chapter  8
28 Pages


The geopolitical iconography of Steve Bell
ByKlaus Dodds

Steve Bell is the 1996 British Cartoonist of the Year and a regular contributor to popular magazines and newspapers. Since 1981, The Guardian newspaper (a centre-left broadsheet) has published his singled-framed images and cartoon strips, which have represented polemically a range of international events from the 1982 Falklands War, the Ethiopian famine and the ending of the Cold War, to Operation Desert Storm and the 1992-1995 Bosnian crisis. His widespread popularity appeared to be cemented when he represented John Major as a figure who wore his underpants over his trousers. His vision of the prime minister as an inadequate superman became the defining image of the Major administration (1990-1997) and has become part of the iconography of modern British politics. In doing so, Bell’s images have been widely interpreted as continuing a long-standing tradition of political cartoonists contributing to the evolution of particular national iconographies (Aulich 1992; Farren 1993).