OK, we are back. I was reading the New York Times on the plane this morning, and there was an interesting story about the influence that caricatures can have on a politician's image, most recently Tina Fey's Sarah Palin, but also ones like Chevy Chase's Gerlad Ford and Thomas Nast's Boss Tweed.
It had this on the origin of the word caricature:
The word comes from the Italian “caricare,” meaning “to overload.” Some characteristic is heavily piled on: the elongated nose, the prominent belly, the bulbous eyes. Caricature seems to have its earliest associations with portraits that showed human subjects to be transformed animals. This can be just a trick of perception, but the art comes from connecting physical characteristics to character, the way Leonardo da Vinci did in his human-animal hybrids. For a great caricaturist, physiognomy is a reflection of the hidden soul: by showing us something exaggerated, something overlooked is revealed.