William John Philpin Jones - known as John Jones - was born in Llandrindod Wells, Wales, on 17 August 1913, the son of John Jones, a bookmaker. Jones's parents wanted him to become a doctor, but from an early age he wanted to draw for a living, and "Jon the cartoon" first showed his talent for drawing at the age of ten by winning a prize at the National Eisteddfod. In 1928 his first published cartoon appeared in the Radnor Express, and in 1932 his father arranged for him to go to the Birmingham School of Art, after a Cardiff paper had shown an interest in his work. He then won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art, but did not complete the course - according to one account, he walked out when the director "pooh-poohed his preference for drawing cartoons."
In 1937 Jones joined Godbolds advertising agency in London, but he soon returned to Wales, where in 1938 he began working as political cartoonist for the Cardiff Western Mail. On the outbreak of war in 1939, he recalled, "I enlisted, was sent to Sandhurst, and was offered a commission in the Guards until they realised I didn't have the £500 a year private income they required." He served in the Welch Regiment, first on home service and then in North Africa. In September 1943 he was Assistant Military Landing Officer at Salerno in Italy (where Humphrey Lyttelton also landed), and in January 1944 had the same job at Anzio, where he stayed for four months. As Jones later recalled, he drew all the time: "You drew to escape. You drew for the very moment. You drew what was happening. This is how it is - now. So you drew it."
Evacuated to North Africa with shell-shock - "a nervous wreck, shaking like a jelly" - Jones started drawing cartoons of a pair of battle-hardened British officers. They wore a bizarre mixture of military and non-military clothes, but he recalled that "a lot of 8th Army officers dressed like that." Hugh Cudlipp, formerly editor of the Sunday Pictorial, was working as Editor-in-Chief of the British Army Newspaper Unit, producing a series of army newspapers, and Jones sent him some of these cartoons over the signature "JON." They were accepted, and the officers made their first appearance in the Eighth Army News in July 1944 under the title "Page Two Smile." By August 1944 they were appearing as "The Two Types," and the name stuck.
Cudlipp arranged for Jones to join the British Army Newspaper Unit in Italy as a full-time cartoonist. As he remembered, "my Colonel called me in and said HQ had assigned me to the mobile newspaper unit": "Colonel Jasper wasn't too pleased, until I drew him a portrait to send home to his wife. I put so many medals on his chest that he looked like Monty, and he was so pleased he promised to get me a destroyer to ferry me across to Naples. He did too, HMS Atherstone." Cudlipp employed Jones to draw cartoons for Eighth Army News, Union Jack, and Soldier, and for the unit's Sunday paper Crusader - for which Bill Connor persuaded him to develop a heavier style of political cartoon signed "Philpin" or "William Philpin."
The "Two Types" proved popular in the ranks, and were syndicated to other publications, including the Daily Express from 1944. However, they brought criticism from higher up. General Montgomery banned a cartoon showing one of them jumping into a slit trench at El Alamein as the German tanks approached, and saying to the other "When this lot's over, I bet some ruddy General proposes a reunion!" Even more disastrously, Jones recalled, "General Alexander tried to ban me altogether, but Hugh Cudlipp convinced him that if he did, it would prove what the troops had always suspected - that some officers were pompous and humourless too. Alexander accepted that." Jones was instead awarded the MBE.
Jones drew only some three hundred "Two Types" cartoons between 1943 and 1946, but over a million copies of the wartime collections were printed. After demobilisation in 1946 Jones followed Cudlipp back to the Sunday Pictorial, but was very unhappy, producing only sports cartoons. "He said no-one was interested in The Two Types readjusting to civvy life", Jones recalled: "I thought he was wrong, but accepted it." When Cudlipp left in 1950, Jones decided there was no reason to stay at the Sunday Pictorial and moved to Kemsley Newspapers, where he worked for the Daily Graphic, Sunday Graphic, Empire News and Sunday Times. In 1956 he transferred to the News Chronicle, where he created two daily pocket cartoons, one a political series and the other entitled "The Sporting Types".
When the News Chronicle was absorbed by the Daily Mail in October 1960, Jones moved to the rival paper, where he was in competition with the existing Daily Mail cartoonist, Nicholas Bentley. After a miserable period in which both men produced a daily cartoon, with only one being accepted by the editorial staff, Bentley left the paper, and Jones remained as sports and front-page cartoonist. He had a "spartan little studio" in the Daily Mail office, and became a familiar figure. One journalist described how Jones prepared to draw his daily cartoon, "darting into the sports editor's room, descending on the morning news schedule, grabbing agency tapes, quizzing reporters, eavesdropping, marauding, sketching on odd bits of paper and chuckling his way back to his cubicle."
In 1966 Jones was one of the founder members of the British Cartoonists' Association, and the Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain voted him Topical and Sports Cartoonist of the Year. In politics Jones claimed to be "left of left", but it did not show in his cartoons. His work was largely uncontroversial, although in 1968 one Daily Mail cartoon was censored. The paper had announced its transatlantic air race, and he produced a cartoon showing the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, and the Foreign Secretary, George Brown, outside the race organiser's office, with a steward declaring "The first two competitors, sir - Allcock and Brown." The cartoon was vetoed, but hung in the editor's office for years.
In 1981 the Cartoonists Club of Great Britain voted Jones Pocket Cartoonist of the Year. By the time that he retired from the Daily Mail in October 1981, he had produced an estimated 15,000 cartoons for the paper on politics, current affairs and sport. In 1982 Jones joined the new Mail on Sunday, for which he worked until 1988, and he continued to draw cartoons for the South Wales Argus and Abergavenny Chronicle until 1990. Jones died in St Joseph's nursing home, near Newport, Wales, on 28 June 1992, and is buried in St Cadoc's Churchyard in Raglan, where he lived.
- Ian J. Scott (ed) British Cartoonists Year Book 1964 (London, 1963), p.125.
- Michael Bateman Funny Way to Earn a Living: A Book of Cartoons and Cartoonists (Leslie Frewin, London, 1966), pp.38-40.
- Vincent Mulchrone "Only Once Today Did Jon Shudder", Daily Mail, 18 January 1969, p.6.
- William Greaves "The Man Who's Kept Us Chuckling for 40 Years!" Daily Mail, 16 October 1981, p.7.
- "A Couple of Hard-line Characters", Guardian, 16 October 1982.
- "The Censored Joke", Mail on Sunday, 24 October 1982, p.23.
- Daily Telegraph, 3 July 1992, "Obituaries: 'Jon' Jones."
- Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), pp.128-30.
- Grave of John Philpin Jones in St Caradoc's churchyard at www.raglan-parishes.org.uk/Raglan_Parishes/St_Cadocs_Gravestones/Pages/Section_F.html#52
38 boxes uncatalogued originals [JP0001 - 2214]
5 unaccessioned originals
Archive of artwork , papers, printed material from artist's estate. 19 boxes
70s; 80s (1975 - 80)back to top