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12 February 2009

Calling all cartoonists . . .

By Aloysius McDowell

If a picture, as the cliché goes, tells a thousand words, a cartoon may often be less verbose yet still more eloquent. Great cartoonists have influenced perceptions of historical figures and events just as surely as the chroniclers and essayists of their times. Think of William Pitt the Younger, and James Gillray’s 1805 etching The Plumb-pudding in danger, in which an etiolated Pitt carves up the globe with an eager-eyed Napoleon, springs instantly to mind.

Vicky’s Introducing Super-Mac, from 1958, remains the definitive image of Harold Macmillan. Steve Bell’s inversion of the superhero genre in 1990, when he first drew John Major wearing underpants over his trousers, is an example of the form’s supreme facility for ridicule.

Over the years, the New Statesman has featured many of the finest exponents of the art, including Vicky, Ralph Steadman, Nicholas Garland, Robert Thompson and Martin Rowson. Our pages today carry work by another four peerless practitioners, David Simonds (above), Grizelda, Knife and Chris Priestley.

Now we intend to expand our coverage, and to that end, we invite the next generation of cartoonists, the undiscovered Jaks, Trogs, Matts and Honeysetts, to contact us. We will welcome all offerings sent to, whether these deal in elaborate detail or pay homage to painters such as Goya.

So, hone your quills and your wits. We

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