Classic Cartoons: Kenneth Bird

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The Independent Culture
KENNETH BIRD'S deftly drawn Ministry of Information hieroglyph "careless talk costs lives" admonished passers-by from every wall in wartime Britain. That and his prolific output of war jokes has made his distinctly meagre drawing style one of the visual references by which we imagine that period.

This is quite an achievement for a cartoonist who didn't believe in the primacy of the image. "It is really better to have a good idea with a bad drawing," he said, "than a bad idea with a good drawing." As art editor of Punch from 1937 and editor from 1949 to 1953 (the only cartoonist to be given the job) Bird championed that creed.

A former Royal Engineer, who took the pseudonym Fougasse from the name of a First World War anti-personnel mine, Bird died in 1965.