Zapiro’s annual collection of cartoons once again spare…

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At a Daily Maverick webinar on Sunday evening, award-winning political cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro (Zapiro) discussed his creative processes and the context of some of the cartoons in his 2022 collection, It’s Not How It Looks!

During the webinar, Shapiro shared a 45-minute presentation of some of the cartoons in the book. 

It’s Not How It Looks! covers many momentous events of the past 12 months, and includes cartoons of, among others, the November 2021 local government elections, the eventual end of South Africa’s State of Disaster, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s State Capture report, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and load shedding. 

The cover features a drawing of President Cyril Ramaphosa appearing before the “court of public opinion” over what is arguably the most bruising scandal of his career: the theft of foreign currency from his Phala Phala farm in 2020 and the subsequent political fallout.

Read more in Daily Maverick:Coming to South Africa: Seven days that could make or break Cyril Ramaphosa

“A lot of people – including myself – feel it pretty much is how it looks,” Shapiro said in reference to the cartoon on the cover. 

He explained that the covers of his annual collections always depict moments that say something about the year, or that could be considered one of the year’s biggest stories. As the year draws to a close, the Phala Phala scandal is certainly “a huge story when we consider the impact it could have on [Ramaphosa’s] longevity and the rest of his political career”.

“It’s also an ‘oops’ moment. Not all my covers are ‘oops’ moments, but a lot of cartoons that I do are… It’s one of the best ways we as cartoonists present what we do.” 

Maverick Life’s Malibongwe Tyilo, who hosted the webinar, asked Shapiro how he’s able to balance his humour and anger in his creative process, when drawing cartoons with a satirical take on often complex and frustrating issues. 

Shapiro says he follows the advice of South African performer, author, satirist and social activist PieterDirk Uys, who once said: 

“Satire is 51% humour and 49% anger. If you reverse the ratio, you lose the audience.”


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At the same time, Shapiro says: “I don’t mind if my anger is really palpable … if people also feel it.”

Responding to questions from viewers regarding how long it takes to produce a cartoon, Shapiro said it differs – “sometimes it takes me quick and a lot of times it’s very long”. 

The process is never linear, he says. 

“The first thing is to listen to what’s going on and try to take a serious interest in what’s going on, and then to have an opinion about it and be critical.

“You are picking and choosing subjects, and linking things that are sort of unlinkable … I do many drafts, I talk the idea through over and over again out loud.” DM

Zapiro: It’s Not How It Looks! is available at the Daily Maverick Shop, where Maverick Insiders can use their coupon for a 10% discount.

Subscribe to the Daily Maverick webinar newsletter and keep updated about our upcoming conversations here.

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