'Key Workers'

Rushden cartoonist hoping to raise a smile during pandemic

With Covid-19 providing inspiration for James Mellor, he hopes people will enjoy his latest creations

Saturday, 4th April 2020, 6:00 am

A Rushden cartoonist is hoping his latest creations will spread some laughter while the country is in lockdown.

James Mellor has been creating cartoons in his home studio in Rushden since 2012.

Brexit helped raise his profile to a national level, including having several of his cartoons published in Private Eye in recent years.

But it is his coronavirus-inspired cartoons which he is now sharing to spread a bit of cheer.

James said: "The coronavirus outbreak has brought out the worst and the best of society, and both sides can provide inspiration.

"Those stockpiling items are behaving in a selfish and awful way, but the image of these people's houses crammed to the rafters with toilet roll is quite funny.

"Local Formula 1 teams adapting their technology to produce ventilators is great news, but imagining them adapting their cars into high-speed ambulances is a blueprint for a cartoon."

Like many people, James' work has been affected by coronavirus.

He said: "Cartoonists like me, who rely on live work in schools, at conferences and festivals, have obviously lost business.

"However, new opportunities are opening up.

"I have recently been working with a group of transport companies producing artwork to say 'thank you' to key workers, including their drivers.

"There is also a whole segment of society getting to grips with working from home and corporate commissions on this theme are arriving too."

While James admits that being freelance means the next few months could be tough for him, he says there are many people out there for whom things are a lot harder.

And he added: "That's why drawing jokes is important.

"Life is tough for a lot of people.

"I've had recent feedback from readers about how a cartoon that made them laugh or smile was just what they needed at that moment.

"To paraphrase the late Stan Lee of Marvel Comics, there are people out there who are at breaking point and the enjoyment they get from your cartoon might just be the thing that gets them through the day.

"Even Tommies being shelled in the First World War trenches shared jokes and cartoons about their experiences to get them through.

"Perhaps it's a peculiarly British thing, but we rely on laughter during difficult moments.

"It helps us all to have a little light in the darkness."

James is a member of the Professional Cartoonists' Organisation.

More examples of James' work can be seen in his latest book, Brexit: A Drawn-Out Process.

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