One of cartoonist Shannon Wheeler’s best-known books is a collaboration with President Donald Trump.
Wheeler of Portland — one of the guests of honor at Saturday’s 18th annual Olympia Comics Festival — is the creator of “Sh*t My President Says,” an illustrated collection of some of Trump’s tweets.
Noted cartoonist Tom Tomorrow described it in a blurb as “written by a living caricature and illustrated by one of the best cartoonists working.”
“It’s like peanut butter and chocolate!” Tomorrow wrote. "Or maybe unregulated toxic waste and chocolate.”
On one page, a figure that resembles the 43rd president — and also a child — looks out a window at falling snow. The Trump-written caption: “It’s freezing outside. Where the hell is ‘global warming?’ ”
It’s an example of Wheeler’s finely honed sense of the absurd — and of the kind of work celebrated by the Olympia Comics Festival, which brings together alternative cartoonists, both well known and not so, for an expo, panel discussions, skits and more.
This year’s festival eliminates the usual stage show — the Capitol Theater was unavailable — while maintaining such popular elements as the roundtable discussion with guests of honor Wheeler and sci-fi cartoonist Farel Dalrymple of Portland and past guest of honor Eric Shanower of San Diego.
The Olympian caught up with Wheeler — a two-time Eisner Award winner who does cartoons for the New Yorker and Mad Magazine — for a conversation about some of his recent escapades, including meeting stripper and Trump adversary Stormy Daniels this month when she toured Oregon strip clubs.
Q. So you went to see Stormy Daniels?
A. Yes, it was a trip. I drove down to Bend to see her, and they’d lost her luggage. The stripper didn’t have clothes to put on to take off, so she didn’t perform that night, but I met her.
What surprised me was that everything around was sleazy … and then I meet her and she’s oddly wholesome and really genuine and present.
The next night I went to see her perform. That was in Salem. She really seemed to be enjoying herself, which is shocking given that she’s in this legal battle with the President. She must be receiving thousands of emails every day that are hate filled. The negativity must be intense.
Q. Did you get to talk to her about “Sh*t My President Says”?
A. Yes. I said, “Hey, I did this book,” and I gave her a copy, and she said, “Oh, my God, that’s hilarious. I can’t wait to read this.” She seemed to get a big kick out of it.
Q. Was there a specific tweet that launched the book?
A. There must have been. … I was sitting down getting ready to do a book of gag cartoons, New Yorker-style. That was right after Trump had been elected, and it was making me depressed. I thought, “This means nothing.” It was these little gag cartoons that I like, but that weren’t relevant to what we were going through. I was complaining about that and a friend said, “Why don’t you just draw Trump’s tweets?”
I think it was the global warming tweet. He’s talking about how global warming must not be true because it’s snowing outside, and I thought that really sums up a lot of what he’s about. There’s this kind of faux common sense and anti-intellectualism.
Q. Are you still drawing the tweets?
A. A little bit. I’ve taken a break this last month. I was going to do a second book, and I’ve been thinking about it, but it just has made me so depressed.
The tweets have become so mainstream. I turn on the news, and they dedicate 10 minutes to saying Trump tweeted this and Trump tweeted that.
I’m not sure how to keep working on them and not validate him, but I’m still doing it. I can’t help it.
Q. What else are you working on?
Two things. I’m pitching Esquire magazine to run a long piece about meeting Stormy Daniels, and I’m hoping to hear back from her. She gave me her email and said, “Oh, yeah, email me questions.” We’ll see if that pans out. I really hope so. She’s at a cultural nexus in a way that’s unique and weird. I can’t imagine being where she is and doing what she’s doing.
Q. So that would be an article with comics?
A. It would be comics journalism. I’m writing it as maybe 30 or 40 panels that tell a little narrative.
Q. And then what’s the other thing you’re working on?
A. I’m putting together a book for Image Comics. It’s called “Memoirs of a Very Stable Genius,” which is a Trump quote, but there are only a few Trump things in there. It’s mostly little autobiographical stories that I’ve done over the years. That will be out in July.
Q. What do you hope to achieve with your political work?
A. With the Trump book, I was very much trying to give him enough rope. You give people enough rope to hang themselves. I wanted to bring out Trump’s tweets not in a vindictive or angry way, but just “Read these tweets; they are really stupid.”
When I was drawing him as an ogre and a villain, it’s what a lot of other people were doing, and it just didn’t feel right. Drawing him as a child gives insight, and I think we need to understand what is happening with this person who is influencing our culture in what I feel is kind of a negative way.
My goal wasn’t to tear him down but to give insight.
Olympia Comics Festival
What: The 18th annual festival celebrates alternative comic artists with an expo, panel discussions and entertainment. Guests of honor are Shannon Wheeler, author of “Sh*t My President Says” and creator of “Too Much Coffee Man,” and acclaimed sci-fi comics artist Farel Dalrymple.
When: 11 a.m. -5:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St. NW, Olympia
More information: 360-705-3050, olympiacomicsfestival.org
- Festival preview with Wheeler and Dalrymple: 7 p.m. Friday at the Olympia Timberland Library, 313 Eighth Ave. SE. Free. 360-352-0595, trl.org
- Book signing and sketching with Wheeler and Dalrymple: 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Danger Room Comics, 201 Fourth Ave. SE, Olympia. 360-705-3050, olympiacomicsfestival.org