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by Royston

Heritage exhibition: Just like that!

October 31, 2012 in Events, General, News

Tommy Cooper by John Roberts

Tommy Cooper © John Roberts

An exhibition of cartoons and caricatures by Procartoonists.org members Bill Stott, Noel Ford, Roger Penwill and John Roberts is being held at the Heritage Centre in Knutsford, Cheshire, from 6 November until 22 December.

The Cartoon Collective show is very loosely based on the theme of “heritage” and will include a collection of cartoons on imaginary old motorcycles by Roger and a series of caricatures of British comedians by John, such as Charlie Chaplin and Tommy Cooper, right.

Noel is selling some of his Punch original cartoons while displaying a couple of original full-colour Punch covers and the first two gags he sold to the magazine.

A preview evening will be held on 6 November, at which John will be drawing some live caricatures and Bill will be doing a “stand-up cartoonist” routine. For details, visit knutsfordheritage.co.uk, email info@knutsfordheritage.co.uk or call 01565-652 854.

Free will and cartooning

October 30, 2012 in Comment, General

Bill Stott avatarAn opinion piece by Bill Stott

Free will and cartooning: is this a no-brainer? Or will I realise hitherto unseen and earth-shattering truths whilst typing? A eureka moment like finally figuring out what the symbol on your car’s dashboard resembling a tap-dancing flukeworm represents.

In some countries, drawing cartoons, usually political ones, which laud the state and lampoon the running dogs of whatever the state doesn’t much like (this will inevitably involve Obama’s ears) is a pretty safe bet.

Veer towards graphic criticism of the home side though, and you’re in deep doo-doo. Persist in veering and big blokes appear in the night and break your hands. No free will there then.

Bill Stott cartoon

Cartoon © Bill Stott @ Procartoonists.org

And the hand-breakers don’t just practice their painful ways within the borders of their own country either. They internationalise their state’s repression by blowing you up in the comfort of your own home (given half a chance) thousands of miles away because you disrespected their religion, which IS their state. This is a fairly effective way of severely curtailing the free will of say, a cartoonist in Berkhamstead who comes up with a goodie involving Mohammed and brainwashed bombers.

Of course, we in the developed, civilised world, when not busy invading places a long way away, of which we know little, or selling them arms so that the pro-USA side wins, luxuriate in free will – cartooning and otherwise.

It tends to be the political cartoonists who come to mind if we think about free will, and they do a great job, pushing it to the wire in some eyes, especially if those eyes belong to somebody with broken hands in Longwayawayistan.

Thing is, ours is an old country. Our government rolls with the blows, safe in the knowledge that having the doughty Steve Bell draw you as a shiny condom probably won’t force a general election. And yet that resilience, confidence and apparent belief in the freedom of the press – excepting naughty phone-hacking types – is probably not underpinned by a simple, ingrained sense of fair play.

No, it is maintained by a secret service – a very necessary part of our free world, we are told (often by the secret service), who spook about the place causing things to happen, like one of their own turning up inexplicably dead in a gym bag and now conveniently forgotten by the free press. I don’t recall seeing too many cartoons about that.

The Round-up

October 28, 2012 in General, Links, News

MAD Magazine Alfred Champagne 300x411 Happy 56th Birthday, Alfred E. Neuman!

MAD's Alfred E. Neuman @Procartoonists.org

Fastcocreate.com looks back at the 60-year history of MAD, the subversive comic magazine, in this in-depth article and slideshow. For even more on the subject, MAD’s editors have put together an exhaustive new book.

In a short video, BBC News talks to the US cartoonists Pat Bagley and Nick Anderson about lampooning Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Watch it here.

Martin Rowson draws our attention to the announcement that a former Daily Mirror showbiz reporter, 93-year-old Donald Zec, has won The Oldie’s first art award. See Donald’s winning portrait, and the other shortlisted pictures, here.

Is it a bird? A plane? Or yet more evidence of the decline of the newspaper industry? Clark Kent has quit his job at the Daily Planet (thanks to Pete Dredge for spotting the report).

Opinion: The Young Cartoonists of the Year 2012

October 25, 2012 in Comment, Events, General

Alison_Sampson_@_Procartoonists.org

We recently published details of the annual Young Cartoonists of the Year awards, run by our sister organisation the British Cartoonists’ Association. We received a large reaction from readers which included this piece of opinion from cartoonist Alison Sampson.

You should know that fairly recently I picked up a pen again, not least because of the work of the Professional Cartoonists Organisation – and thankfully, the internet.

We publish her reaction to the competition below:

I am 12. I am just leaving the old hen hut where we keep and read the tattered, second-hand comics our mum buys from jumble sales. We have 2000AD, Valiant, Victor and Misty. Also in the hut are my felt pens and the printer’s offcuts I have to draw on. I like drawing. I can’t imagine a life without it.

As I’m passing through the door, I wonder how could I do this for the rest of my life and think through the options. All I can think of are jobs as a newspaper cartoonist, or working for Private Eye. All our comics are old and it doesn’t occur to me anyone draws them. I dismiss the option. All those jobs are full, with the people who are doing them. A couple of years later I see Posy Simmonds’ work in the newspaper and my heart breaks. I wish I could have a job like that.

Later I will work as a perspective artist for a local construction company and go to university to read architecture. I will not draw for myself again, or look at a comic, for twenty-plus years. Fast forwarding to now, imagine my disappointment on seeing that the apogee of cartooning, as represented by the judges list for the BCA Young Cartoonists prize, is still entirely composed of newspaper cartoonists.

I now know that there were are other forms of cartooning: comic books, web comics, posters and so on. Not everybody knows this. The competition is an important way of reaching out to those outside the circle. The judges list should represent the profession, not just one exclusive segment, no matter how skilled. This would help in informing other young cartoonists that their work is worth persevering with, and that it has a future.

She added:

 I also do not want to cast aspersions on any of the work of the judges or the BCA. However, not everyone has been, or will be so lucky as to know about the possibilities for cartooning, and my getting back into it was only by accident. When I saw the competition, I had to remind myself I was too old, despite thinking of myself as the youngest of the young cartoonists, I am just starting at the age of 42.

You can find Alison’s own work here and read some in the collection – Solipsistic Pop.

Editor adds: We’d like to thank Alison for taking the time to write about this and we welcome your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Dandy looks back, and forward

October 24, 2012 in Events, News

Dandy exhibition

Dandy characters celebrate 75 years © DC Thomson and Co. Ltd

The Dandy: 75 Years of Biffs, Bangs and Banana Skins opens at the Cartoon Museum in London today.

The exhibition runs until 24 December, effectively out-living the comic itself, as the final print issue comes out on 4 December – 75 years to the day since its launch.

The comic will be moving online though, and the Cartoon Museum says that the exhibition will look forward “as Dandy prepares to embark on a new digital adventure“. It will include some exclusive material from the new Dandy which is currently in development,

Lots of favourite characters from the past feature in the show, such as Desperate Dan, Korky the Cat, Corporal Clot, Winker Watson, Brassneck and Bananaman. Younger readers will be able to see Harry Hill, PreSkool Prime Minister and other recent strips. Visit the Cartoon Museum website for more details.

Enter The Pangolin

October 22, 2012 in Events, General, News

The Pangolin @ Procartoonists.org

© The Pangolin @ Procartoonists.org

We are regularly pleased to see cartoonists moving from a print focus to a mixture of print and pixel, and there’s a new publication on this track we should note.

Long-time readers here will recall the Procartoonists print magazine – The FoghornCathy Simpson, one of the producers behind it, has jumped into the blogosphere with the launch of The Pangolin.

We say keep an eye on it, not least because one of our regular writers, and previous Foghorn editor, Bill Stott will be writing large lumps of it. We hurry to add: he’ll still be writing for us too.

Cathy Simpson and Bill Stott

Cathy Simpson and Bill Stott

Entente cordiale at St Just festival

October 22, 2012 in Events, News

The Surreal McCoy reports on the recent St Just Cartoon Festival

Spotlights on the Brits exhibition

Nathan Ariss salutes the Spotlights on the Brits exhibition, and an Olympics cartoon from the show by © Roger Penwill @ Procartoonists.org

Entente cordiale. Sounds like something you find on the shelf alongside the bottles of elderflower and blackcurrant flavours right? Wrong.

Actually, the final weekend of the St Just Cartoon Festival, near Limoges in France, was full of such friendly understanding, with 100-plus cartoonists and caricaturists mingling with each other and the general public with great bonhomie.

I was attending as the European liaison officer for Procartoonists.org, along with chairman Nathan Ariss, to represent UK cartoonists, most of them members of our organisation, whose work was being exhibited as Spotlights on the Brits.

The St Just committee had asked for cartoons on the themes of the Queen’s Jubilee and the London Olympics. Our members duly responded with a wide variety of caricatures and cartoons that were prominently displayed in the purpose-built exhibition hall.

Billeted with local familes for the weekend, we were treated with great hospitality. Food and drink was plentiful, long tables were the order of the day. There was much to see on the walls, from the Cartooning For Peace display on elections around the world to the extraordinary rat paintings.

Manu at work

The cartoonist Manu draws for the crowds at St Just @ Procartoonists.org

Cartoonists set up shop with their books and comics for sale on the big round tables. Visitors were caricatured and cartooned, business cards exchanged, contacts made.

The American editorial cartoonists Daryl Cagle (Cagle Post Syndication) and Eric Allie gave a presentation on the state of political cartooning in the US.

On the Saturday afternoon, a brown carpet was rolled out and more mystifying visitor arrived. The area is famous for its Limousin cows so the festival was being honoured with a visit from one of them. It was not, as we had initially thought, the French penchant for a Surrealist installation.

The St Just cow

The St Just cow. Not a Surrealist installation @ Procartoonists.org

The cow also doubled up as a prize for cartooning achievement – this year it went to the French cartoonist Aurel. (Apparently it’s the same cow every year, which would explain why she was completely unfazed by the paparazzi’s flash bulbs.)

Sunday morning saw a large assembly of cartoonists crammed into the local priest’s drawing room for the traditional drinks party he hosts each year. We all spilled out into the courtyard in front of the 12th century church in a pastis-induced blur of congeniality before boarding the special cartoonists’ carriage of the Paris train.

A little knowledge of French can get you a long way, mais oui!

The Round-up

October 19, 2012 in General, Links, News

Gren Jones at the drawing board @Procartoonists.org

Procartoonists.org member Tim Harries draws our attention to the first episode of Rolf Harris‘ new BBC series, Rolf on Welsh Art, in which he profiles the late, great Welsh cartoonist Gren Jones. Watch the half-hour show on BBC iPlayer (available until 9 November) – or why not visit Gren’s home village and take the walking tour?

Tim also spotted this short TED talk by Sunni Brown on the merits of doodling. Elsewhere, you can see some of the photo-real portraits that artist James Mylne has produced using that classic doodling tool – the Bic biro.

US television network ABC is developing a new sitcom about a “dysfunctional cartoonist” (is there any other kind?*)

And finally, another Procartoonists.org member (and contributor to this blog), Royston Robertson, gives an interview to a local paper about his 15 years and counting as a cartoonist. Read it here.

* Editor adds: This is a joke 😉

Review: Punch Cartoons in Colour

October 18, 2012 in Comment, Events, General

Cartoonist and Procartoonists member Noel Ford takes a look back at The Best of Punch Cartooons in Colour. The collection is edited by Helen Walasek.

Well, as far as a review is concerned, I could leave it at that. The title says it all.

Oh, all right then … it has long been a bone of contention amongst cartoonists with respect to how important the actual drawing of a cartoon is. Many will argue that a good gag will carry a poor drawing but a poor gag is still a poor gag no matter how brilliant the draughtsmanship. Others will claim that a cartoon’s artwork is paramount, being the vehicle by which the idea is transported (and why would anyone trust the delivery of their finest ideas to the unreliability of drawing’s equivalent to a clapped-out K-Reg Ford Transit?) As to whether a cartoon needs colour, that is a further development of this debate.

Review: The Best of Punch Cartoons in Colour @ procartoonists.org

Review: The Best of Punch Cartoons in Colour @ Procartoonists.org

Whichever side of the argument you stand, I am pretty confident that the contents of this volume will delight you, comprising, as it does, an abundance of  the whimsical humour that Punch was (is!) famous for and some really wonderful, full colour artwork, ranging from  a classic 1924 Bateman full page colour cartoon through to the poignant cover of the final issue of the “real” Punch magazine, by Holte (Trevor Holder).

The cartoons themselves include some you may have known and loved for many years, but the real treasure of this book is the abundance of Punch colour cartoons that have never been published since their original appearance in the magazine. When Alan Coren, as Editor, introduced the full front-cover gag cartoon, in the late seventies, many of us younger (then!) contributors thought large format colour gag cartoons were something entirely new to the magazine. This book shows how wrong we were.

To the seasoned Punch cartoon enthusiast, the book holds a few other surprises, too. By the nature of the collection, some of Punch’s most notable contributors are nowhere to be found. Bill Tidy, Larry (Terry Parkes), Chic Jacob, masters of the black and white cartoon with only a relatively few outings into the broader spectrum of colour are, for once, absent from a Punch cartoon collection. I remember a conversation with Larry, many years ago, when he told me he didn’t really see the point of colour in a cartoon, though he did, I recall, relent sufficiently to produce one Punch cover. I think the point of colour in a cartoon is probably that same pleasure derived from any icing on the cake. Whilst it may not be absolutely necessary, it can, nevertheless, delight.

Finally, as with its sister volume, The Best of Punch Cartoons, this is a substantial volume (not really one for your Kindle!) and the contents often chronicle the historical and social events of the times. So if you need an excuse, other than pure and joyful entertainment, to be observed reading this tome, you can always fall back on that one.

Oh, and one more thing …

Anyone who believes cartooning is not real art should absolutely not open this book unless they want their illusions shattered irreparably!

Editor adds: Thanks to Noel for the review and you might care to visit the Punch Magazine Archive.

If any other reader is thinking about contributing to this blog please contact us here.

Young Cartoonists of the Year 2012

October 17, 2012 in Events, General, News

Our colleagues at the British Cartoonists’ Association have launched their annual Young Cartoonists of the Year competition. Details as below and applications to the UK’s Cartoon Museum by 7 November. Hop to it!

UK_ Young_Cartoonist_of_the_Year_2012 @ procartoonists.org

Young Cartoonist of the Year competition for 2012 @ Procartoonists.org

And have a look back at one of last year’s winners.