When Comics Mocked Donald Trump In 2016, Everyone Won
"I would take ten Brexits over the orange fuckwit we have now..."
If you read a comic book in pre-November 2016, there was a good chance you came across a subtle (or not-so-subtle) jab at the then Republican Presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump. But now the dust has settled as Americans moved past November 8, and overnight, the references and jabs have turned from those against a candidate, to the 45th president-elect.
Inverse spoke with two comic book creators as they discuss how they felt seeing their art changed in the wake of the election. Talking about their art and their politics are Khary Randolph, a comic book artist who is working on Mosaic for Marvel Comics, and cover work on BLACK for Black Mask Comics; and Simon Oliver, currently writing DC’s The Hellblazer: Rebirth comics. For both creators, Inverse asked the same question:
In light of 2016’s U.S. Presidential Election, both of you have made references to Donald Trump in your comic book work. Can you provide a comment about the politics in your art and how you see the message now that the elections are over?
Khary Randolph: Every cover to BLACK is based around a theme. It’s not about what is literally in the book so much as setting a mood. For this issue the theme was about persecution and oppression. What are the things that a young black male (or female) fears most when they are trying to ascend the ladders of society? Racism, crooked cops, incarceration, and at the very top of it all, a glass ceiling. Now, a glass ceiling is pretty hard to illustrate, so the next best thing is the man who for the last 18 months has almost literally become a boogey man to anyone who is an immigrant, POC, woman, LGBTQ, etc. Imagine someone who inspires that much fear of persecution becoming the most powerful man in the world? It was a scary thought and we thought it would make for an interesting cover. I never thought the fiction would become a reality though.
Simon Oliver: When you emailed me I was on the phone to my congressman’s office asking what he plans to do about upholding the constitution. I’m pretty outspoken in my politics and I see what Im doing in the book politics wise as just as extension of the character started by Jamie Delano.
About your question in particular, it’s funny as when I wrote it I was using Trump as a reason to get Constantine to move home, but then when the book came out, Brexit had literally just happened and there was no mention made of that, which was an oversight on my part, but at the same time who the hell thought that was going to pass?
But I did get a few comments at the time, and I started to feel that despite being English, living in the States had caused me to take my eye off the ball a little. I do feel a little vindicated now, unfortunately, as I would take ten Brexits over the orange fuckwit we have now …
I’ve also had some pushback about the small Trump digs and overall anti-fascist comments I’ve sneaked in, but fuck them, I haven’t got started yet. It’s a comic book and it doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things, but it’s the only voice I have and I plan on using it. To me Constantine’s politics are what made him grounded and gave him a heart, and I plan on using that until they pull the plug on me.