by Robert A. Saunders and Vlad Strukov on November 13th, 2018

​Note: The blog post originally appeared at E-International Relations on 16 September 2018. The original post can be found at: https://www.e-ir.info/2018/09/16/plotting-the-future-of-popular-geopolitics-an-introduction/
​Earlier this year, Routledge inaugurated its new series in Geopolitics (edited by Klaus Dodds and Reece Jones) with our volume Popular Geopolitics: Plotting an Evolving Interdiscipline. In the book, we sought to bring together scholars from across a variety of academic disciplines (IR, geography, languages/literature, cultural studies, and film studies) to assess the current state of the subfield of popular geopolitics, while also – rather conspiratorially – ‘plotting’ its future trajectories. The project grew out of the seminar series ‘The Interdisciplinarity of Popular Geopolitics: Popular Culture and the Making of Place and Space’, hosted by the Leeds Russian Centre (Russia[n] in the Global Context), directed by Vlad Strukov and Sarah Hudspith (autumn of 2014). This speakers’ series enabled us to identify most pertinent problems of popular geopolitics, which we aimed to resolve in the issue by specially commissioning research articles, interviews, and reports. We also asked our authors to present their ideas in the form of visualisations, thus probing popular geopolitics as a method, too. So, the book, on the one hand, provides an archaeology of field, mapping the flows of various frameworks of analysis into (and out of) popular geopolitics, and on the other, delineates the real-world implications of popular culture and manifested a variety of new forms of the ‘doing’ popular geopolitics.

We posited popular geopolitics as a form of post-language, or an occurrence that exceeds structuralist categories and yet makes creative use of them. At the same time, we argued that popular geopolitics invents and projects its own powers, symbols, and iterations about individual and collective entities. As we contend in the Introduction (2018, p. 1):

Although the relationships between artefacts of popular culture and items of political meaning in the arena of interstate relations is a long-standing one, the history of their academic investigation is quite short. The complexity of the issue is in that popular geopolitics simultaneously defines and produces what it studies. The most significant features of this dualistic relationship include: (a) the use of popular culture to construct and promote a specific worldview; (b) the dissolution of ‘real politics’ in favour of hyper-mediated, impression-based politics on the world stage; and (c) a disciplinary approach to the study of contemporary and historical phenomena.

As an ‘open’ field of study (much like cultural studies, gender studies, and even more recent areas of organized academic scholarship), popular geopolitics is very much an interdiscipline, and one that is weakened when structural barriers are used to hem it in. With that in mind, we sought (and were duly rewarded with) participation from across various disciplines and geographies (both in terms of scholars and research areas).

Our first chapter saw the ‘comic book guy’ of political geography, Jason Dittmer, sitting down for a wide-ranging interview with two of the founders of popular geopolitics, the aforementioned Klaus Dodds and Jo Sharp, whose work on Reader’s Digest and the Cold War continues to serve a paragon in the field. Next out of the box came Kyle Grayson’s erudite update of his co-authored (with fellow Newcastle University politics professors Simon Philpott and Matt Davies) 2009 piece ‘Pop Goes IR? Researching the Popular Culture–World Politics Continuum’. The next two chapters, by Vlad Strukov and Federica Caso, elaborated on how other interdisciplines (specifically, cultural studies and gender studies) can help guide popular geopolitics into increasingly interesting and critical directions, focusing on resistance and the body, respectively. Robert A. Saunders then wrapped up the first section with a piece on what happens when popular culture gets real, building on his previous research into the Danish Cartoons AffairBorat, and The Interview, while also expanding into new avenues of research such as the Russian ‘hack’ of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In the second section, the focus turned from theoretical, analytical, and methodological approaches to empirical studies. Maša Kolanović showed us how Yugoslavian popular culture managed the concept of ‘Amerika’ throughout second half of the twentieth century. Tackling the world’s two largest nations, Ashvin Devasundaram investigated how India’s post-Bollywood ‘new cinema’ is engaging with major political issues, while Chris Homewood analysed the roles that Chinese co-production and the country’s massive marketplace are playing in the re-imagination of China and Chinese in big budget ‘Hollywood’ fare. Roxanne Chaitowitz and Shannon Brincat raised the dead – or more accurately, undead – as a means for understanding global political economy in a neoliberal world. Daniel Bos rounded out the section with an assessment of how military-themed videogames shape popular understandings of geopolitics and armed conflict. In lieu of a standard conclusion, we invited each contributor to source an image that visually conceptualised the main arguments of their chapter, resulting in what we hope serves as a poignant reflection of the DIY nature of popular geopolitics (i.e. writing is also doing).

This blog entry serves as the first in a series by our contributors. Over the next few weeks and months, the scholars listed above will be posting short, original interventions that build on their published chapters. As they say, ‘Watch this space!’

by Robert A. Saunders on November 13th, 2018

​Note: The blog post originally appeared at E-International Relations on 27 May 2018. The original post can be found at: https://www.e-ir.info/2018/05/27/northern-fears-preparing-for-and-watching-nordens-doom/
​Netflix’s newest dystopian drama is The Rain, a near-future tale of a cataclysmic plague unleashed on southern Scandinavia by a malevolent corporation called Apollon, which aims to (profitably) provide the ‘cure’ the disease they have (secretly) manufactured. Reflecting the success of Nordic noir on the platform (including series such as BordertownOccupied, and Trapped), as well as the runaway success of The Bridge on competitor Hulu, Netflix has chosen to make this series its first production in the region. While The Rain is highly derivative – evincing elements of The Walking DeadThe 100, and Fortitude – it is quite bingeable. This is in part due to solid acting from some well-known Danish television stars, including Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen (Department Q), Lars Simonsen (The Bridge), and Iben Hjejle (Dicte).

The Rain follows closely on the heels of Netflix’s first German-language production, Dark, a mind-bending, time-traveling thriller that has drawn comparisons with Stranger Things given its eerie aesthetics and tapping of the 1980s-era paranoia with the government. Both series have made me reconsider the claim that I made in my recent article on IR-inflected television in Geopolitics, namely that ‘European production companies have proved somewhat reticent to combine the fantastical with the geopolitical’ (other than Occupied, which depicts a ‘velvet glove’ invasion of Norway by Russia to secure access to its petroleum exports). While I continue to stand by this, Netflix’s increasing presence in a market hitherto dominated by national broadcasters like DR, ZDG, and SVT is likely to prompt these companies to consider the leap into speculative realm. And given the current state of geopolitics in Norden, we are likely to see an increasingly bleak view of what is to come.

Spoiler Alert: The Rain opens with an able, yet shy Simone Andersen (Alba August) prepping for an exam when her scientist father scoops her up from high school in a desperate attempt to escape a coming rain storm. Failing to make it to safety, he leads his wife and two children into a hidden bunker supplied with food and protected from the ‘rain’, which is carries a virus that infects and later kills those it touches. Simone’s father leaves the bunker for mysterious reasons and her mother dies in the rain, leaving her to care for her adolescent brother. Fast-forward six years: Simone and her brother join a motley band of survivors as they make their way from Zealand to the northern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, which is cordoned off by a wall that stretches from the Baltic to the North Sea (one assumes there is southerly wall across the narrow neck of Jutland). As they head into Copenhagen and eventually to Scania, they are pursued by the ‘Strangers’, seemingly-murderous paramilitaries who speak accented-English and deploy drones to find and capture any free-range Danes (these interlopers are – rather ominously – played by actors of Slavic, Caucasian, and Middle Eastern descent). Life is a constant battle against hunger, a vengeful environment, and foreigners with superior firepower.

Premièring on 4 May 2018, the series only slightly predated the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency’s issuing of its newly-revised emergency handbook intended to prepare the populace for a war, climatic catastrophe, or other mass-fatality events. Entitled (in the English version) ‘If Crisis or War Comes’, Swedish authorities suggest that people stock up on tortillas, tinned hummus, and wet-wipes, among other everyday necessities. Sweden’s citizens are urged to focus on four areas of preparedness: food; water; warmth; and communication. As the New York Times points out, this iteration represents the first major revision since the midpoint of the Cold War and serves as a marker of a new era of insecurity for the notoriously peaceful nation. In recent years, Stockholm has reinstated conscription (including women in this go-around) and publicly wavered on its long-held commitment to neutrality, openly considering joining NATO to mitigate increasing threats from Russia (first and foremost), but also other quarters in a world beset by the proliferation of WMDs, jihadi and right-wing terrorism, politicised hacking and fake news, and looming environmental dangers.

While Sweden has not opted to follow the United States’ Centre for Disease Control’s full-on descent into popular culture via its well-publicised (and often parodied) ‘zombie preparedness’ campaigns, the timing of the brochure’s release can easily be conflated with the effects of many Scandinavians watching The Rain and wondering ‘what if…’. This is especially true if – after wrapping up a binge session – they click on Netflix’s recommendation and watch the second series of Occupied. Going live back in March, the follow-up to the powerful first season depicts a deepening crisis across Nordic Europe, which ultimately draws in Finland and eastern European countries into Russia’s geopolitical web. As U.S. President Donald Trump seeks to undermine his country’s NATO obligations and upset the balance of European-Iranian relations just as Vladimir Putin settles into a new term, perhaps it is time for the people of northern Europe to prepare for the unknown.

by Robert A. Saunders on January 28th, 2018

​Note: The blog post originally appeared at E-International Relations on 18 January 2018. The original post can be found at: http://www.e-ir.info/2018/01/18/trumps-dark-geographical-imagination/

​In the context of debate over his country’s immigration policy, the dark corners of U.S. President Donald Trump’s geographical understanding have been forced into the light, with swift and troubling ramifications for American foreign policy in Africa. In a bipartisan meeting of prominent politicians, Trump reportedly referred to the whole of Africa (as well as the Caribbean nation of Haiti, which – incidentally – was the first free black nation in the Western hemisphere) as ‘shithole’ or ‘shithouse’ countries (the exact wording of the quote is currently in dispute, a fact which some of the president’s defenders have used to decry widespread condemnation of the chief executive’s scatological language). Putting aside the ‘hole’ vs. ‘house’ dispute, Trump’s policy position is clear: he wants more immigrants from ‘countries like Norway’ and seeks to bar immigration from the world second-largest and most populous continent. While there has been endless palaver about Trump’s incorrigible racism and a return to the pre-1965 quota system that favoured immigrants from northern Europe (effectively banning people from the developing world), less has been said how Trump imagines Africa.

​If we can say one thing about Trump it is that he is rather simple-minded. The Norway comment attests to this, given that he met with the Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg the day before the now-infamous outburst during the immigration summit. Put simply, Norway was on and in the front of his mind, while Africa, Haiti, and other places were confined to its darker corners. So when Democratic lawmakers brought up protections on immigration from these places, Trump was forced to access what scholars refer to as ‘geographical imagination’. In its essence, this is an individual’s way of thinking about places and people based on their accumulation and synthesis of images, stories, and life experiences. For many of us (and especially those without stamps in their passports), this means an imperfect understanding based on jokes we have heard, what we have read in comic books or novels, seen on television or film, and learned from the news.

Like the travel writers, journalists and museum curators of yesteryear, contemporary producers of popular culture have not been particularly kind to Africa, continuing to project what David Campbell and Marcus Power call a ‘scopic regime’ of the continent that accentuates exotic natural attributes (animals, jungles, etc.), violence (civil wars, child soldiers, etc.), and extreme poverty (starving women and children). Far from sloughing off the jaundiced gestalt conjured by Joseph Conrad in his imperial novella Heart of Darkness (1899), Western media continues to labour under a blinkered view of Africa, one which artificially keeps alive the notion of it as the ‘Dark Continent’.

From telecoms company AT&T’s infamous use of a monkey on a phone in Africa (when all the callers on the world’s other continents were humans) in a 1993 publication to H&M’s more recent controversy over its advertisement featuring a black child wearing a green, hooded sweatshirt bearing the slogan ‘Coolest monkey in the jungle’ (other jungle-themed hoodies were modelled by white children and did not make references to simians), corporations have regularly stumbled into thickets of casual racism due to pervasive – some would argue ubiquitous – false seeings of Africa and Africans. Coincidentally, the H&M debacle has overlapped Trump’s geopolitical affront, showing that Africans will no longer be silent with regards to their continent’s representation by Westerners. For its part, H&M was forced to shut seventeen of its stores in South Africa for security reasons when the Economic Freedom Fighters, a revolutionary group that took offence to the ad, rallied its supporters resulting in multiple protests. While economic implications are likely to come, the Trump administration faced an immediate diplomatic backlash. The African Union issued a strongly-worded rebuke to and a demand for an apology from the president, while Trump saw a number of his ambassadors summoned to account for the vulgar depictions of the continent.

Here in the U.S., the pundit class continues to chatter on about whether or not this most recent example of bigoted opprobrium will hurt or help Trump with his so-called ‘base’, a hodgepodge of Republicans, independents, and white, working-class Democrats who are purportedly ‘fed up’ with globalization, immigration, and the ‘browning of America’. While Trump’s discursive discharge certainly reflects the blooming ‘white identity crisis’ that fuelled his campaign, it also elucidates the West’s problematic geopolitical imaginaries of Africa. With its burgeoning national economies, deep natural resource base, and key role in global security, sub-Saharan Africa should be a realm that Washington pays careful attention to (Beijing certainly does). Instead, it appears that the White House would rather fall back on hoary representations of the continent gleaned from Tarzan novels, Disney movies, and other (poisoned) fruits of Western imagination and news reporting. Sadly, in a country where much of the population still tend to regard ‘Africa’ as a country (rather than a continent or a world region), there is little hope for change in the near term.




by Robert A. Saunders on January 28th, 2018

​Image by M. Fino
​Note: The blog post originally appeared at E-International Relations on 4 January 2018. The original post can be found at: http://www.e-ir.info/2018/01/04/pop-culture-and-trump-part-3-roger-waters-vs-the-big-man-pig-man/.

​In the third instalment of my series on the pop-culture presidency of Donald J. Trump, I want to focus on the current Us + Them tour of Roger Waters, former frontman of the hugely influential progressive rock band Pink Floyd. The creative genius behind Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals (1977), and the visceral-yet-enduring The Wall (1979), as well an unapologetic auteur who often challenged fans with painfully introspective projects like The Final Cut (1982) and Radio K.A.O.S. (1987), Waters has taken on a long list of political targets from the Falklands War to monetarism to food policy. I recently had the pleasure of attending one these shows, and while Waters has always been known for his politics, this current tour represents a watermark in his evolution as a musician-cum-activist.

​Waters has never been shy about his social and political views. In one of the series most talked-about interviews, BBC HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur probed Waters’ background which included discussions of his father’s die hard pacifism and membership in the Communist Party. Waters employs this patrimony as a foundation for his globally-inclined political project, one he argues is based on ‘love’ as he recently told the centre-right CNN host Michael Smerconish in an interview on the anti-Trump content of his current tour. Like many U.S. conservatives of a certain age (and gender), Smerconish was visibly at pains to reconcile his aesthetic admiration for Waters’ oeuvre and his distaste at the overtly leftist orientation of the performances, from indictments of the Israeli border wall to post-9/11 critiques of Guantanamo Bay detentions to the current anti-Trump invective. The pundit even went as far as to pen an editorial about his ‘complicated relationship’ with the singer and his work in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

I saw a late summer performance on Us + Them in Newark, New Jersey – one the U.S.’s most economically depressed and crime-ridden cities, a rather appropriate venue for the dystopian themes of Water’s tour-associated album Is This the Life We Really Want? (2017). Towards the middle of the North American leg of the tour, it was clear that Waters had settled into a groove (both performatively and politically). The concert was a stunning exhibition of technology, sound and messaging. Interestingly, a giant Battersea Power Station-like projection extended over the middle of the floor-level seating, blocking the views of the highest-paying audience members, but giving those of us in the ‘cheap seats’ the best vantage points to experience the full effect of spectacle (thus providing a subtle reminder of his socialist roots). Kept under wraps until the start of the tour, the content was decidedly anti-Trump, featuring the ‘billionaire’ real estate mogul-turned reality TV star-turned U.S. president as a demonic nemesis of the common people. Effigies of a coiffured Trump proliferated throughout the show, but interestingly, Waters did not let Barack Obama off the hook, heavily featuring footage of the ‘drone presidency’ of Trump’s predecessor (a theme of the new track ‘Déjà Vu’, which was featured in the concert). While the set included tracks from Dark Side of the Moon (1973), The Wall, Wish You Were Here and Waters’ latest album, the most evocative songs were those drawn from the Pink Floyd’s concept album Animals.

Referenced in the title of this post, the lyrics from ‘Pigs (Three Different Ones)’ – which was the second song of the second set (following Animals’ anti-bullying anthem ‘Dogs’) – proved particularly ripe for Trumpian era. Intertextually referencing the political elite of George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1945), ‘Pigs’ was originally written as an invective against mid-1970s British politicians and social campaigners, and specifically calls out the conservative activist (Mary) Whitehouse by name. However, the song proved infinitely versatile, quickly being retooled to impugn the U.S. President Jimmy Carter (and a list of other officials over the decades). With the opening lines ‘Big man, pig man/Ha, ha, charade you are’, ‘Pigs’ tears into the institution of politics, eviscerating the very notion of ‘public service’. However, it is now painfully evident that Waters’ youthful antipathy towards the greedy, self-serving politico was tragically naïve, given the contemporary manifestation of Trumpism. On Inauguration Day, the Pink Floyd alumnus explicitly linked Trump’s anti-Mexican campaign rhetoric to the content of ‘Pigs’, posting a video of a performance of the song in Mexico City to initiate the ‘resistance’. The show included images of Trump ‘toting a machine gun outside the White House, giving the Nazi salute and surrounding himself with KKK members’, a prognostic chimera that is now chilling in the wake of Charlottesville.

Waters seems comfortable in his role as activist-musician, taking direct aim at the malignant narcissism of ‘demagogues and despots’ who use ‘us and them’ bombast to assure their positions (and fill their wallets). Whether the Berlin Wall, the West Bank Barrier or Trump’s promised-though-as-yet-unrealised ‘Southern Wall’, Waters has long railed against such physical manifestations of (state) power. And for those fans who don’t want to hear his messages, he dismissively suggests they go listen to Katy Perry (a somewhat ironic barb given the pop-star’s close association with Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton). As a multimedia phantasmagoria, the Us + Them tour represents the current pinnacle in the meeting of pop-culture and global politics, as Waters has mobilised his political fervour for the world stage. From his criticism of Radiohead for performing in Israel as part of his support for the Boycott, Divest & Sanctions movement to his re-imagination of his 1970s-era lyrics for the Trumpocalypse, Waters constantly proves himself to be a key player in the popular culture-world politics continuum. And with the tour now headed to Europe and then Australia, it appears that there’s no stopping him.


by Robert A. Saunders on January 28th, 2018

Note: The blog post originally appeared at E-International Relations on 1 October 2017. The original post can be found at: http://www.e-ir.info/2017/10/01/pop-culture-trump-interviewing-r-sikoryak-creator-of-the-unquotable-trump/.

​​I recently sat down with Robert Sikoryak, who typically works under the name R. Sikoryak, to discuss his recent project The Unquotable Trump. Building on the artist’s expertise at adapting great works of literature to the comic book format, the collection of retooled iconic covers uses Trump’s bombastic quotes cast against fantastic scenes to satirize the U.S. president and his policies. With this explicitly political project, Sikoryak joins the ranks of other cartoonists who have turned their pen into a weapon against the billionaire reality-TV host-turned-leader of the free world, from Stephen Byrne’s ‘Trump Rally’ to Pia Guerra’s Bannon-Trump ‘Big Boy’ to the feminist anthology ‘Resist’. In many of Sikoryak’s depictions, Trump assumes the role of a super-powered antagonist, such as a winning-obsessed Magneto taking on the ‘Ex-Men’, an apish campaigner chastising ‘The Black Voter’, and a Dr. Doom-like overlord trying to nab some ‘Hombres Fantásticos’ (all of which reprise famous covers from Marvel Comics (The Uncanny X-Men, The Black Panther, and The Fantastic Four, respectively). On other covers, he assumes more banal forms, such as a flesh-eating zombie in ‘The Walking Donald’, a misogynist thug dispatched by Wonder Woman, or a Bluto stand-in bragging to Popeye about his ability to build a ‘wall’. Given the increasingly recognised power of graphic novels and sequential art to reinforce and transform political culture and even impact international relations, I wanted to dig into Sikoryak’s motivations and methods, with an eye towards how such representation reinforces or challenges ideas about Trump in the U.S. and overseas.

Saunders: Could you discuss when and why you decided to embark on your now-famous project to employ classic comic-book covers to depict Donald Trump’s bid for the U.S.? How did your previous experiences adapting literary classics to comics inform your work?

Sikoryak: The idea came to me in early November 2016, just a few days before the election. I was so exhausted and distressed by Trump’s outrageous statements as a candidate that I wanted to say something. I thought it would be a perfect satirical response to take his actual quotes and put them into parodies of real comic book covers, which are so bold and graphic. But on November 2, I really didn’t want to think about him anymore!  And then, a few days later, he won the election, and I felt I had to do it.

I originally did 16 of the covers for a small, self-published black and white mini-comic, and I thought that would be it.  But then I posted the images on Tumblr, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. So I was convinced to keep doing them, and I incorporated more quotes from the campaign as well as many spoken since the election. I drew a total of 48 covers over the course of about six and a half months.

This project is related in some ways to my comics that retell the classics (such as those in my book, Masterpiece Comics). For those, I also try to replicate the styles of famous comics, and I take great pleasure in remixing them with literary sources. The Unquotable Trump was an extension of that way of working.

Saunders: What is about comics – and particularly some of the more epic battles between superheroes and super-villains – that presents an attractive medium for satirizing Trump?

Sikoryak: Well, there have been many superhero parodies with presidents. Years ago, I drew one for The Daily Show with George W. Bush as The Decider.  I think part of the reason it works so well is that comics are often very stark when depicting good and evil.  And sometimes they’re very simplistic in their worldview, as are Trump’s statements. Now, I think comics can be quite subtle and nuanced, but for this series I’m definitely playing with the broad stereotypes of comics. At the same time, it was important for me to only use Trump’s real quotes, I didn’t want to exaggerate or change what he said. His actual, over-the-top speeches fit right into superhero covers.  Also, I wanted to capture his rambling, spontaneous, colloquial way of speaking (rather than his Twitter voice) and play that off of the broad comic book tropes.

Saunders: Could you discuss how you decide on the direction of a piece of art. Do you begin with the quote and then locate a representative depiction or is it more free-form?

Sikoryak: My decision process was rather freeform, but it always involved research. Certainly I remembered many of Trump’s quotes, but I went back and did internet searches to document the actual quotes and find many more. For the artwork, I know a lot of comic books history, and in some cases I knew I wanted to include a specific character before I had the quote. But there were searches for those as well. For instance, I knew I had to include a Captain America cover, but I went back to my own collection and searched online for the right issue to match the quote I chose (about war heroes who are captured).

Saunders: Do you follow Pres. Supervillain (@PresVillain) on Twitter and if so, how would you compare your respective projects?

Sikoryak: I do follow @PresVillain. Luckily for me, I discovered him long after I’d drawn my first 16 covers (in late 2016). I wouldn’t have wanted to be influenced by his choices.  It’s a similar conceit, of course, and I assume it involves the same sort of research.  But we aren’t the first people to compare a President to an evil comic-book mastermind!

Saunders: So far, which depiction has provoked the most interest (positive or negative)? What sorts of feedback have you received and from whom?

Sikoryak: I think my “Nasty Woman” cover, a Wonder Woman parody, has provoked the most positive reaction. It definitely struck a nerve. I was really happy to see that, it’s one of my favourites. Almost all of the feedback I’ve personally received has been very positive.  I actually expected I’d get more backlash, even from opponents of Trump, in that I’m giving Trump even more attention.  And I’ve read a little of that on Twitter. But for the most part, people who don’t like him have really enjoyed the humour.

Saunders: Comics have long served as a mechanism for imparting American values abroad? How do you think your work will be interpreted outside of the United States?

Sikoryak: I decided early on that I should only use American comic covers, since Trump is so American. It wouldn’t have felt right to me to insert him in a Tintin or an Astro Boy cover. Since the work has appeared on Tumblr, a few European publications have interviewed me and/or reprinted selected images.  They got the humour and seemed to really enjoy it, too.  I would like the world to see that Trump doesn’t speak for all Americans.

Saunders: Has anyone tried to shut down or otherwise contest your project? (Trump’s lawyers, Marvel or DC’s legal team, etc.)?

Sikoryak: I haven’t heard from any legal departments!  I’ve been doing comics parodies professionally for almost three decades, and I didn’t expect to have any trouble with this.  Certainly MAD Magazine has sent a precedent for parodies that many cartoonists have benefited from. Not to mention other institutions like Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show. As far as Trump’s lawyers go, I doubt that they or Trump will ever see it!  Unless the right person talks about it on television, preferably someone on Fox News.

Saunders: What do you hope your readers take away from the series?

Sikoryak: I hope my readers will find it funny… and scary.

Saunders: What’s next for Unquotable Trump? And what’s next for R. Sikoryak?

Sikoryak: The Unquotable Trump will be published in a full colour, oversized edition from Drawn and Quarterly, available this October. And I’ll be returning to the classics with short adaptations of Emily Dickinson poems and a comic book version of Moby Dick. Generally I prefer to have a little more distance from my subject matter.



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