Steve Bell has been drawing comic strips for a living since 1977. He is a proponent of the short form, usually four frames, sometimes longer, and more often than not daily. Since 1981 he has written and drawn the If… strip in the Guardian and, since 1990 has been drawing up to four larger format political cartoons a week for the same paper. He has as yet has never produced a graphic novel, though the ‘If…’ strip has so far run to several thousand pages with as yet no end in sight. He is in it mainly for laughs, but many of his cartoons are not funny at all.
He was born in London in 1951, grew up in Slough and studied art in Middlesbrough and Leeds, qualifying as a teacher before becoming a cartoonist full time in 1977. His original strip Maggie’s Farm appeared in Time Out and City Limits magazines from 1979 through to 1987.
He created the memorable image of John Major with his underpants worn outside his trousers and of Tony Blair with Margaret Thatcher’s rogue, mad eyeball. Ever since George W Bush’s installation as President by the Supreme Court in December 2000 Bell depicted him as a chimpanzee. Currently he depicts David Cameron with a condom on his head, to which the Prime Minister is on the record as having responded:
“You can only push a condom so far.”
And more recently:
“When are you going to take that condom off my head?”