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Cartoonist Mark Knight wants to know what he has to do to pester Putin

Mark Knight, June 23, 2022 6:00PM Kids News

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Mark Knight has done some of his best work drawing Vladimir Putin but it hasn’t been enough to get on the Russian leader’s list of banned Australians. media_cameraMark Knight has done some of his best work drawing Vladimir Putin but it hasn’t been enough to get on the Russian leader’s list of banned Australians.


Reading level: red

As you probably know, Russian President Vladimir Putin has invaded his next door neighbour, Ukraine.

He believes the place belongs to him and should still be part of the great Soviet Union* that existed back in the days of the cold war* when he was an agent for the KGB*.

He wants to make “Russia great again”. Where have I heard that before?

The Ukrainians weren’t so happy about the idea and when Russian tanks rolled into the eastern part of the country, instead of throwing flowers at the feet of the glorious Russian liberators*, the Ukrainians threw molotov cocktails* and antitank missiles.

media_cameraA Russian tank was destroyed in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on May 30, 2022, as the Ukrainian people continue to fight against the Russian invasion. Picture: AFP

Mr Putin doesn’t take too kindly to people disagreeing with him, so he is now waging a full scale bombing campaign of Ukraine to flatten it and all opposition. But the Ukrainians bravely fight on.

Mr Putin also takes offence at foreigners who disagree with his invasion. Australians were in his sights this week. Australia is supporting Ukraine with funds and weapons, as well as imposing economic sanctions* on Russia.

In return, President Putin has issued a list of 122 Australians who he has banned from entering Russia: politicians, journalists, business people and dignitaries have all been denied access to Putin’s kingdom. Even my editor of the Herald Sun, Sam Weir, has been banned!

cropped mark knight cartoon - putin and xi media_cameraMark Knight can’t believe he hasn’t made the banned list after cartoons like this showing a shirtless Vladimir Putin riding a bear with a shirtless Chinese president Xi Jinping riding a giant panda.

Astonishingly though, when I read down the list, there were no cartoonists on it! After all we’ve done, the caricatures of him riding Russian bears without his shirt on, cheap jokes on his stature and the pumping up of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky failed to see cartoonists added to the list.

I had to draw a cartoon about this immediately!

One of my favourite images of President Putin is him sitting at his huge white dining table, that’s about 100m long, in his grand ballroom with the towering marble columns and statues, velvet curtains, etc. He is usually having a conversation with someone miles away at the other end.

media_cameraRussian President Vladimir Putin (left) meets with French President Emmanuel Macron across a very long table in Moscow, just before the Russian leader ordered the invasion of Ukraine. Picture: AFP

I am just so thankful for politicians and world leaders who provide us with such great images to lampoon*. Bless them!

I thought it would be a great visual gag to have Putin’s list of banned Aussies rolled out over the entire length of the table.

I sketched him as a smallish man in a large, gilt* chair sitting there ready to sign the proclamation*. But I still had to make a comment about the lack of cartoonists on the list.

So, being a cartoonist, I decided to bring myself into it with Putin’s personal assistant at the other end of the table asking his boss if he was sure he didn’t want to add the cartoonist who drew this very cartoon?

This gives the cartoon a new dimension. It almost makes the cartoon go “live”. Does he want to ban a cartoonist who depicts him in the drawing as a cartoon cliche* despotic* ruler in lavish* palaces, invading neighbouring countries, like something from a comic book, a “Doctor Evil” type character, if you will? Would Vladimir Putin add me to the list based on the scene he is currently depicted in?

The scary thing is I think he would like the way I draw him and his lavish palaces. He might not see the joke, the mockery* going on. It might boost his ego. Heaven forbid, he might even give me an Order of Lenin*!


  • Soviet Union: the large communist country in eastern Europe that brought together 15 republics, including Russia and Ukraine, until the union was broken up in 1991
  • cold war: the long period of tension between the Soviet Union and the US and its allies
  • KGB: the intelligence and internal-security agency of the former Soviet Union, also known as the secret police
  • liberators: people who set others free from a system, situation or set of ideas that restricts them in some way
  • molotov cocktails: homemade bombs
  • sanctions: severe actions that are intended to make people obey instructions or laws
  • lampoon: a piece of writing, a drawing etc. that criticises a famous person or a public organisation in a humorous way
  • gilt: covered with a thin layer of gold or something that is supposed to look like gold
  • proclamation: a public or official announcement of an important matter
  • cliche: something that has been used so often that it is no longer original or interesting
  • despotic: having unlimited power over other people, and often using it unfairly and cruelly
  • lavish: large, impressive or expensive
  • mockery: making fun or a joke about someone
  • Order of Lenin: the highest award that could be given to people of the Soviet Union for services to their country, named after Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Russian Revolution that led to the formation of the Soviet Union


What is happening between Ukraine and Russia?

No more McDonald’s for Moscow

Eurovision has a new winner

Are Putin and Xi on similar paths?


  1. How many Australians are on President Putin’s banned list?
  2. What is the name of Mark Knight’s editor?
  3. Why is Mark Knight thankful to politicians and world leaders?
  4. How does Mark give this cartoon a “new dimension” and make it “go live”?
  5. What does Mark believe President Putin would think of the way he depicts the Russian leader in his cartoons?


1. What happens next?
Imagine this cartoon is part of a story that is made up of three cartoons. The three cartoons tell a complete story, and Mark’s cartoon is the start of the story. Think about what the story could be and draw the next two cartoons that tell the story.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Arts, Visual Communication Design, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Being able to draw is only one of the skills needed to be a great cartoonist. Write a list of all of the other skills that you think cartoonists like Mark need to do their job.

Next to each skill, write a sentence that explains why that skill is important or helps them to do a great job.

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capability, Media Arts, Visual Communication Design

To sum it up
After reading the article, use your comprehension skills to summarise in a maximum of three sentences what the article is about.

Think about:

  • What is the main topic or idea?
  • What is an important or interesting fact?
  • Who was involved (people or places)?

Use your VCOP skills to re-read your summary to make sure it is clear, specific and well punctuated.

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