As the 2012 European football championships come towards their end…
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Last week we noted that Matthew Inman, writer of the Oatmeal, a popular US web comic, was being pursued by the threat of lawsuit following an unusual exchange of letters about copyright claims and intellectual property infringements.
The lawyer making claim against Inman, Charles Carreon, is acting for FunnyJunk, an online content aggregator, and he has now published the lengthy 45 page lawsuit at his website. In response, San Francisco based digital free speech lobbyists, the Electronic Frontier Foundation have announced they are now to have a part in representing Inman. This strange web comic case seems set to grow into a serious battle about the right to express cartoon or comic opinion on digital publishing platforms. The last link, published at The Guardian, and taking a wider look at the problems of online opinion, is credited to Canadian journalist Danny Bradbury.
The Early Bateman is held in conjuction with the museum’s exhibition The Man Who Went Mad on Paper. In the talk, on Wednesday 27 June at 6.30pm, John will explore the beauty and subtlety of the artist’s early work.
On Wednesday 11 July, Anita O’Brien, the museum curator, hosts An Unlikely Revolutionary, a talk looking at the impact Bateman had on 20th century cartoons in Britain and overseas.
The Man Who Went Mad on Paper runs until July 22 and is a must-see for anyone interested in cartooning. After that the museum hosts its summer exhibition, Animal Crackers, featuring cartoons and strips with a zoological angle. That opens on July 25. It is followed in the autumn by a show celebrating 75 years of The Dandy. We’ll have more on these exhibitions nearer the time.
For more details on exhibitions, talks and other events, visit Cartoonmuseum.org
News of cartoonists in academia is provided below, thanks to Adrian Tooth, leader of the Cartoon and Comics Art degree course at Staffordshire University. Adrian kindly answered questions about his work following a recent article.
Q. Who is interested in and applying for the course?
Applicants who have a very strong interest and skill in cartoon design and character development. At this stage it would be true to say that many are just mimicking a particular genre of comic or cartoon. The one thing fundamental to all of these applicants is their absolute passion for the subject and their very strong ability to draw. Until now there has been a very limited progression route for these students.
The interest has been excellent. Our numbers have been controlled over the past two years … with a cap of 12 per year group … but without this cap we could have recruited double if not triple this number!
Q. How do you draw the distinction between cartoons and the comic arts?
The award is aimed at anyone who has a passion to draw, create images and tell stories. The course allows individuals to develop a range of skills that make them more employable, so these include anything from the one-off political image which you might see in a newspaper, to a three-panel gag seen in magazines, to the full-blown graphic comic.
Cartooning is about mimicking life of characters and comic arts are about developing stories and events.
The course is not about copying other people’s artwork, but we accept that you can be influenced by a particular style. But we want to develop the individual’s style and make them into something original.
Q. Why is such a categorisation important?
It’s not to me, but I think it allows students to understand what the course is about. People are embarrassed by the word cartoon and comic and try to hide them behind words such as satirical representation, or sequential art. The award has strong links to graphic design, illustration and animation.
Graphic design, because we want people to think and research the work they produce similar to a graphic design artist, and Staffordshire University produces some excellent award-winning graphic designers.
Illustration allows the student to develop their mark-making skills. Who says the only item you can draw a cartoon with is a fine black-tip pen, or a comic has to be such-and-such dimensions?
Animation helps the students to be future-proof and think about their ability to develop ideas and also about how comics will be read in the future. Already students turn up with their tablets and they have access to the internet and YouTube. Comics and cartoons are competing with this and we can’t bury our heads in the sand. Instead we have to embrace it and make it our future home.
In 1881, Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga, where his father, a competent but uninspired painter, was Professor of Art. According to his mother, Pablo’s first word was “piz”, being the ending of “lapiz”, pencil. However, as “pis”, pronounced the same, means pee, I have my doubts.
In 1891, the family moved to Galicia. From those ten years, Malaga has created a thriving industry. The artist’s birthplace, a beautiful house on the Plaza de la Merced, one of the city’s main squares, has been converted to a museum and art gallery. On the same square another building houses a good-sized gallery where the shows all have some sort of Picassian connection.
But the main attraction is the Picasso Museum itself, housed in a magnificent Renaissance palace, and spreading outwards in a series of modern buildings that take up most of the old Jewish quarter, complete with concert hall, archives and study centre. “We bought the entire area and knocked it down,” Bernard Picasso once told me. Throughout the city centre, shops sell Picasso prints, postcards, T-shirts, you name it. Every other bar bears his name.
Above is a cartoon published a few years ago, about how it feels being an artist – or at least a British cartoonist – in Malaga.
Surprisingly for such a revered figure, Picasso still has the power to cause controversy. Last year there was a big fuss when Christine Ruiz Picasso tried to get the museum director sacked for a show of anti-fascist art, whose centrepiece was a series of etchings by Picasso himself! It made the Spanish news, and I wrote a short piece for The Independent. It soon blew over, and the director’s still there. A storm in a teacup, like so much here.