The campaign in cartoons

Illustrators have had a field day with the two candidates. Toby Green selects his favourite works, while Dave Brown, the 'Independent' cartoonist, explains the art behind the satire
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The Independent US

So, farewell Dubya, an "all our Christmases come at once" gift to the cartoonist. Whether it was as Dumbo, the little Republican elephant crapping on the world from a great height, or as a bow-legged, knuckle-dragging ape, you were a joy to draw. Will I miss you…? Nah! Not a bit, I've drawn you to death and there are new fish to fry.

So much of cartooning comes down to zoomorphism. A reader of this paper once told me how much she enjoyed my cartoons, before dismissing a vast percentage of my oeuvre by adding, "apart from when you draw politicians as animals". She never elaborated, but I suspect she considered my images of poodles, monkeys, dodos and lame ducks to be offensive … not to our political masters, but to our furred and feathered friends.

It was the 19th-century cartoonist Thomas Nast who popularised the elephant and the donkey as symbols for the Republicans and Democrats (long before the parties themselves adopted them), and this presidential campaign has also provided a fabulous menagerie of beasts.

My first thoughts were to portray the interminable Democratic primaries as a donkey derby. However unlike the lugubrious, long-faced Kerry in 2004, surprisingly neither Hillary nor Barack made a convincing ass. It was only when I had the revelation that they were in fact the two mismatched ends of a pantomime donkey, pulling against each other, that the gag worked.

McCain's campaign struggled to drag itself out of the primordial swamp until he chose his running-mate. Sarah Palin entered the picture a fully formed caricature. Once you had got the beehive, the glasses and the lipstick you could draw her as anything - and I did. A pitbull, a pig, a moose; it was actually some time before I drew her as anything other than an animal, and when I realised that making her look human was the really hard thing.

By the time you read this we should know who I'll be drawing for the next four years, if not yet as what. Time to drag the well-thumbed Atlas of World Wildlife off the shelf. DB

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