On a Sunday morning in 1895, the readers of the New York World woke up to a small surprise. Their paper that day had a new addition, the first ever colour cartoon. Created and drawn by Richard F Outcault, The Yellow Kid, made its debut on 5 May 1895. To commemorate this day, in 1990 the National Cartoonists Society declared 5 May as Cartoonists Day. On this occasion we take you through some of the greatest cartoonists of India and their creations.
K Shankar Pillai
Known as the father of political cartooning in India, he founded Shankar's Weekly, in 1948. Often called as ‘India’s Punch’, Shankar's Weekly that produced many famous cartoonists like Abu Abraham, Ranga and Kutty, had to close down during the Emergency. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1976, India’s second highest civilian honour. In later years he set up the Children's Book Trust and Shankar's International Dolls Museum.
R K Laxman
Best known for his creation The Common Man, RK Laxman was a renowned cartoonist for The Times of India. The newspaper ran his daily cartoon strip You Said It for more than 50 years. Former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who was often caricatured by Laxman, once rang him up and requested him for a signed copy of his cartoon to frame. He received Padma Vibhushan in 2005.
Mario Miranda, an Indian cartoonist and painter, gained popularity for his work in The Illustrated Weekly of India. He had even worked for The Times of India and few other Mumbai- based newspapers. Without any formal training in art, his cartoons have a distinct style. His depiction of Goan life has become a part of Goan folklore. He was awarded with Padma Vibhushan in 2012 posthumously.
A self- taught artist, Sivanand published his first cartoon in Shankar's Weekly in 1975. Soon he joined The Times of India and several publications of the group carried his cartoons and articles. Apart from being a writer and editor for Reader’s Digest India, he was also its de facto art director for some time. He has held some art exhibitions in Mumbai and now is a full- time artist.
Toms, as he was better known by his readers, was the creator of the famous cartoon series Bobanum Moliyum. First published in Malayala Manorama in the 1950s, the cartoon series brought to light everyday socio-political issues, sprinkled with humour. The characters later became a part of an animation series. After working for more than 30 years with Manorama, he was involved in a legal battle with them for the copyright on his characters. He came out triumphant winning the copyright on Boban and Moly.
Aseem Trivedi is known for his political cartoons. A cartoonist of the new generation, he has been controversy’s favourite child. The website of Cartoons Against Corruption, his campaign to support the anti- corruption movement in India, was banned during Anna Hazare’s hunger strike in 2011. In 2012 he was arrested on charges of sedition for displaying "ugly and obscene content". He then began Save Your Voice, a movement that opposes IT Act, 2000 and is against internet censorship in India, with a few others.
E P Unny
EP Unny, the chief political cartoonist with The Indian Express also began his career with Shankar's Weekly. Later he drew cartoons for The Hindu, Sunday Mail, The Economic Times and now for The Indian Express Group. Apart from drawing and writing a travel book on Kerala - 'Spices and Souls - A doodler's journey through Kerala', he has also taken a unique initiative towards graphic novels and stories.
Harish Chandra Shukla
Kaak, as he is popularly known, makes cartoons for the Hindi audience. His character Everyman is not a spectator like The Common Man, but a vocal commentator on all events. Even his female cartoons are strong characters. Beginning his career in Dainik Jagran, Kaak rose to being the first president of Cartoonists’ Club of India. Today he says he identifies so much with his pen name that he doesn’t remember his real name anymore. Former Lok Sabha speaker Balram Jakhar had once said, “I am Speaker of Lok Sabha with merely 500 members, while 'Kaak' is speaker of Loksabha with members in millions.”
A lifetime of cartooning began in a radio studio, when a sketch he drew of The Statesman's News Editor during a radio talk show led him to a job offer at the paper. There he worked on a pocket cartoon Out of My Mind which featured on the front page of the newspaper. This was followed by a two decade long stint at The Hindustan Times, where he worked on another front page pocket cartoon This is It. Though a political cartoonist his work rarely satirised politicians and events, instead they took digs at problems like corruption, bureaucracy, etc.
Puri was not just a cartoonist, but also a columnist and a political activist. He has worked for many national newspapers like Statesman and Hindustan Times. He also worked in London for a short while for The Guardian and The Glasgow Herald. Strongly opposing the Emergency, Puri joined politics in 1977 as the founding General Secretary of the Janata Party. But within a decade he quit politics, realising that he did not fit into the political world.
Updated Date: May 05, 2016 11:59 AM