David Low was a brilliant political cartoonist from New Zealand. He started his career in his native country, moved to Australia and cemented his place in history working in England. His career spanned from 1910 to 1953. While American cartoonists were drawing humorless cartoons of FDR with his big, strong hands on the stern of a ship navigating through choppy waters with a determined and focused look on his face, Low was using wit to humiliate Francisco Franco, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, and Adolph Hitler.
Hitler, who was a failed artist, could appreciate the power of a political cartoon. Hitler went a step farther than Boss Tweed did in the 1870s who tried to buy off political cartoonist Thomas Nast. Hitler wanted Low killed.
In 1937 Hitler’s propagandist Joseph Goebbels told the British foreign minister Lord Halifax that Low’s cartoons were damaging Anglo-German relations. After the war it was discovered that Low had made The Black Book, which was a list of everyone the Nazis wanted to arrest if they had successfully invaded Great Britain.
On September 20, 1939 the Evening Standard published Low’s most famous cartoon, “Rendezvous.” It depicted Hitler and Stalin greeting each other politely during their joint invasion of Poland. That’s the cartoon I’m taking a turn with here. It’s my homage to Mr. Low.
Low’s work would fit in with today’s political cartoonists with his use of humor and satire. The British were always years ahead of us in wit, sarcasm, humor, and even cursing. Seriously, the English knack for creating new insults is on an entirely different level than ours. Example: That Donald Trump bastard is a real tosser.
This cartoon was a little difficult to draw as I was attempting to insert some of Low’s style and he’s also a much better artist than I am. What makes me geek out a bit is that while Low was fighting fascism in 1939 using pencil and charcoal, I’m doing the same today drawing on a digital platform. I won’t ever be as famous as Low or make as much of an impact, but while our work is separated by over 70 years, technology, and a vastly different state of newspaper journalism (newspapers were constantly in bidding wars for Low’s services, even moving him from a different continent and hemisphere. I’m lucky editors know my name), we’re doing the exact same thing. His fascists were Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, and Stalin. My fascist are Vladimir Putin, Bashar Assad, and Donald Trump. I’ll also include all the Nazi tossers supporting that last one.
David Low stuck around for a long time after his fascist were gone. I intend to do the same after mine are vanquished also. I like to think that David Low is somewhere traveling through the galaxies or doing whatever it is dead people do, and he is seeing my spin on his cartoon and saying “Hey, Yank. Go write your own cartoons!”. I’ll return to that tomorrow as trying to emulate David Low is really hard.
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