Philip Zec (b.1910; d.1983)

Philip Zec, of Jewish descent, trained at St Martin’s School of Art. He then worked for an advertising agency, where he met William Connor, who later became Cassandra of the Daily Mirror. Zec left the agency to set up his own commercial art studio, which became a great success. On the outbreak of the Second World War, Zec was commissioned by H.G. Bartholomew, editorial director of the Daily Mirror, to whom he was introduced by Connor, to do a daily cartoon. Zec’s strong anti-Hitlerite cartoons ‘were an immediate success with the readers’, and Hitler recognised their power and added Zec’s name to the Nazi Blacklist (to be executed once Britain was defeated). Zec was also personally commissioned to do work for the Ministry of Information byEdwin Embleton.Zec’s cartoons sometimes also upset the British government, particularly his cartoon ‘Don’t waste petrol. It costs lives’, depicting a soldier clinging to a raft, smeared with oil. Produced on March 5 1942, soon after the government decided to increase the price of petrol, Churchill was offended, and organised for MI5 to investigate Zec. They reported that he was left wing, but there was no evidence that he was involved in subversive activities. The Daily Mirror, which had published the cartoon, was given a severe reprimand. Another noted cartoon by Zec was ‘Here you are! Don’t Lose it Again’, issued on V.E. Day, and used again on the front page of the Daily Mirror when the Labour Party won the 1945 General Election. Zec continued to work for the Daily Mirror post-war, elected to the Board of Directors of the Daily Mirror Group before 1951.

Information taken from: Spartacus Schoolnet, ‘Philip Zec’,, accessed September 21 2003, and Questionnaire submitted by Royall, K. to Embleton, E., Royall, K., ‘Posters of the Second World War: The Fourth Arm of British Defence’, Unpublished M.A.: University of Westminster, 1991, p.123

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By Second World War Posters

Mass Communications Academic, @MMUBS. British Home Front Propaganda posters as researched for a PhD completed 2004. In 1997, unwittingly wrote the first history of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster, which she now follows with interest.

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