Born in Cape Town in 1958, Zapiro couldn’t imagine a career in cartooning, so he studied architecture at University of Cape Town.

Couldn’t imagine a career in architecture, so…>

'Slow March to Malemic Freedom ':
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© Zapiro | Feb 12, 2012 | Sunday Times

Slow March to Malemic Freedom

ZAPIRO plays the last post for Malema - real slow, at Mantashe's behest.
[the cartoonist acknowledges his editor for the idea].

Hidden Message?

Sometimes, cartoonists hide secret messages in their cartoons. A lover's name or a message to them, or a secret code only known and understood by an inner circle. It might take the form of hidden words or it might even be an image. We thought we saw one in this Zapiro cartoon, but our gut-feel is that he's too focussed a cartoonist for such whimsey. He wasn't available for comment this morning, so we thought we'd ask you if you noticed a topical shape in the composition and think it's deliberate?

Zapiro Hirschfeld







A mouse-over of the cartoon will confirm what we're sure you already saw! Surely this is a secret (now not so secret!) message to Zapiro's wife Karina, given the publication date was two day's before Valentine's Day?

The most famous cartoonist to hide such messages in his cartoon is American caricaturist Al Hirschfeld (June 21, 1903 – January 20, 2003), who would work his daughter's name "NINA" into most of his cartoons. Can you find it on this book cover illustration? (Often it's a lot more obscure).

Can you find NINA?

WIKIPEDIA elaborates: "Hirschfeld is known for hiding the name of his daughter, Nina, in most of the drawings he produced since her birth in 1945. The name would appear in a sleeve, in a hairdo, or somewhere in the background. Sometimes "Nina" would show up more than once and Hirschfeld would helpfully add a number next to his signature, to let people know how many times her name would appear. Hirschfeld originally intended the Nina gag to be a one-time gimmick but locating Nina's name in the drawings became extremely popular.

From time to time Hirschfeld lamented that the gimmick had overshadowed his art and tried to discontinue the practice, but such attempts always generated harsh criticism. Nina herself was reportedly somewhat ambivalent about all the attention. In the previously mentioned interview with The Comics Journal Hirschfeld confirmed the urban legend that the U.S. Army had used his cartoons to train bomber pilots with the soldiers trying to spot the NINAs much as they would spot their targets. Hirschfeld told the magazine he found the idea repulsive, saying that he felt his cartoons were being used to help kill people.

In his 1966 anthology The World of Hirschfeld he included a drawing of Nina which he titled "Nina's Revenge." That drawing contained no Ninas. There were, however, two Als and two Dollys ("The names of her wayward parents")".

Africartoons has asked our africartoonists whether they've ever hidden words or images in their cartoons. When we get a few, we'll tag them as 'Hirschfelds' in tribute to the great Al Hirschfeld and make a small feature of them. We'll also tag unsubstantiated and unintended instances so that you can decide for yourself whether they might have been subliminal.