Cartooning Northern Ireland…

…is a bugger.
Really it is.
Despite fabulously cartoonable characters, and sectarian divisions crammed with symbols and history, it is frustratingly lacking in terms of material which has not already been exhausted beyond use.
I guess it’s also true to say that unless you’re bang in the middle of the debate, it’s quite difficult to see what the big deal is these days…
“Get on with it!” seems to have been the principal advice for some time.

When I first started doing political cartoons, I realised quickly that I needed to know more about the history behind the current situation. It’s not covered in very great detail in Norwegian education… I invited an Irishman, who also happened to be a sub on the backbench of the Times, to a restaurant, with the understanding that I would buy lunch if he briefed me on the essential elements of the history of N.I.
“We need to go back to the early 1600’s” he began.
And so I learned that I really didn’t know anything at all.
We had three lunches…

Events like the one yesterday, with Paisley and Adams meeting officially for the first time, are hard to cover in cartoons. N.I. correspondents try to emphasize the enormity of the event, and in an attempt not to seem blasé about these things, we all cautiously express how much we welcome the latest developments. Yet the majority of us are probably thinking (one would hope): “ABOUT TIME! Honestly…! You’re grown men for goodness sake! Shake his hand you stubborn fool! It’s polite!”

Most cartoonists have chosen to cover the meeting in Tuesday’s paper. I suspect out of duty to the top story rather than with a particular delight in once again attempting to suck juice from dry bones…

Peter Brookes does it well, with the two leaders exchanging pleasantries whilst spitting blood.

Dave Brown also focuses on the uneasy relationship between the two men.

Normally I laugh out loud (or at least chuckle heartily) at Steve Bell’s work in the Guardian, but I don’t quite get his wedding scene… Apart from the fact that it’s a wedding scene. Am I missing something?

Garland has done one of those cartoons that will go into the history books. Not for its clever satirical point, but for its analogical nature. It’s probably a tad premature to announce the burial of the hatchet, but never mind. It’s suitably hopeful as well as conscious of the violent past.

(His use of limited colour is striking by the way…)

Let’s hope yesterday’s meeting will move the politics of Northern Ireland onto new pastures – for the sake of cartooning if nothing else…


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