Artist Behind Obama "Joker" Picture Revealed

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Two weeks ago, we told you about a poster that first started appearing with President Obama portrayed as "The Joker" from "The Dark Night" movie last year. The poster had the word "socialism" underneath it, as you can see at left from an anti-health care rally in Atlanta last weekend.

What was a mystery then was who is behind the posters. And while we still don't know who put the posters up, the Los Angeles Times has now unmasked the artist who first created the original "Joker" image -- Firas Alkhateeb, a 20-year-old college student from Chicago.

The big surprise is that Alkhateeb is not a conservative activist as many would expect. In fact, he told the Times that he didn't vote in last year's election and that if he had to pick a candidate it would be Rep. Dennis Kucinich, one of the most liberal members of Congress who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and 2008.

Alkhateeb, a senior at the University of Illinois, told the Times he made the picture during his winter break with Adobe Photoshop and an online tutorial on how to "Jokerize" pictures. His version used a Time Magazine cover from October 23 of last year. (You can see it here.)

He uploaded the picture to his Flickr page last Jan. 18, and it didn't get much attention until recently when someone stripped out the references and added "socialism" to the bottom of it. Alkhateeb said Flickr has since removed the original image due to copyright concerns.

While we now know who originally made the image, we still don't know who first used it in the posters that have appeared at anti-Obama protests around the country. For his part, Alkhateeb doesn't get the "socialism" caption that was applied to the picture.

"It really doesn't make any sense to me at all," he said. "To accuse him of being a socialist is really ... immature. First of all, who said being a socialist is evil?"

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