July 8, 2008 | Barack Obama seems to be the answer to a cartoonist's dreams. He has features that can be easily caricatured, and there is no doubt about who the drawing is. For me, Obama — and the drawings of him — looks remarkably like one of the screenbean characters in the Microsoft PowerPoint clip art collection.
The screenbean is a very primitive child-like drawing of a shapeless individual with very long legs and a prominent nose. Other than that, it is essentially featureless.
All the cartoonists that I follow have incorporated Obama's very long legs into their caricature. When drawn, he is essentially a pair of long legs and a head.
Beyond that, it is all about the head and face!
Interestingly, only Tom Toles draws Obama with using the shape of Obama's own head: an inverted triangle with rounded corners. The others, for the most part, over-emphasize Obama's cheekbones and pinch in the sizes of his head at the eyes. They also give him a disproportionately long chin, squared off in some cases.
It's the ears, however, that uniformly draw attention. His ears are are drawn two basic ways: elephant ears and dogbone ears.
Chip Bok and Glenn McCoy go for full-fledged elephant ears, flared out to the sides of the head.
But actually, Obama's ears aren't really that large, they just stick out. The dogbone style of ears look ever so much like the ends of a dogbone, with the ends sticking out there away from head.
Tom Toles draws the most extreme dog ears. Since he draws the other features — eyes, nose, mouth — as thin lines, the ears become the predominant feature.
Although Obama has large, full lips, the lips almost disappear in some of the other caricatures.
Mike Luckavich's drawings of Obama surprise me a lot because they are so realistic, albeit certainly not good portraiture. By contrast, Luckavich invariably drews George Bush as a blatant caricature, a boy-king dwarfed by the office, and with grotesquely long pointed ears that make his whole head into a W.
When Obama appears in a cartoon, there's no doubt who he is. By contrast, in many cartoons John McCain has to be labeled to disambiguate the drawing. Apparently he's very hard to caricature. I'm guessing cartoonists are hoping McCain doesn't win the election.
Last updated on Apr 13, 2018