At a time when many museums are struggling under the restrictions of the pandemic, Fitzrovia’s Cartoon Museum in Wells Street has found a way to think positive when, sadly, many people in London are testing negative, by publishing a special fundraising eBook entitled #DrawtheCoronavirus: A Cartoon Mini-Challenge from the Mind of Martin Rowson.

Caricature image of Boris Johnson giving a "thumbs up" with his government's response to Covid-19. The message says: Wash Hands, Go Home, Die.
“Convid 19”, by Steve Bell. Copyright ©Steve Bell 2020. All Rights Reserved.

The eBook is available to buy exclusively through the Cartoon Museum’s online shop, with all proceeds going towards the museum’s fundraising appeal to secure the long-term future of the museum in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The book offers an opportunity to enjoy the work of many talented cartoonists and illustrators, while hopefully raising your sprits and having a laugh.

Renowned cartoonist Martin Rowson has collated 193 cartoons by 71 different artists. Featuring artwork by both members of the public and national treasures of British cartooning, the publication offers a historic snapshot of a nation in lockdown. Featured artists include: Ralph Steadman, Steve Bell, Ben Jennings, Nick Newman, Banx, Steve Bright, Zoom Rockman, Grizelda and Glenn Marshall.

Cartoonists have a long history of mocking the grim, going back to the social satires of James Gillray and William Hogarth in the eighteenth century. The works in the book embrace every aspect of satire, from the bawdy to the sardonic. Some are political, some poignant, some tragic, some hilarious, but they are all are thought provoking.

Martin Rowson explains: “It’s our job to reimagine our leaders the better to enable us to laugh at them, who’s more qualified to define Corona in all its Pandemic Covidness than cartoonists? Forget electron microscopes — here you’ll find the truest & most accurate depictions of our Common Foe!”

I particularly liked: Mark Reeve’s take on a classic seaside poster featuring Boris ‘bouncing back to health’ on a Corona space hopper; Ralph Steadman’s visceral, evil bugs that explode into a myriad ink splats; the whimsy of Nick Lyons’ virtual beggars and buskers; Daisy Tempest’s topical interpretations of Penguin Classics and the gallows humour of Ben Jennings’ ‘domino effect’, only with coffins.

#DrawtheCoronavirus: A Cartoon Mini-Challenge from the Mind of Martin Rowson, is available from the Cartoon Museum online shop.

Clive Jennings is arts editor of Fitzrovia News. He is an artist, curator, gallerist and art dealer. Follow him on Instagram @clivejenningsart