Caricatures – Russell and Wittgenstein

by John Holbo on March 28, 2016

I’ve been trying to do caricatures in a new style. I did a few for the book but I’ve decided to continue the set. What do you think? Who should I do next?




John Holbo 03.28.16 at 2:13 pm

Don’t say Donald Trump.


JanieM 03.28.16 at 2:26 pm

Not philosophers in a strict sense, but: George Bernard Shaw and Mark Twain.

Something prompted me to skim the Wikipedia entry on Mark Twain last night, and I was struck by the echoes of Shaw, even in the visuals.


AcademicLurker 03.28.16 at 2:32 pm

Heidegger seems pretty caricaturable, what with the Hitleresque ‘stache and all.


Theophylact 03.28.16 at 2:54 pm

If you want a monumental mustache, go with Nietzsche.


Bill D'Alessandro 03.28.16 at 2:56 pm

Whoa! These are really cool, John. Whomever else you do, you need to show them off.


Dean C. Rowan 03.28.16 at 3:03 pm


AcademicLurker 03.28.16 at 3:07 pm


I was considering suggesting a “Mustaches of Western Philosophy” series, but the field is actually pretty limited if you exclude beards. There’s John Dewey, Austin…who else?


peterv 03.28.16 at 3:25 pm

At the least, you should do all the philosophers mentioned in Monty Python’s Philosophers’ Drinking Song.


Garrulous 03.28.16 at 4:23 pm

Tolstoy would be an interesting one to draw.


John Holbo 03.28.16 at 4:23 pm

Thanks, Bill. Good to hear from you. Thanks, everyone else. I was actually thinking of doing Bernard Shaw and Chesterton. Or maybe Hume and Kant. As Laurel and Hardy. Complete my philosopher set.

I did a Heidegger sketch but it didn’t come out so great.


Gary Othic 03.28.16 at 4:55 pm

@Dean C Rowan

Blimey, I never knew Jack Nicholson moonlighted as a philosopher of science.


Gary Othic 03.28.16 at 4:57 pm

Really nice drawings – I like the simple clear line style (the influence of Herge?) I’d vote for seeing Hume and Kant as Laurel and Hardy.


Dean C. Rowan 03.28.16 at 5:15 pm

Gary @12: Nicholson is an Against Method actor.


RNB 03.28.16 at 5:19 pm

@13 Funny!


Christoph 03.28.16 at 5:21 pm


id say zizek, but he doesnt count….


phosphorious 03.28.16 at 5:58 pm

David Lewis had a beard that demands caricature.


AB 03.28.16 at 7:52 pm

Henri Bergson (with moustache, no beard).


Dean C. Rowan 03.28.16 at 8:11 pm

Foucault. He’s easy, almost pure geometry. No hair, spectacles, done!


RNB 03.28.16 at 8:36 pm

C’mon…Bergson can’t be drawn with lines in space; he can only be intuited.


Oxbird 03.28.16 at 8:38 pm

Cherchez la femme: Anscombe, Arendt to start with some “A”s.


RNB 03.28.16 at 8:40 pm

Should caricature Adorno in whom the only truth was in his exaggerations…as he said about Freud.


RNB 03.28.16 at 8:43 pm

Probably should caricature GA Cohen given that he once requested that he be allowed to do stand-up comedy after an invited lecture


CJColucci 03.28.16 at 8:48 pm

How about Plato and Aristotle? What? No one knows what they looked like? So much the better. Back in my wild youth, I used to crack up parties by doing impressions of people no one living had ever heard. My Thomas Jefferson was a particular hit. Probably the best argument against recreational drug use ever.


Garrulous 03.28.16 at 8:59 pm

Dean C. Rowan @18 – there’s a great (non-naturalist) portrait of Foucault on one of the editions of the Foucault Reader. Had a good title too, which I now forget.,204,203,200_.jpg


RNB 03.28.16 at 9:09 pm

If we are going ancient then Chanakya due to his putative ugliness.


TM 03.28.16 at 9:15 pm

Didn’t know Russell had a lip piercing…


john c. halasz 03.28.16 at 9:20 pm

David Lewis and Robert Brandom together, grooming each other’s beard.


Dean C. Rowan 03.28.16 at 9:22 pm

Garrulous @24: Looks more like Derrida! Which reminds me of a rather disturbing painting of Derrida dancing with Paul de Man:


Javier Thayer 03.28.16 at 9:39 pm

Hilary Putnam, recently deceased?


Gary Othic 03.28.16 at 10:28 pm

@Dean (13)

Lol! Good one!


Gary Othic 03.28.16 at 10:29 pm

@Dean (28)

Is that dancing? Looked more like a homage to Sherlock and Moriarty on the Reichenbach Fall to me…


Tom Slee 03.28.16 at 10:41 pm

Beckett would look good in this style.


John Holbo 03.28.16 at 11:28 pm

“Beckett would look good in this style.”

Plus, I could make it by adjusting only about 15 nodes in the Wittgenstein one. And drawing in a turtleneck.


John Holbo 03.28.16 at 11:29 pm

“Nicholson is an Against Method actor.”

Oh snap!


js. 03.28.16 at 11:32 pm

I was also going to suggest Putnam, for much the reason that Javier Thayer does, but I have no sense for these things so don’t listen to me!


Alan White 03.28.16 at 11:40 pm

Whitehead drawn as a footnote to Plato.


JPL 03.28.16 at 11:47 pm

To continue the set with an interesting face, how about Ryle? (There is somewhere a really formidable low angle image of Ryle’s mug, but I can’t find it.)


Alan White 03.28.16 at 11:54 pm

Years ago on Stripgenerator I had a series “True Philo-sophy” where one drew all pictures using just preset tools of lines, fills, etc.–pretty primitive. FWIW here’re some representative strips–the last one of Socrates won the strip of the week award among thousands of strips submitted:

I guess as a post this is called Holbo’s coat-tails.


Garrulous 03.29.16 at 12:30 am

@31 Looked more like a homage to Sherlock and Moriarty on the Reichenbach Fall to me…

Well, the abyss of meaning, innit..?


Maria 03.29.16 at 10:47 am

Wow, these are amazing!


John Holbo 03.30.16 at 11:55 am

Thank you kindly, everyone!


JPL 03.31.16 at 10:51 pm

I noticed you gave Heidegger a try. So how about Husserl?


David Stein 04.01.16 at 2:27 pm

These are great. Wondering if you are a fan of Guy Davenport? I’d go next for Noam Chomsky.


Mike Schilling 04.02.16 at 4:01 pm


Thomas Friedman.


engels 04.02.16 at 4:03 pm

Brian Leiter


SqueakyRat 04.02.16 at 9:47 pm

Well, since you asked, I think they’re not very good. I’ve seen many photographs of both these guys, and I wouldn’t have recognized them in either of your caricatures if you hadn’t told us in advance who they represented. Whatever mechanical process you’re using is not serving you well.


John Holbo 04.04.16 at 12:59 am

“Whatever mechanical process you’re using is not serving you well.”

I’m using Adobe Illustrator to make the nodes but Adobe doesn’t have something like a ‘catch the resemblance’ plug-in. The mechanical process I use for that is: drawing. For that I use: a pencil.


I do use kind of a fancy-schmancy pencil, a Blackwing. But I doubt that’s the source of the trouble, such as it may be.

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