Visual Culture: A Q+A with Cartoonist Clovis Brown

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Words by Sherman Escoffery, Illustrations by Clovis Brown originally published by the Jamaica Observer—

Politicians And Their Retirement Packages

For close to 20 years, Clovis Brown has kept his fingers on the pulse of the Jamaican public with his daily cartoons in the Jamaica Observer. Often done in a single block, his cartoons tell a whole story about the latest news in Jamaica. A very low-profile individual and not a man of many words, Clovis allows his illustrations to do most of his talking for him. He goes after Jamaican politicians with a vengeance, barely masking his indignation and contempt as he takes them to task on a daily basis, for what he sees as inept and corrupt behavior in a declining society. Wielding his stylus like an axe, he tackles the social issue of the day, which usually leaves the masses cheering him on, and the offended party(s) threatening to take him to court.

LargeUp: Who is Clovis Brown?

Clovis Brown: I am just a fun person that is very serious about political issues.

LU: How long you have been an illustrator and talk a little about your journey to becoming the editorial cartoonist at the Jamaica Observer?

CB: I have been an illustrator for 23 years now. My journey took me from an advertising agency to the Jamaica Gleaner and now the Jamaica Observer, where I have been for the past 18 years.

LU: Who has influenced you, and what was it about them that did?

CB: John Buscema, Marvel Comics illustrator, and his realistic types of illustrations.

LU: In an editorial cartoon, you tell a whole story. Tell us about the process and how you pick your subject and conceptualize your cartoons?

CB: By going through the papers, any story that draws my attention the most, I just do a cartoon to illustrate it.

LU: If I were to give you a headline, could you come up with the description for it on the spot?

CB: Right away, I just think about it and place what’s on my mind on the paper.

LU: Tell me some of your favorite works that you have done?

CB: A political cartoon of former Prime Minister Edward Seaga: “Seaga the one man band,” and another former Prime Minister, PJ Patterson, with the salary bag hike on his shoulders.

LU: The Jamaica Gleaner has Las May as their cartoonist, are you friends or do you consider him your rival?

CB: Las May is not my rival, we are good friends and he took my place when I left the Jamaica Gleaner.

LU: I see people tweeting links to your cartoon daily and the Jamaica Observer tops the Jamaica Gleaner in Alexa internet ranking, do you feel this has anything to do with the impact your cartoons?

CB: Yes it does, because people prefer to see a cartoon than a picture of the real situation.

LU: Has the 2010 Tivoli incursion or the result of the 2011 general election changed the outlook of your work?

CB:No, but it’s the first time a government has stood up to a political gangs, and this has encouraged me to be even bolder in my demands of our government.

Tivoli Before The Country's Security Forces Took Back Control

LU: Why did you go so hard on the Bruce Golding administration, with the Coke Extradition, The Tivoli incursion, his ultimate resignation, and you even drew him with a Pinocchio’s nose a couple of times?

CB:Former Prime Edward Seaga had said that Bruce Golding didn’t have the balls to lead the country, so that was why I took a hard stand on his administration, to force him to do what was right for the country.

Bruce's Pinocchio Nose

LU: You have been criticized as being very anti PNP, would you say you are a JLP supporter?

CB: No! I’m not for the JLP, but for any party that supports hard work and not political handouts. I hate that “eat a food” business.

Eat A Food From Political Handouts

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