Sue Coe



The Nation


Sue Coe Facebook page

Graphic Witness

Americans who tell the truth

Sue Coe (born 1951) is an English artist and illustrator, currently working  from upstate New York.  Her work is highly political, and part of her activism. Having grown up next to a slaughterhouse, she has been particularly involved  in trying to stop the animal cruelty that takes places hidden behind its walls.  Her work is often directed against capitalism, focusing on issues like sweatshops, prisons, AIDS and war.

She uses a realistic drawing style, sketching what she sees in slaughterhouses, prisons and sweatshops – having developed strategies for getting permission to draw and talk to people there. These sketches are then used as developed drawings in charcoal and other media, painting and printmaking, often published as illustrated books and comics. Her illustrations have appeared in a wide variety of publications, including The New York TimesThe New Yorker, and The Nation.

She is an artist I want to study more for insights into political illustration, particularly ways of portraying very upsetting situations and linking striking imagery with activism.

Selected bibliography from Wikipedia

Steve Bell

For archive of his work see:

His current work and interviews with him are available at:

“It isn’t simply a question of getting the likeness: you have to discover the character behind the face”. 

History of caricature and cartoons

His general approach


Caricature sketchbooks

In this interview Bell discusses his sketchbooks from the party conferences. His approach to exaggerating physical characteristics is pretty uncompromising.  Sometimes this has a political point about hypocrisy ‘people who about complete and utter bullshit’ and ‘pure Blair bollocks’. Highlighting what he sees as a lot of empty speeches and posturing.  But sometimes this does appear unnecessarily cruel on a superficial physical level, and perpetuating well-worn stereotypes. But he has a very acute observation of the different ways people talk and move. His very dynamic quick sketches use a combination of ink, watercolour and what seem to be pastel pencils.

Ed Milliband

Boris and Tory party

This interview about his series of cartoons about the hypocrisy and awful impacts of the Iraq War is very powerful. Here the caricatures are combined with trenchant symbolism with a strong underlying message. This makes the   caricatures meaningful rather than simply physical distortion of demented eyes and big ears. The types of distortion are very varied depending on the point of the other elements of the cartoon. 

Royal wedding. Portraits vs caricature


Jeremy Corbyn

The following video discusses some of the issues involved when he tries to satirise people he actually agrees with.

Contemporary Caricature

Research point
Find examples of contemporary caricature and identify the elements of the drawing that help with the character recognition and where the caricature takes place. From the information contained in the drawing, how do you know who this person is? How has the illustrator exaggerated or embellished this visual information to provide a caricature? What are the connotations of their exaggerations? Reflect on this in your learning log.

See Caricature

While symbolism and metaphor underpins the structure of satirical cartoons, caricature provides both its currency and its bite. Caricature communicates who you are talking about to an audience, and it also provides some commentary on what you think of them.

As Hogarth’s The Bench points out, there’s a difference between character and caricature.

  • Character is about recognising the person, caricature about commenting on that person. This is a process of denotation – we need to know accurately who this is;
  • For caricature to work, you need to capture the essence of the person from a ‘I know who that person is’ to ‘I know what that person thinks, feels, how they act’ perspective.  This second is about connotation
    – what are you saying about this person?

Exaggerated portraits

Some caricatures are mainly exaggerated portraits from a particular point of view. These vary in their degree of realism of rendering from outline sketches and cartoon animation-like effects to distorted painterly portraits. Some of these latter are very large – an interesting way of starting a caricature.

Gary Brown: Tony Blair caricature  mainly distorts his face and eyes to give a manic appearance. For more Gary Brown see–a772940-b1880/gary-brown-portraits-posters.htm?&RFID=118792

Steve Brodner

Jan op de Beek  

Jan op de Beeck

This is a relatively sympathetic subdued portrait of Trump. His eyes seem quite wise and avuncular, but  contrast with his puckered somewhat pouting mouth.  See more images from Google search

Sebastian Kruger

Kruger does very large oil portraits distorting the features, but photorealistic.

His website: . More Google images

In the caricature below, the line above Mick Jagger’s head makes him look like a hanged puppet, while his bloodshot eyes stare somewhat accusingly out at us.

Robert Risko

cartoon retro airbrush style

Angela Merkel

Barry Fantoni: His portraits of 70s and 80s television celebrities, while exaggerating facial features and expressions for comic effect, are centred on being able to represent the character accurately. In the image below the tightening of the lips and rabbit-tooth smile seems to indicate meanness. For more See Pinterest board

I also looked for collage caricatures, but could not find nearly as much as I expected. Mostly distorting the face.
Awesome Collage Caricatures

Barack Obama Nick Oliver

Satirical caricature

Other caricaturists combine symbols and narrative together with caricature for satirical commentary on social and political issues.

Thea Brine

hints at caricature but remains true to the character, with very realistic faces but stylised bodies.

See her website

Martin Rowson has a more fantasy-like style with a lot of symbolism and a strong political message. 

See University of Kent archive,  Cartoon Gallery, Guardian archives

Steve Bell

Steve Bell’s powerful satirical caricatures vary significantly for the same subject depending on the message he is trying to convey. This gives his caricatures considerable impact and depth.

See also satirical animated caricatures in Spitting Image.

Robert Risko


Google images

Angela Merkel

Robert Risko ( 1956 -)  is an American caricature artist known for his retro airbrush style. He began his career by following in the footsteps of his mentor Andy Warhol and moved to New York City from Pittsburgh. He started drawing iconic celebrity portraits in his inimitable graphic style for Warhol’s trendy downtown Interview Magazine. His hard edged airbrush style was an instant hit. Risko was influenced by the shiny aesthetic of the 1970s and the Deco revival taking place in New York City at the time. Risko recalls, “New York was a petrie dish of creativity back then with people like Mapplethorpe and Madonna pushing the envelope. It was an amazing time to be starting out then.”

Robert Risko a.k.a. Risko, is today’s most celebrated caricaturist. His style embodies the spirit of the 1930s Vanity Fair caricaturists Miguel Covarrubias and Paolo Garretto the latter of which he corresponded with until his death in 1989.