by Gabriel Carlyle
Donald Rooum has been drawing cartoons for PN since (at least) 1962, and PM’s new selection of his work – many of them featuring his most famous creation, the anarchist moggie Wildcat – takes on a wide variety of familiar targets: religion, the military, police surveillance, the monarchy and capitalism. But we’re also treated to Rooum’s delightfully offbeat takes on Rumplestiltskin and the Garden of Eden (‘When you’re not blackmailing, you quite turn me on’, the miller’s daughter tells Rumplestiltskin.)
Offering an emperor-has-no-clothes critique of contemporary power and foolishness, it is perhaps no mystery that Rooum’s work appears to strike a natural chord with children.
Also included is a compelling 36-page memoir by the author, covering his failed attempt to become a conscientious objector (‘I am an anarchist by conviction,’ he writes ‘but a worm by temperament’), his involvement in the post-Second World War anarchist scene, his activism in the campaigns against the death penalty and nuclear weapons, and his ‘15 minutes of fame’ as the defendant in the infamous Challenor case (in which he successfully challenged an attempt by the Metropolitan police to frame him for possession of an offensive weapon).
Not to be missed.