Political Cartoonists Say Trump Gives Them A Lot To Work With

Feb 10, 2017

You might know their opinions — even if you don't know their names.

Political cartoons are a fixture that appear alongside news stories and editorials, providing humorous and absurd commentary on issues and current events.

Cartoonists Lee Judge and Glenn McCoy told Central Standard host Gina Kaufmann that political cartoons have a special place in the world of media.

Credit Glenn McCoy / Belleville News-Democrat / Universal Press Syndicate

"Journalists and reporters have to play by the rules and source everything," said McCoy, "whereas cartoons are given freer range to distort and take things out of contexts. We’re able to cut to the chase with one image, and focus on one part of a multi-dimensional issue."

Despite this simplification of issues, McCoy said that cartoons still have quite a bit to offer in terms of commentary.

"Different viewers get different things from a cartoon," said McCoy. "It's meant to introduce ideas and be a starting point for a conversation.

McCoy identifies as a conservative cartoonist, and says that he contributes to the political conversation in a way that is needed. "I tend to see a lot of bias in coverage. Cartoons can be a small way of balancing coverage, and ridiculing the media as much as possible."

As a member of the media, Judge agreed with McCoy.

"It's important to see our own faults," Judge said. "It's our job to point out the mistakes we make."

The two also noted how important it is that art represents both sides of the political aisle. "I lean a little right, Lee leans a little left, and we prop each other up," said McCoy.

Credit Glenn McCoy / Belleville News-Democrat / Universal Press Syndicate

"I'm able to enjoy cartoons I don't agree with," said Judge. "There's plenty of hypocrisy on either side, and it's good to point out."

Many readers agree. A cartoonist once told Judge that, "Even when I hate your cartoons, I love your cartoons."

Both artists also discussed how their work has changed with the election and new administration.

"Comedy can work as a complaint about what's going on in the world," said Judge. "When things are going right, it's good for the country, but not necessarily for the cartoonist. Trump gives you a lot of material for cartoons."

McCoy supported President Trump, and says that he has a similar wealth of material for cartoons.

"Trump is such a divisive character, there are easily four or five topics to satirize, and it kind of becomes an editing process instead of a creative one."

The artists' portrayals of Trump and other figures will likely change as time goes on. Lee cited the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Jeff MacNelly. MacNelly drew cartoons during the Carter administration, and his President Carter character was drawn smaller and smaller as a device to show that he was "shrinking."

"Depiction depends on progression," said Judge. "A lot will depend on what Trump does next."

McCoy is cautiously optimistic about the new administration.

"Politicians make a lot of promises and no one expects them to keep those promises," McCoy said. "But, at breakneck speed, Trump seems to be trying to go down the list, trying to keep all of the promises he made. He's plowing down opposition with the speed of these executive orders."

Caitlin Troutman is an intern for KCUR's Central Standard.