Trump After Trump #41

Trump After Trump Comic Strip 4-panel strip

Pence Has a Beard and He’s Not Afraid to Use It

Christmas is two months away at the time that I’m publishing this comic, but it is only four days away in the timeline of this comic strip. So the question isn’t “Why are you already doing a Christmas comic?” but “What has taken you so long to do a Christmas comic if your comic strip is currently taking place in December?”

The first three panels of this strip wrote themselves, but the punchline was hard to write. In the end, I feel like I got to the heart of what I wanted to say – whether or not it’s funny is for you to decide.

And what I wanted to address is how the ideas of Americans coming together, listening to experts, considering evidence and being humble and graceful as we tackle our problems do not seem like things that Americans are likely to do right now. Moreover, I think it’s funny that Don-Don’s wish would be nonsensical to Trump, and that Pence would frame coming together as everyone becoming Christian. I remember being a Christian teen and having similar thoughts: if only every person in the world would just accept Jesus and become Christian, then we would all get along, etc.

Also, if Don-Don is a doll where exactly is his Christmas wish coming from? Is it a subconscious voice deep in Trump’s brain? Is Don-Don real? Is it destined to be a mystery?

Finally, Pence’s beard is real. See the last comic.

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Trump After Trump #40

Trump After Trump Comic Strip 4-panel strip

Stubble Tells Them You’re Manly and Know How to Cut Loose

There are plenty of times when an aspiring artist feels self-doubt as they continue to stay up late and wake up early in order to create their obscure artwork. One of the great balms for this angst is cracking yourself up.

When I wrote the last panel for this comic, it made me laugh for four days before I finally drew it. By that time, I felt like Mozart: I wasn’t drawing the bearded Pence for the first time; I was simply copying down the drawing from my brain, where it lived, complete and funny.

In therapy, I have talked about the strange resistance I feel sometimes about doing the very thing that I identify so closely with. When the day’s other work is done, and I can sit down and draw, I would feel this aversion to the work, even though I feel the calling to be an artist. In talking through this problem, I decided that I was repelled by the studio because I was putting too much pressure on myself to succeed, and I was buckling under the self-imposed weight of success before I picked up a pencil.

And, therapy is so great because it can lead you to the obvious conclusion that you might not be able to reach on your own. In this case, I chose not to come to the studio to succeed, but to enjoy the moment-to-moment process of creating something. That is what I do now.

So, to bring it all back, the self-doubt slips back into the shadows when I write or draw something that I think is funny. I hope you find some of it funny, too.

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Trump After Trump #39

Trump After Trump Comic Strip 4-panel strip

Trump and Don-Don: Presidents

Everyone loves tiny things, right? Tiny houses. Tiny dancers. Tiny Tims. Shoot, NPR even has that awesome Tiny Desk concert series! Which brings us to today’s strip.

In celebrating all things tiny, I introduced Don-Don a few weeks ago. He is a little doll version of Trump, and, in spite of his essence-of-angry-sour-Trump face, Trump just loves him. The resemblance is more important to Trump than the fact that Don-Don is not a flattering likeness.

Now we have a tiny Resolute Desk, too! The famous Resolute Desk has been the desk of choice for most presidents since it was gifted to Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880 by Queen Victoria. For half of this country’s history it has been a symbol of the U.S. presidency, a tradition, part of the institution of the office. So it is all the more incongruent to have Trump spend four years sitting at the Resolute Desk, iconoclast that he is.

But, as we’ve known about Trump for decades, he’s the kind of guy who loves being seen with the trappings of power and wealth. And if there is going to be a tiny Trump in his life, then he’s going to need his own tiny Resolute Desk, too.

I think the second panel of today’s comic is one of my favorites that I’ve drawn. So I’m just going to enjoy that for a minute before I figure out what to write for the next comic…

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Trump After Trump #38

Trump After Trump Comic Strip 4-panel strip

Big Boy Desk

One way to illustrate a dysfunctional White House is to have the president order the vice-president to assemble a toy for his doll.

One way to illustrate the unfortunate American (and human) love affair with authority is to have a top-ranking government official dutifully do what he’s told, regardless of how irrelevant the task is to citizens and how self-serving it is to the president.

My aspiration for this comic strip as a whole is for it to address problems with human nature, morality and government. Artists, however, can hardly evaluate how successful their art is; we need public feedback for that. And public feedback is hard to come by when your publishing outlet is the internet, where billions of pieces of content are competing for people’s attention each day, much of that content much more targeted to appeal to people than a comic strip like Trump After Trump.

These are my reflections this morning as I publish my 38th comic strip and wonder what it is doing in the world beyond me.

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Trump After Trump #37

Trump After Trump Comic Strip 4-panel strip

What More Could Pence Hope to Accomplish in Politics?

I continue to joke about the hypothetical future where American conservatives get everything they want. One of my favorite Onion pieces – it’s so hard to pick a favorite, so this is just one of many – is the headline from January 1, 2000, “Christian Right Ascends To Heaven.” The satirical news story that follows is set in my hometown of Tulsa, OK.

Fiction is great for thought experiments. It can be funny and thought-provoking to play out a fringe group’s having all of its dreams come true. In the case of this little story arc, Jesus has not come to take Pence home, but the next best thing has happened: abortion has finally been banned. What will he do now?

After he assembles Don’Don’s desk, that is.

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Trump After Trump #36

Trump After Trump Comic Strip 4-panel strip

Pence Has Been Praying About Something

Writing the headline above came naturally to me as someone who was raised in Oklahoma, going to different churches depending on the weekend, and as someone who currently lives in suburban Dallas. But, not everyone may know the colloquial meaning of “praying about” something.

To say, “Pence has been praying about something,” means that he has been wrestling with a decision in his mind, trying to find the best solution.

In Trump After Trump, Pence is how I explore religion – particularly (and obviously) American protestant Christianity – both personally and politically. Sometimes the things he says surprise me. Having this Christian character in the comic strip makes me unearth ideas, memories, turns of phrase and images from my time as a young Oklahoma Christian. I think the exploration of this part of my past and my identity is fun and beneficial, personally, and I hope that it resonates to some extent with you, too.

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