Varoomshka, by John Kent

Born in Oamaru, on the eastern shore of the South Island of New Zealand, John Kent began his career working in the art department of and advertising firm in Auckland. He moved to England in 1959, where he further pursued his career as an artist and advertising copywriter. Unsatisfied by this line of work, he set out to become a political cartoonist. From 13 October 1969 to 1979, Kent wrote and drew 'Varoomshka', the first British political cartoon strip. This long-running strip combined sex with political satire, and was a weekly eye-opener in the UK newspaper, the Guardian. When the strip was dropped in 1979, feminists have claimed that it was because of their pressure, but this was not the case.

Capt. Bob by John Kent

Also in 1969, Kent began a 35-year collaboration with Private Eye magazine. He created a variety of comic strips, all based on the governments of the time. The first one was 'Grocer Heath', based on Edward Heath, and this was followed by 'The Brothers', covering Harold Wilson and the unions, then 'Fifth Form at St. Maggie's' and 'Maggie Rules, OK', both based on Margaret Thatcher's politics, and 'John Major's Big Top'. Other much-loved characters for the Eye included 'Worzel Gummidge' (a spoof on Michael Foot MP), 'Capt. Bob' (Robert Maxwell) and 'The Dirty Digger' (Rupert Murdoch).

Grocer Heath by John Kent

Kent also contributed to The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Sunday Times and The Times. For the latter, he also created his 'La Bimba' strip in 1998. In addition to his cartooning work, John Kent has written and illustrated a couple of celebrated travel books. He passed away from cancer in April 2003.

Varoomshka by John Kent

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