This video shows an interview with Martin Rowson on John Major.
From British daily The Morning Star:
The truth told in jest
(Tuesday 31 July 2007)
INTERVIEW: Martin Rowson
by MICHAL BONCZA and JOHN GREEN
INTERVIEW: Left-wing political cartoonist MARTIN ROWSON explains his position as a barb in the side of the thick-skinned political establishment.
He turned to Bell and said: “If this wire mesh wasn’t here, Steve, I could push you off and take your job.”
Mighty Bell, towering over Rowson, paled for a moment, not knowing if he was serious or just joking. That small incident encapsulates the essence of cartooning. Is it humorous, serious or both?
Over a bowl of spaghetti pescatore at an unassuming Italian cafe squashed between a few dubious-looking massage parlours in Euston, Rowson tells the Morning Star how he sees cartooning as akin to black magic, shamanism or voodoo.
It is a process of exorcising demons or sticking pins in dolls that represent your victims. But he also sees himself as being firmly on the side of the underdogs in society and his role as “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.”
Although every cartoonist hopes that their pins will penetrate thick skins and hurt their target, they also know that this rarely happens.
The boundless vanity of most politicians makes them largely immune to criticism and they are often avid purchasers of cartoons aimed at them, even if they only get hung in corridors or the toilet.
He says that cartoons serve to remind our leaders that they are human, but they also underline the disconnections in society and tear them open. They are a healthy part of the democratic process.
Rowson believes that, on the Continent, cartoonists are taken more earnestly. Here, we view them more as entertainers than serious critics.
It was to his eternal regret that Alastair Campbell dissuaded Tony Blair from conveying his outrage to the Guardian after one particular venomous satire stung as intended.
Such a response would have exposed a chink in Blair’s armour, as previous ones did with John Major. Political death by cartooning would have been a real possibility as the cartoonist troops could have easily zeroed in with bayonets fixed on such frailty.
Rowson began drawing as a small boy and became interested in cartooning after discovering his sister’s history book as a 10-year-old. It was llustrated with cartoons from many of the great figures of the past, from Gillray, Tenniel to Low. He used to copy Trog’s cartoons of Edward Heath.