Author(s): Mark Bryant
In an age before TV and radio the impact and importance of cartoon art was immense, especially when the only sources of information were silent cinema newsreels, posters, newspapers and books - all largely black and white. The cartoon had an immediacy and universal accessibility, giving a message words could not convey. So, not surprisingly, the Great War proved an extraordinarily fertile time for cartoonists. When Zeppelins blackened the sky and U-boats challenged the Royal Navy's supremacy at sea, it was Heath Robinson's crazy cartoons and the antics of Bairnsfather's immortal 'Old Bill' that kept the British upper lip resolutely stiff. And who could take Kasier Bill, the Red Baron and all the mighty Prussians at all seriously when H.M. Bateman and Bert Thomas cocked a snook at all they held dear and the pages of "Punch", "Bystander", "London Opinion", "Le Rire", "Le Canard Enchaine" and such US journals as "Puck", "Judge" and "Life" kept everyone amused? But not all the cartoons were lighthearted.