‘Toon In!’: Book documents history of Olympics through political cartoons

Olympics

TOKYO (NEXSTAR) — When he was marketing director for the IOC, Michael Payne made a hobby of collecting Olympic-centric cartoons.

In the back of his mind, he thought it would be great to use them in a book.

He didn’t have time, until COVID-19 hit and Payne had plenty of time on his hands.

He started his research and collected more than 3,000 cartoons.

The hard part was tracking down the cartoonists for permission and digital copies of their work.

“In some countries — perhaps for good reason, because they are fairly critical of the establishment — they don’t have a public profile, they don’t appear on social media, because they are scared of being trolled,” Payne said.

Michael Payne with his book, “Toon In!” (Courtesy)

The goal was to create a unique history book about the Olympics.

For example, did you know that in 1900, club swinging was an Olympic sport?

Throughout the book “Toon In!” Payne shares his behind the scenes insight, like how Muhammad Ali was selected to light the cauldron for the Atlanta games and how the queen was convinced to jump into opening ceremonies in London.

“A friend of mine was sitting next to Prince William and Prince Harry in the stands, and they see her majesty jumping out of the helicopter and they go, ‘It’s granny!'” Payne said.

The family never knew.

“They said, ‘one must have ones little secrets,'” Payne said.

“Toon In!” also delves deep into the constant state of crisis surrounding the games: doping, zika, politics.

“It’s a remarkable history,” Payne said. “If you look back at the crisis the Olympics faced in the 80’s with boycotts and no funding and no future host cities. The book reminds everybody of the incredible resilience of the Olympics.”

He’s not working for the International Olympic Committee any longer but Payne still has plenty of friends there: leaving many curious about what they thought about his book.

“When they first saw it, some of the staff members went, ‘help, my god, sue him,'” Payne said.

But the official response, Payne said, was “‘This is a scurrilous, outrageous and probably libelous book’ — and they’re probably right — ‘and we can’t wait for the second edition.'”

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