I have the same conversation over and over. “Oh! You’re a political cartoonist! You’ve got so much great material now! What a wonderful time to be a cartoonist!” and I reply, “Well … no.” In fact, this is the worst time ever for editorial cartoonists.
Interest in politics doesn’t translate into better sales for editorial cartoons; there is still only one hole for a cartoon on the editorial page of each newspaper, even when the news is brisk.
As newspapers have suffered in recent years, and cartoonists continue to lose their staff jobs, the quality of editorial cartoons has flourished with a broader range of styles and viewpoints, and with cartoonists doing better work than ever – but that was before Donald Trump. I’m not aware of any professional political cartoonist who supports Trump. There is no range of views in cartoons about Trump.
There is an internet truism called “Godwin’s Law,” which states that the longer an online discussion goes on, the more likely it is to end up with a reference to Adolph Hitler. Cartoonists didn’t have a conversation that ended up with Trump as Hitler, we drew Trump as Hitler from the start and the Trump/Hitler metaphors continue unabated. There are countless monster cartoons with Trump’s hair or face on Godzilla, King Kong, Frankenstein, Satan, the Ku Klux Klan and Dracula.
Editorial cartoonists rely on common metaphors or “clichés” that allow us to draw cartoons that convey complex ideas with few words. Our palette of clichés is limited to images readers would know and when there is only one subject dominating the news (Trump), and only one point of view (anti-Trump), we have a recipe for matching cartoons. Endlessly matching cartoons. We see the same monsters, Pinocchios and Nazis, over and over.
The most famous example of matching cartoons came the day after the 9/11 attack when virtually all of the cartoonists in the world drew a weeping Statue of Liberty witnessing the burning twin towers. The satirical newspaper “The Onion” continues to rub salt in this cartoon wound with their parody cartoons that always feature a weeping Liberty. Nowadays the Statue of Liberty kicks Trump out, or Trump is Lady Liberty kicking immigrants. Every famous statue has Trump hair, or a full Trump face, especially the Lincoln Memorial and Mount Rushmore. There are not enough cliché statues for Trump. When passions run high there are too few arrows in the cartoonists’ cliché quiver that are powerful enough to express outrage.
Editorial cartoons are at their best when they make witty, graphic arguments on issues where there are different opinions and where minds can be swayed. The Trump cartoons are simple name-calling, reviled by Trump’s supporters and appreciated by Trump’s foes. No minds are swayed by these cartoons.
I distribute a group of about eighty top political cartoonists and columnists to hundreds of subscribing newspapers. My best customers for reprints are school textbooks and testing services because editorial cartoons are included on state mandated AP Social Studies testing – but the book and test clients don’t want to buy Trump/monster cartoons.
Most syndicated columnists and pundits are riding the Trump-bashing train too, but their matching arguments are somehow excused as consensus. Readers may tear Trump/Hitler cartoons out of the newspaper to stick on their refrigerators, but they never tear out Trump/Hitler columns to stick on the fridge. We just don’t notice columns like we notice cartoons so cartoonists suffer while columnists, who are equally banal, benefit from being less obviously banal.
We don’t see positive cartoons about Hillary Clinton either. Cartooning is a negative art and a supportive cartoon is a lousy cartoon. Hillary is a rich character that we have known for decades. There is a grand history with Hillary and Bill Clinton that gives us many more clichés for a broader cartoon palette. If Trump loses in November we should enjoy four years of great Hillary cartoons.
If Trump wins in November, the Trump-monster cartoon-apocalypse will continue. God save us.
13 replies on “Trump, Hitler and the Worst Time for Editorial Cartoons”
Any Trump/Hitler cartoon is too easy. Maybe the US should have been occupied by Nazi's.
Trump is not funny
He does approach 'ridiculous' at times though.
The only problem with the lead cartoon is that the wrong face is behind the Hitler-esque mustache. It's Hillary who wants to continue the Obama dictatorship. She's running under false pretenses: Fighting for Women and Children. Ha! Name one thing Hillary has done for women or children during her career. Not possible because she has done nothing except defend a pedophile rapist of a twelve-year-old girl and kept him out of jail. Some fighting.
If the alternative is Hillary Clinton, someone who for the last eight years has been a part of the failed Obama administration then I know a cartoonist who supports Trump. Me.
You do plenty of Trump bashing, Mike. And I miss you! Nice to see you here.
Things may improve for cartoonists. Trump really can be the gift that keeps giving. Apparently, he is going to become more aggressive, show us the real Trump behind the presently pleasant façade!
We had a lot of Nazi sympathizers here in the United States (as well as in England) prior to WWII. Apparently Trump's daddy was one of them (he was arrested in a riot in 1928).
Hey Daryl, you do realize George Bush's daddy really was a Nazi and his boys still are. His banks, along with Swiss Templar banks financed the Nazis. You do realize George Bush was part of the CIA hit team that killed Kennedy. A friend of the Bush family attempted to assassinate Pres. Reagan a couple months after he was elected. That would have made Georgie-boy president. Hmmm. And he thinks Trump's a Nazi too, just like you.
At least Trump doesn't belong to that Skull and Bones cult or the Freemasons. "Nazi" is a powerful slur to throw around. Are you really telling me the Jews who were in Germany for centuries are the same as the Muslims overrunning Europe today? Disseminating socially divisive propaganda like that would be such a Nazi thing to do. You'd be iced out if you backed Trump and you know it, Like some kind of schoolgirl click only murderous.
I'd say you were much more of a Nazi as Trump ever was. Especially if you are a Freemason or member of Skull and Bones. Then you really are a Nazi. Cagle… is that Swiss?
See my comment below.
We are occupied by Nazis, it's called the CIA and was founded by the Bush's. Grand-daddy Bush's bank financed the Nazis.
Hill-Billy sold the country down the tubes. They'll drive it into the dirt if we let them. Feminism is the worst thing to happen to children.
Great post. I loved it. Keep sharing.