A little more than three years ago, Donald Trump descended an escalator in Trump Tower to announce his candidacy for the Presidency. That image makes a return in Barry Blitt’s latest cover, which remarks on Trump’s performance during and after his summit with Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki. We recently talked to Blitt, who’s now drawn Trump dozens of times, about his work and his love for physical comedy.
Do you get tired of drawing one person? Or is it a creative challenge?
You know, for a while, I was seeing Trump wherever I looked—in my food, on nature walks, everywhere. Some examples:
I don’t know how editorial cartoonists do it, drawing him every day of the week. I figure I’ve painted him eighty or so times in the past few years, which sounds like a lot, but somehow it’s actually left me with many blissfully Trump-free days.
How do you transmute political outrage into humor?
Well, I can tell you that outrage makes for easier humor than agreement does—but, then again, agreement can be pretty hilarious.
You’re fond of physical comedy. Do you have influences there?
You’re right, I have drawn physical gags before, several times. There’s something exhilarating and pure about them. I love that crazy, elaborate motorcycle scene that Buster Keaton does in “Sherlock Junior.” Or Monty Python’s Silly Walk. And there’s a sequence in “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” of all places—Larry and a young woman are each attempting to arrive at a doctor’s office first—that’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. I cry when I watch it. (We’re getting quite far afield from Trump in Helsinki here, aren’t we? Good!)
This cover is a callback to Trump’s infamous escalator ride. Was that image always in your back pocket?
Half of this gig—drawing topical cartoons—is about saving some absurd or iconic moment and then bringing it up at an unexpected or odd time. You can expect that soccer ball that Putin gave Trump to appear in an image in a year or two, probably.
For more of Blitt’s Trump covers, including the one in response to Trump’s announcement of his candidacy, see:
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