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February 24, 2017

'Mad as hell,' 'demented' artist shares her Trump-as-fascist, loofah-faced, s***-gibbon

Opinion Art
022417_ZHagenTrumpGibbon Courtesy/Z. Hagen

Artist's interpretation of President Donald Trump as a "fascist, loofah-faced, s***-gibbon," submitted by Z. Hagen.

A mysterious email came to my inbox this afternoon, of course with a forgotten attachment. Isn't that life?

The email was from a Z. Hagen, who asked me, "Is this your fascist, loofah-faced, s***-gibbon?"

Hmm.

This takes us back to Pennsylvania state Senator Daylin Leach, whose tweet heard round the world on Feb. 7 gave President Donald Trump a nickname he'll never shake.

At the time, I wondered what such a creature would look like, so I hastily drew one and wrote a story about the origin of the insult.

I know I've got some practicing to do as a cartoonist, but I steadfastly believe in myself. This was a novice's mixture of "South Park," James Thurber and the cover art of "Energy," the lovable album by ska-punk legends Operation Ivy.

NoneSource/Michael Tanenbaum

A fascist, loofah-faced, s***-gibbon.

In my story, I invited the world to create their own Trump drawings using Leach's tweet as inspiration. This went beyond politics for me, even if I am, by profession, an enemy of the American people, according to Trump. There's a tradition in this country of making fun of presidents on both sides of the aisle. It's a form of creative power held by the people. Free societies need to be free to laugh. 

I've mostly gotten friendly and supportive emails since my call for submissions, but for a while, no drawings. Maybe, just maybe, people thought mine was good enough.

"Oops forgot attachment!" Z. Hagen said in a second email. And bam. There it was. The one true "fascist, loofah-faced, s***-gibbon" I had been waiting to see resplendently brought to life in monstrous detail. 

NoneCourtesy/Z. Hagen

Artist's interpretation of President Donald Trump as a “fascist, loofah-faced, s***-gibbon,” submitted by Z. Hagen.

I asked Z. Hagen, "Is this your fascist, loofah-faced, s***-gibbon?"

"Yes," Z. Hagen said. "It is my s***-gibbon. Watercolor."

"If I could hug you, I would," I told Z. Hagen.

So, we got to talking a little bit. What inspired her?

"It's the raving of a demented old lady," Z. Hagen said. "This is the first time I have shared my art with any one other than family. I am a retired woman originally from northern Idaho now living in Saint Paul, Minnesota and mad as hell!"

You and a lot of people, Z.

"The drawing started with my son translating a news story from the Russian press describing Trump as a “Monkey with a hand grenade,” Z. Hagen continued. "But (I) did not know what to call it until i saw Senator Leach's comments. (I) heard about the (civil asset forfeiture) hoopla in Texas and followed it to you. Just wanted to show support for Senator Leach and others."

I asked Z. Hagen if should would like to reveal her true identity. She said her husband wanted to know whether she should purchase ammunition if she uses her given name.

That's in part because of the size of the genitalia on her s***-gibbon. She referenced the story of Los Angeles artist Illma Gore, whose viral picture of a naked Donald Trump (also with similar endowment) resulted in her getting punched in the face last May, well before most people honestly believed Trump was bound for the White House.

That's not a joke, at all. People uttered the worst possible things they could think of about former President Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal. There are numerous stories about Barack and Michelle Obama being called a monkey by Republican officials during the former president's time in office. That wasn't funny. To my knowledge, these people were not punched.

I've received Trump hate mail myself. On the day after the election, when swastikas and other racist and pro-Trump messages were spray-painted in South Philadelphia, an unidentified "D B" wrote the following to me.

"Stop lying for Killary before you get your a-- beat."

I asked him if that was a threat, but he never responded. One of the vandalism suspects, a New Jersey man, was later arrested. His motive remains unclear. 

Our own Brian Hickey recently asked whether it's alright to feel sorry for Donald Trump on a human level? After all, the billionaire is taking a lot of verbal (and visual) abuse. Lots of Americans do. People who work themselves ragged and barely have enough money to keep a roof over their heads. People who voted for Donald Trump. More people who didn't. They don't appreciate it. Does anyone feel for them? Does Donald Trump? Will they now lose the lifelines in their health insurance?

Artwork like Z. Hagen's should keep people honest with themselves. That's not how you want to be seen. Instead of getting up in arms about coarse satire — a Trumpian stamp on American history if there ever will be one — the president and his supporters should stop plucking unity signs from front lawns and find a way to exert influence and power through generosity and intellect, while they have the chance.

Heavy is the head that wears the crown.

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