on 5 January 2009
Among political cartoonists, Gerald Scarfe reigns supreme and this book (an excellent companion to Drawing Blood and Heroes and Villains) is simply wonderful - if those are the right words, given the subject matter.
Caricaturists like Scarfe, Martin Rowson, Steve Bell, Chris Riddell and others are genuine heroes. Whether satire and caricature has ever stopped a villain or a despot is a moot point but at least we know the cartoonists are thinking what we are. Sometimes laughter is the only sane response and, while much of the material here is wilfully ugly, it is quite beautifully so.
The monsters, of course, are politicians and world leaders, including every American president since JFK (depicted drowining in a sea of breasts) and every British Prime Minister since Harold MacMillan (including, of course, the famous caricature of him as Christine Keeler - arguably the picture that made Scarfe famous).
It's uncompromising, it's relentless and it's very, very angry. It is also very, very funny. Sheer brilliance!
on 2 January 2009
These days Gerald Scarfe is familiar for his political cartoons in the Sunday Times and comes from the hard hitting school of several modern political cartoonists... Steve Bell, Dave Brown, Martin Rowson, Peter Brookes etc. The way that faces are distorted to emphasise charactistics [eg Nixon's nose, Blair's ears etc] make Scarfe's cartoons instantly recognisable. This book looks at the horrific characters that have led us or rather misled us to where we are today. Excellently reproduced as high quality images, many in full colour, it features leaders since the early 1960's. Although inevitably some have appeared in some of Scarfe's other books over the years, this does not detract as the vast majority are reproduced in book form for the first time. No British or US leader escapes being parodied, and there are others like Mugabe also included. There is sufficient informative text to remind you just how awful these leaders were .. or still are .. but the book is essentially a visual experience. While evoking chuckles and even laughter at the cartoons, it is a salutary record of our 'beloved' leaders.