By Julia Spitz/Daily News staffPosted Feb 10, 2010 @ 12:45 AM
Census officials hope a little humor will lead to an accurate headcount.
“2010 Census: The Adventures of Ze Brasil & Tiao Mineiro,” a comic book in Portuguese, is part of a Boston Regional Census Center initiative to let Brazilian immigrants know about the importance of the national census conducted every 10 years.
Local Portuguese-language newspapers and magazines will distribute comic books in Framingham and Marlborough next week, then again next month. Churches with predominantly Brazilian congregations will also distribute the 16-page publication.
“We are trying to reach everyone,” said Alexandra Barker, U.S. Census media specialist.
Ze Brasil and Tiao Mineiro are familiar figures to readers of Bay State Brazilian newspapers. Boston-based cartoonist Daniel Nocera launched the series featuring the two illegal immigrants living in Massachusetts in 2005.
The comic strip, which is carried in The Metropolitan Brazilian News and A Noticia weekly papers in New England, as well as The Brazilian News in London and The Brasil News in Toronto, puts a humorous spin on struggles the pair face due to their inability to speak English and lack of documentation.
Using situations such as not knowing when to get off a T train or dealing with an unscrupulous landlord, Nocera said he tries to depict reality but also make readers laugh and think.
“I believe many Brazilians will identify themselves with my characters,” he said.
The census-themed booklet is an extension of the comic strips that “use a mild sense of humor and creativity as tools for getting the messages out.
“There are three short stories and three games, all involving the main census messages: It’s easy, it’s important and it’s confidential,” said Nocera, who was named best Brazilian cartoonist living outside Brazil in 2008 and 2009. In the booklet, Ze Brasil and Tiao Mineiro are visited by a census worker, and talk about things that can be improved, such as schools and hospitals, based on an accurate census count.
“This comic book is an important tool for our outreach efforts to this hard-to-count population, which is the largest foreign-born community in the Boston region,” said Barker.
“We want to be culturally sensitive, not too bureaucratic,” she said.
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Census comic staring Brazilian characters Ze Brazil and Tiao Mineiro