You are browsing the archive for 2014 February.

Profile photo of Royston

by Royston

Festival cartoon: Sound of silence

February 27, 2014 in Events, General

Silent busking cartoon by The Surreal McCoy

© The Surreal McCoy

Pray silence please for another cartoon submitted for the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival in April, where the theme is Music.

This one is by Procartoonists.org member The Surreal McCoy.

Next week we’ll publish a list of the cartoonists who are attending the festival to draw big board cartoons, caricatures and host workshops.

The Round-up

February 23, 2014 in Events, General, Links, News

Thatcher Cutting Up Britain © Spitting Image Workshop

Thatcher Cutting Up Britain © Spitting Image Workshop

Kasia Kowalska writes:

The exhibition Spitting Image: From Start to Finish opens at the Cartoon Museum in London tomorrow (26 February) – 30 years to the day since the TV series burst into our living rooms and put satire back at the heart of British comedy.

The BFI is also joining in the celebrations with an anniversary event and a screening of the BBC Four Arena documentary Whatever Happened To Spitting Image? on Thursday. It will be broadcast in spring.

The anniversary has already prompted a debate on the current state of satire on TV, with the Spitting Image producer John Lloyd and the Private Eye editor Ian Hislop, a former writer for the show, putting forward opposing views

Booktrust has appointed a new online writer in residence, The Observer’s political cartoonist Chris Riddell, to write a weekly blog in the form of drawings. Meanwhile, The Beano’s, Barrie Appleby, lent a helping hand at a pre-school playgroup where he shared cartooning tips with children as part of the Annual National Storytelling Week.

Escaping the UK weather can be a funny business. The Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain got together for its 3rd Mighty Malta Minicon last week and if you were not lucky enough to go, you can still find out what they got up to.

 

Doonesbury © Garry Trudeau

Doonesbury © Garry Trudeau

The syndicated Doonesbury comic strip is taking a long-term break from this week, the cartoonist Garry Trudeau has announced. Fans should not worry though, as older strips will be revisited.

Comic art continues to court controversy: the Angoulême International Comics Festival got into hot water over its sponsorship by SodaStream which is the target of an international boycott; a newspaper office in Baghdad suffered a bomb attack following the publication of a cartoon criticising Ayatollah Khamenei;  and the thought police are very much alive and well in Algeria, where the cartoonist Djamel Ghanem has been threatened with imprisonment for a cartoon that was not even published.

Across the border in Tunisia, there may be hope for the international campaign “100 drawings for Jabeur” to free Jabeur Mejri, who has been pardoned and offered asylum in Sweden. The blogger was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed on Facebook in 2012.

Finally, we note with sadness that Gordon Bell, cartoonist for The Beano and the Dundee Courier, and Tony Harding, who drew football stories for Scorcher, Hotspur, and Action, both passed away recently.

Gentle giant of cartoons to carry on

February 20, 2014 in Comment, General

Andy Davey talks to the editorial cartoonist Martyn Turner who has been drawing for The Irish Times for more than 40 years

Francois Hollande cartoon by Martyn Turner

© Martyn Turner. The cartoonist admits his drawings are very wordy.
Click to enlarge and read

Martyn Turner has just become eligible for his free bus pass. It doesn’t look as though he’ll be taking up the offer though. He asked his editor whether he wanted him to shuffle off to his beloved golf course and the answer came back “Not while I’m editor”.

Buoyed by this enthusiastic endorsement, he is going to stay put. Still, it’s surely time to take stock, as he has been doing this job for more than 40 years.

The ­Irish Times ran an article commemorating this anniversary a while back. Looking for comments to support the piece, they asked around and a deluge of testimonials arrived from all sources – politicians, former editors, fellow cartoonists from around the world, even hotel managers – and that’s before you get to the readers.

Everyone seems to have nice words to say about Turner. This may not be unrelated to the fact that he stands at 6ft 7ins and weighs in at 20 stone. But he’s also a Very Nice Chap.

If you look, you can see this in his cartoons. The caricatures are not like the graphic distortions of a Sebastian Kruger or a Gerald Scarfe. They are more like theatrical masks, giving just enough information to identify the character and make the point. He says they’re “not strictly caricatures, they’re a person representing that particular character. It’s not a personal attack”.

Winter Olympics cartoon by Martyn Turner

© Martyn Turner on the Sochi Winter Olympics. Click to enlarge

The artwork – though highly accomplished ­ – doesn’t dominate the idea. The words are the thing. Maybe this befits a literary culture like Ireland’s. Tellingly, Turner says he thinks in words, “which is why my average cartoon has about 200 words in it”.

Turner’s longevity in the post is all the more surprising since he is English. Born and bred in urban Essex and East London (born in Wanstead, raised in Hackney and Chingford, to be precise). The son of East Enders, he won a scholarship to a private school, which he hated. That and his parents’ divorce turned him inwards and he says he sought refuge in outsider status, both socially and geographically.

He fled to first to Belfast to university and then south to become immersed in the venal horse­-trading of Irish politics, which remains a mystery to most outsiders.

How does he do it, drawing four to five topical cartoons a week for 40-­odd years? His wife of 46 years, Jean, claims that it’s because “he’s remained a child”. It’s not just Jean who says so – a guest psychiatrist on the Pat Kenny Show on Irish radio cast him as a “perpetual child who sees that none of the emperors have any clothes”.

He has a crack at politicians of all stripes. He has political conviction, but not one that fits into party politics. “I’m just an ageing hippy who thinks everyone should love each other and get on with it and be nice.”

He lives in semi­-rural Kildare, although spends increasing amounts of time in France. His daily working practice is pretty idyllic. When in Ireland, he rises early, takes a dip at the local pool, returns to review the papers and listen to the news. Around lunchtime he distils an idea out of the noise.

Martyn Turner

When Martyn Turner started out he used to put his daily Irish Times cartoon
on the bus to Dublin, to be collected by a sub-editor at a bus stop

Like many a creative soul, he advocates letting the subconscious do the work. “The harder you think about something, the less likely you are to come up with something that isn’t what everyone else is thinking.”

He draws the cartoon in the afternoon and sends it over to the paper. The routine in the early days reinforces the image of delightful prelapsarian innocence and oddness we are encouraged to believe rural Ireland runs on. He used to put his cartoon on the afternoon bus into Dublin, handing it over to the driver who delivered it to a sub-­editor waiting at the bus stop outside the Irish Times office. Nowadays it’s done by email, of course.

There’s no reason for him to stop now. Everyone seems to think his cartoons are an essential part of the paper, and of Irish politics. What’s more, he says he’s absurdly happy – “a round peg in a round hole” – and there is surely no better way to be.

You can see some of Turner’s recent cartoons here. He would also like us to know that his 19th “collection of cartoons and written bits” will be available in October.

All together now: A festival cartoon

February 19, 2014 in Events, General

© Cathy Simpson @ Procartoonists.org

© Cathy Simpson @ Procartoonists.org

Here is another cartoon on the theme of Music submitted for this year’s Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival. This one is by Procartoonists.org member Cathy Simpson.

The festival exhibition of original artwork and prints will run from 21 April to 17 May. You can see all our members’ portfolios here.

The Round-up: A comics special

February 17, 2014 in Events, General, Links, News

Comics are coming to the British Library © Dave Gibbons

Comics are coming to the British Library © Dave Gibbons @ Procartoonists.org

Kasia Kowalska presents a Round-up focusing on comics this week:

The British Library is about to embark on a period of anarchy and rebellion – this summer it will host the largest exhibition of comic art ever held in Britain. Comics Unmasked: Art & Anarchy in the UK will cover comics from Victorian times through to the classics of today. The Forbidden Planet blog and The Guardian have more.

One of the myths the exhibition promises to dispel is that comics are only for boys. This is a sore subject for Noelle Stevenson, the co-writer of the comic Lumberjanes, who got fed up with comic shops that exclude women readers.

But not everyone may be thrilled to hear of the exhibition. The comics writer Alan Moore said recently that it is a “cultural catastrophe” that comic characters from the 20th century have such a high-profle now, and Jonathan Jones wonders should adults even be reading comicsMeanwhile, Vishavjit Singh takes on cultural prejudice in Captain America’s homeland

According to Bryan Talbot, the author of the award-winning Alice in Sunderland, “graphic novels are the only area of book sales which is actually growing”. He talks to the Sunderland Echo about the first Sunderland Comic Con, which will take place in August this year.

October Jones train cartoon

Comic fun on the train © October Jones @ Procartoonists.org

Marvel, too, is responding to this phenomenon by opening up its massive archive of more than 8,000 comic characters to independent developers. Marvel comics turned out to be a sure source of inspiration, above,  to the illustrator Joe Butcher – pen name October Jones – on his train journey in Birmingham.

Finally, fans of the art form get to have their say on the best of the crop in this year’s British Comics Awards, as the nominations are now open.

A meeting of minds

February 13, 2014 in Events, News

Kasia Kowalska reports from the opening of Calman Meets Freud at the Freud Museum in Hampstead, London

"I hope I'm not boring you."  © Mel Calman @Procartoonists.org

“I hope I’m not boring you.” © Mel Calman @Procartoonists.org

The first thing you notice as you join the small gathering of family, friends and colleagues of Mel Calman at the Freud Museum is the unreserved warmth with which they talk about him.

It soon becomes apparent that he must have been a generous and engaging man and that he inspired love and loyalty in those who got to know him.

His daughter Claire Calman, who co-curated the exhibition with her sister Stephanie Calman, called it a “real labour of love” and remarked that it coincides with the 20th anniversary of Mel Calman’s death.

“Everything about Mel is still in sharp focus after 20 years” said the Times political cartoonist Peter Brookes, who worked with Calman in the 1990s. “His gruff bonhomie, his decency and kindness.”

Sir Peter Stothard, former Times editor with Peter Brookes, editorial cartoonist at the paper © Kasia Kowalska @ Procartoonists.org

Sir Peter Stothard, former Times editor with Peter Brookes, editorial
cartoonist at the newsaper © Kasia Kowalska @ Procartoonists.org

The theme of psychology is explored in the exhibition and it reflects on both therapy and mental health, but the cartoons also explore the nature of relationships and intricacies of our private lives. Lisa Appignanesi, chair of trustees at the Freud Museum, said that it was “particularly wonderful to have Calman at the museum as Freud loved jokes“.

If you knew nothing about Mel Calman except for his cartoons, you would already know that he was funny, thoughtful and deeply interested in people and their inner lives. Peter Brookes called Calman’s cartoons “deceptively simple”.

Calman’s cartoons snap what one may be thinking or feeling into a surprisingly crisp form and clinch it with a witty, singular statement. They say that it’s OK not to be OK.

His “little man” who sometimes feels unloved and often put upon, unfit to tackle all of life’s problems, is prone to melancholy and depression. This was also true of Calman himself.

"Are you suffering from too much life again?" © Mel Calman @ Procartoonists.org

“Are you suffering from too much life again?”
© Mel Calman @ Procartoonists.org

Sir Peter Stothard, who was his editor at The Times, said: “Mel was a cynical realist, a laughing pessimist — a perfect fit for the Freud Museum.”

Among the cartoons and publications on display is a large collection of objects from the family’s private collection including personal letters, notes and the famous B5 pencils that became Calman’s medium of choice.

Cartooning permeated Calman’s life and he used it as a means of communication that stretched beyond his professional career. One object from the collection is a drawing on an envelope addressed to his young daughters at an imaginary address. It features a cartoon stamp and, in the top left corner, the word “AirMel”.

Calman Meets Freud runs until 16 March

You can’t beat a cartoon exhibition

February 13, 2014 in Events, General

Alex Matthews music cartoon

©Alexander Matthews @ Procartoonists.org

Music is the, er, theme for this year’s Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival.

In the run-up to the event in April we’ll be featuring some cartoons submitted for exhibition at the festival by Procartoonists.org members. Here’s one from Alexander Matthews that first appeared in Reader’s Digest.

The festival exhibition of original artwork and prints, all for sale, will run from 21 April to 17 May. We’ll have more details nearer the time.

The Round-up

February 10, 2014 in Events, General, Links, News

Kasia Kowalska writes:

Dave Walker, a Procartoonists member, talks about what makes him tick in a short film by Michal Dzierza, above, called Being A Cartoonist.

If you like to know what makes other people tick, a new exhibition celebrating the life and work of Mel Calman has opened at the Freud Museum in Hampstead, London. Titled Calman meets Freud, it explores the much-loved cartoonist’s interest in psychiatry and mental health.

Andy Davey has put his recent lecture on the future of political cartooning, which we previewed here, on his website “in windbaggy blog form” (his words, not ours).

Though they may not always admit it, cartoonists are often inspired by other cartoonists. Michael Maslin wanted to know what cartoon collections inspired his colleagues at The New Yorker. He calls these collections “Cartoon Bibles”.

scott adams book

Passion – even for cartoons – is not everything: Scott Adams, the man behind Dilbert, ponders the virtues of failure in this video interview. He has succeeded in writing a book about failure, above.

Sometimes even the most creative ventures fail, as the DrawQuest founder Chris Poole found out.

Yet some cartoons are destined for success. It has been 25 years since The Simpsons broke the mould and made social satire a household name. To celebrate, Lego has teamed up with Fox to re-create them as its iconic figures. Keeping with the celebratory spirit, the cartoonist and animator David Silverman has published early Simpsons drawings on Twitter.

Bill Watterson made the news by winning the Grand Prix at 41st Angouleme Festival in France for his timeless strip Calvin and Hobbes. Also, the 30th Aydın Doğan International Cartoon Competition in Turkey announced its winners, with the top prize going to a Polish cartoonist, Krzysztof Grzondziel.

One cartoonist who may be certain that such recognition will not present itself in his own country is Bonil of Ecuador. Following a press watchdog’s ruling that he had insulted Rafael Correa, the president, the newspaper El Universo was forced to publish a suitable “correction” from the cartoonist.

Education chief is taking the Michael

February 4, 2014 in Comment

© Bill Stott @ Procartoonists.org

© Bill Stott @ Procartoonists.org

Opinion: As regular readers will know, Michael Gove gets up Bill Stott’s nose

Hmm, he’s at it again, that Gove fellow. Wants to bring back writing lines, detention and – who knows? – six of the best, in the search for his notion of discipline in the classroom. He really hasn’t got a clue, has he?

What on earth have the wrong-headed, ignorant aspirations of this Mr Bean look-alike got to do with cartooning? Well, as I noted some time ago, one of the first things he did as Secretary of State for Education was to demote art and design and take it OUT of the core curriculum and put it IN to the hobby fringe.

And despite what Brian Sewell thinks, there IS a link between art education and cartooning.

Of course, a lot depends on the quality of the art education on offer. Given that Mr Beangove has already meddled with curriculum content and syllabuses – e.g. lots more Monarchs’ dates and burnt cakes in history – it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he didn’t make the teaching of perspective and Ostwald Colour Theory compulsory in any art and design still remaining in any school’s curriculum.

Shading would become compulsory, as would dividing up the human body into seven segments. And back would sweep still lifes: brown bananas, leathery oranges and putrefying apples. When colouring-in, pupils would have to keep to the lines.

If Michael Gove ever had an opinion about cartoons, they’d have to be clean, crisp and completely devoid of personality – rather like the anodyne niceness presently available as apps.

Thanks to Bill. To see work from people who paid attention in art class, and strictly no anodyne niceness, visit the Procartoonist.org portfolios

Profile photo of Royston

by Royston

Talking truth to power

February 2, 2014 in Events, News

Cartoon © Andy Davey @ Procartoonists.org

Cartoon © Andy Davey @ Procartoonists.org

Andy Davey, PCO member and former editorial cartoonist at The Sun is presenting a talk hosted by the Centre for Journalism at the University of Kent on Wednesday (5 February).

It’s called Truth, Power and … Cartoons: Are political cartoons irrelevant? and is part of a week of presentations on activism, campaigning and politics at the university.

Andy told us: “I’m showing how important, trenchant and powerful cartoons have been in times of yore and comparing with today’s cosy relationship between cartoonists, newspapers and politicians.”

He said the talk will also look at how political cartooning is “a life and death business” in other. less democratic countries.

“I want to make the point that we mainly address the Westminster Village soap opera, regardless of the fact that it has less and less power. Why do the real power brokers – global institutions, banks, funds, world trade organisations etc – escape criticism while we shout at the Westminster puppets on stage?”

He will also look at the changes cartoonists face in the digital age and what their future might be. Andy said he will be “making a plea that cartoons can still be powerful – perhaps when released from editors’ whims”.

The talk, which will be followed by a question and answer session, is at 1pm in room PK008 of the Pilkington Building, in the university’s Medway Campus in Chatham.