Things were looking decidedly bleak for a while last month. The Large Hadron Collider was going to recreate the Big Bang and suck us all into a black hole, Zimbabwe looked further from peace than ever and oil was getting more expensive by the second.

Worse still, summer was apparently having a lie-in and we'd emerged from the Beijing Olympics with fewer medals than Tajikistan.

But as the paranoiacs crept gingerly out of their back-garden bomb-shelters they found the world renewed: The Hadron Whatever came and went without so much as a small pop, a deal had been struck in Zim and the oil price was going in the other direction. We half expected it to start raining smarties.

Then, as if on cue, cartoonist Zapiro produced his most controversial cartoon yet the very week we were putting our comic edition together. Whether you found the image insulting or incisive, there was one undeniable fact: It was deeply provocative.

Reader responses in newspapers across the country ranged from spitting fury to gushing praise. Zapiro himself, when he wasn't dodging missiles and rebutting attacks, seemed vaguely amused by it all. It's just a cartoon, people, he seemed to say.

But we know, as he knows, that it is so much more than that. Political cartoonists around the world thrive on pushing the envelope – Steve Bell, who contributes to The Guardian in the UK, recently drew former Prime Minister Tony Blair making man love to a goat. His rendition of George W Bush is shamelessly inspired by a chimpanzee. ‘Dubya' is regularly drawn answering the phone with his feet.

Most people know Bush is not an actual chimpanzee, however. Most people. It is the right and responsibility of the cartoonist to take the mickey. Stand up comics are also known for pushing the boat out on current affairs. We spoke to Tshepo Mogale, one of the country's best, who concentrated on rather less serious things. Our film section salutes possibly the greatest comic character of all time – certainly the greatest yellow one – in Homer Simpson.

And if you thought the economic situation was all doom and gloom, there is encouragement from this month's Money section as we ask a top analyst why there has never been a better time to invest in the South African story. Add to that a look at working in Bermuda, a review of the album of the year and an environmentalist's view of the race for the White House, and you really would be greedy to ask for more.

But if you do nothing else this month, do this: enter our competition to win a brand new Vespa LX150. The deal, roughly, is that we give you a Vespa and you do very little. It's completely unfair, but since you're the beneficiary of the injustice, who cares?

The Editor

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