Picturing left politics: Introducing Adrian Teal


Last week we launched our new Corbyn epoch masthead by Adrian Teal. Here we talk to Adrian whose work also adorned the front of our Labour conference special issue



What made you take up political cartooning? which cartoonists have been inspirational to you? 

I used to knock around the Spitting Image Workshop when I was a kid, and they were geniuses because they made satire popular. I have no idea why, but I’ve always been drawn to cartooning with an edge. Whether it was the dark surrealism of Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python animations, or the visceral, biting work of Gerald Scarfe, artwork that gets attention is what I love, and political cartoons can usually make important points more simply, more directly, and more effectively than 1,000 words of copy.



paintjobIs it political characters, with certain facial features, political themes or events that provide a cartoonist with the best artistic material?

All of the above, I’d say. Cartoonists are bullies, really. We pick on physical characteristics, and use them as a stick to beat politicians with. The ideal is when you can combine two great and seemingly unrelated news stories centred on one or two big names in one cartoon, so that they both energise each other, and make the political point more forcefully as a consequence. It becomes greater than the sum of its parts. It helps if politicians are well-established too, because then you have a wealth of past and infamous misdemeanours to exploit. It takes a while for cartoonists to get to grips with a public figure’s character when they first appear on the scene.



Cartoonists are bullies, really. We pick on physical characteristics, and use them as a stick to beat politicians with


Which politician do you hate most to draw?

Clegg was a nightmare because he was ‘insurance salesman’ bland. I think most caricaturists would tell you that Maggie Thatcher was very tricky to capture too. Apart from the big hair, her face was actually pretty unremarkable.Truce


With the on-going decline and pressures of for-print periodicals and newspapers, what sort of political future does cartooning have?

historyhandI genuinely have no idea. What we really need is the next big vehicle for satire to come along and reinvigorate the whole genre, just as Private Eye did in the ’60s, and Spitting Image did in the ’80s. Also, editors need to stop seeing cartoons as a luxury they can’t afford, and start realising they are a necessity they can’t do without.


Adrian joins Martin Rowson and Matt Buck as those cartoonists who have adorned CHARTIST’s front cover. You can see more of Adrians work at www.adrianteal.com







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