The Vital Role Jamaican Cartoonists PlayPublished May 9, 2011
The English definition of a Cartoonist is a person who specializes in drawing cartoons. The work is usually of a humorous nature and created for satire and informative purposes. Cartoons are used for entertainment, commentary and for the enlightenment of political issues.
There are many different forms of Cartoons, gag cartoons, editorial cartoons, comic strips and animation. Cartoonists, first develop rough sketches of their subjects into finished pencil drawings and the artwork is completed in black India ink, using a brush or metal ribbed pen.
A vital part of the Jamaican culture has been the cultivation of several brilliant artists who remain unknown due to their love of true art, and refusing to sell out to commercialism. Jamaica has been fortunate to have two distinguished Cartoonists in their midst whose Artwork or Cartoons have been seen all over the world and created social awareness for Jamaica.
The first Cartoonist is Clovis Brown. He grew up in Spanish Town, Jamaica, where he attended Crescent-All Age School, Bog Walk High School, and The Edna Manley School of Visual and Performing Arts. While a student at Bog Walk Secondary School, he was often bombarded with requests from students to fill up their drawing books with art, exclaiming, "Clovis, fill these up with drawings for me nuh!"
He was later recognized for his impromptu drawing talents and he was approached by a Representative from The Edna Manley School of Visual and Performing Arts. He accepted the invitation to become a student there and began excelling in still life pictures, which won him accolades with his fellow classmates. With several different art forms to his credit, Clovis Brown went on to specialize in Graphics and branched out in Art Work and Illustration.
Once he graduated from The Edna Manley School of Visual and Performing Arts, he worked as a Freelancer for a top Jamaican Advertising Firm by the name of Moo Young, Butler and Associates. During his employment there he drew a full page of cartoons featuring former Prime Minister, Edward Seaga and His One Man Band, within a short while he gained notoriety. His cartoons made him very sought after by the rivaling political parties and other newspapers.
His career with the Jamaican Daily Gleaner was started in the 1980's because of his previous endeavors as a Cartoonist who educated Jamaicans politically through his caricatures and artwork. Working at the Gleaner as an Editorial Cartoonist, he gained valuable experience which enabled him to move on to a position at the Jamaican Daily Observer, where he has worked for approximately 22 years.
Clovis Brown prides himself on his ability to unveil the antics of Jamaican Politicians and Law Makers with a touch of candor and humor. His work is featured as an Illustrator in a new book by Kelly Griller, "Every Road Leads to School" and on the Daily Gleaner Website where he is most noted for his cartoon, "Everbody Tun Don" featuring Edward Seaga.
In Clovis Brown's world, the work of a Political Satirist can be rewarding, however, it also has its downsides which involves being plagued by frivolous lawsuits, claiming defamation of character and other insignificant topics.
The second, notable Cartoonist in Jamaica is Las May, who is a self-taught Cartoonist. Like Clovis Brown, he studied Art at the prestigious Edna Manley School of Visual and Performing Arts, and he also started his career as a Cartoonist for the Jamaican Gleaner.
Although he would rather be known as a Graphic Artist and Illustrator, his first big break came when he submitted a comic strip story to the Gleaner that was published in the Jamaican Star. Las May's career was started due to this comic strip and he became a Cartoonist with the Star's "Laugh With Us" section.
Las May has acquired International notoriety through his cartoons which display humor regarding the Jamaican Dancehall Scene, Inner City Issues, Drug Dealng and Government Overspending.
Some of his work is displayed on YouTube, "The Jamaican Election Campaign 2007", LasMay.com, ("Depressed Police", "Can You Trust The Police?" and former Prime Minister, "Portia Miller Simpson as a Donette".
Cartoon Artists perform a much needed service in society because they help to inform the educated, uneducated, the hearing impaired and mentally challenged regarding developments in their community and the world. The task of a Cartoonist is without a doubt, filled with controversies and they are often plagued with retribution and distortions of their translations. However, most people do not realize the good humor it offers and pass their "works" off as vindictive fodder, explaining that it is lack of good judgment and direct assaults on characters.
Humorous Artists are an extension of child's play, even though sticks and stones can break bones, words don't hurt and pictures only convey what the viewer wants to believe. Cartoons are meant to bring light humor and folly to the tumultuous and economically challenging times we live in. They are drawn to create awareness, but not to be "stewed" upon.
So, in good taste and gratitude the Jamaican Hall of Fame would like to say Thank You to Clovis Brown and Las May for their many years of artistic entertainment and political satire. As we say in Jamaica, "Sometimes yu haffi tek bad tings mek joke...."