The Birth Of "Son Of Bob"
By Chip Rowe
Chip Rowe, a former AJR associate editor, is an editor at Playboy.
Seven years ago, the British magazine Private Eye began a regular cartoon strip, "Capt. Bob," chronicling the exploits of media baron Robert Maxwell. The late tycoon had been a target of the Eye's biting wit (which inspired the founders of Spy) for years and repeatedly sued the 30-year-old magazine for libel. But because Maxwell so enjoyed boasting of his World War II Army rank, "it seemed time [by 1984] to present him in full pirate gear," recalls Eye Editor Ian Hislop, who with his staff had suspected something amiss in Maxwell's bookkeeping from the git-go. "For a long while we showed him always aboard vessels that would be sinking, as whatever he touched seemed to fall apart."
When Maxwell was found floating off the Canary Islands in November, Hislop admits "there was a certain amount of merriment" at the Eye's London offices. "He went overboard, appropriately." Within weeks, artist John Kent had converted his "Capt. Bob" strip to "Son of Bob," caricaturing the two unfortunate Maxwell brothers who inherited the crumbling empire. The new strip will continue, Hislop says, "until the boys get jobs." ###