Home > Media > The mark of a true cartoonist…

The mark of a true cartoonist…

Dominion Post cartoonist Tom Scott has had one of his cartoons re-published  in French newspaper Le Monde. His caricature of  Syrian dictator, President Bashar al-Assad, has won him accolades,


Kiwi cartoonist published in Paris paper

Acknowledgment: Kiwi cartoonist published in Paris paper


A cartoonist pokes fun at positions of authority; those in power; and established social “norms”. A cartoonist is a critic , or at least exposes contradictions so the public reader can see an issue or problem from another vantage point.

A cartoonist can also create images that reinforce evil such as racism and other discrimination – but then that raises the question; what is the point?

Reinforcing prejudice is easy-peasy; just repeat what the previous bigot said. No original thought required.

Al Nisbet’s openly racist cartoons in the Marlborough Express and The Press are examples of reinforcing preconceived prejudices. Nothing is challenged. Only reinforced.


Al Nisbet's racist cartoon (2)


290513 The Marlborough Express Al Nisbet cartoon

Acknowledgment: Marlborough Express & The Press


That’s not cartooning. That’s propaganda.

Speaking of “propaganda”…

On 31 May, Deputy Editor of Christchurch’s The Press, Ric Stevens, made this comment defending Nisbet’s cartoons,

“On the wall of my office in Press House in Gloucester St is a drawing by New Zealander David Low, described by Britain’s Guardian newspaper in a 1963 obituary as the “dominant cartoonist of the western world”.

The cartoon I look at every working day, which sadly does not belong to me, is an inoffensive thing.

Canterbury’s founding fathers reach out from a book – the pages of history – to a young couple of 1950, congratulating them on reaching the Christchurch Centenary.

Judging by a furore over our cartoons that blew up yesterday, it seems some readers would want all our cartoons to be that nice.

But not all Low’s cartoons were as gentle. His acerbic Rendezvous of 1939 depicts a meeting between Stalin and Hitler, who are shown politely bowing while describing each other as “the scum of the earth” and “the bloody assassin of the workers” respectively.

After World War II, the British-based Low found his name on Hitler’s blacklist of people to be rounded up should the Nazis ever successfully invade the United Kingdom. But he had enemies at home as well as abroad – the British press once decried him as a warmonger.

Low was knighted in the end.

Low was an exponent of a long tradition of newspaper cartooning which has always tended to push boundaries. Unlike the editorial which often sits alongside them, cartoons do not necessarily represent the view of the newspaper, but very much that of the artist.”

Acknowledgment: Cartoon row misses the point

Low’s cartoon’s vilified dictators like Hitler and Stalin,


david low cartoon (1)


david low cartoon (2)


david low cartoon (3)


david low cartoon (4)


david low cartoon (5)


david low cartoon (6)


david low cartoon (7)


david low cartoon (8)


david low cartoon (9)


david low cartoon (10)


None of these cartoons vilified the victims of  Stalin, Hitler, Franco, and Mussolini.

Therein lies the difference between Lows cartoons with Nisbets.

Which makes Ric Stevens’ attempt to associate Nisbet with Low as wholly inadequate.





The Press: Cartoon row misses the point

Dominion Post: Kiwi cartoonist published in Paris paper



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Categories: Media Tags: , , ,
  1. Matthew
    4 June 2013 at 1:15 pm

    As a history teacher, I use David Low’s cartoons quite a bit. He, most often, hit the nail absolutely on the head.
    Nisbet does not even come close to Low’s greatness.

    • 4 June 2013 at 3:04 pm

      Indeed, Matthew. Which is why, when I read Ric Stevens’ editorial, I was gobsmacked that he raised the spirit of Low to defend Nisbet’s racism…

  2. 4 June 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Association fallacy … the tools of propaganda all come out of the same box.

  3. J. Nada
    4 June 2013 at 4:00 pm

    A new low, not a new Low.

  4. Pattrick Smellie
    4 June 2013 at 4:18 pm

    not just wholly inadequate but offensive to Low’s memory. Like comparing Tolstoy with Enid Blyton.

  5. SK
    4 June 2013 at 4:41 pm

    good work Frank, it’s so aptly put.

  6. Patti (Yaya) Sobieski
  7. Matthew
    4 June 2013 at 6:49 pm

    J. Nada :
    A new low, not a new Low.


  8. 4 June 2013 at 11:42 pm

    Reblogged this on berealblack.

  9. 4 June 2013 at 11:56 pm

    Yes, the Low comparison was obscene. The Deputy Editor godwinned his own smug argument.

  10. Charlotte
    20 February 2015 at 11:37 pm

    Although this article is alright, i don’t really get what point you are trying to make.

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