AJC cartoonist Mike Luckovich on his new book and process

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Q: How do you categorize yourself politically? Democrat? Progressive? Or as some of your admirers say, a coco pinko?

A: [Laughs.] Progressive. I am a democrat. I know Democrats are not perfect. When Obama was president, I didn’t do a lot of cartoons hitting on him, but I did do a few.

As I got older, I became even more liberal. I want everyone to be able to succeed in this country, whether straight or gay, trans, black or white. We could be such a big country; we just have to keep moving forward and think of all of us.

Q: How much media do you consume during the day to ensure you have the right subject for the cartoon the next day? Are you worried that there is too much media, a kind of professional scrolling?

A: I’m worried about that. I’m on Twitter all day reading the AJC and various blogs and media. I have to keep in mind that my readers might not be as aware as I am because I’m just immersed in it. I have to ask if this is an issue or an event that people will be aware of besides heavy Twitter users?

Q: Some comedians have said that Trump as a subject is both too easy because every day he does something so outside of anything we could imagine before, and also hard to satirize because you don’t can’t overstate what he does. Is this a problem for you?

A: Yeah. Having Trump around is like being married to a nymphomaniac. It’s fun at first. And then it gets miserable. It’s really hard to top his crazy stupidity. And it’s kind of the same nonsense over and over again but it just keeps getting worse.

Q: At the beginning of the book, there is a cartoon of a torture chamber with a stand stretching the word “Truth” and George W. Bush saying “Keep stretching.” After the 2020 election, Trump’s lies not only expanded the truth, they demolished it. Does that previous cartoon look almost quaint to you now?

A: [Laughs.] It does. There is no more truth; it has been erased. He has 30% of the electorate saying, “Yeah, the election was stolen.” I despair so much of some of my fellow Americans.

Q: But do you ever stop and think you’re not really changing your mind?

A: Yeah. Politics has somehow become like religion. You can make a point, but some people just won’t buy into it. But I must continue to speak what I believe to be the truth. People who tend to agree with me, who see it all go down, they feel like they don’t have a voice, but they tell me they really enjoy my cartoons. They’re not the only ones feeling how crazy things have gotten. And I try to use humor so that even people who disagree with me watch cartoons and maybe I can tell the difference.

Q: Who approves your cartoons before they are published?

A: They go to editorial page editor Andre Jackson, then to editor Kevin Riley.

Q: Have any of them been challenged or rejected over the years?

A: Oh sure. When I have an idea, I look at these sketches and I look and look and pretty soon it loses its meaning to me even though I’ve found it, like repeating a word over and over. So I need an editor to look at my sketches to make sure they make sense. Sometimes I’ve done a cartoon and the symbolism overwhelms the cartoon, which is what I meant.

I do some pretty controversial cartoons and I’ve upset some people. The AJC has been very good at letting me say what I want. Years ago they only had my cartoon, then they decided to do a right-wing cartoon as well. At first I didn’t think it was a good idea, but now I think it’s so great because I can be myself and say what I want knowing that the right is there too.


BOOK EVENTS

“The Twisted History of the GOP”, by Mike Luckovich. ECW Press. $19.95.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution “The State of Our State”

6-8 p.m. Tuesday, September 6. live.ajc.com/ajcstateofourstate.

Decatur Book Festival

9:30 a.m. Saturday, October 1. First Baptist Church of Decatur, 308 Clairmont Ave., Decatur. decaturbookfestival.com.

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