The peerless cartoonist Stanley McMurtry – better known to millions as Mac – has picked up his magical pencil again to join The Mail on Sunday.
Ever since his retirement from the Daily Mail exactly two years ago, his drawings – wickedly funny but done with great warmth – have been sorely missed by readers who took delight in them as the perfect way to start the day with a smile.
For Mac has a remarkable gift to turn a few deft pencil marks and an accompanying caption into a mini-masterpiece.
The peerless cartoonist Stanley McMurtry – better known to millions as Mac – has picked up his magical pencil again to join The Mail on Sunday
Ever since his retirement from the Daily Mail exactly two years ago, his drawings – wickedly funny but done with great warmth. His final cartoon in 2018 depicted himself being pushed reluctantly through the front gate of a home for retired cartoonists – with the caption ‘Oh, come on, Mac! You’re supposed to walk happily into the sunset’
Ever since his retirement from the Daily Mail his drawings have been sorely missed by readers and Mac has yearned to return saying he missed the joy of drawing and his head was still brimming with ideas
Although he signed off from daily newspapers in December 2018 with a cartoon depicting himself being pushed reluctantly through the front gate of a home for retired cartoonists with the caption ‘Oh, come on, Mac! You’re supposed to walk happily into the sunset’ – he has yearned to return.
Last night, Mac said: ‘I found that I was sorely missing the sheer joy of drawing, and my head was still brimming with ideas.’
Among his legion of fans is the Queen. When she conferred an MBE on him for services to the newspaper industry, she remarked: ‘Ah, so you’re Mac, are you?’
Mac responded: ‘I hope you’re not offended by them [the cartoons],’ and she replied: ‘No, no. We always look at them. We like it when you put the corgis in.’
JANUARY: The Royal Family is rocked by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to quit ‘The Firm’ and go it alone. ‘That’s an order. If anyone else tries to escape, you shoot. Okay?’
FEBRUARY: It’s feared that in desperate need of post-Brexit trade, Britain will be swamped with chlorinated US chicken. ‘Yes, folks. That’s why we American chicks are finger-lickin’ good. We bathe in tingly fresh “Trumpwash” – ’cos we’re worth it’
MARCH: As lockdown is imposed, Britons start working from home – with dramatic impact on their domestic lives. ‘Will you be much longer, dear? I want to set the table’
APRIL: Boris Johnson is admitted to hospital after contracting Covid… but Mac sees the funny side once he’s on the mend. ‘I’m sorry, Nurse Bedworthy. The Prime Minister’s fiancee has had you replaced’
While constantly looking for a gag, his cartoons encompass all of everyday life. Although Mac never ducks controversy or lets politicians off the hook, his drawings are never vicious, nor crude.
Sir Tim Rice, the West End lyricist, has said: ‘Day after day, he brightened the morning with wit and superb draughtsmanship, sometimes making a serious point, sometimes a hilarious one, often both at once.’
Mac’s new work will appear in every Mail on Sunday from next week. As a taster, he has drawn one cartoon for each month of 2020 for today’s edition, all published on the next two pages.
Edinburgh-born Mac started his career as a cartoonist on Punch magazine, following in the footsteps of his heroes William Hogarth and James Gillray. He joined the Daily Mail in 1971 and has won countless awards, including Cartoonist Of The Year seven times.
Instinctively, Mac shares the hopes and values, tears and fears of Middle Britain – his longevity being testimony to his empathy and humanity.
MAY: Durham Police let Dominic Cummings off the hook over THAT Barnard Castle trip, and his excuse that became a national joke. ‘Right, Sir. Have a go at reading this chart’
JUNE: After Black Lives Matter protesters topple the statue of slave trader Edward Colson and dump it in a river… ‘Oh no, Happy and Sleepy must have had links with the slave trade’
JULY: The strictest lockdown restrictions are lifted, but people are still urged to maintain social distancing, especially at work. ‘Oi! Two metres apart!’
AUGUST: Boris Johnson was surprisingly found to be holidaying in a remote Scottish cottage, with a tent erected nearby
Daily Mail readers will recall that almost every one of his drawings includes a small sketch of his late wife Liz’s face – hidden perhaps in a railing, fruit bowl or a tree.
She died from motor neurone disease aged 69 in 2017. Mac wrote movingly in the Mail about watching as the disease shut down her body, and called for the law to be changed to allow assisted dying.
When Mac appeared on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, he said his luxury would be a tenor saxophone.
Now, with a weekly Mail on Sunday cartoon, his jazz-playing will have to be put on hold.
lAs part of a Christmas auction by the Journalists’ Charity, Mail on Sunday readers can bid to have a unique personalised cartoon drawn by Mac.
For details of how to bid for it, and other ‘money can’t buy’ lots, visit journalistscharity.org.uk.
SEPTEMBER: Another month, another new batch of Covid regulations, this time including the ‘Rule of six’. ‘Latest orders are to watch for more than six people crowded together not wearing masks and ignoring the 2-metre rule. Right, you’re all under arrest!’
OCTOBER: Fears that a second wave of Covid was about to strike led to renewed stockpiling of essential supplies. ‘Is that all you bought? Toilet rolls?’
NOVEMBER: Donald Trump lost the US Presidential election – not that anyone would like to tell him. ‘News that the whole world has been praying for? Wow! Have they found a vaccine?’
DECEMBER: Limited Christmas get-togethers are allowed – but with as many Covid precautions as possible. ‘Gosh, no. Even though you live in a tier 3 area, we didn’t want you to think you’d been forgotten. More gravy?’