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Talkin’ Politics with Me The People’s Pia Guerra & Lil’ Donnie’s Mike Norton

As you might guess, neither Guerra nor Norton have had a shortage of controversies and outrages to draw upon. The hardest part, they admit, is finding the right joke for any specific subject. Even aspects of the administration they’d like to attack are sometimes left aside in service of finding the right hook for their strip. “There are some complex stuff like with the Supreme Court confirmations or actual policy issues that are hard to make a quick joke about other than ‘Congress… Am I right?’,” Norton laughed, “so I try to find the most direct path to a joke when I can. Even if it means that only I get it sometimes.”

Guerra has a laundry list of topics she feels she’s neglected: “Puerto Rico, certain members of the administration, family reunification, Kavanaugh, Planned Parenthood, Police Brutality, the Dakota Pipeline... so many issues and I can sit and stew for a good chunk of the day and not get an image,” she explained. “Or there’s the seed of an idea that needs work but then a much stronger one shows up about a completely different issue. Or you finally find the image but now the focus has shifted entirely because of a tweet and now we’re at war with Holland or something equally stupid.”

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Both agreed that working on political cartoons means being in the moment, capturing the sentiment and American impact of the moment. “It became clear to me early on that the speed and sheer volume of crap that comes out of this current administration was going to make it impossible to have a ‘timeless’ quality to most of the jokes,” Norton said. “I just kind of leaned into it. I look at it as comedy writing for a late night talk show. These jokes have a time limit on them and my job is to get them out as quick as possible while they’re relevant. Some have staying power because our current president loves to repeat himself.”

Guerra expanded the point, saying, “Most of the time it’s very immediate. I have the news on most of the day while I work on projects and then a story comes on that makes me roll my eyes, or gasp or laugh, and then an image shows up and I have to draw it right then. It can happen fast enough that I have something posted within an hour of getting the idea. Sometimes, I’ll be reading about something coming up, like preparations for the anniversary of the Charlottesville rally and I get an idea involving Lady Liberty’s torch squishing one of the tiki torch guys. It’s a month away (or a year late depending on how you view it), but I really like the image and post it anyway. But yeah, then there’s a random thing that pops up and I just go with it because it’s fun to draw. I could probably be more disciplined with how I go about it; right now I follow the emotion to the facts to the image and see what happens. If it works, it gets posted. If it’s iffy, I set it aside and find something else to draw about.”

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