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Three Pulitzer Prize-winning artists take on the 2008 presidential candidates in cartoons.

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

As the major-party conventions near, the nation's political cartoonists are still getting a feel for how to caricature the Men Who Would Be King. Lanky vs. squat, loose vs. stiff -- an election takes on a distinctive coloration when viewed through the eyes of these three Pulitzer Prize-winning artists. For them, after all, it's not just about a Democratic or Republican ticket; these faces represent their next meal ticket.

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-- Interviews by Michael Cavna

STEVE BREEN (The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Caricaturing -- an inborn talent or a skill painstakingly developed?

It came naturally. When I look at someone's face, there's something in my brain that just clicks -- that breaks down their face into the elements that go into a caricature. It might be like the way a chef tastes a dish and can break down into elements what went into it. . . . But I still had to study the art of caricature.

What's your process?

For some reason, photos work best. Video is helpful, too, because the more familiar you are with the subject, the more easily the caricature comes -- until it becomes like drawing your Uncle Frank.

Any cartooning bugaboos when it comes to caricature?

Women are more difficult to caricature than men -- partly because beauty is more difficult to caricature. John Edwards is a good-looking man and at first he was tough to draw. . . . If we had our druthers, all politicians would look like [Leonid] Brezhnev. Bring on the ugly!

How's it been, developing your Obama?

Obama's a good-looking guy, too, but you study. He has a long, skinny chin. He has heavy eyebrows and lines around his mouth and his lips are a darker pigment. And of course there are his ears, so you can zero in on them.

Size up McCain for us.

He's an old, white guy, which should be easy, but he's not. I can't put my finger on it. There's something with his chin and his neck, so you can have fun with that, but he's challenging.


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