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Festival set to be fast and funny

March 14, 2014 in Events, General

Music cartoon by Jonesy

Music cartoon © Jonesy @ Procartoonists.org

It’s likely that the participants at the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival will look a little like the guy on the left at the end of this year’s Cartoonists Live day (26 April).

This year the usual two days’ worth of live-drawing events are packed into that one day. The hours have been extended as a result (now 10am-5pm). The organisers promise there will be lots for the public to see and do.

The  cartoon above is by Procartoonists.org member Jonesy and was submitted for this years music-themed exhibition With a Song in My Art.

The Round-up

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

© Jen Sorensen. Click to enlarge

© Jen Sorensen @ Procartoonists.org. Click to enlarge

Kasia Kowalska writes:

Jen Sorensen, cartoonist for the Austin Chronicle and other US papers, has become the first woman to win the coveted Herblock Prize for editorial cartooning.

The annual award was created to recognise editorial cartooning as an essential vehicle for freedom of speech and the right of expression. Meanwhile Emlly Carroll, creator of the horror comic Out of Skinwon the Cartoonist Studio Prize for the best web comic.

Chris Ware, the cartoonist behind Building Stories, talks about the devaluation of drawing in an age dominated by visual images in an interview with Chip Kidd at Salon.com. He says that the schools curriculum in  the US does not allow much time for drawing, a problem echoed in the UK that we have covered on this blog.

Talking of our visual culture, Getty Images has announced that everyone can now use their images online for free. But not everyone is impressed, as Brian Krogsgard explains.

Food cartoon © Berger & Wyse

© Berger & Wyse @ Procartoonists.org

The Guardian cartoonists Joe Berger and Pascal Wyse have an exhibition called Sense of Fun at Creation Fine Arts in Beverley, the East Yorkshire town where Wyse was born. The Hull Daily Mail has more. Meanwhile, Birmingham Museum has announced the opening in May of a must-see exhibition: Marvellous Machines: The Wonderful World of Rowland Emett.

Great news for comic strip aficionados, Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes, has published his first new work in 19 years: it’s this poster for a documentary on the future of comic strips.

On a more sombre note, cartoonists used International Women’s Day last weekend to draw attention to issues that affect women: Alexsandro Palombo focused on domestic violence, Touka Neyestani on the curtailment of women’s rights in Iran, and Damien Glez on violence against women in Africa. Also, an exhibition of cartoons portraying Korean sex slaves during the Second World War goes on display in Seoul.

In Málaga, the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo is celebrating the work of Andrés Rabago, the El País cartoonist known as El Roto. His work has been likened to Goya by the critic Matthew Clayfield.

Finally, the Procartoonists.org member Steve “Brighty” Bright, co-creator of Bananaman, was tickled by this stag night photo that made it to the BBC news site.

Festival details released

March 6, 2014 in Events, General, News

Barry the Shrew, the festival mascot, tunes up © Roger Penwill

Barry the Shrew, the festival mascot, tunes up © Roger Penwill

The Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival takes place next month and more details of the events have been released. 

These include the title of the music-themed exhibition: With a Song in My Art – we are featuring cartoons submitted for the exhibition – and details on the live drawing events and workshops on creating strips,  mini-comics and, er, farting musical instruments. There’s also a talk by the Clare in the Community creator Harry Venning.

Head over to events page of the official festival website for more.

There’s even a fringe exhibition. Artists in Shropshire are invited to take part in a cartoon competition organised by the VAN Gallery to coincide with the festival.

The participating cartoonists are: Rupert Besley, Steve Best, Andrew Birch, Rosie Brookes, Dave Brown, Kate Charlesworth, Jonathan Cusick, Wilbur Dawbarn, Noel Ford, Alex Hughes, Tim Harries, Tim Leatherbarrow, Chichi Parish, Roger Penwill, Helen Pointer, John Roberts, Royston Robertson, Chris Ryder, Cathy Simpson, Rich Skipworth, Bill Stott, The Surreal McCoy, Harry Venning and Gerard Whyman.

Happy members of the public at Shrewsbury Cartoon festival

Happy members of the public at Shrewsbury Cartoon festival @ Procartoonists.org

The writer and broadcaster Libby Purves, a patron of the festival as well as of Procartoonists.org, will also be attending.

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The Lady is for returning …

March 6, 2014 in Events, General, News

 

Steve Nallon as Margaret Thatcher. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Steve Nallon as Margaret Thatcher, watched by Roger Law, right, one of the Spitting Image creators.  Photo © Kasia Kowalska. Click to enlarge

Spitting Image: From Start to Finish was launched in style at the Cartoon Museum in London last week, with an appearance by the late Baroness Thatcher.

Steve Nallon, the actor who voiced the Thatcher puppet in the TV series, brought his most famous creation back to life to open the show (click the link for a short video excerpt, courtesy of Oliver Preston).

The exhibition includes images of the satirical sculptures created by Peter Fluck and Roger Law – or “Luck and Flaw” as they were known – before Spitting Image hit our TV screens 30 years ago last week. They were a regular feature of magazines and newspapers in the 1970s and 1980s.

Heavily featured are preliminary pencil caricatures that were the templates for the show’s puppets. You can see sketches of all the major celebrities of the day alongside the Royal Family and Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet and political opponents.

The show also reunites some of the best-known puppets, including the Queen, Princess Diana, Mr Spock, Alan Bennett, Roy Hattersley (the only Spitting Image puppet regularly seen spitting) and, of course …

Margaret Thatcher puppet. Photo © Hilary Foster

Margaret Thatcher puppet. Photo © Hilary Foster

Procartoonists.org member Simon Ellinas, who was at the opening, told us: “As always with such shows, it’s the preliminary sketches and some complete caricatures that are of great fascination to us cartoonists. The stunning work of David Stoten, Pablo Bach and Tim Watts predominated and some early Fluck and Law models were on show.

“This is a definite date for your diaries for whenever you happen to be in London.”

The exhibition runs until 8 June. All material in the exhibition is © Spitting Image Productions Ltd, Spitting Image Archive

The Round-up

March 3, 2014 in Events, General, Links, News

Handsworth Creative cartoon by Hunt Emerson

© Hunt Emerson/Handsworth Creative cic

Kasia Kowalska writes:

Hunt Emerson, the comics artist and Procartoonists.org member, is helping launch a new project called Handsworth Creative cic.

The “cic” stands for community interest company. The not-for-profit venture is part Lottery-funded and aims to develop creative local history projects by and for the residents of Handsworth, Birmingham. Appropriately, the first product will be a comic, with input from young, aspiring cartoonists, charting the history of the area.

Cartoonists often share work on social networks these days, but Dacs and Own-It emphasise that it’s important to read the small print and have collaborated on an article: Social media: understanding the terms and conditions

What would become of us if we could not grumble? Two familiar PCO names, Andy Davey and Bill Stott, have adopted alter egos in order to let off steam in a new venture titled Men of Letters. There are some rather good cartoons there too, of course.

Bash Street sign

Bash Street becomes reality © The Beano

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of The Bash Street Kids, Dundee has named a street after the notorious Beano characters and has unveiled a unique illustrated sign, above. The Courier has a video of the event.

A different kind of street art can be seen in Newcastle, where a graffiti artist has made a stand against Russia’s “gay propaganda” laws. Meanwhile, Russia has become a focal point for cartoonists in the wake of the crisis in Ukraine, both in Russia and abroad.

A cartoonist in Germany has been accused of anti-Semitism, for depicting Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook as a hook-nosed octopus, after the company acquired WhatsApp. Burkhard Mohr apologised for any offence caused, which he said was unintentional, and provided an alternative cartoon.

Procartoonists.org member Jonathan Pugh is among the nominees for Cartoonist of the Year award at the Press Awards 2013. Other nominees include Peter Brookes, Ingram Pinn, Matt, Chris Riddell and Gerald Scarfe.

In the US, the National Cartoonists Society has published nominations for the 2013 Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year. Bob Mankoff of The New Yorker has more on the difference/overlap between Twitter wisecracks and cartoon captions. Ed Koren, the recently appointed Cartoonist Laureate for Vermont has got stuck in to his new role.

And the award for immortalising the Oscars in cartoon form … goes to Liza Donnelly.

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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.