Wildcat Keeps Going

Wildcat Keeps Going

Another classic set of satirical political cartoons from the pen and the mind of Freedom’s longest serving comrade.

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This is the seventh collection of Wildcat cartoons from Freedom Press, the first was published in 1985 and still available after three re-prints. All your favourites are here including Revolting Pussycat, Free Range Egghead and the Immaculate Rodent bringing to life the issues of the day and more besides. A delight from beginning to end.

Tony Gibson in praise of Wildcat

The anarchist writer Tony Gibson (aka the eminent psychologist H.B.Gibson) original review of Wildcat

Freedom has already announced and reviewed Donald Rooum’s Wildcat Anarchist Comics, and it is stated that ‘serious argument is more or less absent since our artist believes that “a cartoon is no place for intellectual respectability”’. But can we not have serious argument, devastatingly presented, without ‘intellectual respectability’? The medium through which the message is conveyed is not intellectual, but the message is all the more powerful by being delivered as a blow in the belly. The serious argument is delivered in the guise of knockabout farce.

Mark Kennedy reports in

The generation of successful cartoons is a most difficult art, and Donald Rooum displays a rare talent. How his work will stand in the history of satirical cartoons alongside that of Rowlandson, Gillray, Low and others, cannot be assessed in the present age, but I suggest that it is outstanding and that Freedom Press enjoy a rare privilege in being allowed to publish it. His cartoons are deceptively simple and, to say the least, disturbing. True satire makes us both laugh and weep, and carry away a lingering sense of unease at the purity of our own motives and that of the causes we espouse.

Superficially these cartoons poke fun at the usual banal targets, but here is a deeper satire of anarchists and the anarchist movement. The Wildcat is anti-authoritarian, yet put in certain situations it becomes a nasty little tyrant – just like you and me. These cartoons could only have been devised by someone who has been through the mill of the anarchist movement; known all its splendours and miseries, its petty squabbles, its mis-directed enthusiasms, its ennobling moments. None of the ‘political’ movements – Trots, Commies, etc – could have produced such cartoons, for such movements are designed to preserve the illusions they foster, and they attack only targets outside themselves. Anarchism is quite different. Wildcat says, having thrown a bomb, ‘Who said anything about anybody listening? All I said was I would attract attention’.

The Free Range Egghead is a marvellous character; he and the Wildcat have maintained the anarchist movement ever since it has been in existence, and I am sure that they were prominent in the Diggers movement and among the Levellers. The Pig who rides upon a Sheep will always be with us, and sometimes we wish the sheep would run faster when our own flats are being burgled and vandalised, don’t we? These two animals are common to all lands in that relationship, yet with Rooum’s animals there is evidently quite a cosy, British relationship.

I urge you to buy this book, but do not imagine that it will give you a nice, smug glow to see all your favourite Aunt Sallies mocked at. A hearty laugh at the first reading, but at the second or perhaps the third, you will appreciate that there is more being mocked than perhaps you bargained for. It will certainly be read in Britain and abroad far more widely than in the tiny anarchist movement, and will attain an international reputation.

Tony Gibson

Some Wildcat characters

The Pussycat. Angry, impulsive, rowdy anarchist (appears in most episodes, sometimes uncharacteristically peaceable).
The Free Range Egghead. Thoughtful, analytical anarchist.
The Mystery. Easy to draw. Appears when story calls for a third anarchist.
The Butterfly. Hippo-shaped anarchist. Enthusiastic but not reliable.
The Pinhead. Highly intellectual, verbose anarchist.
The Immaculate Rodent. Conceited anarchist who belittles other anarchists.
The Kewpie Doll. Little girl whose naïve remarks are sometimes insightful.
Mr Block. Humble man who believes what he is told by the powerful. Invented by Ernest Riebe for Industrial Worker, Chicago 1912.
The Rebus. Hog-faced policeman. A rebus is a visual pun, in this case on the name of Quintin Hogg, who was British law minister in 1980.
The General. Soldier who wants wealth spent on weaponry and destroyed in warfare.
Bomb. Spherical fuse bomb with legs, symbol of weaponry and war.
The Reverend. Talks banal rubbish with air of authority.
Sheep. Nods in wise agreement at banal rubbish.
Man with hat. Argues with anarchists, but pays no attention to what they say.
The Boss. Rich, ruthless, cunning employer or ruler.


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