The day after the first presidential debate I doodled Donald Trump (terribly) on a piece of paper, took a crappy picture of it, and put it on Instagram. It’s painful to think back to my motivation — he had just blown the debate; Hillary was going to be president; I wanted to make him look stupid.
I hadn’t drawn a cartoon since college during the Bush years, when I did a weekly editorial cartoon for the school paper. I guess I’m a fair-weather cartoonist. Or the opposite? The Obama White House hadn’t compelled me to comment, and neither, I assumed, would Clinton’s.
But what the hell. While this clown was still on the stage I was going to make him the butt of some jokes. It felt good to pile it on.
Friends encouraged me to keep it up through the campaign, so I did — taking a little more time with each one, scanning them instead of taking photos and adding some color. I was getting into it. I started to home in on my Trump: very simple, easy to put in any situation. Signature hair.
There was an assumption in most of the cartoons that he was going to lose. He was pathetic, not dangerous. On Election Day, among the outpouring of #nastywoman and #historicday Instagrams, I slipped in my little PSA, which I thought might be my last cartoon: The Statue of Liberty imploring us to vote, not because she was frightened, but because she was ready for this sad chapter to end.
And then he won.
I was in total shock, but—encouraged by my dad who sent me a text at 5 a.m. saying “cartoons now more important than ever. love dad”—I did my first political cartoon under President-Elect Trump, at 7 a.m. on Nov. 9.
I decided to keep going. It was cathartic and also felt somehow productive. In the early days, when nothing had really set in, I didn’t have much of an objective. Mostly I just tried to capture the stun. And the sadness.
With the transition not yet underway, there wasn’t much actual news to react to. Instead, I tried to illustrate just how out of his league he was, just how fucked up this was.
It was a little uncomfortable making jokes when there were such real fears and concerns, but I felt people needed to laugh—even if it was through tears.
And then he started to pick his top advisers; the maybe-he-just-said-that-shit-on-the-campaign-trail-and-he’s-not-so-bad hope died; and we realized that this was going to be even crazier than we imagined. My goal became reducing the thousands of words and hundreds of hours of news to their essence.
So now, as the shitshow continues to unfold, each day more unbelievable than the previous, I continue to draw. I don’t know if I’ll keep up the same pace as the last 10 weeks, but something tells me there will be plenty to comment on for the next four years. I’m not sure what the cartoons accomplish in the end, but for now it just feels good to be doing something.
People have asked if it’s hard to come up with the ideas. Sadly, not really. These ideas basically draw themselves.