Few contemporaries captured Britain’s indomitable wartime spirit as well or as wittily as the cartoonist Carl Giles. Back in 2017, Tim Benson’s book Giles War arrived in bookshops, offering a terrific compendium of the very best of the cartoons he produced between 1939 and 1945. The collection includes many cartoons that have not seen the light of day in over 75 years.
As a young cartoonist at Reynold’s News and then the Daily Express, Giles’s work provided a crucial morale boost – and much-needed laughs – to a population suffering daily privations and danger, and Giles’s War shows why. Included are his often hilarious takes on the great events of the war – from the Fall of France, via D-Day, to the final Allied victory.
But there’s much more, too – wryly amusing depictions of ordinary people in extraordinary times, living in bombed-out streets, dealing with food shortages, coping with blackouts, railing against bureaucracy and everyday annoyances.
A fitting tribute to one of our greatest cartoonists, whose work still resonates today – and it does lead you to wonder how he might have reflected on our current crisis.
Fortunately, these are still several cartoonists offering their take on the Pandemic and late last year London’s Cartoon Museum published a special fundraising eBook entitled #DrawtheCoronavirus: A Cartoon Mini-Challenge from the Mind of Martin Rowson.
The eBook collates submissions to a ‘draw the coronavirus’ competition run on Twitter by Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson in April 2020. It contains 193 cartoons by 71 different artists. Featuring artwork by both members of the public and national treasures of British cartooning, the publication offering a brilliant historic snapshot of a nation in lockdown.
Featured artists include: Ralph Steadman, Steve Bell, Ben Jennings, Nick Newman, Banx, Steve Bright, Zoom Rockman, Grizelda and Glenn Marshall.
The eBook is available to buy exclusively through the Cartoon Museum’s online shop, with all proceeds going towards the museum’s fundraising appeal to secure the long-term future of the museum in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This book was released well before the tragic passing of one of the Museum’s finest, Alison Brown, aged just 39, who died after becoming ill with COVID.