Tributes pour in after Mail cartoonist Ken Mahood dies at 90

Farewell to the Mailman with the magic pen: Tributes pour in after Mail cartoonist Ken Mahood dies at 90

Moving tributes were paid yesterday to the brilliant and charismatic former Mail cartoonist Ken Mahood, who has died aged 90.

Fondly remembered for his generosity and kindness as well as for his award-winning work, he passed away peacefully in St Thomas’ Hospital in London on Wednesday night.

For more than 27 years, Mahood entertained Mail readers with his wit and satire in thousands of his pocket cartoons.

Wit and satire: Kenneth Mahood at work in his studio at the Daily Mail. He joined the paper in 1982

Last night his grieving widow Léonie Wykes-Mahood, 51, said: ‘He was a very special man who became the love of my life for eight beautiful years – a true gent: kind, compassionate, committed, charming, calm and wise. He also possessed a wicked sense of humour!

‘He was extremely talented and passionate about his work and audiences and extraordinarily generous in terms of encouraging young cartoonists. His inspiration was second to none.’

Mrs Wykes-Mahood first met Mahood when she was a fundraising manager for the Addenbrooke’s Abroad charity and commissioned him to do some work for the hospital.

Left: Today I m going to show you how we cooked Wolves goose Right: ‘I’m afraid it’s serious, Mr Clarke, it means you’re becoming more pro-Europe!’

The Screams (left) Of course if Tony gets us involved in a nuclear war with Saddam none of us will need a pension! (right)

‘We were together for eight years and married this September,’ she said. ‘He was incredibly courageous in coping with his dementia, increasing frailty, short-sightedness and hearing.

‘He was admitted to hospital at the end of November 2020 but did not let anything get him down and still maintained his charm.’

Born in Belfast on February 4, 1930, Kenneth Mahood claimed to have been brought up ‘in a religious community so strict even the churches were closed on Sundays’. He left school at 14 to work as an errand boy in a solicitor’s office. Later he met a cartoonist who told him it was part of his job description to spend the afternoons in the cinema. A lifelong film fan, the young Mahood decided there and then it was the life for him.

Left: ‘It isn’t a non-nuclear proliferation treaty we need from him, but a promise to drastically cut the length of his speeches!’ Right: Not more bureaucracy – I’ve already paid another stupid fine today!’

Left: The usual,  Prime Minister?’ Right: Sale Everything must go

In 1955, he arrived in London, lured as a self-taught art historian by the many museums and galleries to visit, as well as the number of publications which now were eager for his cartoons.

His first cartoon was accepted by Punch magazine when he was a teenager. He later became a regular contributor and was the satirical magazine’s assistant art editor in the early Sixties.

It was while he was working on Punch in the early Sixties that Mac, the former Mail cartoonist who recently came out of retirement to work for the Mail on Sunday, says Mahood played a part in establishing his own brilliant career.

Left: ‘Obama isn’t the only one who is disappointed in Gordon Brown!’ Right: Better watch out, the postal strike is getting worse… we may be conscripted’

Yesterday Mac, 84 – full name Stanley McMurtry – said: ‘I was a film animator at the time and was submitting cartoons to Punch but was getting rejection after rejection.

‘Ken wrote me a letter advising they were too wild and I should calm them down and make them more human.

‘I took his advice – it was very, very good advice – and my work started getting used and ended up on the cover of the magazine. He was a big milestone in my career. We later became friends and colleagues at the Mail for decades.

Left: Drug which erases painful memories Right: Osama Bin Laden this country needs you dead or alive

Left: ‘You’ll never get there on time, BA are out on strike again!’ Right: ‘They can fly…but they never do at Christmas…’

‘He was such a wonderful character. He had that lovely Irish charm. Everyone melted under his charm.

‘He was a very, very generous character. If I’d mentioned to him as we chatted how, say, I could really do with a board for chopping up card, he would turn up with one a few weeks later.’

Mahood became the first-ever political cartoonist on The Times in 1966. In the same year he was a founder member of the British Cartoonists’ Association.

He went on to work for the Evening Standard and the Financial Times. Mahood moved to the Daily Mail in 1982 to draw pocket cartoons – each smaller than a playing card but big on wit and sharp comment on the events of the day – for the news pages and also for our sports coverage.

Left: He’s been poorly since the weekend – he’s a Manchester United fan’ Right: Danger Explosive Manager

Left: Tiger Woods Right:Help!

He retired in December 2009 shortly before his 80th birthday, having created more than 14,000 cartoons for the newspaper – and handed out countless biscuits to sub-editors as they laid out the next day’s paper after he had delivered his cartoon.

As well as his penmanship and sharply observed comment on the state of the nation, Mahood’s cartoons also included references from his career as a fine artist who exhibited in the Royal Academy and whose works, especially collages, sell at auction in international art sales rooms.

‘Chuck it over the hedge – when it’s dug up in 15 centuries it will tell them a lot about how we live today…’

‘At a time when the news is very grim, I think people look for some light relief,’ he said of his work. ‘And that’s the job of the cartoonist: The important thing is to be witty, but to make a comment at the same time.’

Mahood also contributed drawings to the New Yorker, produced a number of books and worked in collage.

His children’s book ‘Why are there more questions than answers, grandad?’ was staged as a play. He spent his retirement painting in his studio overlooking the Thames, visiting galleries, and going to the cinema and theatre.

Details of his funeral service are yet to be finalised.

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