Gary Barker was born in Fleetwood, Lancashire in 1963. He trained as a geologist and later as an environmental scientist, but was self-taught as an artist, growing up drawing his hero Spiderman and studying the work of science fiction artists, such as Carlos Ezquerra, the co-creator of “Judge Dredd”.
In 2007 Barker won a national cartoon competition, run by the BBC Politics Show to celebrate Comic Relief day, and left a teaching career to become a professional political cartoonist. He spent the next two years drawing a weekly political cartoon for the Politics Show, in a style he described as “direct, acerbic, accessible”, arguing that it was “the duty of every editorial cartoonist (worth their salt) to speak up for both the politically disenfranchised and the just plain frustrated.”
Since 2010 Barker has contributed political cartoons to The Times and Tribune Magazine and he has also created editorial cartoons for The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, The Sun and Daily Star on Sunday. His work has also been shown on BBC Newsnight and Channel 4 news. Barker also creates business cartoon illustrations for a wide range of publications, and since 2010 has contributed a weekly comment cartoon to the property magazine Estates Gazette.
“My biggest fear for political cartooning is the growing threat of editorial interference”, Barker wrote in 2015, “as editors seek to stifle creativity and enforce political dictat”: ““One newspaper, which I thankfully no longer contribute to, was so bad they would demand four roughs a day, which they would then totally ignore and then dictate a cartoon they wanted doing, which was never anything short of propaganda'.”
Barker cites his original influences as the science fiction-orientated comic 2000AD and the political cartoonist Charles Griffin, and describes himself as “a traditional political centrist with one foot in the left”. He considers humour important in his work, however serious the subject, noting in 2015: “As a political cartoonist I would say most political cartoons are supposed to have an element of humour, but that may be very dark. Satire is not always belly laughs and may often just be a knowing nod, but that is humour just the same.”
- Gary Barker’s “Brush with Politics”, The BBC Politics Show 2008 news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/politics_show/7611880.stm
- Gary Barker “Political Cartoons, The Future” www.garybarker.co.uk/blog/index.php?id=7b62p4as
- Gary Barker political cartoons and illustration website www.garybarker.co.uk/
- Gary Barker “Are most political cartoons intended to be funny?” (2015) www.quora.com/Are-most-political-cartoons-intended-to-be-funny
- Information provided by Gary Barker