I have been doing cartoons for The Sunday Times since 1991. I dearly love the fact that this newspaper has never suggested, let alone dictated, what I care to draw or not to. I’d like to think I’m an opinion maker, never mind that I’m probably at the bottom of that particular heap. I have been free to fire in all directions and let off steam at institutions and quangos which are clearly there to complicate peoples’ lives and make them more miserable.
There have been ups and downs. The downs are moments when I question myself on a cartoon’s relevance or honesty, times when I ask myself if I’m being grossly unfair or whether I’m informed enough about a particular subject, and worse still those times when the grey cells refuse to throw up ideas at all.
And then there are the ups. The best must be a little old lady at an environmental protest carrying an enlarged copy of a cartoon on the issue at hand which appeared the day before. Bless your heart Betty Barry! There are those precious moments when a winning idea forms in my mind when I least expect it to. I liken cartooning to plucking an invisible fruit from an equally invisible tree in a dark or foggy environment – you know it’s out there somewhere but the picking is just a matter of chance.
The pits is censorship. I know, this is Malta and sensitivities can be quite delicate. My editors have been more than fair with me and the cases where I have been asked to change a cartoon must be less than half a dozen in more than twenty years. I normally see the editor’s point but true to my nature I fight my corner if I think I’m right. There was just one occasion where I begged on my knees for a cartoon to be accepted. I believe it is still relevant in the way Mepa has consistently made a complete mockery of its raison d’etre. The editorial decision at the time was that the ISIS imagery was too fresh and horrific at the time – and to be fair it was the first time this band of madman started videoing their barbaric beheadings. But maybe now, with the passage of time, it can be seen in a better light…