The cartoonist who kickstarted career in German POW camp

Story highlights

  • "The world's greatest yachting cartoonist," Mike Peyton, began career in German POW camp
  • The 91-year-old says the secret to cartoons is "something going wrong"
  • Forced to give up drawing after gradually going blind
  • New retrospective book, "The world of Peyton," will be last
"Cartoons are about doom and disaster -- and you don't get more doom and disaster than in a German prisoner of war camp," says Mike Peyton, the man uniquely hailed as the world's greatest yachting cartoonist.
As a teenage illustrator from the British mining town of Durham, Peyton was captured by World War II German forces while drawing maps of the north African desert for the Intelligence Corps.
Yet amid the horrors of his prison camp - the 91-year-old recalls eating Nazi guard dogs that had been clubbed to death - Peyton carved a unique space for laughter by drawing wry, darkly humorous cartoons.
Published in a prisoner-run newspaper, the drawings poked fun at camp life, offering Peyton a distraction from the everyday brutality and his fellow inmates a rare source of joy.
They would also spark the beginnings of a career spanning seven decades, more than 20 books and the birth of an unusual new genre in illustration - nautical cartooning.