Classic Cartoons: Martin Plimmer On Sidney Sime

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
IF THERE is the dark shadow of a colliery childhood in Sidney Herbert Sime's illustrations, there is also the soaring fantasy of a boy who could imagine himself out of that world. Certainly, these two opposing elements would seem to explain the weird gloom of his humorous vision.

Sime was born into poverty in Manchester, around 1865, and entered the pit soon after, as a boy scoop-pusher. But like this cartoon's grim nouveau- angels, self-consciously toting harps across the firmament, he ascended to the heights. After a spell at Liverpool School of Art, he worked for magazines like Tatler and Pick-me-up, and illustrated the books of Lord Dunsany, an eccentric Irish peer, to whose murky vision he was able to give perfect form. A price of fame was the accusation of blasphemy, but the American publisher, William Randolph Hearst, called him "the greatest living imaginative artist".