Crazy Sh*t Presidents Said

MAY 3, 2012

When doing projects on books it is often the case that we have to wait a while before the book is published and we can post about the illustrations.  I am happy to say that CRAZY SH*T PRESIDENTS SAID is finally out.  It went through several incarnations in terms of copy and categories before I got the final okay from art director Corinda Cook of Running Press to go ahead with the drawings.  It was a pleasure working with her and once we had a pretty solid idea of how the copy was going to fall into categories it made the illustrating part much easier. 


First and foremost the illustrations were going to concentrate on caricatures of a healthy selection of presidents, along with a nice handful being situations based on the noteworthy sayings.   I had one two-page spread inside that was to be something of a group image of presidents past and present interacting. Rather than using an identifiable setting as the glue holding these centuries of presidents together - like the Oval Office or a campaign train car, which I had done as covers for earlier books on presidential anecdotes-, it seemed a good idea to use an activity as the solution.   Norman Rockwell’s famous painting, “The Gossips” came to mind almost immediately as a great image to spoof.  The image would kill two birds with one stone by portraying a plausible activity- passing a rumor- within the context of a historical timeline of the presidency.  Corinda was on board with the concept immediately.  It worked very nicely. 


I was given several pages of memorable quotes pertaining to different topics from which to choose from.  The material, which ranged from funny to jaw dropping in terms of audacity, pretty much guaranteed creating humorous situations.  The one challenge was pacing them so that they could be distributed with a nice flow throughout the book.  I did my best to avoid the more famous, or infamous, quotes and sought to illustrate those we are not as familiar with- if at all.  The philosophy to the caricatures was from a standpoint of whimsy and humor rather than excoriation, looking for the element of character in the expressions from the stacks of visual historical reference, and to just let the drawings speak for themselves.


It’s really quite a remarkable book a very enjoyable reference source, and definitely a great gift book.  Made me wonder how many more howlers were left out in editing. The observations by presidents on other presidents alone is worth the price of admission.  There are a number of attributable quotes on topics that are more shocking and sad than funny.  All in all one is reminded that our democracy has survived through more muddled and ineffective administrations than we would dare imagine, and that even the giants had giant flaws. 

" A woman is the only thing I am afraid of that I know will not hurt me."

"Fear is the foundation of most governments."- John Adams

"There doesn't seem anything else for an ex-President to do but to go into the country and raise big pumpkins."- Chester Arthur

"I always figured the American public wanted a solemn ass for President, so I went along with them."- Calvin Coolidge

"He's sick-he's got an addiction. He needs treatment.He's sick...I'm convinced that Clinton has a sexual addiction. He needs to get help-for his sake."- Gerald Ford

"As to the Presidency, the two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrender of it."- Martin van Buren

"Let me give you a little serious political advice. One single word. Puppies. Worth the points."- G.H.W. Bush

"McKinley has no more backbone than a chocolate eclair."- Teddy Roosevelt

"It's a damn poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word."- Andrew Jackson

"You don't win campaigns on a diet of dishwater and milk toast." Richard Nixon

"Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote.The relative positions to be assumed by man and woman in the working out of our civilization were assigned long ago by a higher intelligence than ours."- Grover Cleveland


A Jackson that didn't make it into the book.

I did a couple Obamas. This one didn't make it.

This one did.


"I had more women by accident than he had by design." LBJ on JFK

"I cannot stand Johnson's damn long face. He just comes in, sits at the cabinet meets with his face all screwed up."- JFK on LBJ

One of my unexpected favorite drawings. John Tyler. Just had this great mug in is portraits.

John Adams

Guess who.

Woodrow Wilson

Another great mug- U.S. Grant. I deliberately kept a cigar out of his mouth.

Only one drawing of Truman but he's quoted quite a bit in the book, and not necessarily to his advantage. It seems he couldn't keep his mouth shut.


"He is the most dangerous man of the age."- Woodrow Wilson on TR "Utterly without conscience and regard for truth, the greatest fakir of all times."- Warren Harding on TR

"Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct."- Thomas Jefferson

I have never been able to do a drawing of Washington without thinking of how uncomfortable his false teeth were in his mouth, especially after finding picture reference of it online. OUCH! Apparently he lived in constant low grade agony. This drawing was reused from a previous book.

Is it any wonder he never smiles in his portraits? Just to be clear- this picture is NOT in the book. You can find it on Google.