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Don't Lose it Again!

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Donald Zec has written the life of his brother, the wartime political cartoonist Philip Zec, to remind the world of his rich collection of cartoons that caught the mood of the British people at war. The following is an extract from the book.

The black art of political cartooning has a distinguished lineage that stretches from Rowlandson, Hogarth and Gillray through to Low, the greatest cartoonist of the 20th century, and more recently to Illingworth and Vicky. It seems astonishing that Philip Zec, held by many to be the best political cartoonist of the Second World War, should somehow have slipped through the net of historical recognition. ‘If you would see his monument look around you’ instructs the inscription in St. Paul’s Cathedral honouring its architect, Sir Christopher Wren. We might apply the same principle to the Zec cartoons from 1939-45. We can reflect on their unerring skill and certainty of aim; marvel perhaps at the way they savaged and lampooned those preposterous villains, Hitler, Goering, Goebbels and the rest. From Dunkirk to VE Day, Zec maintained his unrelenting barrage, illustrating with masterly precision the convulsive events of the war. If the Zec cartoons were all that aspiring historians of the war had to go on, if these drawings were their only guide to the history of those times, they might still consider themselves pretty well informed.

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