The true art of the satirist seeking big game in a big election is not only to caricature the obvious, but also to tease out the subtle aspects of a campaigning character — to capture, in this case, that certain Je ne sais coif.
So what is a cartoonist to do now? What is the trick, editorially, to building a better Trump trap?
To seek editorial enlightenment, The Post’s Comic Riffs turned to nine of the nation’s top political artists. The question: What aspects are the most intriguing, or challenging, in trying to skewer the candidate?
Next week, we’ll take on Hillary Clinton. For today: Here is how they approach The Donald:
NATE BEELER (Columbus Dispatch):
I’m constantly astounded, maddened and disgusted by the audacity of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. … With Trump, it’s the bordering-on-tyrannical ideas he spits out. The arrogance and ego of each candidate get my creative juices flowing more than anything else. The caricatures almost draw themselves in the cartoons because of the passion behind them. It’s harder to capture nuance with them because I think they’re both incredibly flawed — if not outright dangerous — potential commanders-in-chief. … We’ve got two blatantly obvious liars who will seemingly stop at nothing in the pursuit of power.
There is a silver lining in this election, for what it’s worth: Oh, let me count the ways I love to draw Trump’s hair…
I can only be grumpily honest: Donald Trump is a wholesale disaster to caricature or satirize. There was an old “Outer Limits” or “Star Trek” episode — maybe only in my dreams — where the monster was made of pure energy, and when they dropped an atomic bomb on it, it got twice as powerful. …
In short, everyone needs to stand down at this point. Go have a mocha. The system has jumped the shark.
STEVE BREEN (San Diego Union-Tribune):
One big advantage this year is that we’re so familiar with both candidates. We’ve been drawing them for years and have them down. In other cycles, it takes awhile to get the features and mannerisms just right.
Trump smiling is not a common sight. The scowl is easier to draw. I’ve noticed Trump has put on weight the last 10 years. I hope if he is elected, that trend continues. It’s natural to draw rich and powerful people nice and portly. I’m also hoping the job stress will cause him to lose hair, which will make his combover more pronounced and more fun to draw.
JACK OHMAN (Sacramento Bee):
I’d say that [Trump’s] chin and mouth are a challenge, and it took me awhile to get them down. His chin is a true triangle. I also enjoy throwing a shadow down over his face under his hair.
JEN SORENSEN (Universal Uclick):
I’d say the most intriguing aspect of Trump — aside from his hair — is his loose lips, both literally and figuratively speaking. He purses his mouth when he talks, making a kind of kissy-face. [The Washington Post’s] Tom Toles has emphasized this to great effect, drawing Trump’s mouth as a highly stylized spout. My Trumps vary, but some of them have a fairly serious pucker.
For me, the most challenging part of drawing Trump is that he’s already a parody of himself, so he’s difficult to exaggerate. I never feel like I’ve portrayed him as repulsive as he is in real life.
SCOTT STANTIS (Chicago Tribune):
Posture is an important element of how I caricature a personality. Trump’s is very Mussolini-like.
SIGNE WILKINSON (Philly.com):
Trump’s [crucial quality] is his ability to sail serenely above all the careless mistakes he has made, no matter how large.
For the cartoonists, this election presents us with an embarrassment of riches.
The obvious physical characteristic for Trump is his hair. It’s both wonderfully bombastic and over the top … a perfect metaphor for the man beneath it. At the same time, it’s mysterious. How does he do it? And how does it stay up there like that? Like Trump himself, I’ve never seen anything like it in politics or in nature.
ADAM ZYGLIS (Buffalo News):
I see Trump as binary in his public displays. He tends to oscillate between red-throated bluster — his default mode — to self-pleasing pomposity. His pompous smirk is most fascinating to caricature, because it seems to mask his true ignorance on the issues he addresses. This sense of false confidence is also the most challenging quality to capture.