What political cartoonists thought of Trump’s guilty verdict

As jurors deliberated in Manhattan this week to reach a verdict in a former president’s hush money fraud case, New Yorker art editor Françoise Mouly was wrestling with Trump fatigue.

“We are circumspect about publishing any more Trump covers — no one wants to see or hear about him anymore,” recalled Mouly, who last year put courtroom artist Jane Rosenberg’s Trump sketch on the publication’s cover — a first for the magazine.

Yet knowing that a historic verdict was imminent, Mouly and New Yorker editor David Remnick began sifting through sketched ideas, most of them premised on a guilty verdict. One illustration by regular contributor John Cuneo rose above the rest, depicting Trump extending tiny hands toward handcuffs far too big for them.

“It was a good composition that highlighted the laughably small hands, and the image, while reflecting the past, predicted the future,” Mouly said of the magazine’s latest cover image, rendered in ink and watercolor and titled “A Man of Conviction.” “Even with a conviction for a felony, [will] Trump ever be hampered or constrained?”

Editorial artists across the country responded promptly to Trump’s criminal conviction on all 34 counts involving falsifying records in his New York hush money case. Some cartoonists had sketched rough ideas in advance; others waited till the verdict was in to react in real time, tapping their deadline emotion for inspiration.

In all the art curated here, illustrators sought to deftly capture history in a single poignant image.

Steve Breen, the right-leaning Pulitzer Prize winner for the outlet inewsource, only hit the drawing board once the conviction was announced.

“I should have had ‘guilty,’ ‘not guilty‘ [and] ‘hung jury’ roughs all ready to go because the story is so huge and consequential, but I didn’t,” Breen said. “I think it’s Trump fatigue. How many more ways can he be drawn?”

Breen initially drew the colorful neon lights of a New York bail bonds office reflecting on a limo’s window, with passenger Trump on the inside looking out. Next, he tried changing the reflection to a group of happy people cheering.

“I finally landed on him scowling at an average New Yorker,” Breen said.

Steve Brodner, drawing for the Nation, also held out for deadline inspiration. His illustration depicts Lady Justice toting Trump toward a prison cell as she says, “Grab him by the law.”

Shortly after the verdict came in, “I began thinking about the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape and how this verdict was, in a way, the ghost of that long-ago tape finally coming home to roost — and having Trump as the one who gets grabbed. And I liked the idea of Lady Justice doing the honors,” said Brodner, who will receive the 2024 Herblock Prize on Tuesday at the Library of Congress.

Clay Bennett, the left-leaning Pulitzer winner for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, began sketching as he anticipated the verdict’s announcement. He decided to draw clinking glasses to toast a victory for “the rule of law.”

“Having the jury reach a decision so quickly, I figured that it would be neither an acquittal nor a hung jury, so I thought I’d go with the instincts of the sketch I had on hand,” Bennett said. “I was very happy that the eventual verdict supported both my cartoon and the rule of law.”

Nick Anderson, the Pulitzer-winning cartoonist drawing for Reform Austin News, said the rush of a tight deadline helped him focus: “I find that I need the inspiration of the actual event in order to inspire my creativity. Sometimes the nuances of an event are just as important as the event itself.”

“The fact that Trump was guilty on all 34 counts was a pretty devastating statement. I brainstormed for about 10 minutes before I landed upon the idea of the cartoon: I really wanted to capture that we now have a presidential candidate from a major political party who is a convicted felon,” Anderson added.

He decided to spell out the word “FELON” framing Trump’s face: “I wasn’t sure I could pull it off at first, but it really came together quickly.”

Matt Davies, the Pulitzer-winning cartoonist for Newsday said he was “dumbfounded” by the all-counts verdict given the punditry he’d been hearing.

“I had an hour to come up with something and ink it,” said Davies, who rendered Trump’s new running mate as a probation officer. “I wanted to avoid seeming gleeful at the verdict. While Trump appeared to be getting his due, it also stirred an uneasiness knowing he and his supporters were just going to treat a legitimate legal verdict in the same tribal manner they did with the election they lost. Which is, of course, grist for another cartoon.”

Some artists decide to mash up the verdict announcement with previous news stories. Rick McKee, a self-described political moderate working for the Cagle Cartoons syndicate, thought about allegations of Trump contacting state officials and pressing them to “find” votes after the most recent presidential election.

“As I was scanning news stories, the reference to the jurors’ votes kept coming up and I thought: Those were some votes I’ll bet he wishes he didn’t get — and it clicked,” McKee said. “He’s always saying such wacky things that he’s [practically] writing these cartoons for me, and I’m just scribbling them down as they come.”

Mike Lester of Andrews McMeel Syndication, by comparison, decided to reference the current headlines surrounding Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who has refused to recuse himself from hearing cases related to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, despite revelations that an upside-down American flag associated with some rioters was flown at his home.

“The news cycle of the Alitos — his wife in particular and her neighborhood dispute — for some reason brought howls from my liberal friends and cartoonists,” Lester said. So he drew the Trump verdict as a reason to fly the American flag inverted as a symbol of protest or distress.

Dave Whamond of Cagle Cartoons drew Trump as a prisoner, exaggerating the dimensions of his cell.

“I anticipated the verdict would be guilty as the evidence seemed overwhelming,” he said. “It seemed only natural that he would brag about the size of his cell — not that I think he will serve time on this one. The thing is, I can see him actually saying this eventually, so I had to get it out there before that [actually] happens. It’s tough for us cartoonists to out-parody our current reality.”

Time magazine, like the New Yorker, prepared cover art while awaiting the verdict. Edel Rodriguez worked on about a dozen concepts with the magazine’s team, including creative director D.W. Pine. Over days, the artist kept refining an image of a gavel and a sound block with Trump’s face. Then it became a waiting game for the result.

“After the verdict of guilty on 34 counts came through, this image made perfect sense,” Rodriguez said.

Michael Cavna is creator of the Comic Riffs column, and a former staff writer for The Post.

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top