The Santorum Variations

Illustrator Zina Saunders takes a whack at depicting the Google bomb that could thwart the former senator's presidential ambitions. Actually, 15 whacks.
The Santorum Variations

Mother Jones' creative director Tim J Luddy on the 15 sketches in this slideshow:

When sex columnist Dan Savage got ticked off at then-Senator Rick Santorum, who had compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia, Savage invited his readers to come up with an outrageous sexual neologism for Santorum's last name. Three years later, the resulting site, spreadingsantorum.com, continues to come up above Santorum's own campaign site in Google searches.

In looking for an illustrator to create artwork to accompany this Mother Jones story about Santorum's Google problem this campaign season, I knew I needed someone who could be both politically astute and in-your-face. The name Zina Saunders occurred immediately.

Saunders has caricatured the foibles of everyone from Sarah Palin to Tim Geithner with wicked humor, inventiveness, and a powerful style that almost leaps off the page. The success of her work in this area appears to be driven by a genuine passion for contemporary politics.

That passion led her to create 15 smart and savage sketches for this assignment, engendering lively debate among myself and my editors in chief about which of them would best highlight our story. Although we think we picked a winner, we thought you'd be interested in seeing all of her attempts.

And she didn't stop there. While we were arguing the pros and cons of how many splatters and whether or not to depict Santorum in the shower, Saunders went back to two of her sketches and created two short animations from them. View them here and here.

We're planning to run regular animated political illustrations by Saunders on MotherJones.com; see this one now, and watch for future installments.

Read a related story about Santorum's campaign issues here.