Quarantoons – Cartoons From A New Normal

By James Mellor
Publisher: Filament Publishing
ISBN: 9781913623791

Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain member James Mellor has another collection of timely cartoons to follow on from his recent Brexit-themed book. This time, the main focus is Covid-19, and how we’ve all had to cope with both the virus and the Government’s handling of it.

You’ll no doubt recognise his work from the pages of Private Eye, and he’s been rather prolific across a number of publications, but there are also many cartoons receiving their first airing. 

The whole pandemic has been an unusual time for all of us, but for James, it saw his work being used to introduce new Covid-secure safety measures on public transport and even a successful illustrated pitch on how to manufacture vaccines. 

Bemusement, frustration, incredulousness and empathy are all present across his gags, and you find yourself both laughing and nodding sagely.

At present I have several cartoon collections centred around cartoons created during the two World Wars. They’re amazingly insightful of the periods, marking the highs and lows, and, perhaps more importantly, recording a perspective you won’t find in any history book. This new collection by James adds to a growing section of pandemic-related books now available, and once again the critical eye of the cartoonist makes for captivating reading. This is no less apparent than when the global dilemma is coupled with other news events, such as the Mars rovers.

I’ve included oneof my favourite cartoons here, but there’s another great gag related to the woeful lack of adequate PPE available to the NHS staff. James marks this with two plague doctors, adorned with their beak-like masks and leather smocks, having to listen to a dissatisfied colleague complaining about his frilly apron and strap-on Donald Duck bill.

The book also has room for a section on non-Covid cartoons, providing an outlet for James’s prolific output. The Roman tortoise cartoon is simply excellent.

You may not ever look back on the last couple of years with fondness, but you will, at least, have lived through it and come out the other side. Remembering these times is important, and being able to laugh about them is perhaps more important still. So go ahead and treat yourself.

And if you liked that: Enjoy further merriment by getting yourself a copy of James’s previous books Brexit: A Drawn-Out Process and Drawn From History: A Cartoon Journey Through Britain’s Past.

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