my life as a sketchbook

I have hidden in a sketchbook and a journal all my life. Time to open the books, reframe the story & time. Copyright Cinders McLeod. All rights reserved
Mary Hill describes the humour behind Broomie Law.
Broomie Law was never about politicians – but the effects that politicians’ decisions had on our lives. And because of that, and because the same crappy decisions just keep being made over and over again, most of the Broomies stand the test of time.

Mary Hill describes the humour behind Broomie Law.

Broomie Law was never about politicians – but the effects that politicians’ decisions had on our lives. And because of that, and because the same crappy decisions just keep being made over and over again, most of the Broomies stand the test of time.

One Canadian agent once told me that Broomie couldn’t be a 5 or 8 year old kid for the messages were beyond them. But I’ve found that 8, even 5 year kids care a lot about their future, like to be involved in discussions about the planet, worry about other children going hungry and understand love is better than greed.
I’ve also found that kids like Broomie. Children in my world don’t have any problem with Broomie Law. In fact, one girl carried the little red book around with her for a year. It’s a good, friendly size, to be sure, but  I think there’s more to it. When the Peanuts first came out, no one in the comics world had really given kids credit for deep feelings. Schultz struggled with depression and it came out in Charlie Brown and kids related to that. I know I did. I remember drawing my own Charlie Brown strip when I was in grade 4. In the final panel, my Charlie Brown says “I’m so depressed.” 
I also find what kids don’t understand – they ask about, or they just move on if they’re not ready to take it in yet. That’s why some of the cartoons in Broomie Law didn’t appear to phase younger readers.
I remember sitting with my dad, watching  Batman on TV, and there being canned laughter at places I wasn’t laughing. But my dad was laughing. So it must have been funny. It was nice watching him laugh. I didn’t have to get everything. But one thing for sure – I preferred Batman with the bits I didn’t understand, than the baby pablum on children’s TV. (Mr Rogers, Mr Dressup and The Friendly Giant excluded).

Above: Broomie on…futures market

One Canadian agent once told me that Broomie couldn’t be a 5 or 8 year old kid for the messages were beyond them. But I’ve found that 8, even 5 year kids care a lot about their future, like to be involved in discussions about the planet, worry about other children going hungry and understand love is better than greed.

I’ve also found that kids like Broomie. Children in my world don’t have any problem with Broomie Law. In fact, one girl carried the little red book around with her for a year. It’s a good, friendly size, to be sure, but  I think there’s more to it. When the Peanuts first came out, no one in the comics world had really given kids credit for deep feelings. Schultz struggled with depression and it came out in Charlie Brown and kids related to that. I know I did. I remember drawing my own Charlie Brown strip when I was in grade 4. In the final panel, my Charlie Brown says “I’m so depressed.” 

I also find what kids don’t understand – they ask about, or they just move on if they’re not ready to take it in yet. That’s why some of the cartoons in Broomie Law didn’t appear to phase younger readers.

I remember sitting with my dad, watching  Batman on TV, and there being canned laughter at places I wasn’t laughing. But my dad was laughing. So it must have been funny. It was nice watching him laugh. I didn’t have to get everything. But one thing for sure – I preferred Batman with the bits I didn’t understand, than the baby pablum on children’s TV. (Mr Rogers, Mr Dressup and The Friendly Giant excluded).

Above: Broomie on…futures market

Hag’s Castle: Anarchist

Broomie’s cynical handbag. She has financial aspirations.

Hag’s Castle: Anarchist

Broomie’s cynical handbag. She has financial aspirations.

Mary Hill: Ragtag & Bobtail Trotskyist

Grumpy old girl. On a sunny day she can be found in the café.

Mary Hill: Ragtag & Bobtail Trotskyist

Grumpy old girl. On a sunny day she can be found in the café.

Molly Cate: LIberal

Broomie’s pensive diary. She has intellectual aspirations.

Molly Cate: LIberal

Broomie’s pensive diary. She has intellectual aspirations.

Annie Land: Goosestepper

Dutiful and trusting babydoll. She believes everything she reads. A model citizen.

Annie Land: Goosestepper

Dutiful and trusting babydoll. She believes everything she reads. A model citizen.

Broomie Law: Chairman

5 year old street urchin, truant & orphan takes no prisoners. On a rainy day she can be found in the café.

Broomie Law: Chairman

5 year old street urchin, truant & orphan takes no prisoners. On a rainy day she can be found in the café.

From my article The Right to Create: A Casualty of Dissent, Comics Journal, 2001

Broomie Law is a single-panel cartoon commissioned by Jackie McGlone for the features page in 1996. It was inspired by Italian-Scot Oscar Marzaroli’s 1950s-’60s photographs of the Gorbals (a working class area of Glasgow) children, with their wee hard faces and props of adult power — high heels, dolls and handbags.
In a review of the cartoon in the British magazine Red Pepper, Amanda Sebestyen wrote: “Like all favourite cartoonists — Giles, Osbert Lancaster, Steve Bell — McLeod gives you an addictive family of characters to comment on issues of the day. Heroine Broomie Law is a street child who keeps asking questions; Baby Doll believes everything the spinmasters tell her; red Granny Hill acts grumpy historian and a cynical materialist Handbag gets the best wisecracks. The kick comes form seeing the cast pass conversational judgments on New Labour from far, far to the left. No blood but plenty of bite. And a twist of lemon from the fact that all the characters are female.”

Broomie Law is the name of the heart of Glasgow’s once-busy docks. But I chose the name because it described the cartoon’s political perspective — the law of the home, the land, the broom (most of the characters’ names are based on areas of Glasgow: Broomielaw, Maryhill, Anniesland and Haggs Castle). I saw the strip as part of the changing face of political cartoons for three reasons. First reason, since editorial cartoons were still not seen as an acceptable job for a woman, I had to create my own ground. Second, I felt that many political cartoons had lost the plot, working in stereotypes that reinforce prejudices, against sex, race and class. And third, the standard political cartoon focuses on the parody of the politician, from the position of the worm at the bottom, not the effects of that politician’s actions on the people. 

Broomie Law received high praise from the likes of comedian Philip Jupitus, Guardian journalists Jeremy Hardy and George Monbiot, historian and curator Elspeth King, Observer editorial cartoonist Chris Riddell, BBC Radio Women’s Hour Jenny Moore and ex-leader to the Scottish National Party, MSP and MP, Alex Salmond. Labour MP and people’s hero Tony Benn said “it helps us to see the truth behind the facade” and journalist/film maker John Pilger said “your work is so sharp and unusual (in these politically surreal times) and above all, powerful.” 

Another equally valued fan from Partick, Glasgow, Angie McKenna, e-mailed me with this message: “… My wee mammie and I … always have a wee laugh at your cartoon in the Herald. Very clever and very well-done. At last another cartoon with good political content, especially set here in our proud city of Glasgow, highlighting poverty, family issues, etc. etc. Thanks for giving us such a wonderful gift.

From my article The Right to Create: A Casualty of Dissent, Comics Journal, 2001

Broomie Law is a single-panel cartoon commissioned by Jackie McGlone for the features page in 1996. It was inspired by Italian-Scot Oscar Marzaroli’s 1950s-’60s photographs of the Gorbals (a working class area of Glasgow) children, with their wee hard faces and props of adult power — high heels, dolls and handbags.

In a review of the cartoon in the British magazine Red Pepper, Amanda Sebestyen wrote: “Like all favourite cartoonists — Giles, Osbert Lancaster, Steve Bell — McLeod gives you an addictive family of characters to comment on issues of the day. Heroine Broomie Law is a street child who keeps asking questions; Baby Doll believes everything the spinmasters tell her; red Granny Hill acts grumpy historian and a cynical materialist Handbag gets the best wisecracks. The kick comes form seeing the cast pass conversational judgments on New Labour from far, far to the left. No blood but plenty of bite. And a twist of lemon from the fact that all the characters are female.”

Broomie Law is the name of the heart of Glasgow’s once-busy docks. But I chose the name because it described the cartoon’s political perspective — the law of the home, the land, the broom (most of the characters’ names are based on areas of Glasgow: Broomielaw, Maryhill, Anniesland and Haggs Castle). I saw the strip as part of the changing face of political cartoons for three reasons. First reason, since editorial cartoons were still not seen as an acceptable job for a woman, I had to create my own ground. Second, I felt that many political cartoons had lost the plot, working in stereotypes that reinforce prejudices, against sex, race and class. And third, the standard political cartoon focuses on the parody of the politician, from the position of the worm at the bottom, not the effects of that politician’s actions on the people.

Broomie Law received high praise from the likes of comedian Philip Jupitus, Guardian journalists Jeremy Hardy and George Monbiot, historian and curator Elspeth King, Observer editorial cartoonist Chris Riddell, BBC Radio Women’s Hour Jenny Moore and ex-leader to the Scottish National Party, MSP and MP, Alex Salmond. Labour MP and people’s hero Tony Benn said “it helps us to see the truth behind the facade” and journalist/film maker John Pilger said “your work is so sharp and unusual (in these politically surreal times) and above all, powerful.”

Another equally valued fan from Partick, Glasgow, Angie McKenna, e-mailed me with this message: “… My wee mammie and I … always have a wee laugh at your cartoon in the Herald. Very clever and very well-done. At last another cartoon with good political content, especially set here in our proud city of Glasgow, highlighting poverty, family issues, etc. etc. Thanks for giving us such a wonderful gift.

So without further ado, allow me introduce to you the grumpy, Scottish, orphan, street urchin, Broomie Law (with the sweet, button nose)

So without further ado, allow me introduce to you the grumpy, Scottish, orphan, street urchin, Broomie Law (with the sweet, button nose)

I’m a Boy!

I’m a Boy!