We were new cartoonists on the block when we joined The Independent
Alex made his first appearance in The Independent on 1 September 1987. We had launched the cartoon in Robert Maxwell’s London Daily News six months earlier. When the plug was abruptly pulled on the ill-fated venture in July, we and our pinstriped banker found ourselves suddenly homeless.
We were advised to take Alex to The Independent. It made sense. We were new cartoonists on the block and the Indy was less than a year old. There was only one problem: the paper wasn’t interested. The head of design was too busy to even look at our portfolio. In the end, it was Sarah (now Baroness) Hogg, the business editor, who called us in and signed us up.
Working for The Independent presented new challenges. Back at the Daily News, we had cruised by doing facile jokes about Yuppies (remember them?). We didn’t really know anything about the City. But now Alex was appearing in a national newspaper which people actually read, and we no longer had the luxury of making our mistakes in private.
Then, within a month, came the stock market crash of ’87. The new breed of obnoxious, overpaid bankers seemed to be finished and our joke model broken at a stroke. For the second time in a year, it looked like we’d have to find ourselves real jobs. But then we realised that Alex and his ilk were actually funnier when their bonuses, BMWs and brick-sized mobile phones were at risk.
By this time, our target audience in the financial world was starting to read The Independent. As the materialistic Eighties gave way to the “Nice Nineties”, with its New Men and ecological awareness, Alex moved with the times: he got married, had a baby and became a townie weekender in the country.
Our happy association with The Independent lasted four years before commercial pressures intervened. With Alex being so shamelessly mercenary, he would hardly have let us resist the allure of more money elsewhere. Though he and the strip have changed, The Indy was home to many classic jokes which die-hard fans still quote back at us.