Jeremy Nell

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Jeremy Nell
Jeremy Nell, at the Don't Joke book launch, during December 2009
Born Jeremy Talfer Nell
(1979-03-16) 16 March 1979 (age 35)
Cape Town, South Africa
Nationality South Africa South African
Area(s) Cartoonist, blogger, satirist
Pseudonym(s) Jerm
Notable works
The Biggish Five, political cartoons for The New Age, political cartoons for Eyewitness News, gag cartoons for the Sunday Times
Awards 2011 Vodacom Journalist Of The Year

Jeremy Talfer Nell (born 16 March 1979), referred to by his pen name Jerm, is an award-winning[1] South African cartoonist, satirist, and social commentator.[2] He was the editorial cartoonist for The New Age [3] and is the creator of a nationally syndicated daily comic strip, The Biggish Five.[4] [5]and moved on to Eyewitness News until October 2013.[6] Since October 2013 he is the editorial cartoonist for News Channel eNCA.[7]

Personal Life And Career[edit]

Nell was born and currently resides, with his wife,[8] in Cape Town, South Africa.

With no completed formal training, Nell became a cartoonist in November 2005, immediately following his departure from the mobile media and entertainment industry.[2][9]

Nell's first nationally syndicated comic strip, Urban Trash (first published November 2005), ended 27 June 2008.[10][11][12]

In 2007, coinciding with the newspaper's launch, Nell became the front page (and soon thereafter, political) cartoonist for The Times.[13] His strip, "Ditwits," first appeared on 5 June 2007.[14] Ditwits, up until late October 2007,[15] was deliberately nonsensical and abstract in its subject matter. Nell has since migrated its focus to commentary surrounding current affairs.

Following the 2009 South African national election results, IEC commissioner Terry Tselane read out one of Nell's political cartoons, from The Times, on national television and cited it as inspiration for a nationwide toast.[16]

During October 2012, Nell's political contract with The New Age was terminated on unusual grounds, attracting substantial media attention around the world.[17] According to Nell, he was let go because his editorial stance was "not aligned" to the newspaper's editorial stance which has received considerable criticism around being owned by the Gupta family (who are closely linked to the ANC and president Jacob Zuma).[18]

A few weeks after his dismissal, Nell started drawing politically for Eyewitness News.[19]

The Biggish Five[edit]

Ellie conversing with a praying mantis called Dichard Rawkins. The scene satirizes popular atheist, biological theorist, and author of The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins. (Published 25 Nov 2009.)

Playing on the phrase "the Big Five", The Biggish Five (first published 30 June 2008)[10] is a South African daily comic strip written and drawn by Nell, syndicated throughout South Africa in English and Afrikaans.

The strip features Africa's Big Five game as anthropomorphic toddlers living in a fantastical game park somewhere in Africa. Other characters, such as two Russian crows and a worm, appear regularly.


The strip's anchor characters consist of Africa's Big Five game: a rhino (Rhino), an elephant (Ellie), a lion (Lion), a leopard (Leopard), and a buffalo (Buffie).

Other frequently featured characters include a pair of Russian crows (Bonnie and Clyde) whose lives revolve around eating a particular worm (whose name is unknown, but referred to by the crows as either "Comrade Vurm" or "Komrade Vurm").

Less frequently featured characters include a third Russian crow known as Boris; a camp shark; a whale; an atheist praying mantis; and a fear mongering bass living atop a snow-capped mountain.


The strip predominantly explores and satirizes popular culture, but frequently breaks the fourth wall (to criticize Nell's drawing and writing abilities, for example).

Themes explored and satirized include:

  • celebrities
  • political and non-political figures
  • films and television shows
  • real-life situations and irritations
  • other comic strips
  • religion and beliefs
  • romance, love, and sexuality
  • homophobia and "gay" stereotyping
  • intelligence versus ignorance
  • technology, internet, and social media
  • censorship
  • global warming

Publishing And Awards[edit]

Nell has published one comic book album "Warfare". Additionally some of his work features in (and on the front cover of) the 2009 edition of the South African political cartooning annual Don’t Joke: A Year in Cartoons, as well as in the 2010 edition, Just For Kicks.[20][21]

At the 2008 South African Comedy Awards, Nell was nominated for Outstanding Humorous Cartoonist.[22]

Nell won a regional and national award for his cartoon "Africa 2.0", in the 2011 Vodacom Journalist of the Year.[23][24]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ Jeremy Nell ends strip, begins ‘The Biggish Five’ » The Daily Cartoonist
  5. ^ New comic strip for The Big Issue
  6. ^ [4]
  7. ^ [5]
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ The Wild Frontier at The Times » Blog Archive » What makes a cartoon funny?
  15. ^ A Quick History Of Ditwits
  16. ^
  17. ^ [6]
  18. ^ [7]
  19. ^ [8]
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^

External links[edit]