The Surreal McCoy and Rob Murray, both members of the PCO, which runs the Bloghorn, have made the final in the strip cartoon section of the i newspaper’s “Cartoonist Idol” competition.
They feature alongside strips by Phil Merchant, Trumble & Warr, and Geoff Thompson on pages 26 and 27 of the i today.
The PCO also features heavily in the “pocket” cartoons section: you can see The Surreal McCoy, Bill Stott and Rob Murray on pages 7, 11, and 25 respectively, alongside James Whitworth on page 3 and Peter Allwright on page 21.
You can also see the cartoons online and a comment from the editor here. News of the “landscapes”, or editorial cartoons, is promised for tomorrow’s paper, along with more pocket cartoons. The Bloghorn sends congratulations to all those featuring in the finals.
October 24, 2011 No Comments
Over at the New Yorker blog, cartoon editor Bob Mankoff notes that Osama bin Laden had disappeared off their humour radar for a while, the 2007 cartoon above being his last appearance.
He takes a look at Bin Laden cartoons down the years and notes that in the age of terrorism – and this is no doubt acutely true in the city that suffered the worst al-Qaida attack – “the unspoken point was that laughter was part of being alive”. Read the article here.
As “the world’s most wanted man”, Osama bin Laden had also been among the most caricatured. His very distinctive features were a gift to satirical artists, as was his dress code, alternating as it did between Arabic tradition and military camouflage.
I wonder if our doughty band of caricaturists has already perfected their versions of his successor. Who he? Well, he is an Egyptian academic, a surgeon no less, called Ayman al-Zawahiri.
He will now, in Western eyes at least, don the leader’s mantle. But al-Zawahiri, at first glance, does not have the strong facial characteristics of Bin Laden. He looks like a bespectacled 60-something scholar.
How things have changed. Despite leaps in communication technology, we don’t really know what al-Qaida’s movers and shakers look like. During the Second World War, our caricaturists had all the Nazi hierarchy off to a tee. From Hitler himself down through Goering, Himmler, Ribbentrop and Goebbels, caricaturists had a field day. Humour proved to be a very effective deflater.
The difference now is that al-Qaida supremos are mostly very secretive, and are visual mysteries. They don’t strut about the place like the Nazis did. So it’s harder for our caricaturists to diminish them through humour as effectively.
Fear of terrorism, of this facelessness, gives it the weapon of sinister mystery. And I’m not talking about religious differences here and the questionable decisions of Danish publishers, but wondering, just wondering, if the al-Qaida bogeyman couldn’t be cut down to size – just a little – by our excellent caricaturists.
Got any thoughts on the humour used to attack tyrants and terrorists? Comments welcome below, as ever.
May 3, 2011 3 Comments
Shrewsbury festival cartoonist Bill Stott writes:
Amongst all the frenetic cartooning activity at Shrewsbury – the Big Boards, the caricaturing, strolling players in costume, the music, the wonderful weather and the public throng, two tiny incidents serve to underline the public’s liking for good cartoons.
One involved a tiny chap called Pacey who stood with his mum watching me paint my Big Board. Pacey was about five, I’d guess. I’d heard his mum saying things like, ‘‘No, you can’t help.’’ Pacey was undeterred and you could tell he was fascinated as the picture took form. So I asked him if he’d like to write his name on it.
Without hesitation, he wrote, very slowly, with a huge felt tip, ‘‘Pacey’’, all wobbly, in the bottom right hand corner. He was delighted and returned several times to make sure I hadn’t covered it up. Later I found, stuffed in my paint bag, a drawing by him, of his mum and a huge cat. All together – ‘‘Aaaah!’’
Later in the day, whilst doing reverse caricaturing – an esoteric activity involving the subject sticking their head through a hole in a big piece of paper and telling the cartoonist how they would like to be portrayed – another short type called Harry, even tinier than Pacey, got a bit tearful when I started to pack up in order to begin another activity. He’d waited with his mum for ages, been pushed in front of by a huge nine-year-old girl and looked very crestfallen. So I hurried things up and got him sorted.
Anyway, he was absolutely delighted with his picture (a footballer), which, when rolled up, was taller than him. So, while adult crowd members were being enthusiastic about all the surrounding huge cartoons and brilliant caricatures, and proving what cartoonists know is true – people love cartoons – so do little people. Quite possibly more so. Publishers take note. Real drawing for real people.
April 20, 2011 5 Comments
As Prince William and Kate Middleton prepare to tie the knot on April 29, Marriage à la Mode: Royals and Commoners In and Out of Love promises “a bouquet of barbed wit” on the subject of marriage.
It will feature musings on matrimony from cartoonists past and present, including William Hogarth, who created a series of works that give the show its name, James Gillray, H.M. Bateman, Donald McGill, Carl Giles, Mel Calman, Ralph Steadman and Posy Simmonds.
The Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation, which runs the Bloghorn, is represented with cartoons by Steve Bell, Rupert Besley, Noel Ford, Martin Honeysett, Ken Pyne, below, Royston Robertson, and Bill Stott.
Despite being its inspiration, the royal couple are unlikely to give the show their seal of approval. As well as looking at some of the less successful aspects of marriage, some cartoons remind us of a certain royal wedding from 30 years ago that did not go too well, as seen in this 1995 Time magazine cartoon by Arnold Roth, right.
William and Kate may also not want to be associated with the work of Reg Smythe, who features in the exhibition and is famous for creating the less-than-idyllic marriage of Andy Capp and Flo.
Other cartoonists featured include Ros Asquith, Ian Baker, Biff, Nicholas Garland, Grizelda, Peter “Pak” King, David Langdon, Peter Schrank, Geoff Thompson, and Robert Thompson.
For more details visit the museum website. Marriage à la Mode runs until May 22, by which time those commemorative royal wedding tea towels may well be frayed at the edges.
March 21, 2011 No Comments
The cartoonist Gerald Scarfe has made a list of his ten favourite cartoonists, for the Daily Mail website. It includes some inarguable choices as well as some surprising ones.
Ronald Searle, widely regarded as Britain’s best living cartoonist, is on there. There are also choices from the worlds of fine art, such as Picasso, and film-making, which is represented by Walt Disney, more for his skill at getting great work from others than his own drawing talents.
We asked members of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation, which runs the Bloghorn, to name their favourite cartoonists not on the Scarfe list. It’s not a poll, or a “top ten”, just an informal list of another ten great artists, and it shows the wealth of variety and creativity to be found in the world of cartooning.
1. Hector Breeze (Born 1928). Picked by Pete Dredge: “A master of the pocket cartoon. Out of the mouths of his mundane, benign, chunkily drawn characters comes the sharpest of captions.”
2. Robert Crumb (Born 1943). Picked by Royston Robertson: “He has been satirising the way we live since the 1960s with his dense, inky, cross-hatched drawings, displaying human folly in all its gory glory. Not for nothing was he described by the art critics Robert Hughes as ‘the Bruegel of the last half of the 20th century’.”
3. George Grosz (1893-1959). Picked by Matt Buck and Andrew Birch (both blatantly ignoring the brief of people not on Scarfe’s list, Bloghorn notes!) Matt says: “Grosz drew with an unsparing eye and produced powerful reflections of what people do rather than what they say they do.” Andrew adds: “For me German Expressionism was one of the most important art movements of the 20th century, whose brutal and honest line laid the foundation for many later cartoonists like Steadman.”
4. William Heath Robinson (1872-1944). Picked by Rupert Besley: “He was an original, creating a wonderful, instantly recognisable world of his own. He satirised the growth of mechanisation, but did so in a gloriously enjoyable way that always kept the human at the centre of it all. Which other cartoonist has added his name to the language and booked his place in every dictionary?”
5. George Herriman (1880-1944). Picked by Wilbur Dawbarn: “From the gorgeously scratchy line work and absolute poetry of the writing in the early years, to the sheer majesty of composition in the latter years, Herriman’s Sunday Krazy Kat pages are, to my mind, some of the finest examples of comic art ever penned.”
6. Trevor Holder, aka “Holte” (Born 1941). Picked by Roger Penwill: “Glorious technique, a master of expressive line and a very funny, wicked sense of humour. Some of his cartoons are timeless classics.”
7. Bernard Kliban (1935-1990). Picked by Chris Madden: “I came across a book by B. Kliban: Cat Dreams. I’m not sure what they’re about. I’m not even sure if they’re funny (do cartoons actually have to be funny?) But they’re brilliant. Apparently he grew to detest drawing cats in the end, but they were what everybody wanted. Beware success.”
8. David Law (1908-1971). Picked by Steve Bright: “Beautifully fluid and loose line, amazing perspectives and angles, and the master of life and motion in all that he drew. Law inspired millions of kids to pick up a pencil through his marvellous work in the Beano, Dandy and Topper.”
9. Phil May (1864-1903). Picked by Mike Turner: “A breakthrough in culling captions down to a minimum. Great art, brilliant caricatures, sheer good humour relating to ‘the man in the street’ or the ‘man on the horse-drawn omnibus’
10. Bill Tidy (Born 1933). Picked by Bill Stott: “For his excellent gags and consummate drawing, especially in his history-based stuff.”
What do you think of the list? Got a favourite cartoonist you’d like to add to it? Let us know in the comments below.
January 19, 2011 6 Comments
An exhibition that is sure to bring some warmth and cheer to the winter opens at the Cartoon Museum in London on Wednesday 24 November.
Ink and the Bottle is billed as “a merry exhibition on the pleasures and perils of the ‘demon drink’ starting with a swig of gin from Hogarth and Cruikshank”. We move on to Gillray, Donald McGill, Heath Robinson and Giles before downing “a heady cocktail of contemporary cartoons”.
That includes a generous measure of PCO members, including Steve Bell, Andrew Birch, right, Clive Collins, Neil Dishington, Denis Dowland, Pete Dredge, Roger Penwill, Ken Pyne, Royston Robertson, Bill Stott and Mike Turner.
As if that’s not enough binge cartooning, there’s work by Sally Artz, Ian Baker, Hector Breeze, Dave Brown,
Chris Duggan, top, Grizelda, Andrzej Krauze, Matt, Tim Sanders, Ronald Searle, Gerald Scarfe, Silvey & Jex, Ralph Steadman, and Judy Walker.
If you fancy three more for the road, there are also contributions from the Viz cartoonists Graham Dury, Davey Jones and Simon Thorp, who are no strangers to creating characters that “like a tipple”.
Ink and the Bottle – Drunken Cartoonists and Drink in Cartoons runs until February 13. See the Cartoon Museum website for more details.
November 22, 2010 2 Comments
Sometimes, when we’re told that “the Nation” has stumped up daft money to keep Ravioli’s Temptation of St Botolph from disappearing into a foreign millionaire’s vault, I idly wonder, as a tiny part of the nation, whether I even had an opinion.
I can’t do that about Mr Saatchi’s munificence, though. It’s a gift. Although I do think there are still a few questions floating about. Don’t some of the items in the gifted collection already belong to people?
For example, I could have sworn somebody had bought Tracey Emin’s famous bed. Perhaps they were similarly kind and let it stay in the collection rather than carting it home to make a statement in the atrium, or to upset visiting relatives.
Or maybe they left it because the power of the piece depends on the juxtaposition of the objects within it (an art critic told me that, so it must be true). It would be expensive to keep having Trace pop in to rearrange everything after the Help had tidied it up a bit.
And which bits of “the Nation” will appreciate Mr Saatchi’s kindness? Presumably the artistic gurus who tell us what is or isn’t in this year.
Meanwhile, an art-form with a far wider appeal – UK cartooning – stutters along, self-helping as usual. Apart from a few notable, contemporary exceptions, it appears to be regarded by the artistic hierarchy snootily, and from a safe distance.
“What about Rude Britannia?” I hear you cry. Yes, it’s very posh. Lots of fanfare, but curated mainly by whom? There is due deference to Gillray and super stuff from Bell and Scarfe and Rowson … but how little Carl Giles, no Larrys, and how many Bill Tidys? These last drew, observed and commented on the way of the REAL world. And they were funny. That is cartooning’s Achilles heel. No matter how well drawn, coloured, observed a cartoon is, if it makes you laugh its not “Art”.
Good cartooning is as much an art-form as Ms Emin’s bed. And it relies on tiny, feisty outfits like the Cartoon Museum to keep banging on about it. What they could do with a new FREE gallery!
July 13, 2010 1 Comment
April 20, 2010 No Comments
Bill Stott writes for Bloghorn about different sorts of cartoonist:
The UK boasts quite a few inventive, informed and highly skilled political cartoonists many of whom don’t fool easily and must be the bane of leader writers’ lives in their ability to prove that the picture is often worth more than words.
However – don’t you love the word cartoonist? It usually presages a disagreement, and here is a head above the parapet.
Peter Brookes, of the Times, was recently named “Cartoonist of the Year” [read it here - Ed]. I wouldn’t have started digging this hole if the title had been “Political Cartoonist of the Year” because that is essential and its remit is admirably fulfilled, not least by Mr Brookes. But political cartooning is only part of the whole picture of cartooning.
The vast majority of cartoonists in the UK are not political cartoonists. Logic suggests that, because this majority has not just politics to lampoon but the whole of life as we know it, Jim.
So, I think there’s a problem. The usually non-political joke or gag cartoonist is disappearing fast from newspapers. Quite a few publications are buying in cheap syndicated stuff which struggles to be relevant. Recently a long-established Welsh newspaper dropped its regular gag and used a Canadian cartoon poking fun at Obama’s healthcare reforms instead. Cheaper, but hardly relevant and deeply unfunny to boot.
Stalwart magazines like Private Eye, the Oldie, Prospect and the Spectator do what they can, but they can only run so many cartoons. The UK’s never been big on nationally recognised cartoon users and nowadays Punch, and more recently Readers’ Digest, are either memories or at risk.
The cavalier way newspapers and many magazines presently ignore good joke cartoons makes the political cartoonist into a sort of protected species, and suggests that editors only think a cartoon is funny or useful if its got a very direct political subject.
So, long live our superb political cartoonists. Long live awards for our political cartoonists. But call the award “Political Cartoonist of the Year”. Otherwise folk might get the idea that political cartooning is THE only cartooning form.
Bloghorn agrees that variety is key to good cartooning. After all, it’s drawing life, innit? This also applies to where cartoons are seen and it doesn’t just have to be on pieces of dead tree.
April 8, 2010 27 Comments
Comedian, TV host and and cartoon fan Phill Jupitus has given his public support to this year’s upcoming Shrewsbury cartoon festival by signing up as a patron of the annual event. Phill and broadcaster Libby Purves will also be joined by BBC Radio 2 DJ Alex Lester.
The Festival’s full programme for 22-25 April is now available online and in a downloadable pdf brochure. You will be able to follow coverage of the event here at the Bloghorn and on our Twitter feed.
Highlights of this year’s event include an illustrated talk by one of Britain’s finest political cartoonists, Martin Rowson. His talk ‘Giving Offence – the Greatest Gift’ is at the Old Market Hall, 12.30pm on Saturday 24 April. Tickets are £5 from the Box Office which you can contact at 01743 281281.
Libby Purves presents an evening of conversation and cartoons with cartoonist Bill Stott at The Lion on Thursday 22 April at 7.30pm. Tickets are also £5 from Bear Steps Gallery , telephone 01743 356511
Full details of the many other free events, workshops, talks and cartooning activities are in the brochure linked above or from the official festival website.
Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival is organised by Shropshire Council, Shrewsbury Civic Society, The Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation, and Agate Design with support from the Arts Council and many volunteers and private sector sponsors. If you would like details of opportunities around this and future festivals you can make contact using the form below.
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April 2, 2010 1 Comment