Donald Trump, 1980s business and pop cultural icon, for some reason’s managed to linger in the public pop cultural landscape since that decade. Mostly helped by his 2000s reality show “The Apprentice,” Trump’s managed a large comeback in recent years, all of which has led to Trump becoming the Republicans’ candidate for president in the 2016 election. This is in spite of Trump: not adhering to some of his own party’s core tenants (to the point it’s lead to GOP party in-fighting); being vague about platform’s details; having a massive and abrasive ego; having no political, public sector, or military experience (any or all of those are traditionally normal qualifications for becoming president); and worst of all, his racist/xenophobic rhetoric.
I don’t write about politics on here as often as I once did, as I now consider it mostly off-topic, and I have social media for such commentary. However, this year’s election’s been unusual enough that I figured it’d be worth writing about the two main front-runners, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. As such, here’s a list of some noteworthy uses or parodies of Trump in comics and animation over the years, excluding most political cartoons.
Newspaper comic strip “Bloom County” made heavy use of Donald Trump toward the end of its original 80s run. A lengthy storyline saw Trump’s brain transferred into the body of Bill the Cat; Trump (in Bill’s body) went on his business as usual. The strip’s final story sees Trump buy the strip itself out and fire the entire cast, replacing them with his own ideas for a revised strip. The cast subsequently disband to find other comic-related work.
The 2015 webcomic revival of “Bloom County” seems to ignore or gloss over how the original strip ended (being aware they’re cartoon characters helps), instead just having everyone going about their lives as usual. This includes Opus and Bill once again on another ill-fated presidential campaign, with plenty of new Trump jokes. Supposedly Trump’s rise to prominence again is one reason Breathed brought the strip out of retirement.
Trump’s been mentioned briefly in a few DC books. Most recently, he’s put in an (unnamed) appearance in the third issue of the poorly-named “Dark Knight III: The Master Race,” the second sequel to the original 1986 “Dark Knight Returns.” New York’s Trump Tower was used in the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” as a stand-in for Wayne Enterprises.
Some comic fans have compared Donald Trump to Lex Luthor, particularly the early 2000s storyline where Lex somehow gets elected President of the United States. Unlike Trump, I don’t recall Lex relying on openly racist rhetoric to get elected (Black Lightning and Amanda Waller were part of his Cabinet), though of course he is xenophobic (particularly against a certain Kryptonian). And that, of course, was a big part of the undoing of his presidency.
Trump’s at least been mentioned by Marvel as well. In a 1988 issue of “Iron Man,” Tony Stark mentions once owning a whole floor in Trump Tower. In real life, it’s still Trump’s main headquarters, as well as where he keeps a penthouse apartment.
More recently, a new villain’s been introduced in the “Spider-Gwen” comic. On her native parallel Earth, Gwen’s version of MODOK is a character based on Donald Trump, down to his complexion and an emphasis on “tiny hands.”
Tiny Toon Adventures
Donald Trump got mentioned in a few episodes of “Tiny Toons.” A parody of him (“Ronald Grump“) shows up in an environmentalism episode, where he’s trying to destroy a whole rainforest for business reasons. Despite his name, he looked more like Lex Luthor. Trump appears by name in a few other episodes, most prominently “Thirteensomething.” There, his then-recent bankruptcy is made fun of (Trump’s seen wiping car windshields for spare change).
The episode “Blue Collar Scrooge” sees Scrooge get amnesia, where he ends up working in one of his own factories and starts protesting his own miserly employment policies. Meanwhile, Fenton Crackshell (aka Gizmoduck) tries to fill in for the missing Scrooge by dressing up as McDuck (in a bad disguise and poor Scottish accent), to prevent a business deal with businessman “Mr. Trumpcard” from falling through.
Trump’s been mentioned/parodied a few times on the very-long-running animated sitcom. A 2000 episode flash-forwards to 30 years in the future, where Lisa becomes president and has to clean up from her predecessor, President Trump. A YouTube video made a few years ago had Homer meeting Trump at a campaign rally, and become fascinated by his often-ridiculed hair.
Trump wasn’t shown in this series, though Jay Sherman’s boss Duke Phillips was pretty egoistical (though mainly a parody of CNN founder Ted Turner). The Trump Tower, however, was shown a few times, including in the pilot (with a bankruptcy joke).
This Modern World
While there’s a metric ton of political cartoons about Trump, “This Modern World”‘s take on what allowed him to become a GOP front-runner candidate is my answer to how such happened. More TMW strips show Trump as resembling an orange-colored version of the Incredible Hulk.
As shown by the above, depictions of Trump, or what ones I could find anyway, have changed over the years. They’ve gone from “generic aggressive/obnoxious 80s businessman” to “that ‘Apprentice’ guy” to today’s political parodies. Given the tone and influence of his presidential campaign, however, I’d assume any future parodies will be more focused on his politics or egoistical persona than “aggressive businessman,” or even “that ‘Apprentice’ guy.”