NOTE: THIS BLOG POST FIRST APPEARED IN MAY 2009
When a humorously-coiffed politician like Rod Blagojevich comes along, do political cartoonists think, “This will be an easy few days”? Like any good member of his trade Mike Lukovich is great at accentuating physical attributes for comic effect. But his cartoons stand out for their ability to consistently skewer the political landscape in a way that — for me at least — produces audible laughter, not just a smile. Lukovich started working as the staff cartoonist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, my home-town paper, in 1989. It was no surprise to anyone from Atlanta when he was picked up for syndication. Lukovich has now won two Pulitzers, the ultimate coloring contest he calls the prize.
When I was helping Bob do research for the interview, one of the more interesting things I learned about how Lukovich approaches his craft was this: When his cartoons call for an average Joe (or two) commenting on something, they are almost always depicted as non-descript white people. Lukovich does it on purpose. He says, “I don’t want to use African Americans voicing the dialogue in the cartoon if I think that people can interpret that as being specific to African Americans. It comes up fairly often. In that case I will make them two generic white people.”
Lukovich’s George W. Bush really evolved over the years. As major events occurred – Iraq, Katrina, economic meltdown – Lukovich’s depiction of Bush got progressively smaller and his ears bigger. We’ll have to wait to see if his Obama changes over the next four years. The ears certainly can’t get much bigger!