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Announcing Duchampions

May 29, 2013 in Events, News

DadaDuchamp_Festival_poster_@_Procartoonists. Poster artwork © Ralph Steadman

DadaDuchamp Poster artwork © Ralph Steadman

We are pleased to announce that Procartoonists will be working at the first Duchamp in Herne Bay this summer. The event celebrates the anniversary of a famous association between Marcel Duchamp – father of the conceptual art movement – and the great British seaside at Herne Bay in Kent. It should be a giant cone plus double flake and chocolate sprinkles sort of experience.

Marcel_Duchamp's_version_ of_the_Mona_Lisa_@_procartoonists.org

Marcel Duchamp's version of the Mona Lisa @ procartoonists.org

Watch the spaces at these links for the forthcoming details or read this story from the local media.

The poster artwork above was made by Ralph Steadman, Procartoonists.org member and lately a man of Kent.

Opinion: The postcard is not dead

May 29, 2013 in Comment, General

© Rupert Besley for procartoonists.org

Procartoonists member Rupert Besley takes a look at a much-loved old form for cartooning: the postcard

In 1899 a Norwegian cruise ship doing the coastline despatched 20,000 postcards in the course of one trip*. The unfortunate crewman charged with postmarking each stamp suffered blisters to the hand.

In 1903 the British alone sent 600 million postcards – and that excludes the number sold but then not mailed, collected in albums or stuffed in drawers. 1902-15 is generally hailed as the Golden Age of the Postcard.

Everyone was at it and the postman could call up to five times a day. A cautious estimate puts the number of postcards produced and sold worldwide in the years 1895-1920 as at least 200 to 300 billion (most of them now in my loft).

Those days are gone. There are quicker, easier, cheaper ways of keeping in touch. Email and the txt mssge have done for the postcard, as have Royal Mail and the Post Office, intent, it would seem, on killing off all forms of postal communication. Kicked in the teeth but not yet dead, the postcard won’t let go that easily. Miraculous revivals have happened before.

The first postcard craze came on the back of improved cheap printing, increased travel and the passing of laws that gave holidays to workers. By the 1920s the novelty had passed. Card sales slumped and publishers went out of business.

Then, in the 1970s, came a second Golden Age, thanks to better colour printing and a new wave of foreign travel. Holidaymakers liked to show they had gone one better than their neighbours on choice of destination.

Again, it would not last for ever. Not many people beyond the collector Martin Parr were keen in the 1990s to seek out tired images of dull places where parked cars had not moved or fashion changed for 30 years.

The history of postcards and cartoons © Rupert Besley for procartoonists.org

© Rupert Besley for procartoonists.org

In 1998 the company J Arthur Dixon finally closed, the postcard side of its business being acquired by John Hinde. Within a few years Hinde’s, too, gave up on postcards, turning instead to novelty gifts from the Far East.

Judge’s hit the rocks (receivership) in 1984, but continued in new hands on a more limited operation. Bamforth’s hit similar hard times. And yet … Royal Mail recently recorded more than 106 million postcards still passing through their system in a year, 10 million up on 2001. The humble pc may yet outlive the PC.

The postcard outscores new technology on several points. Gift or souvenir, it’s something physical and collectible, a permanent reminder. Stuck on shelves, perched on ledges, pinned on noticeboards, cards have staying-power.

They don’t even need posting to have an effect. Hans Fallada’s famous cat-and-mouse chase novel, translated as Alone in Berlin, is based on fact: from 1940, mysterious scrawled postcards appeared in the halls and stairwells of buildings, attacking the Nazi regime.

Rattled by the effects of this propaganda, the Gestapo took three years to find the perpetrators – not the major conspiracy it suspected but a modest, barely literate couple who had suffered family loss to the Nazi war machine. Gripping but grim. Postcards have that power.

Rupert Besley on Postcards and cartoons @_procartoonists.org

© Rupert Besley for procartoonists.org

Usually it’s a lighter message they send. In the 1950s my great-aunts lived together on virtually no income in a house unchanged since it was fitted out by their grandfather in the 1870s. On the walls hung dismal dark prints of battle scenes and death, from Nelson at Trafalgar to The Return from Inkerman.

But into the frame corners and front of each picture my aunts had inserted cheerful postcards guaranteed to raise a smile. Which brings me to cartoons (At last! – Ed). 

Thanks to Rupert from the scene setting and look out for part two of his postcards feature next week.

*Figures from An Entangled Object by B. Rogan, University of Oslo

The Round-up

May 10, 2013 in Events, General, Links, News

© Christian Adams for The Telegraph @Procartoonists.org

The Premier League was rocked this week by the unexpected news of Sir Alex Ferguson‘s retirement, and cartoonists had a ball with it (sorry). In The Telegraph, Christian Adams put the news in context (above), while Matt Pritchett drew parallels with another recent shock resignation. Over in The Guardian, Kipper Williams considered the impact on industry. On the news that David Moyes is taking the reins, Procartoonists.org member Andy Davey pictures the handover in The Sun.

Rob Murray (full disclosure: the writer of this post!) will be opening up his studio to the public from 16-19 May, exhibiting and selling original cartoons from Private Eye, Reader’s Digest, The Spectator and elsewhere as part of the Summer Open Studios show at Wimbledon Art Studios. Entry is free and all are very welcome.

Stephen Collins celebrates the publication of his new book, The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, with a launch party this evening at Gosh! in London. See preview pages in the ‘Big Comics’ section of his website.

Own-it offers a helpful and concise look at the ongoing controversial changes to UK copyright legislation, which pave the way for licensing of orphan works. Read it here.

An obituary for Margaret Groening reveals that her son – Simpsons creator Matt – believes in writing about what (or who) he knows. The Telegraph picks up on the story and provides this handy interactive family tree.

And finally, having recently challenged New Yorker cartoonists to a reverse-engineered caption contest, cartoon editor Bob Mankoff invites readers to have a go.

 

The Round-up

May 4, 2013 in Events, General, Links, News

 

Frank Sidebottom holds a copy of Oink! @Procartoonists.org

A new documentary is being planned about anarchic TV icon Frank Sidebottom (aka Chris Sievey). In the guise of Frank, Sievey contributed strips to Oink! in the late 1980s. Director Steve Sullivan says the film “will cover Chris and Frank’s whole career, including focusing on his work as a comic creator and illustrator.” Sullivan has turned to crowd-funding to kick-start the project, and raised over £11,000 from Frank fans in his first day of fundraising. Read more about the project here.

The documentary is not to be confused with this fictionalised take on the Sidebottom legend, which will star Michael Fassbender.

Procartoonists.org member Ralph Steadman was sadly too unwell to attend the private view of his Steadman @ 77 retrospective at the Cartoon Museum in London this week. But the exhibition has already been receiving good press, including this piece from the Camden New Journal. The paper also reports on the theft of a Steadman original from a nearby pub following the private view.

Bloomberg Businessweek looks at the new British legislation that may change the way images are used on the internet, particularly when it comes to orphan works. Every cartoonist – or user of online materials – should brush up on this. For more on copyright law, and advice on how to protect your work online, look back at our previous posts on the subject here and here.

The Brighton Festival begins this weekend, and Harry Venning isn’t the only cartoonist opening up his studio to the public. PCOer Guy Venables and Private Eye/Independent cartoonist Grizelda will also be inviting visitors into their workspaces. Find out more about the festival here. The Spectator also has coverage of the Artists Open Houses.

For those who like lists, Buzzfeed has produced this handy run-down of historic cartoons that changed the world.

And finally, some encouraging signs from the next generation: Dutch teenagers have been clamouring for political cartoons in 7Days, a weekly newspaper for young people in the Netherlands. The editorial team have listened, and topical cartoons are now appearing courtesy of Cartoon Movement.