Since exchanging his climb up the corporate ladder for the chance to "draw funny pictures for a living" in November 2005, Jeremy Nell's star has not stopped rising.
Nell's cartoons have appeared in a wide range of publications, from The Times to The Big Issue. The Capetonian has even turned his talents to blogging, keeping his fans updated in typically humourous fashion.
Ryan Bubear caught up with Jeremy to find out his candid views on Helen Zille, Zapiro, the inside of his fridge and a whole lot more...
Ryan Bubear: Politicians from President Jacob Zuma to DA leader Helen Zille feature in your editorial strips. Your Julius Malema character always gets me laughing. Who is your favourite political figure to draw and why?
Jeremy Nell: Good question. Because I suffer from ADD, my boredom always gets the better of me. Which means that I don't have a favourite for long. At the time of this interview, my favourite caricature is probably Helen Zille. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's her lips. By the way, does Julius Malema even count as a "political figure"?
RB: The IEC toasted the 22 April elections by reading out the text of one of your cartoons (see video below). Is throwing in the odd positive strip a technique you sometimes use to surprise the readers of your editorial cartoons? The IEC's election results toast
JN: The idea that cartoons are "negative" or "positive" is interesting to me. For example, if an authority makes ? what I believe to be ? a kak decision, then I might find it necessary to lampoon it for purposes of accountibility and, of course, humour (if possible). Is this, therefore, "negative" or "positive"? I don't know. I don't suppose that answers your question. But the "negativity-positivity" thing threw me. My bad.
RB: Certain public figures and organisations make themselves easy targets for a person in your profession. With the need to keep things fresh, does this make your job easier or more difficult?
JN: When I visited Australia in 2007, I realised how boring their political arena is. Ours is a lot more exciting. Because that's what children do. They make stuff a lot more exciting.
RB: Do you make a conscious effort to spread the ridicule evenly or are you comfortable with targeting those who continue walking straight into the line of fire?
JN: If I "spread the ridicule evenly", I'd bore myself into becoming a golfer. I prefer having no rules or predetermined formats. I simply look at things and provide commentary. For example, if it so happens that I spend two weeks only on Jacob Zuma, then that's the way the cookie has crumbled (I love that idiom. I tend to throw it into as many conversations as possible).
RB: You are no doubt pretty accustomed to the wrath of disgruntled parties you have mocked. Have you been sued yet? If not, is this something to which you aspire (the pinnacle of a cartooning career, perhaps)?
JN: Ja, it is somewhat disappointing that I've not been sued yet. But, if it counts for anything, I've had a death threat, and bizarre complaints have been lodged against me. The NSPCA didn't like me once upon a time. Nor did some Jews, Muslims, Christians, AIDS activists, and a guy in my complex who still doesn't like my African Grey parrot.
RB: Most South Africans would name Jonathan 'Zapiro' Shapiro as the country's most famous cartoonist. You have labelled yourself as 'the most famous cartoonist you?ve never heard of' (despite having your own Wikipedia entry!). Is Zapiro someone you look up to? What sort of relationship do you have with him?
JN: Zapiro and I have conflicting ideologies which create an exciting space for commentary (In fact, based on conversations with other cartoonists, my views are in the minority). Sadly, (he and) his commentary are so heavily celebrated and inflated, that virtually all other great South African cartoonists' voices go unheard, are forgotten about, or are simply ignored. I don't look up to Zapiro any more than I look up to the completely underrated Fred Mouton (who has been drawing for Die Burger for over thirty years). Or former Cape Argus cartoonist, John Curtis. Or Business Day cartoonist, Brandon Reynolds. Or even Madam & Eve cartoonist, Rico, who deserves maximum respect.
RB: If you are struggling to come up with an idea for the day's strip, where do you look for extra inspiration?
JN: Inside my fridge. It's amazing what food does for the imagination. Moreover, it's fantastic because, when I tell my friends that I'm conceptualising a cartoon over a can of baked beans on toast, they totally respect that and opt to visit me another time.
RB: Do you ever worry that readers won't 'get' one of your sketches?
JN: No, not really. Most of the time I don't even get them. So there's little point in worrying.
RB: Besides spending large chunks of your day penning cartoons, you are also a popular blogger. If you lost your drawing talent in a freak pencil-sharpening accident, do you think blogging alone would be a sufficient outlet for your creative juices?
JN: What a lot of people don't know is that the sole reason I began blogging was to fill up the white space on the page. It looked crap. Then I kind of got into it. Would blogging alone be sufficient? When the guys at YaThemes.com finish my hot new site, I reckon my answer could be affirmative.
RB: Your career has seen you spend time with some pretty big names. Who is the person you are most grateful to have met through your profession and why?
JN: Desmond Tutu. He has an excellent taste in chocolates. It was a proud moment when he offered me a few from his private collection. I even felt compelled to say grace. But I didn't.
RB: One last question... can you get me Zapiro's autograph?
JN: Your mother.
Find out more about South African cartoonist Jeremy Nell here.Are you a fan of Jeremy's work? What do you think of the standard of political satire in South Africa? Leave a comment below!