Ged Melling

Cartoonist, illustrator and painter


Gerard Jerome Melling, cartoonist and painter: born Stirling 6 January 1934; married (three sons); died London 29 October 2007.

Though probably best known as a cartoonist and illustrator for The Times, Economist, Private Eye and The Oldie – a profession he took up full time in his fifties – Ged Melling was also an accomplished painter.

He was born Gerard Melling in 1934 in Stirling, the youngest child of William Melling, a coalminer, and Elizabeth MacElhaney. Known as "Ged" (pronounced Jed), he had two older brothers and an older sister. The family moved to Kilsyth, near Glasgow, when he was a child and he attended the local school before leaving at 15 to become an apprentice house painter.

After National Service in the Army in Berlin he returned to Scotland but moved to London in 1959, studying at St Martin's School of Art (1961-64) where he specialised in painting. He then taught art at various secondary schools in the London area while also drawing cartoons in his spare time. His first published cartoon appeared in Time Out in 1967. There then followed periods in Dublin (where he drew for Dublin Opinion and The Irish Times) and York (drawing for the Yorkshire Evening Press) before he returned to London.

Melling became a full-time professional cartoonist in 1984, working primarily for The Times and The Economist (from 1989) but he also contributed to Today, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, The Financial Times, The Spectator, The Observer, The Oldie, Sporting Life and Private Eye. However, in later life he drew less and concentrated on painting, mostly in acrylic and emulsion on canvas.

For his cartoons, he never sketched in pencil first, preferring to draw in ink with a Rotring Art Pen straight onto A4 paper. He had a distinctive loose style and signed his work simply "GED" (though he usually signed his paintings with his full name). In his Foreword to The Best of GED (2004), Richard Ingrams described Melling as "a natural artist" who used a few deceptively simple lines to make the joke, and described his cartoons as "miniature comic masterpieces". Melling himself was typically modest about his work. Interviewed for the Saatchi Gallery he said: "I've never given much thought or planning to my work. I just stand behind the pen or brush and watch it happen."

A member of the British Cartoonists' Association and the London Press Club, he exhibited his work in London, Dublin and Canada and contributed to group cartoon shows at the German embassy in London, in Osnabruck, Germany and Zemun in Serbia. For the Chelsea Festival in 1996 he designed a cartoon-themed window in a department store in Sloane Square and he also performed his own live cartoon-and-comedy show at the Battersea Arts Centre in London and at the Ayr International Cartoon Festival in Scotland.

In recent years he devoted much of his time to publicising the work of the mental health charity Mind. More than most he understood the struggles of living with mental illness, having suffered from bipolar disorder (manic depression) since his twenties. His art was an important form of therapy and a number of his paintings and cartoons were included in the "Art Works in Mental Health" exhibition at the County Hall Gallery, London, in 2002, which later moved to the Royal College of Art and toured Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds and Cardiff.

Examples of his work have been included in many anthologies and he published two collections of cartoons, Guttae (1974) and The Best of GED (2004). He also illustrated a number of books including Audrey James' Memoirs of a Fen Tiger (1986), Cyril Holbrook's Fishing From My Angle (1988) and Philip Howard's A Word in Time (1990). In 2005 he produced a CD, Oh My GED!, on which he performed his own songs and read out his own poems, jokes and stories with musical accompaniment by Bob Edwards and Iain King.

Short in stature, bespectacled and with a grey goatee beard he spoke with a strong Scottish accent and later in life often wore a broad-brimmed fedora hat. He was a kind and generous man with an impish sense of humour. The youngest of his three sons follows in his footsteps, as a cartoonist, illustrator and painter.

Mark Bryant

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders