Four things make Vasant Sarwate stand out in the world of cartooning.
First of all he is a doyen of non-political Indian cartooning. Secondly, though he has been practising this art from a young age,
it was after his retirement from active service, when he could devote all his time and energy to this passion, that he really flowered in the true sense. Thirdly, he is one of the few practising cartoonists to have written extensively and comprehensively on this delightful art.
To say that Toms is one of the most influential cartoonists Kerala has ever produced, would be an understatement. At one point, it was said that he had single-handedly influenced the way a Malayali read a magazine — from back to front — thanks to his immensely popular cartoon strip ‘Bobanum Moliyum’ which appeared in the back pages of the Malayala Manorama weekly.
Toms was born in Kuttanad in 1929 to V.T. Kunjuthomman and Cicily Thomas. He graduated with a BA degree, joined the Malayala Manorama as a cartoonist in 1961, and worked there till his retirement in 1987.
He is probably the best-known cartoonist in the Tamil world. But the name M.K. Govindakumar, wouldn’t ring a bell, even with ardent fans. But mention his nom de plume ‘Madhan’, and there is instant recognition.
Madhan is in a league by himself in the world of cartooning: he is as well known as a journalist as he is as a cartoonist, and vice-versa.