James Mellor has been creating cartoons in his home studio in Rushden since 2012, but Brexit raised his profile to the national stage when his political cartoons aimed at both sides of the argument featured in exhibitions and national publications such as Private Eye. Now James hopes his coronavirus-inspired cartoons will help to raise a laugh during difficult times:
“The coronavirus outbreak has brought out the worst and the best of society – and both sides can provide inspiration. Those stockpiling items are behaving in a selfish and awful way, but the image of these people’s houses crammed to the rafters with toilet roll is quite funny. Local Formula 1 teams adapting their technology to produce ventilators is great news, but imagining them adapting their cars into high-speed ambulances is a blueprint for a cartoon.
“Work itself is changing. Cartoonists like me, who rely on live work in schools, at conferences and festivals, have obviously lost business. However, new opportunities are opening up. I have recently been working with a group of transport companies producing artwork to say ‘thank you’ to key workers, including their drivers. There is also a whole segment of society getting to grips with working from home and corporate commissions on this theme are arriving too.”As a freelancer, James is aware that he is currently in a particularly precarious state of employment. However, he recognises that there are people out there for whom things are much harder at the moment:
“That’s why drawing jokes is important. Life is tough for a lot of people. I’ve had recent feedback from readers about how a cartoon that made them smile or laugh was just what they needed at that moment. Even Tommies being shelled in the First World War trenches shared jokes and cartoons about their experiences to get them through. Perhaps it’s a peculiarly British thing, but we rely on laughter during difficult moments. It helps us all to have a little light in the darkness.
James is a member of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation. His latest book, Brexit: A Drawn-Out Process is available from all good booksellers.