The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Artists are using the power of comics to battle Trump’s travel ban

Art from Sarah Glidden’s new graphic novel, “Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches From Turkey, Syria and Iraq.” (Drawn & Quarterly)

COMICS JOURNALIST Sarah Glidden feels a sense of mission when she does research from such nations as Syria. Her aim: To find personal stories that humanize a larger political conflict.

Now, it is with a similar purposeful focus that Glidden has responded to President Trump’s travel ban from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

In the wake of Trump’s executive order, Glidden — author of the nonfiction graphical narrative “Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches From Turkey, Syria and Iraq” (Drawn & Quarterly) — responded by creating fundraising art to battle the ban.

Over the weekend, anyone who donated at least $50 to the ACLU could send their receipt to the Seattle-based Glidden, who was delivering a comic of a character modeled after herself reading the news. She helped raise more than $8,000 in donations, she says.

Fellow artists such as Julia Wertz, Emily Flake and Box Brown are working on similar fundraisers in response to the executive order. (The ACLU says it received $24 million in total online donations this past weekend — six times its yearly average.)

The ACLU says it got $24 million in online donations this weekend, six times its yearly average

“It seems like everyone I know is trying to figure out how they can help fight back” against Trump, Glidden tells The Post’s Comic Riffs. “For cartoonists, I guess we feel like using our drawings to join that fight is the best we can do.”

Glidden says she was “absolutely horrified” when she learned of the travel ban, which she calls “a complete disaster.”

“But we knew this was coming — he told us he was going to do this and we didn’t believe him,” the cartoonist says. “I’m glad that the ACLU is going to fight it through legal means.

“But even if it eventually gets repealed, so much damage has already been done and we can never take it back,” continues Glidden, who drew The Nib’s new comic, “Why the Refugee Vetting Process Is Already Too Tough.” “The message that this sends to Muslims and refugees all over the world is that Americans don’t want them here. We were already sending this message, but now Trump has taken this to a new extreme. There are people who already felt unsafe and now it’s even worse.”

Shock. Outrage. Resistance. Repeat. Is this the new normal in Trump’s America?

Glidden, whose international comics journalism follows in the path of such greats as Joe Sacco, notes that numerous cartoonists have recently drawn to raise awareness of refugee plights.

“A lot of us have been pushing for refugee rights for a long time — the U.S. has a history of accepting refugees, but we also have a history of not doing our fair share compared to other developed nations, so we already had a lot of work to do before Trump came into power,” she says.

Now, Trump’s executive order “has taken things to such an extreme that I felt like I would go nuts if I didn’t do something,” she says. “It’s really just a drop in the bucket though. I’ve been really inspired to see how people have been responding to this news. Hundreds of people heading to their local airports to protest, lawyers volunteering in droves to give legal aid to those detained, and refugees who already live here and have every reason to lay low who are sticking their necks out and telling their stories to journalists so that others can learn about their experiences.

“That’s way more than a drawing can do.”