Tuesday, November 30, 2010
(June 11, 1924 - December 1, 2002)
Born in Tiruvalla,Kerala to A.M. Mathew and Kantamma, Abu started drawing cartoons at the age of 3. After the stint at the University College, Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) taking up French, Mathematics, and English and leaving the mark as tennis champion, he moved to Bombay to work as journalist in The Bombay Chronicle and its sister publication, The Bombay Sentinel while simultaneoulsy contributing cartoons to Blitz and Bharat.
In 1951, he was invited by Shankar, one of India's best known cartoonists at the time, to move to New Delhi to work in the Shankar’s Weekly. In 1953, he met Fred Joss of the London Star, who encouraged him to move to London. Abu, a heady 32 at the time arrived in London in the summer,1953 and immediately could sell cartoons to Punch magazine and the Daily Sketch and contribute material to Everybodys' London Opinion and Eastern World under the pen name 'Abraham'. In September 1966, Abu joined The Guardian followed by a weekly cartoon to Tribune. He edited Verdicts on Vietnam, a collection of anti-war cartoons on Vietnam. He returned to India in 1969 with his first wife Sarojini and two daughters, Aysha and Janaki, to work as editorial cartoonist for the Indian Express till 1981.
In 1970 he was given a special award by the British Film Institute for a short film based on Noah's Ark called No Arks. From 1972 till 1978, he sported the bearings of a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament. Came the Emergency in 1975 and gagging of the press by Mrs. Gandhi . Abu fell out of favour with the madam. Soon, Games of Emergency hit the stands in 1977, a clever byepass by this proud malayalee cartoonist of the central scissors including almost all his cartoons and articles that were censored from publication by the fawning media managers of Mrs. Gandji. Other collected works of his cartoons did not lag to the already bounding spoofs on the Indian political Tamashas - Abu on Bangladesh (1972), Private View (1974), and Arrivals and Departures (1983).
Meanwhile. Abu edited the Penguin Book of Indian Cartoons (1988). From 1981, Abu started freelancing, which continued in Trivandrum where he moved with his second wife, British-born wife Psyche in 1988 to his beautiful house built by Larry Baker at Kaudiar. The veteran cartoonist passed away on 1st December 2002 .