John Curtis writes:

I DREW THIS CARTOON for my portfolio in response to what I saw as being an over commercial, heavy handed response to small cottage industries, mostly run by impoverished township dwellers, capitalising where they could on Mandela's name. I felt that Mandela belonged to the people - all of us - who love him, and that trademarking his name was the ill-advised approach of his over zealous capitalistic lawyers.

Years down the line, after seeing how con artists have abused our founding father's name for their own (very gross) profit, I understand the need to protect the intellectual property which makes up the Mandela brand. But I still feel it should not be enforced against the little guy trying to eke out a living, or the artist wanting to pay tribute or make a comment.

I was pleased when The Times newspaper in London picked up the cartoon and published it (on 25 November 1995), describing the humour (if not the style) as Brookesian - likening it to the work of their resident cartoonist Peter Brookes. A great compliment.

John Curtis

John Curtis

As George W Bush angled for an excuse to invade Iraq in 2003, JOHN CURTIS was sufficiently moved to provide leading SA cartoonist ZAPIRO with cartoon ideas in protest. And…>

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© John Curtis | Nov 15, 2004 | London Times


BANNED IMAGERY: This cartoon juxtaposes the banned image of Nelson Mandela during the apartheid era ten years before democracy (when the Banned Persons Act of 1950 prohibited his depiction), and ten years after, when Mandela's lawyers fiercely defended his image from being exploited. At the time of drawing this (in 2004), the cartoonist felt that the lawyers' heavy handed approach was overzealous, and comparable to that of the apartheid security forces. But as his comment in the sidelines column reveals, he would later reassess that view.