claimed that the toys glorified gang life. Many stores stopped selling them.

Gonzales went back to the drawing board and gave each character a more positive backstory: ‘The Homies are a group of tightly knit Chicano buddies who have grown up in the Mexican American barrio (neighborhood) of ‘Quien Sabe,’ (‘who knows’) located in East Los Angeles. In an inner-city world plagued by poverty, oppression, violence, and drugs, the Homies have formed a strong and binding cultural support system that enables them to overcome the surrounding negativity and allows for laughter and good times as an anecdote for reality. The word ‘Homies’ itself is a popular street term that refers to someone from your hometown or, in a broader sense, anyone that you would acknowledge as your friend.’

When the ‘Homies’ returned to retail stores and supermarkets, such as Walmart and Safeway, Gonzales was also able to introduce ‘Los Mijos,’ another toy that he invented and that are co-related to the ‘Homies.’ Once again sponsored by ‘Low Rider Magazine,’ the ‘Homies’ returned with such new items as posters, Die-Cast cars and other articles. In 2004, Gonzales introduced a toy line named ‘The Palermos,’ a line that is loosely based on old Italian mafia legends.

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