Steve Bell - If . . . Bursts Out (4 stars)

Steve Bell - If . . . Bursts Out

Hilarious and hurtful collection of vibrantly satiric strips

(Jonathan Cape)

When Ed Miliband was elected leader of the Labour Party, the Guardian website ran footage of cartoonist Steve Bell turning his observations of the new man at the podium into a mocking cartoon. As Bell takes up his spot near the front, a young delegate grabs him by the arm to declare nervously at his hero: ‘Your work’s really good.’ It’s a more than mildly creepy moment, but you have to imagine that some of the subjects of Bell’s scribblings down the years would like to grab him closer to the trachea.

If … Bursts Out is a colourful collection of his vibrantly satiric strips from February 2006 – with the toad-like Brown still plotting to take No 10 from the mad-eyed Blair — all the way through to the ConDemNation featuring a condom-headed Cameron and Vince Cable as a small elephant. Hilarious and hurtful, it doesn’t get any better than Clarkson envisaged as a ‘big pink pile of poo’.