Local cartoonist, James Mellor, has won the Gag Cartoon of the Year Award 2023 at the Ellwood Atfield Political Cartoon of the Year Awards.
The Felmersham-based cartoonist was presented with his trophy in a ceremony in Westminster on Tuesday (5 December) for his surreal take on the children’s board game ‘Mousetrap’.
The cartoon, which appeared in Private Eye no.1605 (1-14 September), was voted the British public’s favourite from a field filled with the UK’s top talent.
James, who is a freelance cartoonist, has been a regular contributor to Private Eye since 2019, providing the magazine with both political and non-political cartoons.
His work has also appeared in The Critic, Charlie Hebdo and The Sunday Telegraph.
Away from the print media, he spends much of his time providing cartoons for businesses in the City of London and beyond.
James was presented his award by Clive Goddard, the Chair of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation.
In his acceptance speech, James paid tribute to the late cartoonist, Tony Husband, after whom the new award has been named. He was also keen to highlight the importance of gags and jokes in difficult times.
“I’m delighted that this cartoon has been recognised with an award. I remember the positive reaction when it first appeared in Private Eye and I’m really glad it’s still making people laugh all these months later.
“It’s great that gag cartoons are being recognised this year. I love drawing cartoons with a meaning and message but we’re living through some tough times so the gags that are purely for entertaining and brightening people’s days are doing a really important job,” he said.
The Lord Ranger of Northwood was also in attendance to deliver speeches and present trophies, alongside former Home Secretary, Rt Hon Suella Braverman KC MP who was heckled on stage interrupting her speech, which James said, “added to the excitement on the night”.
James hopes that the award will prove to be a springboard to exciting new projects and, after penning several books of current affairs cartoons, perhaps an indicator that there is also a market for some of his more weird and wonderful jokes.
The Awards celebrate the cartooning profession and mark the important role political cartoonists play in terms of maintaining freedom of speech in the UK and around the world.