Monthly Archives: December 2016

Angels One Five Descend on Aleppo

Today we have a cartoon referencing a cartoon.

Saturday 17th December. Guardian– Martin Rowson/ David Low



David Low, 1940 – Indian ink and black chalk, with erasures in body colour , (38.5cm x 49.5cm). The Tate Collection.

David Low’s cartoon was published in the Evening Standard ,10th June 1940. It was a reference to the German occupation of the Low Countries in the Summer of 1940. Himmler, carrying a book entitled ‘Gestapo Death List’ is accompanied by two other members of the SS carrying a whip and a truncheon.


In Martin Rowsons reinterpretation of the work, Obama is asking Putin “What the hell have you done?” (Putin holding the reins on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and, for now just out of the picture, President Elect Donald Trump)  This remark seems to be both in reference  to the complicity in bombing civilians and hospitals in Aleppo with reports of women and children being massacred and also referencing reports coming from the the CIA and FBI that Putin was also directly responsible for interfering in the presidential election with the goal of supporting Republican candidate Donald Trump.

President Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry rebuked the Russian and Iranian backed Syrian regime for carrying out “nothing short of a massacre” in Aleppo, as tens of thousands of civilians were held in the recent siege of the rebel stronghold. Reports of women and children being executed in the streets came out of the beleagured city by verifiable sources.

Mr Kerry called for an “immediate, verifiable, and durable cessation of hostilities” and urged both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian leaders to participate in direct negotiations with the United Nations in Geneva.

“There is absolutely no justification whatsoever for the indiscriminate and savage brutality against civilians shows by the regime and by its Russian and Iranian allies over the past few weeks and, indeed, over the past five years,” he said at a press briefing.

President Barack Obama is also promising that the U.S. will retaliate against Russia for its suspected meddling in America’s election process.

As the White House grew more bullish about suggesting President Vladimir Putin was personally involved, Obama said he’d spoken directly to Putin about his concerns about Russian meddling. He said whenever a foreign government tries to interfere in U.S. elections, the nation must take action “and we will at a time and place of our own choosing.”

Chris Walker.


Who Wears the Trousers?

I am expanding this ‘cartoons referencing art’ theme further to include literary works. Today it is a cartoon by Martin Rowson referencing the poem Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Monday 12th December 2016. The Guardian  – Martin Rowson/ Percy Bysshe Shelley

A fair copy draft (c. 1817) of Shelley’s “Ozymandias” in the collection of Oxford’s Bodleian Library


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:

And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Percy Bysshe Shelley – first published in the 11th  January 1818 issue of The Examiner, London.

The central theme of the poem is exploring the arrogance of leaders and contrasting the inevitable decline of all of them and of the empires they build with their pretensions to greatness.

Ozymandias was a Greek name for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II. Shelley began writing his poem in 1817, soon after the announcement of the British Museum’s acquisition of a large fragment of a statue of Ramesses II from the thirteenth century BC. The sonnet paraphrases the inscription on the base of the statue, given by Diodorus Siculus in his Bibliotheca historica, as “”King of Kings am I, Osymandias. If anyone would know how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass one of my works.” In the poem Diodorus becomes “a traveller from an antique land”


In Martin Rowson’s cartoon we can see that “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone, Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies” – obviously representing Prime Minister, Theresa May. The main story behind this is the exclusion of Nicky Morgan from a private meeting with the Prime Minister after she  had made comments about the PM wearing a pair of £995 leather trousers for a photo shoot.

This was after an extraordinary text spat with Mrs May’s joint chief of staff Fiona Hill. Hill ripped up Morgan’s No 10 invitation after the MP publicly criticised the said trousers.

The clash came after Hill met Morgan and Tory pro-European  Alistair Burt at No 10 and invited them to put their case to the PM this week. But after reading Morgan’s comments about May’s trousers, a furious Hill texted Burt: ‘Don’t bring that woman to Downing Street again.’

Morgan texted back: ‘If you don’t like something I have said or done, please tell me directly. No man brings me to any meeting. Your team invites me. If you don’t want my views in future meetings you need to tell them.’

Hill then texted to Morgan: ‘Well, he just did. So there!’ – believed to be a reference to Burt having taken her to the previous meeting.

Three days later, No 10 told Morgan formally her name had been axed from the list of MPs invited to see May;

One Tory MP said: ‘For Downing Street to ban Nicky from the meeting just because she made a mild remark about the PM’s trousers is appalling, absurd and will backfire.

‘Some people in No 10 are acting like a medieval monarch’s courtiers, not responsible civil servants in a modern democracy.

Another told The Guardian: ‘Disinviting Nicky because of a comment on the Prime Minister’s trousers is frankly playground politics.’

Mrs Morgan has been an outspoken critic of the Government after being sacked from her Cabinet position when Mrs May’s took over at Number 10.

The cartoon shows Nicky Morgan walking away flicking two fingers to May while, in reference to the Boris’ “proxy wars” controversy, the foot of the demolished statue is stamping down on him.

Mind you she is known for being a “Bloody difficult woman”. But is she, as some Tory critics think, getting too big for her kitten-heel boots?

Chris Walker.

The (Boris) Empire Strikes Back

Another cartoon making a filmic reference to a current story – today it is The Telegraph’s  Bob Moran’s reworking of David Lean’s sweeping epic “Lawrence of Arabia” (what else?)

Sunday  11th December 2016. The Telegraph  – Bob Moran/ David Lean


Boris Johnson and friends have come out fighting after he was rebuked by No. 10 for saying that Saudi Arabia had been “playing proxy wars” in the Middle East. He told the Prime Minister that he will not apologise for his comments, made at a conference in Rome last week.

Allies of Mr Johnson said that Downing Street would have to “learn a lessons” after senior Conservative MPs came to the Foreign Secretary’s aid following the put-down.

A number of senior Conservatives have come out to defend Mr Johnson’s comments. One ally said: “They will have to learn a lesson, they got their nose bloodied.

“Given the amount of people who support him No 10 will have to think twice about slapdowns. “Why should a Foreign Secretary be quiet? Because it’s been done that way for 100 years? The British people are saying no, they are sick of the old order.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a former Foreign Secretary, Mr Johnson is “dangerous” and said he may be “more comfortable in a different senior cabinet position.”

However an ally of Boris said: “Mr Rifkind wasn’t exactly the best foreign secretary this country has ever had and should go back to whatever he is doing these days and stop sniping from the sidelines.”

As you know the row erupted after a recording of Mr Johnson emerged in which he lumped Saudi Arabia in with Iran as he raised concerns about “puppeteering” in the region and the row doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

The cartoon (based on a scene from “Lawrence of Arabia”) sees Boris leading his allies in the attack.



Director: David Lean, Writers: T.E. Lawrence (writings), Robert Bolt (screenplay) Michael Wilson (screenplay) (originally uncredited: credit restored in 1978 by the Writers Guild of America), Stars: Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Omar Sharif, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains USA/UK, Colour, 1962

Remember despite the reported incidents of civilian deaths and the worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen, the UK has signed off £3.3bn in arms sales to Saudi Arabia since the start of its offensive.

We shall see how this pans out.

Chris Walker.

Bojo of Arabia

The  controversy over Boris Johnson’s diplomatic gaffe at the Saudis expense rumbles on with people saying that he is not the right person to be Foreign Secretary. Others, however, argue that he is just saying what everyone else is thinking. But No. 10 Downing Street continue to distance themselves from his utterances saying he is not speaking for the Government. Should be an interesting weekend as Bojo is off to the Middle East.

Saturday 10th  December. The Independent – Dave Brown/John Edwin Noble


I think it is obvious what Mr. Brown’s interpretation of the situation is. Bojo being shat on from the camel that represents Theresa May whilst she carries King Salman of Saudi Arabia off – he  eagerly clutching a British made missile.

John Edwin Noble was not an artist I had previously been familiar with. After studying to be an artist he became an instructor at Calderon’s School of Animal Painting and a lecturer on animal drawing and anatomy at the Central and Camberwell Schools of Arts and Crafts. He served as a sergeant in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps during World War I, where he was employed as an official war artist, depicting horses and mules in charcoal and watercolour. He seems to have worked exclusively as an animal artist and his characteristically emphatic outline gives his work a strongly decorative quality and the artwork that the above cartoon is based on is a book illusratration.



John Edwin Noble, 1919 – Illustration from ‘Helpers Without Hands’ by Gladys Davidson

We shall see how this pans out!

Chris Walker.

Dropping the Blond Bombshell

Today’s cartoon that references a piece of art is not referencing a painting, drawing or classical work – but a film. Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove.

Friday 9th December 2016. The Times  – Peter Brookes/ Stanley Kubrick


Theresa May distances herself from Boris  Johnson’s comments on the House of Saud running proxy wars and puppeteering in the Middle East. She is seen in the cartoon kicking Boris, riding a British made bomb, out of the bomb bay.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has been slapped down by Theresa May for his comments on Saudi Arabia’s role in the Middle East.

Footage emerged from an event last week at which Mr Johnson said: “There are politicians who are twisting and abusing religion and different strains of the same religion in order to further their own political objectives. That’s one of the biggest political problems in the whole region.

“And the tragedy for me – and that’s why you have these proxy wars being fought the whole time in that area – is that there is not strong enough leadership in the countries themselves.”

The foreign secretary identified Saudi Arabia and Iran specifically, saying: “That’s why you’ve got the Saudis, Iran, everybody, moving in, and puppeteering and playing proxy wars.”

Downing Street said Johnson’s comments on Saudi Arabia do not represent “the government’s position”.  The PM’s spokeswoman said the comments were the foreign secretary’s personal views. Which is a bit strange, because BoJo, as Foreign Secretary IS part of the Government.

It has also emerged the the UK is doing more than just suppling tonnes of arms to the Saudis apparently sources have confirmed that six experts are working with Saudi targeteers who select locations for attack.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) in London insists they are not part of any direct operations but are training the Saudis to comply with the international rules of war.

The reference to the film is one scene where at the end, B-52 pilot Maj. “King” Kong  played by Slim Pickens — goes to the bomb bay to manually release the stuck bay doors on his damaged aircraft, thus enabling him to complete his nuclear attack run on a Soviet target.  But just as he celebrates his accomplishment with a bit of hootin’ and hollerin’, the bomb on which he was seated is dropped. He rides the device all the way in to the target, wildly whipping his Stetson hat around as he plummets to a thermonuclear death and a blaze of glory.



Director: Stanley Kubrick, Writers: Kubrick, Terry Southern and Peter George (screenplay), Peter George (book “Red Alert”), Stars: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Slim Pickens, USA/UK, Black and White, 1964

Kubrick was a visionary, but let’s hope not this time – “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!” Genius.

Chris Walker.

Plum scary

Thursday 8th December.  The Spectator  – Peter Brookes/ James Gillray

The Spectator Christmas special cover is re-presenting one of James Gillray’s most famous satires dealing with the Napoleonic wars.


The Spectators Christmas Special Front Cover – Trump and Putin carve up the World

In the original, Prime Minister William Pitt sits on the left of the picture opposite Napoleon Bonaparte, both of who are slicing up the globe in a bid to gain a larger portion. The intention of the piece is simple, it is showing the avaricious pursuit of international dominance by both the French and British governments.

The spectator have just replaced Pitt with Trump and Boneparte with Putin to show the political ambitions of the two current most powerful men in the world.


James Gillray –  published by Hannah Humphrey 26 February 1805 – hand-coloured etching, 261mm x 362mm, National Portrait Gallery’

Scary times.

Chris Walker.