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Former regional press cartoonist dies after four-year cancer battle

Bert HackettA former regional newspaper cartoonist who had more than 10,000 works published for the newspaper over 42 years has died aged 83 after a four-year battle with cancer.

Tributes have been paid to Bert Hackett, pictured left, who was better known as Gemini on the pages of the Birmingham Post.

Bert produced cartoons under the Gemini name with business partner Graham Gavin, and also drew graphics for the Post on a freelance basis.

When Graham eventually left, Bert took on the Gemini role full-time.

Paying tribute, former Post editor Peter Saunders, said: “Bert Hackett was a brilliant cartoonist, able to stand comparison with any in the land.

“But he was far more than that: deeply involved in so many aspects of the Birmingham Post, he contributed news and feature graphics, helped to select typefaces and acted as an ever-present confidante and sounding board to a succession of grateful editors.

“Yes, he could be grumpy: who wouldn’t be if they had to provide the editor with a selection of three pocket cartoons every night for more than 40 years?

“On thin news days it could be a nightmare, with the editor and chief sub constantly interrupting to try to find at least the subject of his cartoon so that they could tie it in with the relevant news story.

“I always felt that selecting subjects for the cartoon and the leading article were the two most difficult parts of producing a daily newspaper – and surprisingly similar. Bert made it easier, although there were days when it was like drawing blood out of the proverbial, pipe-puffing stone.”

An example of Bert's work from the MPs' expenses scandal

An example of Bert’s work from the MPs’ expenses scandal

After attending Birmingham College of Art, Bert served his national service in the Royal Navy and then joined the Manchester Evening News in 1954.

While at the MEN he so impressed a young assistant editor called Harold Evans, now Sir Harold, that he sang his praises 50 years later in his book The Paper Chase.

Bert later returned to Birmingham, setting up freelance and commencing his work for the Post.

To celebrate Bert’s 80th birthday in 2013 a special exhibition of his work was shown at the macBirmingham arts centre.

He is survived by daughters Zoe and Rosie, and his funeral will be held at Lodge Hill Chapel, Birmingham, at 12pm on Friday 6 May.

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  • April 23, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    Sad news…Bert had a rare skill in summing up a major news story with a few brush strokes and a short caption…..his ability to poke fun at those in a way which was provocative but never cruel always brought a smile to one’s face…RIP Gemini

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