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by Royston

Double the fun at Cartoon Museum

November 27, 2013 in Events, News

Next week, the Cartoon Museum in London is taking part in the Big Give Christmas Challenge.

This means that for a limited period donations to the museum will be matched, making all contributions go further. Anita O’Brien, the curator, explains all in the above YouTube video.

The museum said: “For a limited time only, online donations are matched by other funders on a first come, first served basis, so timing is of the essence. Every £5 that you give could be worth £10. Matched funds will be released at 10am on the morning of 5, 6 and 7 December and we are asking you to donate at that time before the match-funding runs out.”

The money will fund the Cartoons and Comics for All project, which aims to bring new visitors to the museum and provide free events and sessions for schools.

To donate online, click this link on 5, 6 or 7 December at 10am.

The museum is currently showing an exhibition by R.S. Sherriffs. The gloom of winter will be brightened by Bring Me Laughter on 7 January, followed by a must-see Spitting Image exhibition  on 26 February. See the website for details.

The Round-up

November 26, 2013 in Events, General, Links, News

© Steve Bright @Procartoonists.org

Above: This cartoon by Steve Bright – a member of Procartoonists.org – is one of 12 political cartoons selected as among the best of the year by BuzzFeed. Other PCOers, Gary Barker and Martin Rowson, are also included. See the full list here.

Elsewhere another of our cartoonists, Steve Bell, talks to the BBC about the history of political cartooning and its legacy today. Watch the video here.

An exhibition of some 90 prints by Thomas Rowlandson has opened in Edinburgh. See the Daily Record for more information.

Head over to the Forbidden Planet blog for a full overview of the winners of this year’s British Comic Awards. The Herald speaks to the best emerging talent winner Will Morris, while FP itself looks at Garen Ewing, winner of the young people’s award, which was voted for by children.

And finally, the cartoonist and illustrator Ros Asquith talks to BookTrust about how she uses her work to highlight disability and diversity.

Opinion: Cartoonists and a new world

November 19, 2013 in Comment, General, News

You are here © Roger_Penwill_@_procartoonists.org

© Roger Penwill @ Procartoonists.org

The internet is a perfect medium for cartoons. Images can look much more striking on a backlit screen than they ever did in muddy print.

So the news that The Sun was dropping Andy Davey’s weekday editorial cartoon slot just as it finally attempted a serious transition to digital first publication is ironic.

I am a member of an endangered species … the cartoonists. In fact, my small colony is a sub-sub-species – the few who actually (well, as I write) make a living from the practice. The fact is that habitat change is threatening us.”
Andy Davey in an article for E!Sharp magazine

(In a fitting footnote, E!Sharp magazine moved from print to digital with the loss of Davey’s regular cover illustration).

Newspapers have been shedding journalists, photographers and cartoonists by the hundredweight over the past few years, as their print revenues have shrivelled. Few papers have managed the transition to digital presence while finding an alternative online revenue stream.

Obfuscation about their digital revenue clouds the facts but the basic problem of converting casual digital readers into paying subscribers remains.

© Ger Whyman at Procartoonists.org

© Ger Whyman @ Procartoonists.org

Publishing companies have tried two basic strategies. News UK papers The Times and The Sun are now both largely behind subscriber paywalls, amid huge tidal waves of PR and free giveaways. This was a a principled decision (nobody should work for nothing) but a rather brave one in a world where news and information is now free, instant and ubiquitous. The results are presently understood to be mixed.

The other model is the new-media idea that you give away your content and hope that spin-off merchandising and advertising revenue will flood in on the back of your increased global readership. Online services can be developed for a motivated and loyal crowd of customers.

© Dave Chisholm @procartoonists.org

© Dave Chisholm @ Procartoonists.org

The Guardian has attempted to make itself into the best upmarket liberal global news brand in this fashion. The Daily Mail has morphed silently into a sort of daily global Hello! magazine, titillating the masses with its “Sidebar of Shame”, in the process becoming the most widely read digital newspaper worldwide.

Significantly, neither of these organisations have been over keen to reveal how much revenue this accrues  and how it stacks up against their legacy costs of business.

But publishing companies and newspapers as product form only a small patch of land in the shrinking traditional habitat of the cartoonist. Magazines used to be a source of welcome revenue for scribblers. However, the rates of pay have been slashed over the years to levels of vanity publication. Regular readers and subscribers to this blog will also know about the direct-to-audience efforts that many cartoonists have made in recent years.

© Matt Percival at procartoonists.org

© Matt Percival @ Procartoonists.org

The traditional confidence in the utility of our skills leads the Guardian cartoonist and PCO member Martin Rowson to characterise our trade as parasites. Once the carrier dies, “like any hideous sensible parasite, we’ll just jump off on to the next host”.

And there is some truth in this.

In Georgian times, cartoonists plied their trade by selling prints of their work in coffee shops. The radical coffee shop died a death as the prim Victorians arrived. Consequently, cartoonists jumped on to new hosts ushered in by advances in print – Punch and similar magazines.

Newspaper circulation wars in the 1900s then saw a race to hire cartoonists, providing a very welcome long-lived carrier for us parasites. The chronic morbidity of printed newspapers means we have to find a new habitat.

Ed adds: And, of course, many of us are adapting successfully. If you have comments about any of themes in this piece please do add them in comments.

Opinion: The cartoonist and the editor

November 12, 2013 in Comment, General, News

Editor_and_editorial_cartoonist_a_metaphoe_@_procartoonists.org

© Andy Davey @ Procartoonists.org

Following the news that one of the UK’s mass market national newspapers had removed its weekday editorial cartoonist we asked Andy Davey to write about the strange relationship that lies at the heart of such jobs.

For the UK cartoonist, working outside of the beneficence of a major newspaper brings benefits and troubles; editorial freedom and financial uncertainty. Creative freedom and money are rarely thrown together at the same artist.

In general, print editors and proprietors control content with an iron hand, especially when they are paying for it. Tabloid editors for example, are a clever bunch. They know how to run tight, focused media organisations. There is little or no room for a dissenting voice. The paper has to speak with one voice on a narrow range of issues.

Cartoonists are not hired to express their idiosyncratic views of the world, they are there to draw an on-message gag about something that is being highlighted in the day’s paper (preferably on the same page). Topics that are fair game are often defined and limited by who the paper “likes” (politicians or celebs they seek to cultivate) at any one time.

This can become wearing for the cartoonist who likes to come up with his/her own ideas – and that is pretty well all cartoonists (It is one of the key identifiers between cartoonists and illustrators – Ed).

The constraint of the ‘‘family paper’’, hard as it has sometimes been to believe in the era of phone hacking, also prevents anything too graphic from being published. Consequently, editorial cartoons in the tabloids can often look like sad toothless pastiches of the deferential 1950s.

Tabloid readers are conditioned to expect short, snappy articles and plenty of photos. The editorial pages, unlike the rather type-heavy pages in the broadsheets, are awash with images and banner headlines. Cartoons must fight to make themselves seen amid all this; even more so amid the flashing ads and animated pop-ups on the web versions.

A looser hand on the editorial tiller would allow stronger satirical graphic cartoons to attract the eye in traditional print and also in the relatively new digital environments.

Editor adds: Thanks to Andy to writing this. What do you think about editorial cartoons in the newspapers? Please free to dive into the comments below.

The Round-up

November 10, 2013 in General, Links, News

© Mike Williams @Procartoonists.org

In the wake of recent disappointing decisions elsewhere in the mainstream press, it’s encouraging to see cartoons being celebrated this week in a major newspaper. The Independent is the latest to provide coverage of Private Eye’s new retrospective cartoon book, and PCO members feature prominently in the article, which includes quotes from Nick Newman and is accompanied by classic gags from Ken Pyne and Mike Williams (above), among others. Read the article here.

Bob Mankoff, The New Yorker’s cartoon editor, reveals the exhaustive lengths he and his staff go to in order to ensure cartoons used by the magazine bear no similarity to ones already used.

The latest Asterix book – and the first without co-creator Albert Uderzo wielding the pen – has launched to strong sales. Meanwhile, on this side of the Channel, Stephen Collins has received a nomination for his graphic novel, The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, for this year’s Waterstones Book of the Year. Hear from Collins and fellow strip cartoonist Tom Gauld in this video from the Edinburgh Book Festival.

Comic strips, of course, are nothing new – but cartoonists are always finding new ways to approach them.

 

The sky is falling in

November 9, 2013 in Events, General, News

News that a satellite is descending to earth in an uncontrolled fashion reminds us that there’s nothing new under the sun – as these cartoons from Martin Minton – A cartoon novel by Ken Pyne show.

Cartoon_Life_© Ken_Pyne_@_procartoonists.org

Cartoon © Ken Pyne from Martin Minton - a cartoon novel @procartoonists.org

Satellite_Cartoon_©_Ken_Pyne_@procartoonists.org

Cartoon © Ken Pyne from Martin Minton - a cartoon novel @procartoonists.org

Ken told us:

Funny, I was only thinking of that book a couple of days ago in Waterstones. When it came out the publisher sent a blurb round saying it was a ‘Cartoon Novel’ and a book reviewer called me ‘pretentious’ for calling it that. How times have changed – now you can’t move around a book shop for ‘Graphic Novels’.

UK Professional Cartoonists

Opinion: The Sun drops editorial cartoons from weekday editions

November 7, 2013 in Comment, General, News

Rome Burns © Andy Davey for The Sun @ procartoonists.org

© Andy Davey for The Sun @ procartoonists.org

Andy Davey writes:

After more than 40 years, The Sun has cut editorial cartoons from the weekday editions of the paper.

The paper has boasted a roster of excellent cartoonists to poke fun at the political shenanigans of the day. Names such as Stanley Franklin, Dave Gaskill, Keith Waite, Paul Rigby, Posy Simmonds, Tom Johnston, Bill Caldwell, Bernard Cookson and Charles Griffin have all served on the super soaraway paper. But recently, circulation of printed publications has sunk, taking with it into the deep briny blue a huge wad of advertising revenue.

I write as the most recent regular incumbent and my cartoons have now been dropped. No reason was given to me, but it seems likely it was a financial decision. Cartoonists, together with many journalists and photographers, are apparently too expensive for these times. It’s much more cost effective to fill the editorial page with a splash headline and a crowdsourced free or cheap image.

The paper will still run editorial cartoons by another PCO member, Brighty (Steve Bright), in the Sun on Sunday and in Trevor Kavanagh’s Monday editorial column.

Traditionally, papers have run editorial, gag and strip cartoons but this has begun to change over the past few years.

The loss of daily editorial cartoons from The Sun is significant but it is not alone in ditching its cartoonists. Last month, The Sunday Times cast off several long term freelance cartoonists. The Mirror dropped daily editorial cartoons years ago and The Observer had a clear-out recently.

Alongside this, rates of pay have been cut. In 2011, The i newspaper, sister to The Independent, decided it needed strip, gag and editorial cartoonists to make its content shine. Instead of hiring cartoonists at a standard industry rate, it ran a competition in the oh-so-fashionable form of a “Cartoon Idol” to find new talent. The pay was so derisory that only one cartoonist could afford to take up the offer.

We at Procartoonists.org may be biased, but we think cartoons are still loved and appreciated by readers. It is a shame to see them disappearing at a time when humour and satire is desperately needed.

Ed adds: Procartoonists.org thanks Andy for sharing his thoughts here.

Sun shine wears off for Davey

November 7, 2013 in Comment, General, News

The_sun_logo_@_procartoonists.orgThe Sun, the largest circulation print newspaper in the UK is now without a weekday editorial cartoonist after Andy Davey, one of our members, left the paper.

With Andy’s help we shall be writing about this story and what it represents during the next week but you will get advance warning if you read one of our recent posts from Nick Newman of Private Eye (also a member) and a large piece produced by the New Statesman magazine during last summer.