Name Droppings

By Mahood (Columbus Books)
ISBN: 978-0-86287-260-1

Another prolific but criminally all-but forgotten staple of British cartooning is Kenneth Mahood, whose darkly dry and merrily mordant panel gags were a mainstay of humour mags, cartoon-book racks and newspapers from 1949 to the end of the 1980s.

Your man was born in Belfast in 1930 and after going the usual route of jobs he didn’t want – solicitor’s Junior and Apprentice printer – the painter, collage artist and political cartoonist sold his first work to Punch in 1948 and went full-time.

He never quit “real” art and had exhibitions of paintings throughout the 1950s in Belfast London and Dublin and studied art in Paris on a CEMA scholarship. Constantly selling gags he became Assistant Art Editor at Punch (1960-1965), only surrendering the position when he became the first ever resident political cartoonist in The Times’ history (1966-1968). He performed the same function for The London Evening Standard from 1969 to 1971 before moving over to the Financial Times and the Daily Mail in 1982, at which time he began to concentrate increasingly on his Fine Art output.

This slightly off-kilter and wittily impressive collection from 1986 could double as a rainy-day parlour-game kit as it offers cartoon images and sight-gags which the reader is asked to identify as the title of either Books, Theatre or Cinema classics and blockbusters; much like graphic charades or a prototype Pictionary, ranging from the punishingly obvious and literal to the devious, askew and outright surreal, all delivered in the artist’s signature style of heavy line, angular definition and dark tones.

It’s fun and it’s funny in equal measure and a glorious example of the wide and expansive appeal and facility of cartoon expression.

Good luck finding it though. As is the norm these days, most of Mahood’s collections – political, general or otherwise – are all out of print, although many old bookshops and charity stores have a few in their bargain bins.
© 1986 Mahood.