Kimon Evan Marengo was born on 22 January 1904 in Zifta, Egypt, the son of Evangelos Marangos, a Greek cotton merchant. He grew up in Alexandria, and from 1923 to 1931 he edited and contributed to a political weekly called Maalesh, which was published in Cairo and Alexandria, and was critical of local politicians and public figures. In 1929 Marengo went to Paris to study at the Ecole Libre des Sciences Politiques, and began contributing to a wide range of international publications, including Le Petit Parisien, Le Canard Enchainee, John Bull, La Bourse Egyptienne, Cartoon Comment, Men Only, New York Times, Liberal News, Razzle, Daily Herald and Daily Telegraph. He signed his work with his initials "KEM."
In 1939 Marengo went to Oxford University, but did not complete his degree before war broke out. Asked to provide some ideas for Middle East propaganda, he ended up working for the Foreign Office as political adviser on the Middle East, and - with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel - heading the "KEM Unit" to produce cartoons, postcards, posters, and other propaganda material. By 1941 he was drawing more than a dozen cartoons a week. Marengo also acted as a war correspondent for the British and American armies, and in 1943 was an observer at the Teheran conference betwen Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill.
In 1944 the Daily Sketch published three political cartoons by Cyril Gwyn Price, who signed himself "Kim", and Marengo took the paper to court. Four years later the case reached the House of Lords, where it was decided that there had been a "reasonable possibility of misrepresentation." The result went in Marengo's favour, and "Marengo v. Daily Sketch and Sunday Graphic Ltd ", set a precedent for civil litigation. However, it may also have contributed to his subsequent loss of work in the British press.
After the war Marengo was awarded the Lagion d'Honneur and Croix de Guerre. He returned to Exeter College, Oxford, to study on the accelerated BA programme, and after graduating in 1946 went on to submit a DPhil thesis on "The Cartoon as a Political Weapon in England: 1784-1832." In 1956 his family lost heavily when Nasser nationalised the Egyptian cotton industry. Marengo usually worked in pen, brush, ink and poster colour on white card. He died in London on 4 November 1988.
- Edward Grayson "Kem", Independent, 2 December 1988.
- Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), pp.151-2.
- Valerie Holman "Kem's Cartoons in the Second World War", History Today, March 2002, p.21.
21 boxes (original artwork, printed Christmas cards, cuttings, proofs, roughs, biographical material and photographs)
KEM printing plates Liberal News
Undated (fl. 1920s - 80s)back to top