Mashable interviews R. Sikoryak

“Artist turns Trump into a comic book villain and it works too damn well” / Mashable / Heather Dockray / November 6, 2017

Donald Trump was the first meme to ever be elected president. Now, he's the first comic book villain.

Artist Robert Sikoryak transformed the president into a traditional cartoon villain for his latest illustrated series, The Unquotable Trump. To craft the dialogue, Sikoryak pulled from some of Trump's most humiliating, exclamation-point studded, public utterances. There was so much to choose from.

Both comic book villains and President Trump enjoy taking vengeance on their enemies, most of whom could give AF. They love it even more when they can express it in fragmented sentences, free from verbs or any sense of meaning.

Sikoryak is known for using actual quotes spoken by real people in narrative form. His most popular illustrated parody, Masterpiece Giants, took quotes from literary greats and adapted them for a comic book format. It was Doystoevsky meets Garfield meets social satire, and it was good.

By comparison, illustrating Trump as a comic book villain must have felt seamless. Trump language neatly mirrors that of a comic book villain — simplistic, largely empty and full of caps lock insults he borrowed from Even if you don't believe in good versus evil, for many folks, the Trump's presidency is as close as it gets.

Sikoyrak says he did what he could to imitate Trump's comedic way of speaking without minimizing the danger his language often poses.

"Trump often speaks in very bold, simplistic statements. These seemed appropriate for the clear cut ideas of good and evil, and right and wrong, in traditional comic books," Sikoryak told Mashable. 

"Of course, comics can be very subtle and nuanced, but here I’m often playing with the melodrama and broad comedy that are associated with the medium.  And even when I parody a contemporary title, like The Walking Dead, there’s still room for a Trump quote because his words can be so horrific and violent. "

It's not just language. Trump bears all the standard hallmarks of the comic book villain. He's vain, cruelly narcissistic, and somehow, in control of our lives. No one is quite sure who's powerful enough to take him down (my bet is either Robert Mueller or Maxine Waters on a good day). 

"He has a lot of qualities that remind me of comic book antagonists! I wanted to catalogue as many as I could," Sikoryak told Mashable. "Obviously, there are his statements that insult entire groups of people or encourage violence. He’s reckless and mean, petty and arrogant… I could go on."

The collection contains nearly 50 comic book parody covers, each depicting Trump as a traditional cartoon villain. Sikoryak initially published it as black and white images on Tumblr. Compared to previous collections, Sikoryak thinks The Unquotable Trump will have a broader audiences. Trump is "steamrolling our national conversation," Sikoryak says, regardless of your political persuasion.

The concept isn't entirely new. Sikoryak has illustrated presidents before for MAD Magazine and for Saturday Night Live. What makes Trump unique is that his "words and actions are so heightened, that it’s not a stretch, at all," Sikoryak explains. 

As much Sikoryak enjoyed drawing Trump, he's anxious to move onto other projects that aren't Trump-related. He has a project about Moby Dick in the works, which couldn't be spirtitually further from Trump (please, spare me your sperm whale wordplay).

Many of us want to live in a world free of Donald Trump Jr. tweets, North Korean nuclear threats, and terrible memes about covfefe. A place where cartoon villain presidents can be taken down by superhero House Judiciary Committees, wielding ancient emoluments clauses as weapons.

Someone please draw us a happy ending.

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