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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

YUGE! 30 YEARS OF DOONESBURY ON TRUMP


By G. B. Trudeau
112 8x9-inch pages, all in color
paperback
Andrews McMeel
2016
$9.19

YugeTrudeau has been after the Trumpet for three decades, and with the publication of this volume of reprints, we are invited to appreciate his prescience. As the Amazon blurb says: “Ever since the release of the first Trump-for-President trial balloon in 1987, Trudeau has tirelessly tracked and highlighted the unsavory career of the most unqualified candidate to ever aspire to the White House. It’s all there — the hilarious narcissism, the schoolyard bullying, the loathsome misogyny, the breathtaking ignorance; and a good portion of the Doonesbury cast has been tangled up in it. Join Duke, Honey, Earl, J.J., Mike, Mark, Roland, Boopsie, B.D., Sal, Alice, Elmont, Sid, Zonker, Sam, Bernie, Rev. Sloan, and even the Red Rascal as they cross storylines with the big, orange airhorn who’s giving the GOP such fits.”

And the Trumpster has had his shots at Trudeau, too: “Doonesbury is one of the most overrated strips out there. Mediocre at best,” saith the Trumpet. Trudeau is the “sleazeball” “third-rate talent” who draws the “overrated” comic strip that “very few people read.”

In his Preface to the book, Trudeau gets even:

By the 1980s, “Trump had already become the gold standard for big, honking hubris, and to ignore him would have been comedy malpractice. In New York City, he practically owned the 1980s, rocketing to the top as the Big Apple’s loudest and most visible asshole, knocking off big-league rivals like Ed Koch, Julian Schnable, and Steve Rubell. To those of us in the ridicule industry, the man Spy dubbed ‘a short-fingered vulgarian’ was a gift beyond imagining.”

Alluding to being a target of Trumpster vituperative, Trudeau continues: “I was one lucky tar baby, and remained so for years. ... Then came the extramarital affairs, both real and imagined, conducted under kleig lights, followed in rapid succession by the high-profile bankruptcies, his attempts to tear down a family restaurant to build a parking lot for limos, his various televised spectacles (the most storied of which featured him firing celebrities who were already out of work), his creepy sexual fantasies about his own daughter, the Truther debacle, his failed product lines, and on and on. ... You can’t make this stuff up, so why try? Some people feel that Trump is beyond satire, but we professionals know he is satire, pure and uncut, free for all to use and enjoy, and for that we are not ungrateful. For our country, though, we can only weep.”

The volume scrupulously dates each strip so you know exactly where in the continuum of Doonesbury mockery of the Trumpet each strip falls. The book, released last summer, is worth owning just for the intimate and detailed view Trudeau gives us of the Trumper’s complex hair-knit.


Dbury Sunday 2-14-16

 

 

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

METLIFE SHEDS SHOOPY

MetLife Snoopy BlimpWhen MetLife adopted Snoopy as a symbol in 1985, it did so because it wanted to appear friendly and approachable, which was hard to do at a time when people thought “death benefits” and “beneficiaries” were synonymous with life insurance. Life insurance companies were seen as cold and indifferent. But Snoopy was cuddly and approachable, thanks to Charles Schulz, so the beagle provided the warm and fuzzy that helped with MetLife’s image.

These days, people no longer have a negative view of life insurance, and the company wants to brand itself in a way that opens doors internationally. Snoopy, despite his worldwide fame, apparently wouldn’t do for the new MetLife. So Snoopy is being retired from appearing in the giant insurance company’s print ads, TV commercials, marketing materials and on the sides of MetLife’s blimps at sports events.

“No more big-nosed beagle in the flight cap and goggles chasing the Red Baron on Metlife’s airship,” write Christine Hauser and Sapna Maheshwari in the New York Times. “No more television commercials featuring a smiling Snoopy navigating life’s treacherous waters to sell insurance. Cuddly Snoopy hitting a home run? Out.”

The move, saith MetLife, is part of an effort to update its corporate emblem for international competition.

New MetLife logoThe company called the decision the “most significant change” to the brand in decades. MetLife researched its decision before putting it into effect. Consumers thought the Peanuts characters were friendly and approachable, but did not associate them with traits like leadership and responsibility. Nor did the characters affect interest in buying insurance.

Besides, the company research determined that most people are “indifferent” to having Snoopy disappear from MetLife ads.

Instead, I gather from the Times article, the company’s emblem will be a giant M formed by overlapping pizza-like slices, one in blue the other in green, colors that “represent life, renewal and energy.”

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

THE TRIAL OF MIKE DIANA

Soon To Be A Motion Picture Near You

Mike DianaOver twenty years after his mini-comic Boiled Angel made comix creator Mike Diana the first and only U.S. artist ever convicted of obscenity, an upcoming documentary aims to tell his story, reported Maren Williams at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. “Directed by cult filmmaker Frank Henenlotter and funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign, ‘The Trial of Mike Diana’ will explore the often subjective standards of obscenity and the intense backlash that can result from what are after all “only lines on paper.”

Diana’s work was exactly the kind that CBLDF was created to defend: “Boiled Angel featured nudity and sexuality, but also extreme violence, including mutilation, rape, and child molestation, as well as taboo subjects such as necrophilia and cannibalism,” Williams went on — although none of this is evident on the surreal cover.

Boiled

CBLDF financed Diana’s defense by local attorney Luke Lirot. “Despite Lirot’s valiant efforts and the fact that Boiled Angel did not meet the definition of obscenity as laid out in the three-pronged Miller Test, Diana was convicted and received a fine of $3,000, as well as a sentence of three years’ probation, which included stipulations that he stay away from minors and refrain from drawing.”

This diabolic sentence also directed that he would be subject to unannounced inspections by police.

The upcoming documentary will include original animation by Diana himself and will feature “interviews with several key players from the trial and the surrounding spectacle, as well as commentary on Diana’s case and his art from a slate of industry experts including Neil Gaiman, who was inspired to join CBLDF’s board of directors after witnessing this miscarriage of justice. Filming of The Trial of Mike Diana is nearly complete,” Williams concluded, “ — we’re thrilled to see this project come to fruition!

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

IT'S FRIDAY AGAIN

That Iowa farmer/cartoonist who was fired last summer for drawing an editorial cartoon critical of one of his newspaper’s advertisers? He’s back at Fort Dodge’s weekly Farm News. And he says he’s happy to be back. Rick Friday had been a fixture at the paper for over 20 years with his It’s Friday cartoon, and the national notoriety the paper attracted for firing him made the editors confront second thoughts — a remarkably unusual occurrence among editors who may regret publishing a cartoon that earns them criticism. But these guys were courageous enough to admit their mistake. They phoned the cartoonist, apologized, and asked him to return. Some negotiations ensued, and then on July 1, his cartoon returned. At the website, a message: "Farm News is delighted to announce the return of cartoonist Rick Friday. Beginning today, his witty insight will regularly return to its home on our editorial page and our website. Welcome back, Rick."

Getting fired brought fame to Friday from across the country, reported Charly Harley (from whose report I culled most of these words) — including articles in the Columbia Journalism Review and The New York Times. Friday said he received more than a thousand Facebook messages of support from around the world and has had job offers to draw for several different publications. He’ll be attending to some of them whilst still producing his weekly visual comment for the Farm News.

FridayCartoon

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AND IT'S WORSE IN TURKEY

In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been cracking down lately on opposition throughout the country in the wake of a failed coup attempt several months ago. Tens of thousands of alleged coup collaborators have been jailed or fired from their jobs.

“A failed coup is a great excuse to get rid of everyone Erdogan doesn’t like,” said editoonist/syndicate mogul Daryl Cagle in reporting the story — whether they were involved with the coup or not. “Virtually all of the media outlets that have been critical of him have been closed down. The only opposition paper left, Cumhuriyet, was raided last week with their editors, their top writers and their editorial cartoonist thrown in jail.”

The cartoons of Musa Kart have enraged Erdogan for years. Erdogan tried to put Kart in jail for nine years for the 2014 cartoon on the left below, that depicts a money-laundering scandal as a hologram of Erdogan looks the other way.

KartToon

Kart was detained by police and his home searched. Kart was acquitted of the charges, and as he left the courthouse, he said:

“How will they explain this to the world? I am being taken into custody for drawing cartoons. I’ve been trying for years to turn what we’re living through in this country into cartoons. Now I feel like I’m living in one.”

The 2005 cartoon on the right, above, shows Erdogan entangled in strings. Kart was tried and sentenced to prison, “but his penalty was reduced to a fine, and the courts later dismissed the fine,” Cagle said.

Hundreds of protesters camped overnight at the Istanbul headquarters of Cumhuriyet in support of the paper as the last symbol of freedom of the press.

Altogether, Cagle reported, “170 news media outlets have been shut down since the attempted coup and 105 journalists arrested. Authorities revoked the press accreditation of more than 700 journalists while thousands of journalists are unemployed.”

Cagle, whose syndicate distributes editoons by cartoonists from all over the world, said cartoonists everywhere are sharing drawings in support of a free press. Here, to conclude this report, is one by India’s Paresh Nath, one of Cagle’s roster.

NathToon

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ZUNAR KEEPS STANDING UP

The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar (Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque) can’t stay out of trouble. And even when he stays out of trouble he gets in trouble. When protesters disrupted an exhibition of his cartoons in late November, he was arrested. Not the protesters. Zunar was questioned by the police, detained for a day and informed that he was under investigation for producing cartoons that purportedly defamed Prime Minister Najib Razak.

It was not the first time Zunar, who already faces nine charges of sedition and is barred from leaving the country, has courted trouble with his pen. His cartoons frequently target Najib, who is accused of taking millions of dollars from a state investment fund. Najib has faced widespread calls to resign, most recently at an anticorruption demonstration this month that drew tens of thousands in Kuala Lumpur, the capital.

Zunar was interviewed by Mike Ives of the New York Times just after the incident. One of the things they talked about was the cartoon we’ve posted near here.

ZunarToon

“It’s a self-portrait,” Zunar said. “In it, you see that three laws have been used against me. First is Sedition Act, second is Penal Code, third is Printing Presses and Publications Act. I was chained with these laws — hand, neck and leg. But if you go to my shirt, you can see my philosophies there. Among them are ‘I will keep drawing until the last drop of my ink’ and ‘How can I be neutral … even my pen has a stand.’ So this drawing shows that even though there’s a law to stop me, even though there’s a regulation to stop me, even though they tried to ban my books — actually, not tried, they already banned my book — I will keep drawing. That is why, without hands, I still use my mouth or my teeth to draw. This is to show the philosophy and determination to fulfill my duty as a cartoonist in Malaysia.”

Zunar is expecting a tenth sedition charge, but even without it, he faces upward of 40 years as a maximum prison sentence if he’s convicted. How does he feel about it?

“You have to understand this is a politically motivated charge; it’s got nothing to do with the law,” he said. “In Malaysia, it’s very, very difficult for us with politically motivated charges. You just need to look at what happened to the opposition leader’s case in Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim. Even though he had strong evidence and witnesses, it was political. It will be very difficult for us to fix that. But this is a very important case for me to create awareness around the world about the state of freedom of expression and human rights in Malaysia. I’m going to face it.”

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

BARNEY WAS BACK -- BRIEFLY

Barney Google, who was written out of his own comic strip (although not out of the title) years ago after Fred Lasswell took over Billy DeBeck’s creation and focused exclusively on life among the hillbillies, has been returning periodically to John Rose’s current continuation of Snuffy Smith. And he was back again for a week, starting December 4th.

GoogleSmith

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TWO-BITS FOR TWENTY-FIVE

Image Comics will celebrate 25 years as a comic book publisher next year, and it’s giving its fans a little gift, reports George Gene Gustines at the New York Times. February issues of The Walking Dead, Invincible, and Outcast, each written by Robert Kirkman, will cost only a measly two bits, just 25 cents (25 years; 25 cents).

“The stories in these issues will be a good jumping on point for readers” Gustines said: “The Walking Dead No.163 follows the conclusion of the Whisperer War; Invincible No.133 begins ‘The End of All Things,’ a 12-part story that will conclude the superhero series; and Outcast No.25 will introduce characters to the series about demonic possession.”

The Walking Dead 163

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CHARLIE GOES ABROAD

Charlie Hebdo German EditionThe first German edition of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo arrived on newsstands December 1, nearly two years after Islamic Hooligans attacked the publication’s headquarters in Paris, killing top editors and cartoonists, ostensibly because they insulted Islam. The German edition is a response to significant German interest in Charlie Hebdo after the attack, editors told Charly Wilder at the New York Times.

“It’s an experiment,” Gérard Biard, Charlie Hebdo’s editor in chief, who added that the paper had been the subject of numerous exhibitions, awards and news coverage in Germany since the attack on January 7, 2015.

The new edition will consist mostly of translated material from the French version, but with some original content for its German readers.

The editor of the German edition, who uses the pseudonym Minka Schneider, said, “Germans feel particularly close to France and to Charlie Hebdo, and the debate about freedom of expression is very passionate here compared to other countries.”

The first German issue, with 16 pages, offers a four-page travel feature by the cartoonist Laurent Sourisseau, who uses the pen name Riss, depicting people he met across Germany and their thoughts on cultural heritage, national identity and the influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees, most of them Muslims, in the last several years.

The reaction in the German news media has largely been positive, with a few exceptions.

“I don’t believe that magazine will go over well in Germany,” said Martin Sonneborn, a former editor of Titanic, a satirical magazine, “because it has such a specifically French aspect and represents a very unique type of humor.”

Charlie Hebdo’s brand of satire tends to be harsher and darker than German counterparts like Titanic and Eulenspiegel, said Wilder. The editors acknowledge the challenge of appealing to a German audience but said the timing of the new edition was opportune.

“Germany is facing problems today that France already faced a few decades ago, like immigration and the banlieues,” Schneider said, referring to the heavily immigrant neighborhoods that ring many French cities. “So maybe learning something about French society can help the Germans, and humor is a good way to do this.”

“Everybody can be a subject in Charlie Hebdo,” Biard continued. “So we feel pretty free to have a look at German society.”

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

SURPRISE: SUPERHEROIC REGGIE AT ARCHIE COMICS?

Reggie and Me #1 coverAt CBR, Jeffrey Renaud reminds us that “as a writer and editor, industry legend Tom DeFalco has told stories with heavyweight heroes ranging from the Amazing Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four to G.I. Joe and the Transformers. So when he calls Reggie Mantle a ‘sinister super-villain,’ you might want to pay attention.”

What prompts this cautionary note is that DeFalco is writing a new on-going series at Archie Comics — namely, Reggie and Me, about Archie’s presumed rival. Predictably, Archie Comics, having produced a line of titles for slightly older readers with the new Archie, Jughead, and Betty & Veronica books, now turns to the only other main character without a title of his own, the unlikable Reggie Mantle.

DeFalco started his career at Archie, so he’ll be coming “home” in some sense. Renaud asked him several impertinent questions about the new Reggie book, and DeFalco responded in kind.

About Reggie, DeFalco said: “Classic Reggie was a prankster, but he was always rather harmless. He was also one of Archie’s friends, and a member of the gang. The current Reggie is an outsider. Yes, the other guys want to be like him and the girls want to be with him, but he is no longer a member of the gang.”

Renaud: You say he’s one of your favorite characters. You admit that he’s been called a self-aggrandizing egotist, a sinister super-villain, a merciless monster and worse. So — what’s to love?

DeFalco: What’s not to love? He drives the best cars and throws the wildest parties. He is also the closest thing Riverdale has to a supervillain and everyone loves a great villain.

Renaud: Is Reggie Mantle misunderstood?

DeFalco: Absolutely! A lot of people assume he has some redeeming characteristics. [Laughs]

Renaud: Can you confirm today that the ‘me’ of Reggie and Me is in fact Reggie’s dog, Vader?

DeFalco: I could, but why spoil the surprise?

Renaud: Will you be telling done-in-one stories in Reggie and Me or will the stories be longer arcs?

Reggie and Me interiorDeFalco: I will be doing both. Every individual issue will be a done-in-one, but the stories will build upon each other to form larger arcs. I never make life easy for myself.

Renaud: What can you tell us about the first story that you have planned?

DeFalco: Reggie throws a party and things go sour for everyone… except Reg. Also, we learn the not-so-secret origin of Vader.                       

The first issue hit the stands on December 7, illustrated by Sandy Jarrell, Kelly Fitzpartrick, and Jack Morelli. In writing the story, DeFalco deploys as narrator Reggie’s dog Vader — obviously, the only living thing that could like the guy.

Alas, this revamp isn’t gonna work, kimo sabe. (But three out of four for Archie ain’t bad.) Reggie isn’t “evil” per se: he’s merely a more viciously inclined than usual case of adolescent angst. Self-centered to an extreme degree, he’s about wreaking petty revenge for every perceived slight. Not an attractive personality. Why would anyone want to follow the so-called adventures of such a repulsive character?

Only to see him get his comeuppance, which doesn’t happen in this first issue. The drawings are usually adequate but no better than that, and sometimes the “new look” of stiffness gets awkward. And the backgrounds, rendered with a straight-edge ruler, are sterile and uninhabited. Reggie’s only redeeming characteristic: he is infatuated with Midge, who is Moose Mason’s girl. Unrequited, Reggie earns a little of our sympathy. But not enough. I won’t be back.

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

ALL-FEMALE CREATIVE TEAM ON MARY WORTH

Joe Giella, veteran Silver Age comic book artist who left funnybooks to draw the syndicated Mary Worth comic strip for the past 25 years, retired the last week in July. The new artist on the strip is June Brigman, who drew the last 15 years of Brenda Starr. Brigman joins writer Karen Moy, and for the first time since 1942 (when the first artist, Dale Connor, left the strip), Mary Worth is being drawn by a woman; for the first time ever, the strip about one of the most enduring women in American culture is in the hands of a nearly all-female team. Brigman’s husband, Roy Richardson, letters, inks, colors and digitally formats the strip. “He keeps me grounded,” said Brigman, “so I don’t think [the strip’s] going to become a complete estrogen fiesta."

Brigman

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