Norwegians have a long tradition of buying and reading special Christmas comic books called julehefter. While interest in Donald Duck has been waning, Donald Trump has inspired creation of a new comic book this year that parodies both him and his presidency.
There’s no lack of sarcasm over Trump’s vanity, impulsiveness and self-promotion in the new comic book called Donalds Glade Jul (Donald’s Merry Christmas). It’s billed on the front page as “The Greatest Julehefte Ever,” while it also strives to “Make X-mas Great Again.”
In a blend of Norwegian and English, publishing firm Egmont attracted some of Norway’s best cartoon artists to contribute to the Trump comic book project, like Pondus creator Frode Øverli along with Øyvind Sagåsen, Stein Hjelmerud and colleagues Bizarro in the US and Henrik Rehr of Denmark. Its stories and jokes about the US president, who often both shocks and deeply worries Norwegian and other European leaders, are merciless, complete with a sequence of mock Tweets including one in which Trump purports to have “collected sensitive material about Christmas, given to me by two very special Russian girls in a hotel room not so long ago.”
It was all the idea of Egmont’s editorial board in charge of Christmas comics. “This is something new within the branch, we’ve never had an American president like Donald,” Egmont editor Kjetil Johnsen told news bureau NTB. “The situation within American politics, and the president’s role in particular, really invites satire. We couldn’t resist the temptation.”
In one cartoon strip, Trump regularly refers to his wife Melania by the wrong name and demands to speak to children at an “Ivanka Trump Orphanage.” When only one child shows up because all the others have either “starved or run away” (since Trump’s daughter allegedly “gave all its operating funds away as dividends to shareholders”) Trump then demands his aides to quickly find other other children, including “those in cages down at the Mexican border.” Melania Trump is pictured wearing jackets with various messages that portray embarrassment and disgust: “Is this all a bad dream?” and “Hurry up, Mueller.”
Fictional ads also portray Trump as a marsipan pig that’s for sale and will allegedly “make Christmas taste good again.” An illustration by artist Henrik Rehr of Trump on skis is accompanied by an alleged Trump tweet that reacts to the drawing in anger: “Horrible Henrik Rehr couldn’t paint his way out of a paper bag. Him and his orange crayons need to be LOCKED UP! Shame!” Another cartoon suggests how Trump has made America “hate again.”
Even the smallest details printed in the Egmont comic book parody Trump, with its editorial credits claiming that it was published by “Egmont Kids Fake Media,” and listing a “fake editor,” fake graphic desiger and fake editor-in-chief. It also includes a message that thanks all Americans who voted for Donald Trump: “Without you this Christmas comic would not have become a reality.”
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) has reported that sales of Christmas comics have risen by around 10 percent in recent years, with a total press run of 2.3 million. That’s quite a lot in a country with a total population of just over 5 million. Donalds Glade Jul is one of Egmont’s 35 julehefter this year.
Sales of its classic Donald Duck & Co comic books, meanwhile, are in decline. Donald Duck comics, which have been hugely popular since their debut in Norway right after World War II, remain Egmont’s biggest series, but readers are becoming fewer and older.
“We have recently celebrated Donald Duck’s 70th birthday (as a comic book published in Norwegian) but we may not see its 80th,” Arild Wærness, who hosts a comic book festival in Bergen, told DN. “It’s only a matter of time before Donald Duck disappears.”
Sales of Donald Duck comic books have fallen from a peak of 13 million a year in the 1980s to around 1.6 million this year. Cecilie Kalleberg, marketing chief for Egmont’s children’s division, admitted that it’s “a challenge” to recruit new, young readers but disagrees that Donald Duck is doomed. Egmont chief executive Kjell Frostrud Johnsen claims the firm will publish Donald Duck for another 70 years. The future of the Donald Trump comic book remained unclear.