In the mid-1980s, while attending Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Mike Pence drew a regular comic strip for the school paper, Dictum. The strip stars Pence’s alter ego, called “Law School Daze,” a quivering, incompetent wreck of a law student. (Pence, who graduated in 1986 with a “B” average, once told the Wall Street Journal, “No one I know likes law school. It was a bad experience. I wouldn’t wish it on a dog I didn’t like.”)
Earlier this year, Indiana University released a series of Pence’s comics, which illustrate a lizard person’s attempts to understand earth humor. They’re full of bad law puns (i.e. a fictional magazine called “Torts Illustrated”) and spelling errors (“wierdest,” “bumbed out”). Perhaps the strangest comics are those that seem to reflect a degree of self-awareness on Pence’s part — in particular, a drawing of an auctioneer at the Women’s Caucus, offering to pay the audience to take original Pence drawings off her hands. It suggests Pence knows the women’s movement hates him, and that his cartoons are bad, and also that, unfortunately, he doesn’t really care either way.
As Esquire points out, there are plenty of similarities between Daze the cartoon character and Pence the politician: both seem to have a masochistic attraction to abusive authority figures, both demonstrate an ignorance of the law, both are also casually sexist. But there’s nothing here that hints the author of this comic strip would one day be elected Vice President of the United States.
That’s what makes them so oddly discomfiting. After the election, the cartoons read like a study in the banality of evil: the sheepishly grinning, nervously sweating guy who makes dumb comics about not studying for finals is also the waxy-looking ideologue who virulently opposes LGBT civil rights, women’s rights, and affordable healthcare, and who is helping to usher alt-right (read: white supremacist) allies into the White House.