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by Jonesy

It’s only a cartoon: part one

February 21, 2017 in General

@ Rupert Besley

Rupert Besley writes:

Nobody likes to be kicked about. Or just hurled in the bin. But that’s what cartoonists have to get used to much of the time. Rejection is a major part of the business and always has been. Even the top professionals in established posts have long been required to come up with multiple offerings before one is accepted (by then under pressure and with little time to complete).

What is new is the kicking about. Much of this is in the scramble for life-rafts as the print publication industry drops below the waves. Together, the digital revolution along with the internet should mean a bright new future for cartooning. Cartoons look great onscreen and their quick gags and nutshell analyses are ready-made for social media. But nobody has worked out yet how to make them pay.

In the slow death of newsprint, cartoons are among the first things to go. First marginalised and then kicked out, all too often in ways that offend. The PCO has a growing list of top cartoonists who, having given sterling service in providing ace cartoons without fail over lengthy time-spans (15, 30, even 50 years), have then been shown the door. Not on grounds of quality, simply budget. And the irony is that use of cartoons in publications has been shown to boost sales.

What we’ve seen happen next, more than once, is indefensible. The long-running cartoon disappears from the paper, readers ask why and the editor gives out that the cartoonist has retired. A lie. These are highly skilled pros now seeking new avenues for work.

Cartooning suffers maybe from never quite being accepted on equal terms by Art or Journalism. These are the Ugly Sisters, grabbing all attention at the expense of Cartoons, the scrubber down below. There has always been rivalry for space. Now it’s getting nastier, as the space reduces. Magazines are closing down. Others, that once took many cartoons, now take none. Among those few left in the market are ones that struggle to keep up with the pressure of supply. Submissions pile up for months unanswered, long beyond the shelf-life of the gag. The PCO continues to push (without great success) for dialogue with – and answers from – editors.

Editors tend to keep cartoonists at arms length. That makes it easier to dismiss them, having first characterised them as anti-social oddities who rarely emerge from their holes. The cartoon festivals that flourish (with PCO backing & involvement) at Shrewsbury and Herne Bay (along with Hastings last year) give the lie to this suggestion. Those who come (never editors, not counting PCO patrons) will find cartoonists to be a mixed bunch of ordinary people. Extremely normal (if that’s possible) but with added gifts for crap-detection and humour, observation and graphic ability.

Part two of this article will follow soon. In the meantime you can take a look at Rupert’s PCO portfolio here.

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by Jonesy

A message to the Australian High Commissioner re: Iranian cartoonist’s hunger strike

February 11, 2017 in General

The PCO Chair, Bill Stott, writes:

Bill's image



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by Jonesy

Detained cartoonist ‘Eaten Fish’ on hunger stike

February 6, 2017 in General


© David Rowe

The PCO are sorry to report that the situation on Manus Island has taken a dramatic turn for the worse since our last article on the notorious refugee camp, with news of the beleaguered and desperate artist going on a hunger strike in protest at his treatment.

We received a letter a short while ago from CRNI Executive Director, Dr. Robert Russell, an edited version of which is shown below:

Dear Friends,

It is with quite a bit of urgency that I plead with all of you to send out our story on Eaten Fish to all of your members.

I am also including as an attachment a press release put out by Janet Galbraith who is leading the strategy on helping a number of Manus island inmates. If you have any further questions of course contact her at the email address or phone number in the press release.

Our friend Eaten Fish has gone on a hunger strike, he has given up hope, he has no reserves of energy left to fight back, and unless something is done quickly he will probably expire in the next few days.  We had great hopes at the agreement that President Obama was arranging with the Prime Minister Mr. Turnbull, but this has come to a grinding halt under President Trump.

We look forward to any of your communications with your groups that have to do with the human rights and protection of cartoonists in danger.

Thank you all so much,

Dr. Robert Russell

The press release is also reproduced in its entirety below:


5th February 2017

Failure to transfer Eaten Fish to Australia will lead to another death on Manus Island

Eaten Fish has been on a hunger strike for 6 days now and weighs 48 kilos.  It has been well documented in the press that Eaten Fish suffers from debilitating mental health issues. He has also been the victim of sexual assault, chronic sexual harassment and abuse within Australia’s immigration prison camp on Manus Island for the past 3 and a half years.

Due to his extremely fragile mental health and ongoing sexual harassment, Eaten fish has been held in the Special Supported Accommodation compound [also referred to as VSRA] for the past 8 months.

In a document from PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority dated 29th of January 2017, it is stated that ABF have spoken to Eaten Fish and told him that his allegations of sexual assault and abuse have not been substantiated and that he will be returned to the compound and that PNG ICSA. Worryingly it also states that they will not negotiate with Eaten Fish on any grounds.  It is this that has forced Mr Fish’s actions.

In an urgent letter to Australian Border Force Chief Medical Officer Dr John Brayley dated 2nd February 2017, Dr Sue Ditchfield writes: ‘Bizarelly he [Eaten Fish] was expected to prove the assaults to the satisfaction of PNG authorities.  He was unwilling to identify his assailants because of his fear of retribution and of course any assaults take place well away from the compound guards’.  Further those authorities Eaten Fish was to prove the assaults to were the same authorities who had assaulted him late in 2016.

In a letter to CMO Brayley Janet Galbraith writes: ‘ At the beginning of the hunger strike he [Eaten Fish] only weighed 53 kilos and he has already lost a substantial amount of weight. He reports to me today that he is shaky, weak, has a lot of body pain, no longer feels hunger, is losing his memory and his heart is beating fast.  He says he can no longer shower.’

‘I cannot suffer anymore.  I know now that I will have to die because I cannot suffer anymore’, Mr Fish told Ms Galbraith.

When asked by authorities within the prison camp what he wished to accomplish through his hunger strike Mr Fish said: ‘Something happens with hunger strike and I think you know what that is.  I will die and this will all finish’.

Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) write: ‘It is with profound alarm and sadness that [we] learn that our friend and colleague, cartoonist Mr. Eaten Fish, currently held in an Australian refugee rendition camp in Papua New Guinea has decided to undertake a hunger strike… He is a man who has given up hope, cannot struggle any longer, cannot face the future that is being forced on him, and he would rather die than submit to the indignities of further inhuman treatment.’

The Australian government has been petitioned many times both from within Australia and internationally asking that Eaten Fish be brought to Australia for medical treatment.

Dr Ditchfield says, ‘I urge you to be pro-active in transferring this critically ill young man to Australia.  I have no doubt that failure to do this will lead to yet another death of an Asylum Seeker on Manus Island’.

Contact Janet Galbraith

+61 448 370 918 /

The PCO urges the powers that be to ensure that humanity prevails and a senseless loss of life is avoided.


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by Jonesy

Separated by an ocean, united in common purpose

February 6, 2017 in General

Schrank Course72

© Peter Schrank

Cartooning in the current political climate is certainly never dull as the views of two cartoonists, both of them brilliant, will testify.

Peter Schrank and David Sipress ply their trade on opposite sides of the Atlantic but share a common aim: holding politicians to account. Whilst Peter is an experienced, award winning political cartoonist, David is better known for his wonderful gag cartoons in The New Yorker and this possibly goes some way to explaining their different takes on the job.

Swiss born Peter Schrank concentrates on the creative stimuli the likes of Trump, Putin et al can provide, and the sheer fun to be had drawing these political figures. At the same time as acknowledging the joys of the job, the award winning political cartoonist feels a moral obligation is required in this line of work too.

Read Peter Schrank’s article, “The Cartoonist’s Dilemma”, on the E!Sharp website.


© David Sipress / The New Yorker

New Yorker cartoonist David Sipress takes a darker view, the result of a “tour of duty” in the esteemed publication’s topical slot, the Daily Cartoon. He is more concerned about the mental toll political cartooning can inflict upon the artist.

His views can be read in this article on The New Yorker website.


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by Jonesy

PCO cartoonists’ Heath Robinson Museum fundraising endeavours prove surprisingly uncomplicated

February 3, 2017 in General



© Chris Madden

Our members donated their cartoons for the museum to sell via the world renowned auction house, Sotheby’s.


And, as far as we know, no weird contraptions involving pulleys and levers were used in the raising of said funds. The only stipulation was that the cartoons had to follow the theme “If Heath Robinson was alive today” and, from the bleak to the fantastical, some of the interpretations are shown here.


© Ken Pyne

heath rob (lose this)139 copy

© Jonesy Cartoons

These words, taken from the Heath Robinson Museum website, best describe its purpose:

“The Heath Robinson Museum is for students of illustration, lovers of landscape paintings, advertising enthusiasts and academics, dads building contraptions in sheds, believers in fairies, children with time to dream, couples stuck in tiny flats, people who put holes in cheese, artificial teeth testers and anyone who’s ever held something together with a bit of string.”


© Rupert Besley


© Chris Madden


The Heath Robinson Museum

heath rob (brexit)135 copy

© Jonesy Cartoons


© Dave Walker

You can learn more about this wonderfully inventive artist and view original artwork with books, photographs, film and digital media, all now permanently housed in a venue befitting of such a talent, by visiting the museum in Pinner, Middlesex. The full address is:

Heath Robinson Museum
Pinner Memorial Park
50 West End Lane
Pinner HA5 1AE

The website can be viewed here.

The Heath Robinson Museum auction has been taken down from the Sotheby’s website but you can still pay a visit here to check the progress of that “must have” Ming vase…

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by Jonesy

Video reveals post US election plight of Manus Island refugees

February 3, 2017 in General


Image shown not from video

The Blog has visited the Manus Island story before, focussing on the cartoonist “Eaten Fish” (see below), hence our appreciation to Malie Russell, a director of First Book*, for drawing the PCO’s attention to a video on The New York Times’ website which can be viewed via this link.

Although it only runs for just under two and a half minutes in length, this film by Megan Specia and Yara Bishara conveys the increasing distress of refugees in the Australian run detention camp caused by the uncertainty of their situation following the election of Donald Trump.

Australia had an agreement with the previous Barack Obama led administration that would have seen many of the refugees – most of whom are from Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq – relocated to the United States. A phone call between Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, however, has resulted in doubts being cast as to whether this resettlement deal will be honoured by the new President. Trump allegedly cut the conversation short and later tweeted that he would “study this dumb deal”.

You can read more about Manus Island and the trying circumstances of cartoonist Eaten Fish’s internment in a previous Blog article here

*First Book is a non-profit social enterprise providing education essentials to children in need. Visit their website here.


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by Jonesy

Recognition for PCO duo’s efforts in support of Atena Farghadani

January 31, 2017 in General


© Steve Bright

Rupert Besley writes:

As is well known, the French take caricature and cartooning rather more seriously than we tend to here. Each year since the early 1990s, academics at the University of West Brittany, through EIRIS (l’Equipe Interdisciplinaire de Recherche sur l’Image Satirique), have published ‘Ridiculosa’, a weighty (300-plus pages) review carrying learned articles on the uses of caricature past and present.

This year’s volume contains a 23-page piece by Margarethe Potocki looking into the range of cartoons created in the wake of Atena Farghadani’s arrest in Iran. I’m pleased to report that this includes a page each on contributions from two PCO members, Steve Bright and, er, myself.

More importantly, having been sentenced to 12 years in prison, Atena was released last May after 18 months. But at considerable cost to herself. As this from Amnesty International makes clear.

The cartoonist should never have been imprisoned in the first place and was badly maltreated and abused. She had a virginity test forced upon her (shaking hands with her male lawyer was deemed a sexual act and further crime) and suffered a heart attack in consequence of hunger strike. Her release came with a 3-year suspended sentence, the Iranian regime’s way of silencing critics.

While Steve and I doubt whether our own drawings can have made any possible difference, the whole unhappy saga (Atena’s offence was to draw politicians as goats) must give anyone cause to think hard about any involvement with the state-sponsored Iranian House of Cartoon.


© Rupert Besley

Steve Bright writes:

Yes, it was great to hear of Atena’s release (even with strings), but she should obviously never have been imprisoned in the first place, and it’s a sobering reminder that some of the freedoms we all take for granted are, depending on your geography, very real dangers involving acts of tremendous courage. I hope and pray she never has to go through anything like that again in her lifetime, and that she can find a place to create meaningful art without fear.

Contributing to the campaign for her release through our own cartoons was, by comparison, a very easy decision and simple process. Small beer. As Rupert says, we’ll never know whether our drawings helped (it did cross my mind that they may even hinder, if the authorities dug their heels in against the protests from afar), but even if it only helped us, to know we’d done something to show support against this repugnant injustice, and others like it, then it was well worth the doing. Anything more than that would be a bonus.

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by Jonesy

Andy Davey: ‘toons ‘n’ tunes

January 30, 2017 in General


© Andy Davey

The PCO member and political cartoonist par excellence sheds light on the dark arts of his particular craft whilst sharing some of his favourite music on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s Sunday Supplement.

As you’d expect Andy proves an astute advocate for cartooning, helped enormously by a genuinely interested and intelligent interviewer, Nick Conrad.


© Andy Davey

His choice in music is pretty much on the mark too – Little Walter on daytime radio? Joy! – so do yourself a favour, set aside an hour of your time and spend it in the company of Andy Davey and Nick Conrad.

You can listen to the interview here but only for the next twenty eight days.


The man himself © Andy Davey


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by Jonesy

PCO leaves FECO

January 25, 2017 in General


The reason for tendering our resignation:

After a great deal of thought by the PCO Committee and through consulting our members, PCO [UK] has decided to leave FECO forthwith.

This is a very sad decision, but has been brought about by FECO’s involvement with a Holocaust themed cartoon contest offered by the Iran House of Cartoon, known Holocaust deniers.

PCO cannot allow itself to be associated in any way with holocaust denial.

Perhaps, looking into the future, when FECO reorganises so that it is no longer associated in any way with holocaust denial PCO might apply to re-join.  In the meantime PCO intends to maintain good relations with individual cartoonists’ organisations such as France-Cartoon, formerly FECO France. But as of now we do not consider ourselves a member of FECO.

Sincerely, and with regret,

Bill Stott, Chair, PCO [UK]

For and on behalf of ;
The Surreal McCoy
Rupert Besley
Andrew Birch
Steve Jones
Jeremy Banx
Glenn Marshall

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by Jonesy

Two years on from Charlie Hebdo…

January 8, 2017 in General


On the second anniversary of the atrocity, several organisations (see logos above) have combined forces to present a tribute to persecuted cartoonists.

Although it undoubtedly makes for a sobering read, the continuing courage and unwavering commitment of these cartoonists to do what’s right is both humbling and uplifting.

We have included some of their work below and a link to the full tribute on the CRNI website can be found here.

Many thanks to PCO member and CRNI representative Terry Anderson for feeding this to the Blog.


© Tahar Djehiche


© Zunar


© Rayma Suprani


© Jabeur Mejri


© Musa Kart