Pete Dredge writes:
Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers”, Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”, Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”…Bill Tidy’s “Any news of the Iceberg?” All these great artists produced a prolific amount of brilliant work during their illustrious careers but, for some reason, they are mainly remembered for just one piece from their impressive canon. Indeed the former may well have been parodied by the latter as cartoonists are prone to do but there’s no disputing the fact that the Bill Tidy take on the Titanic disaster hit the gold mark that few others today seldom reach.
It’s a brilliant gag, but so many other Bill Tidy cartoons were too. What was it about this particular cartoon that elevated it to this higher status?
Drawn in 1968, had sufficient time elapsed since that disastrous loss of life in 1912 to make it fair game for humourists? Would living survivors or relatives see the funny side? Maybe. Maybe not.
I can’t recall any similar treatments of the Amritsar Massacre of 1919 or the 1906 San Francisco earthquake disaster. Similarly I can’t see any appetite for having a go at 9/11 or Hillsborough in years to come. Maybe it was the futility of that “Man v Nature” mismatch, à la Captain Oates, or other similar noble sacrifices of a bygone era that left the door ajar for the likes of Bill Tidy to do their worst (or best). As I write, coronavirus jokes and gag cartoons are flowing from the pens of cartoonists but we have yet to reach the envisaged “worst is yet to come” stage. Maybe there was a quick-thinking cartoonist on board the Titanic doing the very same gag as Bill’s. We will never know, but hindsight and a cute polar bear are a wonderful thing.