Dr Jack Cartoon Travels to India (and back)

Dr Jacks timeless toon IN COLOUR!

A cartoon by South African cartoonist "Dr JACK" Swanepoel has made its way across 9 time zones from Johannesburg to Hyderabad, India - some 7100 kms away - where it was spotted participating in a protest this week.

 Protester holds the cartoon aloft (Reuters Pic)The protests are against corruption in the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and in support of Anna Hazare, an elderly activist who went on a hunger strike to call attention to the issue in April. Since then Mr Hazare was briefly detained, and demonstrations exploded in cities throughout India, including the IT hub of Hyderabad. That is where, this week, a Reuters photograph captured a protester holding Dr Jack's 1997 cartoon aloft.

The cartoon boldly identifies government sector corruption as a growing problem, with a young child announcing to his father that he plans to go into a life of organised crime when he grows up. "Government or Private Sector?" asks the father, hardly looking up from his newspaper. [See cartoon below].

Dr Jack is delighted at the discovery, but he has no idea how the cartoon, which has been blown up to fill a poster, found its way to India. An internet search has found 52 instances of the cartoon on different websites, indicating that it has enjoyed tremendous viral attention since it was first published in The Sunday Times in July 1997. They all seem to have been derived from a single source, which had removed the cartoonist's signature.

Some sites give the impression that the work was done by other cartoonists, while at least two list it amongst 'The Best Cartoons of 2009'. But all those web versions are too small to be blown up to the quality reproduced on the poster. The poster was most likely scanned from the newspaper and retouched for clarity (and to remove Jack's signature) before it eventually found itself doing duty in Hyderabad.

Dr Jack's Travelling CartoonBut that's just half the story: the cartoon made its way back home via a series of bizarre coincidences, beginning with the photograph, which was picked up by Reuters. That in turn was picked up by South African newspaper Business Day, who published it the day after it was taken. Cape Town cartoonist Zapiro noticed it, recognised Jack's cartoon, and sent him a link. So that's how the cartoonist found out before alerting us. And that's the story of how a Dr Jack Cartoon made it all the way to India and back!

Jack has been swamped by responses to this story enthusing over the adventurous cartoon and his drawing skills. Says Jack "I'm only sad that whoever first sent it out into the wires chose to cut out my signature. For the rest, I'm delighted. It's the only cartoon of mine that I have against the wall in my studio".

When he called his mother to ask her to find a copy of the paper that ran the picture, she assumed it was his cartoon that had sparked the riot! That wouldn't be the first time a Dr Jack cartoon has caused a riot, but his life partner Moné is ensuring that all this attention doesn't go to his head. She's taken to calling Jack a "One Hit Wonder!"


As it appeared on page 10, Business Day, 17 Aug 2011


POSTSCRIPT, Sept 2011: Since writing this, the cartoon has been found on dozens of other websites, blogs and facebook pages. One, a radical American facebook page belonging to a 'Richard Myers', posted the cartoon in early September 2011, and within 3 weeks it had been 'liked' some 23 times and 'shared' a whopping 74 times!

POSTSCRIPT, Sept 2012: A year since that last postscript, a fan of Dr Jack's found the unsigned version of the cartoon on Wikileak's facebook page where (between May 5th and  September 17th) it had been 'Liked' by 34 008 users, 'Shared' 14 645 times, and garnered 838 comments! The cartoon has also been called 'The Cartoon of the Century' by this blog and this one, 'Cartoon of the Year' by another, it has also been adopted by causes of every kind and continues to spread wildly.

Also, this new, coloured version has made an appearance (and has begun multiplying as it creates a viral life of its own):
Dr Jacks timeless toon IN COLOUR!

JACK'S FRIEND Charl Paul Bruwer was moved to comment; "Geez Jack, if you had ten bucks for every time someone shared your cartoon huh!?"




Posted on Aug 19, 2011 by Africartoons Bookmark and Share