Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Beast that Lies Within

Thus far on this quest for the definition and true meaning of ‘caricature’, through the various readings and discussions in class, several key factors or ideas were discovered that help in specifying the classification of caricature.

One idea of the meaning of caricature was taking one’s external appearance and changing the features enough so that likeness of the individual still remains, yet with the new rendering it is the hope that the re-created face reveals the individual’s inner character, whether it be stupidity, malice, or in genuineness, that wouldn’t normally register in the outward appearance.

Building upon this main notion of what caricature is, is the theory of physiognomy. Physiognomy is defined as: “the art of discovering temperament and character from outward appearance, the facial features held to show qualities of mind or character by their configuration or expression”, as well as, “external aspect; also : inner character or quality revealed outwardly”. (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Thus, the study of physiognomy and the main notion of caricature are similar and complimentary to ideas each represents. A caricature plays off of physiognomy, by rendering the individual’s caricature features to match the physiognomy of the individual’s inner personality and bringing it to the external visible surface through the rendered features.

The image featured above, a movie poster of the production, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, serves as a good example of caricature combined with physiognomy. The story in itself is a caricature of a “doctor who experiments with drugs, because he's certain that within each man lurks impulses for both good and evil.” After creating and taking a drug that will liberate the evil side within him, Dr. Jekyll transforms into “the hard drinking, woman-chasing Mr. Hyde.” Soon after, Dr. Jekyll becomes addicted to the substance, and is “unable to control the violent and unstable Mr. Hyde.”

The movie is an outward reflection of one’s inner personality and demons, demonstrated by the transformation of Dr. Jekyll into his caricature and personification of inner demons, Mr. Hyde. Furthermore, this poster displays the role of physiognomy in the dissimilar yet recognizable features of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, contrasted by Dr. Jekyll civil and proper appearance compared to the reckless, disheveled and monstrous features and appearance of his counterpart Mr. Hyde. Both appearances of the man show the differences in personality based upon their outward appearance.

Following with the popular trend of web comics I choose a relevant one from one of my favorite series. The simple message here is one of accuracy and recognition as well as the exaggeration and distortion of facial features. This comic pokes fun at the sometimes excessive amount of distortion and exaggeration of a simplistic appearance an artist sometimes employs in an attempt at critical insight or humor. In it the bird character Reginald struggles to draw another character from the series from memory and ends up with a hyper-realistic (in comparison to the comics' usual style) rendition of the characters facial features (see the attached image to see what the character normally looks like. While most likely inadvertently considering the nature of the comic I believe it still does capture a relevant aspect of the struggles in creating insightful caricature while attempting to maintain recognition and also avoiding overly insulting or cynical results that may result from excessive distortion and/or exaggeration.

Stop Asking Questions!

The media is known for it's ability to spread knowledge quickly and efficiently to the public. As we all know it has its major flaws for multiple reasons. The general public is well aware that news broadcasting can be extremely bias, and is always careful as to what information they will put out to the people. Therefore, we must be very careful about what we take as truth and fiction.

This image displays a personification of the statue of liberty where she's telling her citizens to "stop asking questions!" The poster is propanda because it makes an attempt to scare Americans from searching for the truth. It is absolutely absurd that we call ourselves the "United States of America," when we are too afraid to let the truth be known to the public in fear that the people will not accept reasoning behind military tactics or governing policies.

Our government system, in which we the people have the power to vote, is solely based on the conception of physiognomy. J.C. Lavater describes in full detail about humans and their inevitable fate to judge all things by face value. A smiling face, clean suit and tie, or a sparkle in the eye, could win the votes of many. However, Latvater explains that no one is at fault, for it is wired into our brains to make first impressions no matter how undesirable it may seem. So then why are we so surprised to see that our officials are hiding valuable truths from us?

In my opinion, it is a work of scadalous genius. Pretend to promote the importance of education, yet make it too expensive for the average joe to afford. It seems as though our government wants its citizens to be brain dead so they can continue to go about their affairs without the hassle of moral questioning.

Captain Texas
(click link to watch video)

The clip that this show is from (Robot Chicken), often creates caricature skits of well known people and cartoons using clay-mation and stop-motion animation with dolls. This particular clip I have chosen is an interesting and hilarious portrayal of George W. Bush and his boorish actions during his time in office.

In the beginning of the clip, a child-like Bush is playing a hand held video game and is bored by the daily threat assessment report. Thing's like Katrina, the San Diego Fire, the environment and China are just ignored and swept away because it is not nearly as exciting, interesting, or important to him as his hand held video game. To get Bush interested, Condoleeza Rice gives him a personalized comic book, with a caricature of Mahmoud Ahmandinejad, leader of Iran, on the front cover to give him the idea that Iran is going nuclear. All of a sudden it's Captain Texas to the rescue!

Bush is thoughtless when dealing with the leader of Iran and just throws him into what looks like a furnace because Captain Texas does not negotiate with terrorists. This is very similar in how Bush was very thoughtless in dealing other countries, especially with blaming Iraq and sending troops there shortly after September 11th, even though when looking into the finer details Iraq has nothing to do with Al Qaeda. Unfortuntaly by doing that, Bush did not get the codes to stop Iran from nuking the world. He flies into space to go stop the nukes, and ends up nuking the Middle East, China and the sun, because he's the f*ckin president! Good logic, Bush!

My personal favorite part of Bush "saving the world" from nukes, is after he bombs China he says, "So long threat to America's enconomy, or as you say 'Adios!' ". It shows how uneducated and uninformed he is, because obviously Adios is not native language in that part of the world.

After all that we find out that the story that had shown was from the comic book. Bush takes this as truth and rips off his clothes because he thinks he is really Captain Texas. He also thinks bombing everything will fix global warming as well. Again, good logic..

Although this is not an entirely truthful representation of Bush, it definately gives the general idea of his I.Q. and his thought processes in making decisions and doing what his advisers tell him to do.

Cash Cow

The origins of the sarcastic phrase ‘cash cow’ began in business to describe the lack of control customers and government organizations have when spending money. In this particular case the cash cow has disproportional expenses divvied up by the local government. One great aspect about this caricature is the fact that individuals can relate to it on a small or big scale; everyone has witnessed local budgets being divided unfairly in their own community. Most noticeably is the law enforcement, single-handedly in our community of Alfred it is apparent how much money is being spent on law enforcement. I suppose it is completely necessary to replace perfectly fine Crown Vicks with expensive Dodge Chargers and SUV’s. Because Alfred is known for their high speed chases through the petite town. But cases such as this aren't only happening in small towns, cities across the United States have been dumping more money into law enforcement, and has the crime rate gone down because of it? Statics say no. Most importantly the dwindling amounts of money being given to the fire fighters and EMT’s for no apparent reason. Pretty soon all EMT’s will be volunteers, not saying volunteers are bad, but would you want to depend on a volunteer to save your life or a trained professional? Not only are their funds minuscule, but on the cash cow they represent the butt of the cow, the least commendable part of the cow. The cow itself is confused about the way it has been treated, saying “I suppose a little common sense perspective was out of the question.” This statement holds true to so much our government does to our communities.

Funny kids

Peanuts has been around since the 1950s, created by Charles M. Schulz the comic strip follows the lives of young children that play and lead lives similar to adults. They view the world differently and are affected in different ways than that of adults. The way that Schulz deals with social issues and and how kids deal with them was ahead of his time. Peanuts is often referred to the "Great American success story". This is again "Ironic", the main protagonist is lovable and a winner in many hearts because he fails at everything.

In reference to the reading the main character's physiognomy is misleading, Charlie Brown has a big head a happy smile and colorful shirt. By looking at him you would assume that he is the smartest of his friends, based on his large head. It also seems that based on his happy demeanor and always constant smile that he is lucky and has good fortune. However when you read about him or the comics Charlie Brown is gullible, trusting and has a lot of bad luck. He lacks the "street smarts" to outwit Lucy pulling the ball on him and and he always ends up trusting her that she will not pull the ball at the last second. He is always smiling making the viewer believe that he has good things happen to him, in reality it is just hope that the next day will be better and maybe his Christmas tree will look better or his baseball team will win. Charlie Brown's physiognomy is the All American boy, however his actions and personality are much different.

Political Death

A comic illustration of the "death" of President Obama's "good ideas". Relating to the current events in the U.S. governments political power struggle. the artist caricatures the death of elephants with a sign post marking the elephant graveyard and an armadillos death being run over by a truck. Sargent shows Obama(who is identifiable by his thin body, ears, and haircut) bringing plans for his "good ideas" to the door of the senate, which is seen as a medieval dungeon door. This is a comical way to present the idea that the senate is a place where "good ideas" die. The artist doesn't make a villain of any political party, but criticises a entire senate.

David Halstead

Art of decoy?

The irony in altering a massive, steel, weapon of warfare into a 10 meter long, brightly colored childish delight of balloons is obvious, as is the other factor in this work- the ephemeral quality of its materials. It is constructed with latex balloons, air, and glue, which over a period of hours and days deflate, shrivel, and shrink into a rainbow puddle on the floor. Designed by German artist Hans Hemmert in 2007, it is simply titled german panther, and is a scale replica of the German Panther tanks used in WWI and WWII. I also found it interesting while researching this piece that inflatable decoys are routinely used as a war tactic and have been since WWII (I have attached a picture of those as well) and perhaps they are just as much of a caricature as Hemmert’s work of art- despite the functionality of their designed purpose. It was difficult to find much about this particular work, but there was a one-line statement provided by the artist. Translated by my friend Anne Petters- she says it means “the preparation of being prepared to stay open for the arrival, or non-arrival, of God.”

I did not chose this for its war/ anti-war message that makes up the subject matter of this work, I just loved the juxtaposition of the materials versus the object matter depicted in this piece. It allows the work to have such an ironic presence- where the expectations of a military tank are not met, and what occurs is a situation safe enough for children to play with and poke at.

The Apathy of Youth

I found this particular comic on XKCD. Called “Choices: Part 4” it seems to be a commentary on the apathy of youth. I feel as though it resonates throughout the college community, in particular our generation, quite soundly. The character is called up by God or a god-like figure into a place with no oxygen, to get some sort of motivation from his/her/it’s speech, all to be forgotten as if it were some sort of dream. However the main character remains apathetic, and the god-like figure is seen to be corrupt, or, at the very least, quite fallible. Going through XKCDs archives reveals the artist(s)’ cynicism but also a very solid understanding of irony.


On the Internet there is a lot of hack jobs on photoshop. Sites like 4Chan spread a lot of JPEGs like this around. Usually they are photos of celebrities and pop images skewed physically and sometimes text placed inside. Most notably these images are just for humor sake. With so much distortion and ridicule attached to these digital images it falls into my mind caricature.

The image above is just a play upon Robert Pattison from the Twilight film series. All this is criticizing in real time. His eyes and mouth have been shifted and pulled to create a new persona of Pattison as idiocy. The term derp simply is defined as making a dumb comment. I suppose some people did appreciate his panel comments at Comic Con, or maybe it was just a good opportunity for a good laugh.

Housing Crisis

I found this political cartoon very interesting, due to its relation to the original work of art, American Gothic, by Grant Wood. The painting was said to represent an American Gothic style house, with the people the artist "fancied" should live in it. Its purpose is obviously to display the housing crisis America is/has been experiencing. Interestingly enough, the people who were originally painted to live in that house are now shown not knowing if they even own it.
Right now, our economic state is said to be close to that of the Great Depression. What I found to be some what ironic is that the original American Gothic painting was created around the onset of the Great Depression, and was said to have represented "steadfast American pioneer spirit." You can see this in the serious, determined facial expressions of the farmer, as well as his stature and strong hold on his pitchfork. His physiognomy shows that he is standing strong for his country, despite the hardships America was facing at that time.
The Physiognomy on the American farmer in the caricaturist's recreation steps away from that of the original. His face shows a certain weakness in his expression, with 'worry lines' in his forehead and a frown instead of strong, pursed lips. If the original painting was said to represent the strength of America, and the ability to overcome hardship, is this cartoon trying to show the opposite? It is as if the artist is trying to mock the original work of art, and Americas ability to come out of a crisis.
Another aspect i found interesting when comparing the two was, in the original painting, there is a basket of flowers sitting on the porch, said to represent "domesticity". In the recreation, they are left out. Is the artist trying to say something about America losing a sense of domesticity in the household as well? Or was this just irrelevant to its overall purpose?


This is an image, which I feel slightly pushes the boundaries of caricature. This is a photo taken by Man Ray of Marcel Duchamp dressed as a woman. Around 1920 Duchamp created the character Rrose Selavy as his feminine altar ego. He signed several of his creations with her name as well as included it in the title of a Dada sculpture, Why not Sneeze, Rrose Selavy? The name itself is a pun which steams from a French phase, meaning " that's life" (or makes a toast to life).

Marcel Duchamp was a playful individual who used the devise of hyperbole in his work, not in the traditional sense, but I would make the argument that his art, including the ready made urinal, Fountain, his alter ego, Rrose Selavy, as well as much of his other work, were visual statements to challenge preconceived notions of art and were intended to shock and generate a response in his viewers.

This image would also come under the category of satire. Duchamp was a leading figure in the Dada movement. Dadaism challenged the ridiculousness of the “modern world”. In a way this picture more than any photograph gives us an insight into the creative personality that was Marcel Duchamp. Yes, he was cocky, yes, his art had a comic playfulness about it, yes, he was smart and very aware and ready to challenge traditional values and notions of art, and Yes he looked pretty good as a woman (ok just kidding). But, in another sense this image is critiquing the viewers more than the artist (or at least the social climate in which the viewers existed). It is satirizing traditional views and values of art. Duchamp dressing up as a woman and signing his work under a rather silly pseudonym takes a little prestige out of the title of artist. Perhaps, the photo credits the artist as a witty individual, but he is also a fool. In Shakespeare’s plays the fools where the smartest characters, and always knew what was going on in the plot, however they almost didn’t matter to the general story line, they where the comic relief. The photo questions the artist role in society. Are artists the comic relief to life or something more? And, is it really such a bad thing to play the fool?

For almost any argument to occur, and not putter out or be one- sided there has to be equally strong feelings on both sides of the issue or there would be no point in arguing. So Duchamp, in making authorship and art a joke in a way, is subverting the opposition. Those who claim that there is such a thing as high art, or that craftsmanship matters, that art must be beautiful or significant, lose their argument because Duchamp has made art a joke, and why would someone spend time arguing about a joke. The pseudonym name Rrose Selavy, a toast to life, is a good summation of the photo. Duchamp and Mark Ray recognize that life, while being serious, is also a game. So, why not make a toast, and have a little fun playing it.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Misleading Physiognomy?

Growing up in the 90's; Recess was a show/ cartoon in which six students who were friends interacted with their peers and teachers on a daily basis. Their adventures and characters appeared as the stereotypical students that you would find at your own elementary school. There was a jock, a bully, a nerd, a misfit a big guy and a chill kid; along with other students that more or less fit the discription of elementary children.

The reading that was assigned made me think long and hard about what in life could represent a more simplified version of physiognomy. From what I gathered, it is a study and judgement of a person's outer appearance- primarily the face which reflects their character and personality. Which to our eyes and pre-set notions are to appear as "sudden perceptions of truth." I am not sure if this is an actual "science" and I want to argue against this, since appearances can at times be misleading- I think of it as more of a psuedoscience.

Based on the picture above you can basically infer which characters are which. Mikey, the larger of the boys appears as a giant- but in reality he is a softy. He falls under the category of the misleading physiognomy. The rest ( T.J."leader", Vince"jock", Gretchen"nerd", Spinelli"bully" and Gus"misfit/ new kid") all by their facial expressions and body language can be easily read and distingushed as to which personality or character they are.

The artists for this series have done a good job in capturing these realities and traits through this illustration alone. The characters are dressed according to their roles, stand together to infer friendship or kinship of some sort and the their adventures through school are what bring them closer to one another, no matter how opposing their characters are individually.

The Boor

Do you remember the politician that made the comment; "Bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran."? Well I have always been discusted with that ignorance, but I guess at the time it hapened, I didnt know who John McCain was. He is a boor. He is worse than a boor, but for the sake of relating him to the article, he is a boor. The characteristics are there. He is clumsy in his words and also very ignorant. He thinks war is a joke and the lives of people who are not US citizens don't matter. It is scary that he could have been our president, he the man who chose Palin to be his vice president after only meeting her once. He also made the statement:

"Maybe that's a way of killing them." --responding to a report that $158 million in cigarettes have been shipped to Iran during Bush's presidency despite restrictions on U.S. exports to that country, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, July 8, 2008


"Make it a hundred...That would be fine with me." -to a questioner who asked if he supported President Bush's vision for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq for 50 years.


"It's not social issues I care about."


"Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, 'Where is that marvelous ape?'" --a joke McCain reportedly told during his first Senate race in 1986.


"No one has supported President Bush on Iraq more than I have."

That says it all! Right there! Why was there even an election?! Who wants that man in office?! He is obviously ethnocentric which is not doing the job a president should do by strengthening foreign relations. He once threatened Korea with extinction if they didnt allow inspection for nuclear missiles. This guy is just war crazy. Instead of trying to be diplomatic, a trait I thought was required of our leader, he just wants to blow shit up!

There are countless examples, and thats the worst truth of all. Thank you America for voting for Obama. The McCain campaign is most definitely a boor, a boor and so much more.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Physiognomy of cars

What kind of car do you drive? I drive a Subaru Forester. I wonder if it, like a profile says anything about me?
I want to talk about the Physiognomy of the cars we buy. In the Pixar movie Cars, John Lasseter and Joe Ranft took varieties of cars and turned them into
 specific characters based on what I believe is there usage, associations  and looks. Most cars have a front common to them with two lights, hood, plates, grill, windows and bumpers. What most cars have is a face. By looking at cars you can see clearly that head lights make the eyes, the hood ornament is the nose and bumper becomes the mouth. Cars in general like faces seem to also have personality. Like the physiognomy of faces in Lavatar's books which depict the profiles of faces as having a certain precursor to the kind of person, tendencies or even social class.  

Cars have the same kind of physiognomy. Only this is a physiognomy both 
understood, and marketed 
to the public.  For instance the Bug is made up of soft curved 
circular lines with circular lights making the car receptive and perhaps happy. The curvy and springy lines and the over all happy face might classify this car as a girlish or 
feminine car. It's hard to see a lumber jack from Colorado squeezing into a baby blue Bug. He might be more inclined to buy the functional masculine truck with a broad and serious face.
  Like in the movie Cars many of the characters seemed paired perfectly with the car they were linked to. For instance Mater and the tractors made a relationship between the less educated out-in-the sticks country farmer and the dumb cows roaming the fields verses the fast pace sports car. 

I believe people for the most part pick out a car to purchase which matches their personality. Or rather a car is made to fit a certain personality which we classify our selves with. We can all guess as to the type of personality cars like the Toyota Prius, Jeep Wranglers, Dodge Mini-vans, Ford pick up's and Dodge Charger's are are trying to market by embodying the expressions in the exterior and interior of the very personalities they are trying to attract. So in a sense cars can be thought of as allegories of person types.
  It is a bit odd that cars seem to have a facial expression, some with folding lights that can even wink at you, but when met face to face the car can act as an extension of ourselves and caricatures of our personalities.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Political Card Trick

During the preliminaries in 2008 artist Daniel Kurtman found a similarity between democrat candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Playing the race or gender card is a colloquial phrase that refers to the act of bringing the issue of race, racism or sexism into a debate, perhaps to obfuscate the matter. Basically, it is a metaphorical reference to card games in which a trump card may be used to gain an advantage. In this case, like all politics the politicians know exactly what subjects may be considered “touchy” to bring up in debate, such as race or gender inequalities. For some reason many Americans still have old racist sexist blood pumping through their veins, these Americans don’t like to see prominent black men and strong women leading their country for whatever reasons.

Both Obama and Clinton feel they have an advantage in the game, which they may, if only liberals existed in this country, hence the score in the game. “Change” racked up zero points in the game and “politics as usual” has a whopping one point. Meaning the so-called “touchy” subjects is just part of dirty politics. I like this drawing for its attempt to address the fact that Obama is the first African American running for presidential office and Clinton is the first woman, both in the same election. To me this is monumental in our history of hatred, and therefore naturally comical in the history of caricature. Although some people were skeptical, which Kurtman cleverly made apparent. We all know, (or I hope we all know) that Obama and Clinton didn’t really think they would win the election by playing the “race card.”

I think this caricature fits into the description from the reading (page 5) of a good caricature having the ability to make us feel “relieved once in a while to see the sublime reduced to the ridiculous.” Race and Gender being such serious issues that our country has struggled with since our creation; it is sort of relieving to see it being used for laughter.

Lastly I must point out; one of my favorite things in this cartoon is the crooked old Uncle Sam sick of the game. He may represent the old morals of politics, one who had been through it all and finally is sick of politicians playing games.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sorry, this is being posted on the numb of the day, which distinguishes Sunday from Monday, but I had some trouble setting up my account.

In this Cartoon John Toles makes use of the English idiom “tilting at windmills” (meaning fighting futile battle), which alludes to Miguel de Cervantes well known work Don Quixote. In this satire the idealistic, fanciful hero Don Quixote mistakes these huge windmills as monsters invading the land, and attempts to attack them. The cartoonist in relating Obama to this ineffectual naive hero is using a form of humor akin to the early Greek Dramatists, by “tearing the mask form the pretentions of mankind’s ideals and reducing them to the ridiculous”. In the cartoon Toles is asking: if Obama, the warrior, has failed in tackling the (in Toles opinion) lesser problem of the health care, how is he going to handle an even larger monster or financial industry, or even make any kind of impact over the course of his presidency? In portraying these problem that face our country as windmills Toles makes the further argument that Obama is misinterpreting the problem in itself, and accordingly his whole tactic of combating these giants is ineffectual and misguided, based on a false assumption. Thus, Toles has undermined all of Obama’s idealistic speeches into the words of a babbling buffoon, he has made Obama into a “ridiculous creature”.

In this comic Obama has been made ridiculous in a double sense. Not only is he compared to the character Don Quixote, he also looks ridiculous, with his scrawny stead and primitive outmoded weaponry, matched against a windmill that is 20 times bigger than himself.

The author of our reading makes the argument that the” aim of the caricaturist is to transform the whole man into a ridiculous figure which nevertheless resembles the original …” In this carton I would say that it is the words and policy of the president rather than his features which strikes a note of familiarity. They are ridiculous, however there is an unsettling truth to them, regarding the thwarted (inadequate) attempts to change the health care system.

The author also mentions that Carracci stated that a caricaturist’s task is the same as an artist because they both “reveal the lasting truth beneath the surface. However, I would pose the argument that they are similar to art in that they reveal, not a truth exactly, but an opinion, or a specific way of looking at the world, or a situation, that they contain some essence of truth as well as exaggeration. I don’t think a single image, or something that covers such a specific statement as a cartoon can claim complete truth in such a complex changing world.

Something else that I found interesting from the reading is the link the author mentions between fear and laughter, and I will end with the query: Is this the reason why politics makes such good fodder for the cartoonist, because they border on the serious and frightening as well as ridiculous?

This particular political caricature I have chosen to analyze depicts a serious and stern looking Hillary Clinton looking up from a book entitles Monsters and Menopause. This particular choice of reading seems to suggest that there are certain things inherent in females that possibly make them unsuitable for the game of politics, with menopause being the main example here. Caricatures serve to fulfill a number of certain roles and this caricature seems to primarily fulfill one of them, caricatures can serve to convey a point with humor, depict a person in exaggeration, as well as criticize. In this case that role seems to primarily focus on outright criticism. Hillary's stern facial expression seems to create an image of an angry old woman which further works to criticize her personality and values. All of this can be considered sexist to a degree as it tends to focus on the uncontrollable notion of gender in relation to capacity and potential to be a political leader.

The picture also has the standard attributes of a caricature with certain features being exaggerated (in this case her hair is exaggerated in size and seems to suggest a primped nature, further commenting on the gender role) and proportions distorted. An over sized head is often a staple to any caricature. This is due to the fact that emotional expression is mainly expressed through a persons face as well as the fact that people are generally identified by their faces.

The McCain vs. Obama campaign was a very unique marking point in political history. During a time where change was desperately in need, the general public did not hesitate to pick apart the candidates. Understandably, there will never be a candidate who is perfect for the entire population of the United States. However, there are certain qualities which should be taken into account.
This campaign brought about an appeal to young voters. Many older generations have difficulty adjusting to the youthful lifestyle where ipods, laptops, touchscreen cellphones and things of the like are abundant. Nonetheless, the American culture has evolved quickly with advances in nano technology and it's dependence on the internet. This caricature displays John McCain's lack of "staying with the times." During his campaign, he absentmindedly admitted that he was not familiar with using a computer. This in turn caused him to lose any hope in having young supporters. As a college student who grew up during the advancements of the internet, I am living proof of the general dependence that has struck the American culture. It is the fastest and easiest source of information, and it grows larger every second.
The caricature displays McCain cupping his ear, suggesting that his hearing has deterierated from old age. His facial features are also exaggerated making him appear much more wrinkled and elderly. Artist Jerry Breen captures McCain's struggle with age and references his lack of capacity to grow and progress with the newer generation's ideals.
"Hope" is an evocative word, as well, in current times, as strongly linked to, even a symbol for, Obama and his campaign. Here it is shown being thrown overboard.

While the Boston Tea Party is an important piece of American revolutionary history, I'm not sure whether the use of it here is supposed to give positive connotations. One thing is clear, though- the Tea Party took place in Massachusetts, the state which recently elected Scott Brown, a republican who promises to try and block the health care reform bill, to the senate seat previously belonging to Edward Kennedy. Brown is the first republican to be elected to the Senate from Mass. since 1972. He brings the number of Republicans in the Senate up to 41. Fittingly, one of the main concerns people mention about Obama's health care reform plan is the amount of money that would be spent- and the increase of taxes.

Laughter, Fear, and Kim Jong Il

In the book, Caricature, written by E. H. Grombrich and E. Kris, the general themes, qualities, and evolution of caricature is discussed and debated. The authors’ draw many insights into the genetic makeup of the modern caricature which they come to define as, “the comic distortion of an individual.” Following this basic style that is modern caricature, within the humorous alterations of the portrait, lays implied messages of ridicule, anti-authority, and revealing the individual’s true essence. The purpose of cloaking some of the pointed implications in laughter lessens the gravity of the situation. As in the reading, laughter and fear are related to each other, in that something so daunting may be altered to entice the opposite action of laughter, changing one’s opinion of alarm to that of nonchalance and superiority.

The satirical caricature of Kim Jong Il, drawn by Kevin Kallaugher (KAL), is an example of how comedy degrades the imposing situation or figure that is featured within the caricature. Fitting with the standards of caricature, Kim Jong Il’s portrait accentuates his small stature by enlarging his head, showing only his upper torso and feet, as well as by over shadowing him with a huge nuclear weapon that is five times his size. Staying in character, the caricature doesn’t leave out Kim Jong Il’s trademark glasses, tufted hair, zip up shirt, or frown.

Through the distortion of Kim Jong Il, the audience belittles his threat of safety and power, due to his size and immature way of thinking, as well as agreeing with the artist who shows that Kim Jong Il’s true nature is a mad scatterbrained temper tantrum throwing child.

~Christie Allen

Personality in Caricature

The caricature is of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The artist has transformed the image of Ahmadinejad into that of a mouse. Gombrich states that "the real aim of the true caricaturist is to transform the whole man into a completely new and ridiculous figure which nevertheless resembles the original in a striking and surprising way." In this caricature, the artist first draws their depiction of the Iranian president, as seen in real life. Next to that is the transformed caricature, which a viewer responds to through laughter. The drawing of the president does not use any of the same features used in the first drawing, in fact the image is more closely a depiction of a mouse. Yet, by using the same hair style, including facial hair, we immediately recognize the mouse as the Iranian president. What interests me about this caricature is how well it relates to the quote by Annibale Carracci. Carracci states, "Is not the caricaturist's task exactly the same as the classical artist's? Both see the lasting truth beneath the surface of mere outward appearance. Both try to help nature accomplish its plan. The one may strive to visualize the perfect form and to realize it in his work, the other to grasp the perfect deformity, and thus reveal the very essence of a personality. A good caricature, like every work of art, is more true to life than reality itself." In this case, the artist gives their description of how they interpret the personality of Ahmadinejad. It is clear that they believe the president has rat-like intentions, he is seen as a rodent, and to some a disgusting and evil person.


This Sarah Palin caricature by Steven Brodner, featured in the New Yorker is a great rendition of Palins most damaging qualities. This devious portative captures many of 

her eminent features from the during election like the what I think we now call Palin hair cut, the Republican red jacket, Miss America smile and signature pointed glasses. This comic also points out the other aspects of her life, which the media used to annihilate her as a running mate to McCain.  

   Looking at the caricature we can see the screens behind her with different scenes depicting Palin. The top right screens show her with crossed arms representing her defensive hostility toward the war, democrats and her passionate love for hunting rifles. Late night show host David lettermen ads, “ Sarah Palin is an avid hunter. A vice president who like guns—Well, what could go wrong there?” The other screens show Palin doing other things making fun of her as a small town governor by showing her as a country hick riding a moose, hunting. The screen is of her catching a big fish, which was“ that big” also noting on her experience hunting and fishing and lack in dealing with real maters while governing.

            Although Palin could have been the running star of the campaign being a possibility for the first women vice president the power of comic utterance like this became her Achilles' heel. Like the incriminating pear to King Philippe the permanent effects of these jokes stuck to her even if they were false.

            Interestingly enough I find that making fun of leading figures like presidents and political figures has almost become an American past time. With Late night shows doing nightly “moments in presidential speeches” for Bush and constant ridicule for celebrities and big figures it is strange to think that once back when this kind of humor began that it was the slaves, injured, crippled and poor who were the subjects of laughter when today such humor would be considered rude, racist and intolerable. My question is how and has there ever been a political figure that has risen above their own comical ridicule?


Graffiti as Caricature?

I know, I know…I am not exactly good at following the rules-in fact no presidents/politics here, but I had already prepared my post for the week before taking note of the key words contemporary and political. I'll try to stick to task better next week...

For my posting I was inspired by the flyer John Sloan provides of the Cubic/ Cubism pun. To be honest I am not so much posting a caricature as I am posting a question of where the lines of caricature begin to blur, and I am considering whether or not Marcel Duchamps’s “L.H.O.O.Q” 1919 could in fact be seen as a caricature. The image is an assisted ready-made in which Duchamp graffitied facial hair over the top of a black and white Mona Lisa reproduction, as well as creating a pun with the letters “L.H.O.O.Q” underneath. When read phonetically in English it would sound like “look”, while when each letter is read aloud in French (the letter “L” sounding like “elle” meaning she, ect) it loosely translates to she is hot on the bottom or she is hot in the ass both of these serving as references to the possibility of the Mona Lisa being horny, or with her androgynous/ ambiguous looks and new mustache that she may actually be a he down below. If caricature is meant to be a distortion of the individual, while maintaining and preserving the individual’s expression- could this qualify? While Duchamp did not accentuate any particular feature, he accentuates and distorts our view of gender, as well as maintaining the sitters original expression with which we are long familiar. But than what individual did he make a caricature of, and who is Duchamp poking fun at? Is he stripping one of the most famous pieces of “high” art of it’s authority? And while it is common practice to believe that the Mona Lisa is Lisa Gherardini, there are many who have guessed at various other sitters for the painting, with many suggesting that it could have been painted in the artist’s own likeness, and commenting on da Vinci’s homosexuality. While I am still not certain who is taking the brunt of the teasing in this work of art, I am certain that Duchamp succeeds at producing a visual joke; he does it with just a few simple markings and a pun.

iPhone caricature app


In November of 2009 an iPhone app was introduced to the apple app approval board. This app entitled "BobbleRep" was designed to allow its users access to contact information for voting and non-voting members of Congress. Apple denied the request for the app due to the content of the app. The cartoonized heads of the congressmen were said to be unfavorable interpretations of public figures which violates one of the app approval board's license agreement.

CA- Harman ND- Pomeroy

It's interesting that such an informative app would be declined because the creator chose to cartoonize the faces of the representatives. The images above are examples of the artist's rendering of the candidates Harman (CA) and Pomerov (ND). The facial features of each character may be slightly exaggerated, but in no way are they offensive to the representatives depicted. They also lack any form of commentary portraying their political views, these simply appear to be unbiased cartoons of each congressional member, denied by Apple in order to avoid the contraversy of accepting such an app that could arise from over-analysis of the characters. If nothing else an app such as this would promote the interaction of citizens and their congressional representatives, potentially creating an increase in information for each party involved. I believe that the idea of creating a slightly humorous, though realistic, cartoon of representatives gives the public an image associated with the representative, making them more approachable.

Tim Richmond later contributed to his initial article of the rejection by Apple, with the statement that the app was reconsidered, and after slight revisions was approved.

How confusion is illustrated

This cartoon depicts the 2008 presidential elections and the debates that the candidates went through. As well as how they were percieved by the general public. It also pokes fun at the candidates appearance and how they carry themselves. As stated in the reading Caricature by E.H Gombrich the artist is expected to play with the features of the characters. Make them look more comical and bring out the feature that separate them. For example McCain is squat seems too small for his own suit. Obama is tall and and seems to be more comfortable. It is amusing to see how the artist depicts the confusion that McCain is experiencing by drawing what looks like a dark cloud above him. As well as making him speak in circles and having Obama say only a few words to make him look a little more with it. It also demonstrates the political view of the artist.

Censored Mohammed: Too Raunchy for the Papers

This caricature of Mohammed, created by Rasmus Sand Hoyer, was published on September 30, 2005 in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, along with eleven others. When these pictures were released to the masses, it caused a whirlwind of controversy; this resulted in protests in many Islamic societies which culminated in over one hundred deaths, burning of Danish embassies and various European flags, and the issuing of death threats from Islamic extremists. Viewers of this cartoon, originally throughout fifty or so countries in which this and the other cartoons were published, but later, due to the internet, most of the world, bring up the question of its political correctness. Some view it as racist. Others, along with the artist, view it as a show of rebellion towards self-censorship. Still others just find it amusing, or not amusing, or mildly offensive. Along with every other satirical and political cartoon, not everyone is going to be happy.

Hoyer’s cartoon, along with its eleven counterparts, is a commentary on the ridiculousness of both the fear of practitioners of the Muslim faith, and Islamic extremists. Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, is standing there, with a knife in his hand and is flanked by a “posse of bitches.” This, in and of itself is a parody of how little many westerners know about the Muslim faith. It is also a representation of how many people likely viewed it as horribly offensive. However, as was stated above, this cartoon is a commentary on Islamic extremists as well, which is where this western idea comes from.

As stated above, it is a smack to the face of the notion of censoring oneself. Hoyer is making blatant fun of that with the censor bar across Mohammed’s eyes, playing with the stereotype of the censor bar to cover up “naughty bits,” likening looking into Mohammed’s eyes to looking at a cartoon character’s junk. This censor bar also reduces his face to nothing but a beard, a nose, and a barely visible sneer. Hoyer knows that this is how some people view Middle Easterners, and makes a caricature of that stereotype.

Obama:Year One

This political cartoon of Obama has taken on the role of unmasking a "public hero." In the eyes of many Americans, Obama is a symbol of 'hope' and 'change.' This scene is meant to represent Obama's first year of presidency. It sure has not been an easy year for him, especially given the recent threats, but Obama fought to become the leader of our nation knowing that it was not going to be easy, and many changes needed to be made.

You would think an image describing a year of hope and change would be positive and uplifting, but this artist's work gives off a feeling/impression of failure. The artist turns this idea of hope into mockery as he displays Obama sitting on 'hope' that is now broken and worn. Obama's face and mannerisms display a sense of hopelessness and disappointment. He looks lost, placed in a desolate area with a dark, empty cloud above his head. Is this cloud supposed to represent anger/frustration? Or is it an empty thought bubble, implying that he has no knowledge of what to do next? The artist has taken a strong, heroic figure America looks up to, and exposed him as being weak and unqualified.

In Gombrich and Kris' Caricature, they discuss how "it may happen that when we meet the victim in real life we are forced to laugh at him, because his picture is linked inseparably in our minds with the caricature we have seen. We have been taught by the artist to see him anew." Is the porpoise of this caricature to distort America's positive view of Obama? Change obviously can not happen over night, and there are always going to be obstacles along the rode. This artist appears to be disappointed in Obama's efforts this past year. Is the artist trying to convince Americans that Obama is not fulfilling his duties as President?

Blocking the Way.

This is an editorial comic from January 21, by Matt Davies. The comic comments on loss of the late Ted Kennedy's senate seat in Massachusetts to a republican candidate, and the effect that will have on the issue of health care reform. Davies depicts the republican party as a fat elephant-headed man in a business suit. An interesting historical relation being the pear shaped head of the character. Like the pear shaped caricature of Louis Philippe by Charles Philipon. Though Davies draws the other characters with simular shape, so I have to say it is a stylistic choice/habit of the artist to draw pear shaped heads on his characters. The senate seat is also caricatured as a chair used to block a door. The implication being that the seat, or senate position, is being used by the republican party to block the door for the uninsured, or use as political influence for the health care issue. Davies shows an unfavorable view of the republican party, not only with the caricatures crude appearance, but in the characters cruel actions. Davies expresses his view of the political situation with his comic. The republican is stopping the uninsured from getting health care by using the late Ted Kennedy's senate position, which carries the added weight from health care reform being one of Kennedy's longtime political goals. However serious the situation referred to, Davies makes this statement with an exaggerated cartoon which evokes laughter.

David Halstead.

Jim Borgman: Armed Forces vs. College Degree

This political cartoon, drawn by Jim Borgman in 2003, is a comical, yet depressing commentary on the military and the current non-existent job market. Although it was drawn 7 years ago, the cartoon is very relevant to today's economic and military issues.

Both the college graduate and the solider are holding degrees, implying that both had completed some sort of higher education. The college graduate has spent many thousands of dollars and 4-5 years (maybe more!) in school to get his degree. He is in debt from all of his student loans and unfortunately for him, he is not guaranteed a job once he graduates due to the lack of a job market. His future is dismal with debt and no health insurance even though he has a degree and is more than qualified for a decent paying job.

The solider talks to the graduate as to why he joined the armed forces; it's easier to fight (and possible die) to get benefits than to go to college and not be able to find a job afterward. All of the armed forces offer incredible benefits and jobs for those who decide to risk their lives to fight for the country. Also the armed forces are an option to those who want schooling and a job but can't afford to pay for it.

This cartoon was drawn in 2003, right around the time the United States put troops into Iraq. It is interesting to see how something that was drawn 7 years ago, before the second Bush term, is more relevant today. The job market is worse than it was due to the current economic troubles that were caused by the idiot that was president a year ago. Unemployment is the lowest it has been in 15 years. The "Iraq War" isn't over and now we are moving more troops into Afghanistan. This cartoon will be relevant for generations, because there will always be war and there will always a be a living fighting for the country.