Recently a certain politician became editor of the London Evening Standard. A fan of cartoons – despite some unflattering portrayals of him over the years – George Osborne reintroduced the political cartoon to the paper.
The Standard has a long and distinguished history of cartoonists: Vicky, Low and Jak; all masters of the trade and extremely big acts to follow. I was offered the job and, though it was daunting, I accepted.
I started just as the general election was announced. It was great timing, with every day stuffed with political news to feast on. I am an equal opportunities offender, and in a sort of apolitical way I will poke fun at anyone who I think deserves it, regardless of political party. My first cartoon for the Standard was headlined “London landmarks”. I drew Ukip stuffed into a red telephone box, the Lib Dems’ Tim Farron as the London Eye, unsure if he was going left or right, Jeremy Corbyn in a bus reversing to the 1970s and Theresa May as Big Ben, chiming her mantra “Bong! Strong and Stable! Bong! Strong and Stable!”
Being an evening (or, more accurately, afternoon) paper, the Standard goes to print at 11 o’clock in the morning. This is great for a cartoonist. Rather than drawing the day before, as you do for a daily, I can be right up to the minute. I can draw a red-hot topical cartoon at eight in the morning and it will be on the newsstands by midday.
This was tested to the extreme on day three of my new job. The Duke of Edinburgh announced that he was retiring. The statement was made at 10am. The editor came over to me and asked how long I needed to draw a cartoon on the subject. I asked how long I could have.
“Half an hour,” he said.
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