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Riad Sattouf declares “I’m not French, not Syrian…I’m a cartoonist”

March 31, 2016 in General

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The bestselling graphic novelist endured a traumatic childhood in Libya, Syria and France. Then he lost 12 of his colleagues in the Charlie Hebdo slaughter. Now he’s telling his life story frame by frame…

As you’d expect, his nomadic and sometimes painful experiences have shaped the man he is today, informing his notion of what makes a cartoonist: “When you’re an outsider, you observe other people more. I still do this. I’m a watcher. Cartoonists are by definition outsiders: they’re outside literature, art, the establishment.”

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Riad Sattouf’s interview with The Guardian’s Rachel Cooke can be read here.

Thanks to Glenn Marshall.

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Six drawing lessons artist Matt Jones learned from Ronald Searle

March 25, 2016 in General

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Some fascinating insights into the working methods of the master, Ronald Searle, from a man who spent a decade studying and collecting the great man’s art.

Matt Jones, who has developed a reputation of his own as a story artist working in animation, says Searle is often described as “one of the greatest graphic satirists of the twentieth century”. Very few would argue with that description.

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Take the time to click the link to this article on the Cartoon Brew website where Matt Jones’ astute observations are accompanied by a fascinating 1958 short film showing Searle at work. (Note in particular the upside down nib technique!)

Matt Jones’ ‘Ronald Searle’s America’ is available for purchase here.

Thanks to Glenn Marshall.

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What European cartoonists think about the possibility of Britain leaving the EU

March 21, 2016 in General

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The image above is by Lebanese-Swiss cartoonist Chappatte for the International New York Times

Observer cartoonist and children’s laureate Chris Riddell casts his experienced eye over the best the continent has to offer in this roundup of their humorous views on our upcoming referendum and its possible repercussions.

Ten cartoons, including one by Chris Riddell himself, can be viewed here on The Guardian website.

Thanks to Glenn Marshall.

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“Comic Invention” Exhibition opens in Glasgow

March 20, 2016 in General

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A new exhibition at the Hunterian Gallery, University of Glasgow traces the history of the medium and its ties to the city, from 1825′s Glasgow Looking Glass to modern master Frank Quietly.
There are a number of ancillary events all the way up to the Glasgow ComicCon and Festival in the summer.

More information can be found here.

Thanks to Terry Anderson

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PCO Profile: William Rudling

March 17, 2016 in General

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William L M Rudling is a caricaturist, cartoonist, illustrator and designer. He studied at Manchester College of Art and since graduating has exhibited at many galleries, both here and abroad.

His publishing credits include UNICEF, Downbeat Jazz Magazine, USA Start to Play books for children, the Youth Sports Trust and Ravensburger Jigsaws.

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For the last twenty years William has been responsible for the design of panto posters and other publicity material for York Theatre Royal and projects for the English Sports Council and its Welsh counterpart.

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As if all that wasn’t enough, he was one of four finalists in the BBC programme, Material World, ‘So You Want To Be A Scientist?’ 2012 challenge on Radio Four.

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To see more of William’s work visit his PCO portfolio page here.

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The Political Cartoon Gallery and The Daily Telegraph are lining up a celebration

March 8, 2016 in General

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The Political Cartoon Gallery’s next exhibition, ‘On the Right lines: celebrating 50 years of cartoons in the Daily Telegraph’ is to be opened by the world-renowned historian and former Daily Telegraph editor, Sir Max Hastings. The exhibition covers the political scene of the last fifty years since Nick Garland’s first cartoon appeared in March 1966 in the Daily Telegraph.

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The exhibition will be open to the public from Thursday 17 March until Saturday 4 June. It will include original cartoon artwork by all those cartoonists who have worked or still work for the Daily Telegraph, such as Nick Garland, Richard Cole, Mathew Pritchett ‘Matt’, John Jenson (Sunday Telegraph) Patrick Blower, Bob Moran and Christian Adams.

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‘On the Right lines: celebrating 50 years of cartoons in the Daily Telegraph’ opens on Thursday 17 March and runs until Saturday 4 June at The Political Gallery, 16 Lower Richmond Road, Putney, London SW15 1JP

Find out more about The Political Gallery by visiting the website here.

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Not to be missed: William Heath Robinson and Paul Thomas exhibitions at the Chris Beetles Gallery

March 8, 2016 in General

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The Inventive Art of William Heath Robinson

William Heath Robinson (1872-1944) is a household name, renowned for his superbly crafted cartoons and illustrations depicting ingenious and ridiculously over-complicated machines and  inventions. His painstakingly detailed work is a joy to behold and will be on show in ‘The Inventive Art of William Heath Robinson’ from 16th March to 9th April.

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An Unreliable History of Tattoos – Paul Thomas

Opening tomorrow (9th) and running until 19th March are the vivid imaginings of political cartoonist Paul Thomas in ‘An Unreliable History of Tattoos’.

To find out more about these exhibitions visit the Chris Beetles gallery website here.

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A cartoon celebration of International Women’s Day

March 7, 2016 in General

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Image above from comic strip by Seo Kim

In recognition of this calendar event Zainab Akhtar has selected ten cartoonists (including British artist Tula Lotay) to highlight the quality and variety of work being produced by women today.

In the words of the author this celebratory feature focuses on “the work of 10 artists and cartoonists who you may not necessarily have heard of, but are producing an exciting and diverse – in both style and content – range of work of the highest quality.”

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Image above by Tula Lotay

To see their work and learn more about the ten artists visit the A.V. Club website.

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Eldon Dedini: A Life of Cartoons

March 2, 2016 in General

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Eldon Dedini traversed the American cartooning spectrum from Disney to Playboy and all points in between (most notably the New Yorker).

This 2006 documentary details that journey as family, friends, colleagues and the man himself talk about his life and work.

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As you’d expect, Dedini’s Playboy work centred around adult themes so this film is probably not one for the priggish. Often lurid and ribald, and occasionally reflecting the sexist attitudes of the times in which they were drawn, the Playboy cartoons are, however, without doubt, the work of a man who is the master of his medium: beautifully rendered full page, full colour artworks that are invariably funny. And Dedini’s New Yorker cartoons, his craftsmanship undiminished by the smaller sizes or lack of colour, show him to be one of America’s great cartoonists.

This forty four minute film can be viewed at the Top Documentary Films site.

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Burma’s loudspeaker

March 1, 2016 in General

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Burmese cartoonist APK at his home in Yangon, January 2016. (Photo by Mika Schick)

An exclusive report by The Surreal McCoy

Clutching a scrap of paper with an address on it scrawled in Burmese, I got into a taxi in Yangon. We crawled through the mid-afternoon haze of traffic and eventually came to a halt in front of a six-floor walk-up apartment block in one of the city’s inner suburbs. As I stood wondering where to find the doorbell, the cab driver got out of the car and pulled on a long rope hanging down from the top floor (a reminder of the power outages that regularly occur here). A head peered over the balcony and I was told to climb up to the sixth floor, where I was warmly welcomed by one of Burma’s most well-known political cartoonists.

Aw Pi Kyeh (APK) chose his nom de plume because it means ‘loudspeaker’ in Burmese and he likes to shout out loud about the political situation in Burma, also known as Myanmar. His real name is Win Naing and at 56 he has spent most of his adult life drawing cartoons, “not only to criticize… but also to communicate, educate and inform”. During the years of military rule he had around 400 cartoons removed from publications by the PSRD (Press Scrutiny and Registration Division), now defunct since the ending of direct censorship in 2012.

“The government hate me because my pen is a little bit sharp”

Along with his colleagues, APK still treads carefully. Certain issues are off-limits such as religion – Burma has a Buddhist majority and also a small Muslim population, with rising religious tensions. He even rules out drawing anything to do with the National League for Democracy (Aung San Suu Kyi’s party who are about to take over power from the military government) until the changeover is complete. To explain how the rules have changed since the abolition of censorship, APK likes to use a footballing metaphor. Under the previous military governments cartoonists were limited to using a corner kick for their idea and the audience, using their heads, would knock it into the goal past the goalkeeper (censor). With the lifting of censorship cartoonists are now able to kick a penalty but the government still holds the red card, so they must be wary “… and not to kick too high otherwise the audience won’t understand, or too low as the goalkeeper will stop it”.

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APK’s famous ‘soccer shirt’ cartoon from the time of the widely-criticized 2010 election – the player comes off the field to be replaced by another but simply switches shirts, a comment on the generals reinventing themselves as civilian politicians.

Political cartooning has a long history in Burma, Ba Gyan (1902-1953) being a pioneer of the genre. He also produced the country’s first animated short film in 1935 and has the honour of having a street in downtown Yangon named after him. Nowadays, and especially since recently increased internet accessibility, cartoonists of all ages are using social media to get their messages across. With no syndication there is intense competition to get into print, with publications paying $4 – $10 per image. APK estimates there are about 100 professional cartoonists in Burma at present. In fact the day before our meeting there was an announcement that a cartoonists’ union was to be formed and APK was asked to be president. “I’m too busy,” he laughed, “I’m not interested, I only want to draw cartoons!”

Nowadays he spends a lot of time giving talks about comic writing around the country and is heavily involved in campaigning on environmental issues.

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In 2008 Cyclone Nargis caused the loss of more than 138,000 lives in Burma, as well as incurring damage estimated at $10 billion. The Burmese military regime then held a referendum to retain power and APK’s cartoon depicts a man in trousers (a symbol of a military person) carefully righting his chair, a symbol of power) while ignoring the cyclone’s victims.

Of course I asked to see his work desk (reassuringly chaotic) and admired the many treasured books lining the walls in glass cases: including works by Sempé, Edward Gorey and lots of art books and Manga comics collected from his time abroad. (He completed a master’s degree in engineering at Harvard in 2002.) In 1996 he attended a cartoon festival in Ireland where he was astounded at his overseas colleagues’ predilection for beer. He bemoaned the lack of good drawing materials in Burma, especially brush felt tip pens – his predecessors were known to have used boot polish when ink was too expensive.

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“Peace” cartoon © APK

When Aung San Suu Kyi asked artists and writers to a conference last year, APK was invited to represent cartoonists. He warned that the younger artists wanted to leave for foreign countries and that very few could actually make a living from their trade. Even APK, at the peak of his career, has had to supplement his income with graphic design work. He also took lessons in animation from the French graphic novelist Guy Delisle, who published a book The Burma Chronicles in 2009 about his own experiences in the country.

As I was about to leave, APK’s charming wife appeared at the door having lugged several large bags of shopping up six flights of stairs, still smiling. At least the postman doesn’t have that onerous task – the same rope hanging down outside is also used to transport letters and newspapers via a giant bulldog clip. For him, anyway, there’s an upside to the outages.

Discover more information on Burma’s comic and cartoon history here.

You can find Guy Delisle’s Burma Chronicles here.