While this is Rodriguez’s first published illustration of Kim, the New York-based artist is no stranger to forging scathing illustrations of Trump, which have been published in Der Spiegel, TIME, and Politico. His first drawings of the current president cropped up during the campaign, when Rodriguez, a Cuban immigrant, was offended and angered by then-candidate Trump’s exclusionary, anti-immigrant rhetoric.
When Rodriguez left Communist Cuba for the U.S. in 1980 at the age of eight, he believed he was heading towards “the greatest country in the world,” where, he recalls his father telling him, “I’d be free to do whatever I want, go wherever I want, and say whatever I want.” Over the course of his 36 years in the U.S., his expectations had been largely met. Now, however, he says the freedoms he so valued are under threat.
Rodriguez says he couldn’t stand it when many of his fellow citizens failed to take Trump’s stump speech promises, or bid for presidency, seriously. “So I started making outrageous images to spark people’s attention—to rile them up,” he said. “I wanted to communicate that, to me, Trump was like a comet heading towards Earth.”
When Trump was elected president, news outlets around the world responded with big, bold headlines. But it was Der Spiegel that hit the presses with a cover that stood out from the rest. The single compositionally simple illustration on the German magazine’s cover captured the international shockwave of uncertainty and fear that Trump’s election had set in motion. In it, an orange-faced, yellow-maned comet hurtles towards Earth, mouth wide open as if ready to swallow the planet whole.