First Person

Penciling the primaries

September 8, 2015
Mike Luckovich / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

From Richard Nixon’s droopy jowls and Gerald Ford’s Frankensteinian forehead to the ever-expanding ears of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, editorial cartoonists can find the quirks in any politico’s mug. CJR asked cartoonists to describe their approach to drawing some of the current candidates for president, including some whose looks are especially hair-raising.



Gary Varvel

Indianapolis Star

Hillary Clinton

“Caricature is very subjective and each cartoonist has his particular style. What I see in Hillary is her expressive eyes, eyebrows, prominent cheeks, and a diminutive chin, along with her short stature.”

Sign up for CJR's daily email



Mike Luckovich

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Donald Trump

“First of all, with any drawing I do, I really try to capture a person’s likeness. In regards to Trump, I try to get his look, plus his innate assholishness. Is that a word? Do I need to think of another word? I think that one really captures my intent.”



Matt Wuerker


Jeb Bush

“I’d say I was trying to capture the many facets of the Bush dynasty in the caricature. Jeb is an interesting mix of his brother and his dad. If you can catch both aspects both in the substance and in the attitude, then you’ve got it. I’m still working on it!”



Steve Sack

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Ted Cruz

“With Cruz my goals are threefold: Capture his likeness, his expression [as it’s] appropriate to the cartoon, and his know-it-all smugness. The first two usually take care of the third.”





Jim Morin

Miami Herald

Marco Rubio and Rand Paul

“My theory on caricature is that it’s what these guys do that determines how you draw them. It’s more important than the physical features, which is why caricatures change over time the longer they are in office.

Rand Paul’s hair is fun to work with—curly and unruly. He’s rather humorless and generally has a scowl. Rubio has eyebrows that go in different directions, which underline his cynicism. He has a somewhat baby face, which frequently has 5 o’clock shadow.”





Jack Ohman

Sacramento Bee

Donald Trump

“As a caricaturist, I pride myself on being able to take nuanced features and turn them into something bizarre and amusing. In the case of Donald Trump, I am faced with the prospect of taking caricatured features and turning them into a recognizable human form. With Trump’s orange/pink fiberglass bouffant with flying buttresses and his carp-like hectoring mouth, I’m flummoxed. Art imitates life.”

Danny Funt is a senior editor at The Week and a former CJR Delacorte Fellow. Follow him on Twitter at @dannyfunt