The Unquotable Trump
Robert Sikoryak, 48 pgs, Drawn and Quarterly, drawnandquarterly.com, $21.95
Donald Trump’s presidency sometimes feels like it’s been ripped out of the pages of a comic book. You’ve got your ornamental dialogue, tokenized female characters and, of course, the illusion of change — which is when a comic story feels like it’s progressing, but in reality, everything’s the same. Yet, even the world of comics, with all its superhuman characters and infeasible story lines, is no match for Trump, as I learned from The Unquotable Trump.
In this Drawn and Quarterly special edition comic, artist Robert Sikoryak has reimagined the American president as some of the most noteworthy super-villains of comic book history. Plucking real Trump quotes from his campaign and presidency, Sikoryak features Trump on the cover of more than 40 principle comics, from Popeye to Catwoman, Archie, Sin City, Wonder Woman, X-Men and many more. It’s no secret that Sikoryak is adaptable, and this is a formula he’s dabbled with before, but that doesn’t make his grasp of such a wide range of styles — from Captain America to Little Lulu — any less impressive.
In the Trump era, it’s easy to slap The Donald on just about anything and make a quick buck. Maybe The Unquotable Trump is just that, but what made the difference for me is the way Sikoryak carefully packages each comic book cover.
The Black Panther, for instance, is reimagined as The Black Voter. As they stand off, Trump says: “Look… You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs. 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?” Black men in the background watch on, camera phones out as they record the fight. The superhuman battle is framed by the men, who remind us how camera phones have allowed citizens share instances of state brutality against people of colour.
Then there’s my favourite cover, where Catwoman is reimagined as Cat Pussy. A larger-than-life Catwoman loom sin the background. Trump points to her with his thumb, telling someone off page that “nobody has more respect for women than I do,” while wearing a sinister grin. It’s gross — and I hope Catwoman busts out that whip in the next panel — but it’s compelling commentary on the way men try to tear down women in power.