Cartoonist caught the horrors of war... then it took his life
The number of horse horses that died in the First World War. They were used to transport ammunition and supplies to the front and many died, not only from the horrors of shellfire, but also in terrible weather and appalling conditions. The number of letters that were delivered to the soldiers on the Western front every week. By the end of the war, two billion letters and 114 million parcels had been received. The number of soldiers German mobilised during the war, fighting on both the eastern and western fronts. It is believed that 1,773,700 were killed, and 4,216,058 wounded. of retribution and recrimination for Germany.
There is patriotism in the work, but it does not glorify war.
“Gilkison has a very particular way of evoking emotions,” explains Mr Grove. “The diagonal composition of the dead German soldier in
The Reason Why makes us focus on the agony of the face. It is an image that is 50 years ahead of its time and reminds me of posters created during the Vietnam War. He has a way of making us look at something and just shiver - he touched hearts and minds.”
The quality of the drawing, meanwhile, says Mr Grove, is “phenomenal”.
“Gilkison’s fine lines compare with the great etchers of the 17th century,” he adds. “The only real difference is that he was working in the 20th century newspaper industry.”
In the four years since uncle Archie’s talent was rediscovered, his work has been included in books, commemorations and exhibitions, including a major one at the Hunterian Art Gallery in Glasgow exploring the history of comics and cartoons where he was displayed alongside giants such as Rembrandt, Picasso, Warhol and
Seeing him gain such recognition has been truly wonderful, especially when I think of my grandmother, who would have loved to have seen her uncle’s work exhibited. The fact that the cartoons now have a permanent home at Glasgow University, where they can be accessed and used as a resource for ever more, also fills me with pride.
I feel a deep sense of loss, too, however. At the peak of his powers as an artist in 1916, as the death toll mounted at the Somme – a battle that would eventually kill 420,000 British soldiers and almost 500,000 Germans
War Cartoons book by Archie Gilkison owned by his great-niece,