Martin Rowson is one of the most acclaimed cartoonists working in British journalism today. His work has appeared in most major newspapers (particularly the Guardian and the Daily Mirror) and he has previously been appointed as ‘Cartoonist Laureate’ of London along with winning several awards. Already not one to be afraid of mocking or offending his targets, his latest project tackles the world on a global scale as he presents a brutally cynical take on life as we know it right now.
The Pen is Mightier (than the Word) is made up of seven comics with no dialogue or narration. There is no overarching narrative, instead the stories are held together by the bleak and grotesque imagery that features throughout. The opening segment in particular, which focuses on the creation of the universe, is the perfect statement of what this book is about: the universe seemingly the by-product of every lewd bodily function (not limited to farting, snot rocketing and puking) and fluid imaginable.
The segments that follow mainly feature cynical takes on various topics including globalisation, commercialism, deforestation and the food industry all in Rowson’s deliberately twisted style. The segment focusing on food processing is particularly gnarly, but beyond these topics, Rowson devotes a lot of focus to the general increase in immoral people in society. Whilst it’s easy just to look at the artwork and assume all the people depicted in the book are bad, there is a message to Rowson’s art that goes beyond his twisted depiction of the population of the world today and it is well worth giving each segment a deeper look.
Rowson has more than earned his place in the top tier level of British cartoonists. Fans of great political cartoons will definitely want this on their shelf and anyone with a darker more cynical sense of humour will find plenty to enjoy in this twisted look at the state of the world today.
The Pen is Mightier (than the Word) will be published by Knockabout on 28 June (9780861662647, p/b, £9.99)