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CARTOONING AT THE NEW YORKER: Part One

Part One: A Basis for Comparison

Starting in 2011 and continuing every year through 2016, The New Yorker has been publishing a paperback book that ostensibly collects “cartoons of the year 2011" with exactly that title, changing only the denominated year. Presumably (and it hasn’t been clear until this year’s tome), the cartoons in the book are culled from the issues of the magazine in the titled year.

Last year’s annual (for 2015) was postponed by the arrival of an anniversary collection of cartoons, The New Yorker 90th Anniversary Book of Cartoons (144 8x10½-inch pages, b/w; $12.99). Its nine chapters are organized in ten-year increments beginning with 1925-1935 and ending 2005-2015. These cartoons are winnowed from the 9-decade history of The New Yorker. Many of the magazine’s most famous cartoons are included; and I’m posting nearby some of them — and a few others that I found on my own -- here:

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Thumbing through the book’s 90-year survey, you’d think you’d notice a steady deterioration of the quality of the drawings. After all, today there are no Peter Arnos, Helen Hokinsons, Carl Roses, George Prices, Gluyas Williamses, Charles Addamses or Richard Taylorses. Instead, we have Roz Chast, Bruce Eric Kaplan, Victoria Roberts, P.C. Vey, Emily Flake, Bob Mankoff, Tom Cheney, Richard Cline, Michael Crawford, Zachary Kanin, David Sipress, Edward Steed, B. Smaller, Danny Shanahan and others of the less-than-firm-line ilk.

Still, back in the early decades, The New Yorker had James Thurber, William Steig, Mary Petty, Saul Steinberg, and a few of that fine shaky-line breed, so when paging through this volume, we notice only that some drawings are less expertly done than others, from beginning to end, starting in 1925 and ending last year.

Sipress, of course, is scarcely Steinberg, and Vey is not Rose. But the linework seems similar enough that we don’t notice how seriously the run-of-the-mill cartoon is less well executed today than it was in days of yore.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

FUNNYBOOK FAN FARE

Looking through an issue of Diamond’s Previews catalogue last winter, we arrived at a birdseye view of the funnybook industry today. First, there are lots of comic books being issued each month. In fact, there may be too many comic books, as some observers say. And to support this contention, ComicBase surveyed Januaries Lumberjanes coverof yesteryear and found that an average of 174 new comics were published 1970-80; in January of 2015, that number was 715 a month. That’s a lot. That’s by far more than I or any other normally endowed individual can read and/or review every 30 days. (I don’t even try: if I don’t like the artwork, I don’t buy the book, and I try to concentrate on Number Ones, the genuine newcomers.)

Second, the subjects of those comic books — their focuses (er, focii) — are much more varied these days. We have more to choose from than just costumed superheroes: mysteries, sf, steam punk, legends of Oz, war, horror, teenage adventure, crime with cops and robbers, survival in the wild, skimpily clad heroines, jungle tales, spies, manga (even some of the erotic sort), prehistory and Biblical yarns, romance, not to mention zombies all over the place, Star Wars (understandably, but also Star Trek) and an exorbitant plethora of Doctor Who.

Third, there’s a growing category of the My Little Pony species: Salem Hyde, Blade Bunny, Lumberjanes, Little Dee and the Penguin, Pippi Longstocking, Goosebumps, Missile Mouse, Magic Trixie, Nimona, The Muppets, Kung Fu Panda, Geronimo Stilton, Fuzzy Baseball, Silly Lilly, Jack and the Box plus munchkins, fairy tales, and garden gnomes under every bush. In short, cutesy stuff of the pre-adolescent sort.

I’m not sure that all these roly-poly creations are an improvement over blood-sucking vampires and brain-devouring zombies. Probably. But all three leave me vaguely nauseous.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

READ IT AND RELISH

Angel Catbird cover“I am a cartoonist, a goalie, a dystopian feminist — many things, but you cannot represent all the realities of a person’s life at any given time,” said novelist and poet Margaret Atwood. “I am writing for Angel Catbird (a trilogy about a part-cat, part-bird superhero) for Dark Horse Comics, and I drew the cartoons for The Secret Lives of Geek Girls for a Kickstarter-funded anthology.

But graphic novels are not exactly a new idea, you know. They were big in the 1940s. Caricatures have been a big thing since the late 19th century. And there is a huge tradition of stories told in paintings and carvings on walls, cathedrals and tapestries across the world. It is just that younger people have started taking a greater interest in comic books, especially serious stories told in the comic format.

I drew comics as a kid, and I drew a strip in the 1970s for This Magazine. It was called Survivor Woman. She was a Canadian superwoman who wore snowshoes so she didn’t fly like they did in America. She did pretty much nothing except sit on the curb and think [enacts rolled fist under her chin].”  -- quoted by Malini Nair, timesofindia.com

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

NEW CREDIT FOR WONDER WOMAN?

Secret History of Wonder Woman coverEllie Collins is mustering the feminist and otherwise caring troops to add a name or two to the credit line identifying the creator of star-spangled Amazon. Now that Jill Lepore’s Secret History of Wonder Woman has told the whole world about William Moulton Marston and his two live-in lovers, his wife Elizabeth Holloway and his one-time student Olive Byrne — all members of a “sex cult” that practiced free love and advocated the superiority of women — it’s time to admit, as Lepore apparently does, that Holloway had a role in developing a comic book superheroine. Ditto Byrne.

So Collins would like the credit line to read: Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston and Elizabeth Holloway Marston — maybe even adding on the end, “with Olive Byrne.” I assume that this proposal is timed to get the credit on the big screen when the Wonder Woman movie debuts. So where’s H.G. Peter, the guy who created WW’s look? I mean, if you wanna be inclusive in portioning out credit, let’s be all-inclusive and not overlook the most visible aspects of a visual artform.

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For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

THE NIB : ONLINE WITH DECIDEDLY IRREVERENT EDITOONS

Matt Bors photoFirst Look Media has partnered with award-winning cartoonist Matt Bors on his irreverent online comics publication, The Nib. Formerly part of the online platform Medium, reported Alan Gardner at DailyCartoonist.com, The Nib re-launched last summer through First Look Media as an independent daily publication and online newsletter.

Created and edited by Pulitzer Prize finalist and Herblock Prize for Excellence in Cartooning winner Bors, The Nib (it sez here) “delivers engaging and provocative social commentary in the form of political cartoons, comics journalism, and non-fiction writing from a diverse team of contributors. As part of the First Look family of media properties, The Nib will continue its distinctive approach to storytelling with enhanced distribution platforms to bring its irreverent content to more people in more ways. The partnership is part of First Look Media’s mission to support independent voices and to help them reach and expand their audiences.”

The Nib logo

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

NEW SCHOLARLY ASSOCIATION FORMING

INKS Vol 1 Number 1 coverThe Comics Studies Society, a new professional association for comics researchers and teachers to promote the critical study and teaching of comics both within and without the academy, started recruiting members last spring.

A learned society open to scholars across the disciplines and from diverse backgrounds, CSS is the first U.S.-based comics studies organization to be supported by members’ dues while advocating for professional development, teaching, and the expansion of resources for comics research. Founding memberships are now available at various levels: students, comics professionals, independent scholars, contingent faculty, tenure-line faculty, librarians, curators, and academic administrators. Dues vary: $25 for students; $30 for independent scholars or contingent faculty; $50 cartoonists/comics professionals; $100 for tenure-line faculty, administrators, librarians, or curators. Visit http://www.comicssociety.org/members

A journal will be launched in 2017. Until then, members will receive The Best of Inks Series 1 collection, featuring a selection of the best essays from the pioneering comics studies journal of the early 1990s, edited by Lucy Shelton Caswell and with an all-star cast of collaborators (including yrs trly, your faithful reporter).

The CSS is open to anyone with a serious interest in comics studies, which it defines liberally to include the study and critical analysis of comic strips; comic books, papers, and magazines; graphic novels, albums, and other graphic books; webcomics and other electronic formats; single-panel cartoons, including editorial and gag cartoons; caricature; animation; and other related forms and traditions. All types of sequential art, graphic narrative, and cartooning are relevant to the Society’s mission.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

FIRST ISSUE: RENATO JONES

An admirable first issue must, above all else, contain such matter as will compel a reader to buy the second issue. At the same time, while provoking curiosity through mysteriousness, a good first issue must avoid being so mysterious as to be cryptic or incomprehensible. And, thirdly, it should introduce the title’s principals, preferably in a way that makes us care about them. Fourth, a first issue should include a complete “episode”—that is, something should happen, a crisis of some kind, which is resolved by the end of the issue, without, at the same time, detracting from the cliffhanger aspect of the effort that will compel us to buy the next issue. A completed episode displays decisive action or attitude, telling us that the book’s creators can manage their medium.

 

The first issue of Renato Jones: The One % is, we are assured several times throughout, “created, written, drawn, colored and owned by Kaare Kyle Andrews,” of whom I haven’t heard a whit. But then, I don’t get out much. In any case, Andrews has a perfect right to blow his own horn: the book is extravagantly, delightfully, energetically, pleasingly drawn, Andrews deploying a bold almost inflexible line and plenty of shadowy black, resorting, on some pages, to stunning stark black-and-white.

The narrative is a little hard to follow. It consists of three strands: the early nightmare childhood life of Renato Jones, an abused rich scion; the excesses and abuses perpetrated by a greedy, self-absorbed “one percent”; and the punishment/revenge rained upon the latter by (we think) the former, who has grows up into a masked vigilante called the Freelancer.

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Through the book, the narrative jumps back and forth from one strand to another, which necessarily involves leaping from one time to another. There are no objective narrative captions: the captions are the thoughts of the Freelancer as he reviews the events of his childhood and present endeavors. Without explanatory captions, it’s a trifle difficult to sort it all out as we go along, leaping back and forth. But the words are infected with a revolutionary fervor, and the pictures are exciting forays into extreme action arrayed in imaginative layouts.

In the completed episode, young Renato kills his cruel stepmother (a bloated fat woman who acquired him after his real mother was killed), whose cruelty justifies her demise. Her man servant, Church, explains: “This isn’t murder. This is payment for one’s misdeeds. It is restitution.”

At the end of the book, the Freelancer kills a highly objectionable member of “the one percent,” Douglas Bradley, saying: “You are an abuser of women. You are a sadist and a murderer. You’ve built yourself a luxury yacht that floats on horrors.”

Bradley, groveling, screams: “Dude — they’re not even people.”

“Choke on this,” says Freelancer, shoving a monster gun into Bradley’s mouth and blowing him away.

On the last page, the Freelancer says: “They’ve destroyed this country. They’ve imprisoned the masses. They have escaped prosecution and judgment. But they won’t escape me.”

The next issues of the five-issue series continue in this vein. The series seems driven entirely by Andrews’ detestation of “the one percent”; he’s turned his passion into powerful pictures telling a horrific story. Between revenge killings, the pages quiver with rants against the very wealthy: “They’ve run our economy into the ground, destroying jobs and opportunity. They’ve taken homes from families.” Etc. “Who will make them pay?”

The Freelancer, of course.

This may not be the first comic book infected with a hard-breathing political message. But its politics are not at all veiled. They’re out there, plain and simple, for all to see. And Andrews’ powerful drawings carry the message from page to page.

In the fifth (and, for now, the last) issue in the series, Andrews says he’ll be back with more in a second series of the title.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

AGED ANTI-WERTHAM COMIC BOOK DISCOVERED

Wertham UK coverCarol Tilley, the dauntless comics scholar who discovered that Fredric Wertham fudged his research in Seduction of the Innocent, went to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State University in the fall of 2015 and unearthed a piece of Wertham-related history that has languished in vaults for seventy years or so: a “satirical, trenchant and silly 27-page comic book, The Uncanny Adventures of (I Hate) Dr. Wertham,” produced in the late 1940s by a teenage cartoonist and comic book collector named David Pace Wigransky.

The comic book exists only in its original, pen-and-ink on typing paper form, bound with a piece of string. No copies are known to exist (and none are likely to exist). Said Tilley:

 “The author bills himself as Sterling South, a play on the writer and critic Sterling North, who helped inaugurate mid-century comics hysteria with a widely circulated and emulated 1940 editorial in the Chicago Daily News. Tucked into a folder with a few bulletins published between the years 1946 and 1948 from the National Cartoonists Society, the comic has languished, seemingly forgotten — it was noted on the finding aid but one has to be looking for it — in the storage of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum until I stumbled on it last October during a research visit.”

Tilley has written a description of the comic book (accompanied by copies of many of its pages, like the one of the cover posted near here) that rehearses its story (ending with Wertham shooting himself); it can be read at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library website, cartoons.osu.edu. Once you get there, scroll down to Blog, click on it, and you’ll be transported to “Guest Post! Found in the Collection: ‘The Uncanny Adventures of (I Hate) Dr. Wertham.’”

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Interestingly, the “Wertham” character on the cover speaks with a German accent. The actual Wertham came to this country from Germany and, presumably, spoke with an accent. Our teenage cartoonist was clearly informed about his subject.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

IRAN'S BETE NOIR IS BACK AT THE DRAWING BOARD

You’d think that Atena Farghadani, after spending 18 humiliating and brutalizing months in prison for caricaturing the Iranian Parliament, would, upon her release last summer, retire quietly to the comforts of her home. But she didn’t. Instead, she went on Facebook with a new cartoon taking aim at the state-run women’s university that expelled her after she was arrested. Maren Williams at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund filed the ensuing report:

The president of Alzahra University, where Farghadani was studying art, is Ensieh Khazali — the daughter of a hardline ayatollah who died last year. In the new caricature, Farghadani depicts Khazali as a Yoda-like gremlin with bird feet chained to a throne bearing her father’s likeness, suggesting that the university is constrained by the most repressive elements of Iran’s theocracy.

Farghadani was first arrested in August 2014 for her cartoon mocking members of Parliament as they debated a bill to ban voluntary sterilization procedures, such as vasectomies and tubal ligations, in an effort to reverse Iran’s falling birthrate. But even before her arrest, she was already well-known to the government for her fearless advocacy on behalf of political prisoners, Baha’i minorities, and the families of protesters killed after the country’s presidential election in 2009.

When at the end of 2014, Farghadani was released on bail while awaiting trial, she promptly uploaded a video to YouTube detailing abuses she suffered in prison including beatings, strip searches, and non-stop interrogations. She was rearrested in January 2015 and finally received the draconian sentence of 12 years and 9 months after a perfunctory jury-less trial in late May 2015. Last year, she was honored with the 2015 Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award from CRNI.

She was finally released last spring after some charges were dismissed on appeal and the rest of her sentence was reduced to 18 months, which she had already served.

Also last year, Farghadani was additionally charged with “non-adultery illegitimate relations” for shaking the hand of her lawyer Mohammad Moghimi while he was visiting her in prison. Contact between unrelated members of the opposite sex is technically illegal in Iran, but rarely prosecuted. Moghimi was also charged, and both parties could have received sentences of up to 99 lashes if convicted.

Both were acquitted in January 2016, but in the course of the investigation Farghadani was involuntarily subjected to virginity and pregnancy tests. The specious virginity test is carried out by physically checking for the presence of a hymen, and is recognized by the World Health Organization as a form of sexual violence.

Mere minutes after her release last summer, Farghadani sent a short video to the activist Facebook page “My Stealthy Freedom,” where Iranian women post pictures of themselves without hijab. Here (in italics) is her brief but powerful message, according to the English subtitles on the video:

Some people think that art is not important, but the responsibility of an artist is to challenge authority and to be challenged. Sometimes the price for an artist is imprisonment, but do not forget that artists have responsibilities.

Farghadani’s fearless advocacy for human rights and freedom of expression is a continuing source of inspiration!

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For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

COMICS AGAINST VIOLENCE

From the press release:

Nancy SilberkleitNancy Silberkleit, co-CEO and co-Publisher of Archie Comics, is using the power of comics to open a dialogue on gun violence. Published last spring, See Something, Say Something is an eight-page comic book that tells the story of a teen who is new at a school and is shunned and bullied by a group of students. He struggles with the turmoil and cannot find inner peace, which causes him to bring disharmony to the school. He tells another student of his plan to get even, which involves violence to others.

“I began working on this project at the beginning of this year,” said Silberkleit, whose Rise Above Social Issues Foundation has published comics on bullying and self-esteem. “After the horrific shooting in a church in South Carolina, United States last winter, I put the project on fast-track. Never could I have thought I would be suggesting that our educators present the unthinkable issue of ‘gun violence’ for classroom instruction. The story underscores the need to take action to bring about change, in this case to educate young people about dealing with anger and the need to say something if you see or hear something that could portend a problem.”

See Something, Say Something was scripted by noted U.S. educational consultant and scriptwriter Peter Gutierrez, with pencil illustrations by Loyiso Mkize from Cape Town, South Africa. The story has a five page teaching guide, free for teachers who purchase the digital comic.

Silberkleit, a former teacher, said the new book is designed to provide teachers with a platform to spark discussion among young people on the issue of keeping their educational environment safe.

“Like all of us, teens are looking for ways to explain and understand episodes of mass violence that too often capture the headlines,” she said. “The text and rich graphics of the comic create a stage for students to think creatively, internalize feelings and share them through open discussions in a classroom setting.”

Copies of See Something, Say Something are available digitally for $1.99. To order contact Nancy Silberkleit at riseabovesocialissues@gmail.com or call (+1) 914 450 9880.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

STAN ON PARADE

“His name is the first name you think of when you think of Marvel” — an undeniable truth, no doubt. But for all his fame, Stan Lee hasn’t, until lately, been on the cover of Parade, the newspaper supplement that blankets the world on Sunday mornings.

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The cover story offers several insights into The Man, so we’re culling the best of them here—:

“Every day is a new adventure,” Lee says, and he’s never gone dry. “You can’t run out of ideas. You look at anything, you get an idea. I look at that telephone. If I look at it long enough, I’ll think of a story.”

But Lee doesn’t live in the past, and while he doesn’t mind talking about his many creations, he’s much more interested in what’s coming next.

For instance, when asked about what superpower he would most like to possess, he says “luck,” and immediately launches into talk about the show airing on British television called Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, which he says will be adapted for American TV sometime soon. ...

Last summer, Lee unveiled Nitron, a new comic-book character franchise targeted at feature films, TV and digital platforms, and launched Stan Lee’s Cosmic Crusaders, an animated online series in partnership with the Hollywood Reporter and Genius Brands International, in which a version of himself makes regular appearances.

When asked which three of his superheroes he would like to have dinner with, he takes a moment to think the question through. “I’d probably enjoy talking to Iron Man,” he says. “I’d like to talk to Doctor Strange. I like the Silver Surfer. Iron Man is sort of a classier Donald Trump, if you can imagine that sort of thing. The Silver Surfer is always philosophical; he comments about the world and man’s position in the universe, why we don’t enjoy living on this wonderful planet and why we don’t help each other.”

To Lee, his characters are real, and that’s the way he wrote them, with human foibles and frailties. He learned how from his youthful passion for reading. In his working-class upbringing in New York City, reading offered him both escape and something to reach for. Charles Dickens was a particular favorite, as were tales of adventure and derring-do.

“I wanted to be like the Scarlet Pimpernel,” he says. “I wanted to be like Tarzan.”

He remembers the personal connection he felt when he read the Jerry Todd and Poppy Ott books, precursors to the Hardy Boys series, featuring young detectives and a message from the author on each closing page.

“I loved that,” he says, and he remembered that feeling when he became a comic-book editor years later. “I wanted the readers to feel as if we’re friends. I did the Stan’s Soap Box column, just so the readers would get to know me.

“A lot of people that I meet now, older people, have said to me, ‘We love the fact that when we read the comics as a kid, they weren’t written for children only.’” ...

No wonder he can still keep those ideas coming and keep his superpowers focused on the next superproject.

Fitnoot: I’ve never heard of Nitron, and I suspect that many of Lee’s newest ideas for comic books and superheroes are so rooted in the past and the cultural milieu of the 1960s and 1970s that they’ll never be taken to the hearts of 2016 fans. —RCH, the old wet blanket his ownself

 

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

SELF-PUBLISHING PIONEER JACK CHICK, R.I.P.

Jack Chick panelJack Chick. who made a living for half-a-century drawing, selling and distributing religious comic booklets of 24 pages each (which you could buy for 13 cents), died on October 23rd. His tracts have been described variously as “sanctimonious hate literature,” “hardcore Protestant pornography,” and “pure spiritual sadomasochistic fantasy.”

But Chick was more than a religious zealot. He was that, but he was also a comics artist and writer who (it isn’t too much to say) pioneered self-publishing with greater success than anyone before or after him.

“The ultimate underground cartoonist,” Brill’s Content called him in 1999. Chick Publications claims (with some justification) that almost 900 million of the tracts have been published and sold in 102 languages to missionaries, churches, youth groups, and, even, individuals.

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For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

WHITHER THE SIMPSONS?

David-silvermanOn a Sunday last fall, October 16, “The Simpsons celebrated its 600th episode, just 35 airings shy of the record for the most episodes of an American scripted prime-time show held by “Gunsmoke.” And this achievement prompted Michael Cavna at ComicRiffs.com to wonder: so when is the show finally going to ride off into the Springfield sunset?

“Never!” replies a laughing David Silverman, the longtime “Simpsons” producer who has been there since the very beginning, animating the interstitial shorts when the Simpsons debuted in 1987 on “The Tracey Ullman Show.”

“We don’t want it to end,” he says. ‘Keep it going!’ 600? I say: ‘1,000! Do I hear 2,000!'”

For the sake of comparison, as well as inspiration, Silverman cites the run of Looney Tunes, the classic animated comedy shorts from Warner Bros that spanned 1930 to 1969.

David Silverman drawing“It wasn’t that they were running out of ideas, per se,” says Silverman, citing Tex Avery’s Oscar-nominated “A Wild Hare” (1940) as the pinnacle of Looney Tunes animation. “They just ran out of a delivery system."

The Warner Bros. Cartoons studio closed as the ’70s dawned, marking the end of the “golden age” of animation.

“For ‘The Simpsons,’ so far, we haven’t run out of the delivery system,” notes Silverman, whose show holds the record for most seasons (27) of an American scripted prime-time show, with the renewal already announced for season 28.“I don’t know what’s going to happen to the future of home entertainment,” he continues, “but I think there’s always going to be some aspect of the big TV screen.”

“I don’t know why you’d stop it,” says Silverman of “The Simpsons,” which was co-created by Matt Groening, James L. Brooks and the late Sam Simon. “We’re having a great time.”

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

TRUMP AND TRUDEAU

In 1987, when Garry Trudeau first began ridiculing Donalt Rump, his presidential ambitions, and his soaring ego, said Michael Cavna at Comic Riffs, the real estate mogul was  flattered at Doonesbury’s attention. Later, maybe not so much, as Trudeau ridiculed him over his treatment of wives and other women, employees and other underlings — and, in general, most anyone (everyone?) he deemed beneath him.

Said Trump on one occasion in late 1988 when it was beginning, finally — after more than a year — to get to him: “There are 210 million people in this country. Why’s he have to keep putting me in his strip month after month?”

“Actually,” Trump said as Trudeau’s persecution of him continued, “I don’t read his stuff. You know, I did pretty well in school, but for the life of me, I still can’t understand what Doonesbury is all about.           

“They say Trudeau is somewhat clever,” the Trumpet continued, “but I’d venture to say that most people are like me: they don’t comprehend what Trudeau’s trying to achieve with Doonesbury either.”

“He’s always been impossible to ignore,” Trudeau told Cavna in an interview posted on last summer (July 5, when Chris Christie was still a viable possibility). “It’s like having a big, clanking cowbell installed in your head. I’ve just written four Sundays in a row about Trump, which is insane.

“I figured he’d eventually run,” Trudeau went on, "especially after he got a taste of double-digit poll numbers with his birther campaign. But I also assumed he’d quickly drop out after he’d maximized the promotional value.”

Said Cavna: “It’s easy to forget that many of the headlines surrounding Donald Trump’s current campaign were strikingly foreshadowed. But a stroll down the past three decades of Doonesbury can read like a road map to the billionaire’s 2016 candidacy.”

Then he lists the checkpoints:

A Trump run for president? Check. Doonesbury first had that covered nearly 30 years ago.

Campaign references to Trump as sexual being? Double-check. The comic strip was dishing that satire back in the last millennium.

Trump University shenanigans? You betcha. Cartoonist Trudeau was on the case more than a decade ago.

And Trudeau’s new book, Yuge! 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump shows the degree to which The Donald himself has been telling us for decades what was on his long horizon. Herewith, we cull excerpts from Cavna’s interview with Trudeau.

“By 1987,” Trudeau said to Cavna, “he’d already made himself a risible figure in New York. But he was completely harmless, fodder for Spy magazine. The ads were the first ‘uh-oh’ moment and my response was a kind of reflexive, prophylactic slap-down. The grandiosity was so over-the-top that it would have been comedy malpractice to ignore it. Of course, now we know he was playing the long game. I’m sorry I missed that.”

Cavna: You call Trump an “a–hole.” Are a–holes any easier to satirize — kind of like how good actors are drawn to playing villains?

Trudeau: Absolutely. “A–hole” has a very particular meaning, one that is universally understood. The a–hole is a demeaning, abrasive bully who takes all the credit and assigns all the blame to others. In my lifetime, we’ve had several presidents who’ve disappointed us; we’ve had a crook, a warmonger, some philanderers, but we’ve never actually had a president who’s a total a–hole. This is where I fundamentally got it wrong; I assumed that the body politic would reject such a toxic personality. It’s also why I thought Chris Christie would fail to get traction. Now we face the distinct possibility of having not just one, but two a–holes on the same ticket. That’s how I much I know about politics.

Cavna: Has anything about Trump’s rise as a candidate changed your sense of much of the electorate?

Trudeau: Yes. I never imagined they could be so easily conned. Here’s what the people who love Trump don’t understand: he doesn’t love them back. I figured they’d be on to him by now. These are folks who feel anxious and left behind by the new economy. Many are struggling. Trump has a word for such people: losers. And he’s never had time for losers. He doesn’t have time to sit in their kitchens and go to their barbecues and listen to their problems. True, losers in the aggregate — say 12,000 at a time — get him to where he wants to be. But he’s always one squirt of Purell away from getting back on his plane so he can sleep in his penthouse. Never has an electorate been held in more contempt by its putative champion.

Cavna: What is your single favorite aspect about Trump for cartoon skewering?

Trudeau: Probably his use of language. An analysis by USA Today concluded that he uses a fourth-grade vocabulary in his speeches, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t inventive. Who else uses phrases like “nasty with lies” or “win with the military” or “that I can tell you”? I don’t do much to tweak his speech mannerisms — I’m more of a stenographer — but there is some art to reconfiguring it for satiric purposes...

Drawing Trump is a journey, not a destination. I’ve been trying to reverse-engineer his hair ever since it was brown, well before he set it on fire to run for president. All cartoonists draw Trump differently because we each have a different understanding of how he achieves his effects, especially now that he’s of a certain age. He’s been melting for some time now, so we’re now down to hulking, gilded bloat and it ain’t pretty. But someone has to draw it.

Cavna: Among the many political candidates you’ve covered and mocked over 46 years, where does Trump rank in that illustrious field?

Trudeau: I can’t really compare Trump to other political figures because they’re all relatively normal human beings. Trump, on the other hand, is an actual toon, and I’ve always treated him as such. He’s just another character in my strip, and the rest of the cast regard him as a peer. I didn’t have to change a thing.

Dbury 7-10-16

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com