Cartoons, More Cartoonists


A Jossy Ajiboye catoon

Sometime ago Mr. Jonathan Ishaku, then Editor of The Standard newspapers in Jos, picked up a tabloid and looked at the masthead and scanned through to where in the corner the paper’s cartoonist displayed his art and hissed.
“These cartoonists are running dry”, he said.

That ignited a thought that gave rise to this piece, “Cartoons, more cartoonists”.

By the way, why talk of cartoons or it’s practitioners? They are a key component of editorials in newspapering business. They summarise issues in witty ways and draw out peals of laughter from readers whether the issue is of serious nature or not.

Political cartoons started with Skin Lasekan who made name through the West African Pilot. But his stunning cartoons must have dream inspirations from the godfather of newspaper cartooning, Benjamin Franklin, who in 1754, drew the ire of the reading public with a terse titling, “Join or Die”, showing the eight colonies as a snake divided in eight places. Those where the dark ages before American independence.

Today, cartoons still play significant roles in the media industry. But sadly, the art seems to go down the hill. Many inspirational, thought-provoking cartoons are not common place any more.

For Ganiyu Jimoh, a cartoon teacher at University of Lagos, who last exhibited at the Michigan State University, USA under an exhibition title of “The Change we need”, had argued that cartoons are more popular than paintings. The times when the economy was robust and fairly stable, men bought paintings to either ardone their homes or offices.

Cartoons can be learnt at the University or at polytechnic offering arts, graphic design, visual arts etc. But where are these today?

Jossy Ajiboye at a time was synonymous with Sunday Times. Adeboye Adegbenro and Akin Onipede have made their marks in the art of cartooning and have remained relevant.

You can never be unsatisfied with Tom and Jerry cartoon series which topped the Indian chart for many years. Just like Pablo Picasso paintings made people feel good, cartoons today make guided noise with such names as Azeez Sani, Muyiwa Adetula, Skin Onipede, Chechen Egbune, Victor Asowata, Osuji Godrick, Leke Moses, Moses Ebong, and Chukwuemeka Emenike to mention a few.

Going the memory lane again, I can say, Jossy Ajiboye knows his brush. He paints news. He paints in a perculiarly captivating style. His fingers work fast with his brain, translating humour on the back page of the Sunday Times. He created or rather wrote catchy captions too. Other masters who refused to let the art die are Dele Jegede and Basil Okafor. These were scions of Daily Times. And Leke Moses stood outstandingly as Omoba of The Punch newspapers.Check out this by him, “I have noticed, you’ve noticed my noticing you, or haven’t you noticed?” Pun is the sling of wit, easily employed by cartoonists.

Remember Gbenro and Gboyega both at a time executive cartoonists at the defunct Concord newspapers, they indeed made us see cartoonists as special breed. We need them. They add flavour and taste to the newspapers. They soften the hard prints and unlike photographs that need explanations, cartoons speak to you fast, concisely and picturesque.

Can I but fold my hands and watch in silence how this art form has taken the back seat?
Wake up cartoonists. The news is brekete!

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