Jimmy (James) Friell – Gabriel of the Daily Worker
Jimmy Friell was a celebrated but entirely self-taught political cartoonist. Born on March 13th 1912, he was brought up in poverty in Glasgow. At the age of 14, he worked in a solicitor’s office, at the same time attending art classes at Glasgow’s College of Art.
In 1932, he came to London and, in February 1933, joined the staff of the Daily Worker. In March 1936, at the age of 24, he became the Daily Worker's cartoonist, under the pen name of 'Gabriel' – like the archangel!
He was called up in September 1940 to the Royal Artillery, became a gunner and was posted to an anti-aircraft battery, where he was kept under constant observation as a subversive. In consequence, his work at the paper was interrupted by a wartime interval to serve in the British Army. But he continued to send cartoons to the Daily Worker until it was banned in January 1941. Friell then produced cartoons for army newspapers and helped establish the Soldier magazine, for which he became art editor in 1944.
On demobilisation, he went back to the Daily Worker but left both the Party and service at the paper in 1956, after the Soviet intervention in Hungary. He then joined the Evening Standard (1957-62), drawing as 'Friell'. This was to accept Lord Beaverbrook's offer, first extended in the late 1930s, to draw cartoons under his own name, with independence of his own view guaranteed. He later drew cartoons for consumer-interest programmes on Thames Television and died on February 4th 1997, at the age of 84, remaining a committed socialist.
Morning Star 11th February 1997 and other sources