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Cartoonist Ralph Steadman comments on topical events

May 7, 2015 in General, News

Cartoonist Ralph Steadman

UK CARTOONIST Ralph Steadman was approached by the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation for permission to allow the Independent to use his cartoon in a forthcoming puff piece for the book Draw The line Here.

His response was hilariously encouraging and enlightening at the same time.


Quick response!!! SCHNELL!! BITTE!!!  Das ist GUT!!!  YAH!!!  Of course you have my permission – and which line would that be???

The Metropolitan Mohammed Line!!?  All this Religious madness is sickening!  And now TEXAS!!!

Although I thought that the Competition to draw Mohammed was a tad provocative……England has a fine tradition of Mockery based cartoons going back to Hogarth, Cruikshank and Gilray, et al….. some folks think that a caricature of themselves is a rude personal insult and do not accept that it is only fun – I have been confronted by such people!  Though no one has yet tried to shoot me!

Warmest regards


PCO Annual Committee Meeting and Chris Beetles Gallery

May 6, 2015 in Events, News

Chris Beetles Cartoon Gallery - Sign

THE OCCASION of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation’s Annual Committee Meeting in London gave rise to the perfect excuse to take advantage of the invite to a Chris Beetles Gallery private viewing.

The Americans Are Coming is a major selling exhibition of 300 cartoons and illustrations showcasing the best of American Cartoon Art from the last 100 years. And what a show it was.

American Cartoons in Chris Beetles Gallery


There was a staggering number of exhibits by legends such as Al Hirschfeld, David Levine, Edward Sorel and Charles Addams just to name a few.

Cartoons by Al Hirschfeld Chris Beetles Gallery

Live, in person, were Arnold Roth, Pat Oliphant and Edward Koren, each of whom were introduced by cartoonist, filmmaker and ex-Python Terry Gilliam. Pat Oliphant was drawing a large Uncle Sam. When asked if he was enjoying working live he said: “It means I don’t have to make conversation!” A further enquiry about what he thought about the current crop of American cartoonists (with the Daryl Cagle network in mind) prompted the dry: “I try not to think about them at all!”

Cartoonist Pat Oliphant drawing


Terry Gilliam made the very heartfelt point about works of art, paintings, sculptures etc being given pride of place in living rooms whereas cartoon art is always traditionally reserved for toilets. A situation of perception that he wished could be changed. “Cartoon Art belongs in the living rooms” he could be paraphrased as saying.

Cartoonist and Python Terry Gilliam

As usual, the hustle and bustle of a private viewing meant that it was difficult to see everything comfortably, so this exhibition is one that definitely deserves repeated visits.

The exhibition, The Americans Are Coming, runs at The Chris Beetles Gallery, 8 – 10 Ryder Street, London SW1Y 6QB, from now until Saturday May 30th.



Draw The Line Here book published!

May 3, 2015 in News

Cartoons for the families of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and in support of free speech

AT LAST, AFTER four months, the fundraising collaboration between The Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation, English Pen and Crowdshed, bears fruit. The book, Draw the Line Here is a collection of cartoons by some of the UK’s best cartoonists in response to the terrorist murders of fellow cartoonists on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Including work by Ralph Steadman, Steve Bell, Martin Rowson and Dave Brown, the book was produced with great help from generous funders who donated their contributions via Crowdshed.

You can BUY IT now, below.

The books cost UK £15.00 each. UK delivery is £2.00 and international delivery is £4.00. Select whether you would like UK or international shipping and click the ‘Buy Now’ button below.



Charlie Hebdo artist Luz will cease to draw Muhammad? Washington Post article

April 30, 2015 in News

“Ann Telnaes and Signe Wilkinson will speak tomorrow at the Library of Congress on the state of political cartooning after the Charlie Hebdo attack. (cartoon by Ann Telnaes/The Washington Post)


“HAND IN HAND with the fierce freedom to draw, of course, comes the freedom to put down your hand and not draw.

“And when it comes to rendering the Islamic prophet Muhammad, the cartoonist Luz says today that he is resting his pen.

“It was Luz, the nom-de-toon of Renald Luzier, who in January drew an “apologetic” Muhammad on the cover of Charlie Hebdo, the week after the attack on the French satirical magazine’s Paris offices. The massacre by Islamic extremists left 12 dead at the site, including five of Luz’s cartooning colleagues . . . ”


Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival 2015

April 20, 2015 in News

AS USUAL, IT seems like a dream now. As with most Cartoon Festivals, they come and go in a flash with so many activities and social get-togethers lubricated by the products of many hostelries that ‘real life’ doesn’t seem real for the first couple of days back home.

The Twelfth Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival (yes – TWELFTH!) went off with its customary sparkle provided by the town’s influx of cartoonists from all over the country. Oh, and one all the way from Australia, Dean Alston, just so that the ‘international’ tag could be legitimized!

The high-quality exhibition at the Bear Steps Gallery was on the theme of ‘Style’ this year and it was probably as loose-fitting a theme as you could get allowing an awful lot of leg-room for cartoony inspiration. Shrewsbury is spoiled by having a unique exhibition like this every year – on display for over a month, not just during the festival weekend.

The Market Square, as always provided a focal point for the public to spot cartoonists and caricaturists at work. The well-established favourites, the Big Boards, were as usual becoming repositories for brilliant works of cartoon art and well-thought out gags. The new concept of ‘cartoon busking’, initially performed by Roger Penwill and Noel Ford and the ‘quick-on-the-draw’ style entertainment of the Cartoon Melodrawma were more ingenious ways of bringing the concept of cartooning memorably under the public gaze. Workshops in both caricaturing and comic strips were on offer, thanks to Terry Anderson and Tim Harries and Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson gave an illustrated talk on his view of the last five years of a coalition government.

As usual, the cartoonists sampled the hospitality of various establishments around the town and left the paper tabelcoths in the Henry Tudor House restaurant liberally spattered with cartoony inspiration.

Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival is probably the longest-running UK cartoon festival ever and its organisers are already meeting to discuss the agenda for the thirteenth one in 2016. Contrary to traditional belief, that’s a lucky number for many people.

A cartoonist’s burden: With talent comes responsibility

April 16, 2015 in News

From the Aljazeera website:

A cartoonist’s burden: With talent comes responsibility

Despite risk of decades-long jail term, Zunar the Malaysian cartoonist vows to carry on cartooning.

Kate Mayberry |  | PoliticsHuman RightsAsia PacificMalaysia


Malaysian political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, or ‘Zunar’ could be jailed for 43 years, but he continues to draw [EPA]

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Zulkiflee Sm Anwar Ulhaque, better known by his pen name of Zunar, is one of Malaysia’s most acerbic and controversial cartoonists, picking apart the government in a country where deference to those in power has long been the norm.

Born in the northern state of Kedah, Zunar found his calling as an artist during the Asian financial crisis when Malaysia was plunged into recession and then-deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim was sacked and jailed on charges of corruption and sodomy.

Publishing in the opposition party newspaper Harakah as well as the online publication Malaysiakini, Zunar was inspired by the work of Thomas Nast on elections and campaigns in the 19th century. He now shares cartoons almost daily on Twitter.

Twice detained under the colonial-era Sedition Act and his latest book seized, Zunar is accused of producing cartoons that are detrimental to public order.

Zunar was formally charged this month with nine counts of sedition. He faces as many as 43 years in prison if found guilty. Out on bail ahead of the trial, he spoke to Al Jazeera about why he continues to draw.


Al Jazeera: You seem to have attracted more sedition charges than anyone else in Malaysia. Why do you carry on cartooning?

Zunar: For me talent is not a gift, it’s a responsibility. In facing a crisis you need to make a stand. You can’t keep quiet or try to be neutral, if neutral means you support an oppressive government.

Malaysia has been governed by the same political party for more than 58 years and people are getting restless.

I am a cartoonist. I use cartoons to push for reform. It’s a duty for me to do that. People say, ‘Why don’t you stop?’ Stop is a choice. Continuing is a choice. But this is not a choice. This is a duty. As an artist, I really think that’s important. The talent is God-sent. The talent is not mine. It is God’s gift and it comes with responsibility.

Al Jazeera: Malaysians are quite creative on social media, but the Sedition Law is now being strengthened. Might some be more afraid now?

Zunar: Some might back off because of fear, we understand that. But there are always others.

The government can catch as many people as they want, but there are always others who will come because in their hearts they’re still not satisfied. The issues haven’t been resolved. Until the government really resolves the fundamental issues facing Malaysia, the retaliation of the people will go on. It won’t stop.

Al Jazeera: But they have introduced some reforms…

Zunar: There is some lipstick. I’m talking about real transformation. You must get to the root of the cause. If someone has cancer you don’t give them a Panadol.


Al Jazeera: You worked – briefly – in the mainstream media in the 1980s and then, in your words, retired. Then the Asian financial crisis and Anwar Ibrahim’s removal came along. How crucial an event was that for you?

Zunar: It was a very important moment for me. It woke me up. I didn’t know Anwar, but for me, you cannot treat people like that.

As a political cartoonist, I said, ‘This is my subject.’ This was the day I was looking for. I started to send my cartoons to Harakah. I started to see a response from the public and people were talking about my cartoons.

I knew it was the right place for me. Harakah gave me the space to express myself. It was like the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle. I felt very satisfied as an artist even though in monetary terms I was getting less compared with my time at Straits Timesand Berita Harian.

But from Harakah, I still felt I needed to go to a different level. The only way was with the internet.

Al Jazeera: It’s hard to imagine now that there was a time before the internet. Do you think people appreciated back then just how important the internet would turn out to be?

Zunar: In Malaysia, Twitter and Facebook are not social media, they’re alternative media. People use it to exchange news and views. The growth is very fast because the situation of press freedom in Malaysia makes that happen. Whereas press freedom is going backwards, people are going forward.

The people’s mindset in this era is totally different than the ’70s and ’80s. They are more critical, more challenging and want to take part in debate. They want to talk about the issues.


Al Jazeera: Obviously here in the cities that’s the case, but you’re from the northern state of Kedah. It’s quite rural. Is social media so important there?

Zunar: We have younger and older generations, we have urban and rural, we have Malay, Chinese, and Indian – in Malaysia it’s always like that, those divides. But I think my cartoons can go beyond that. The older generation might not like to read but they like cartoons.

Al Jazeera: Do you think that’s what worries the government?

Zunar: Why is a cartoon so powerful? Because first of all, it carries a joke. Nowadays people really need a joke. Especially in Malaysia. In Malaysia, laughter is a type of protest. Secondly, cartoons give a quick message and they’re also universal. These are the advantages a cartoon has. It can cross all boundaries.

Al Jazeera: So how do you go about the process of deciding what to draw?

Zunar: It’s not an easy process. Usually something is in my mind. [Zunar sifts through some sheets of paper on his desk.] First I will decide the issue, get every piece of information I can – from the media, the person themselves, maybe from a protest or a rally and after that I make a stand. Only after that will I think about the joke. It’s not the other way around. The joke must be in line with my stand – it cannot contradict.

Al Jazeera: So it’s important for you to have all the facts, right?

Zunar: It’s like this, if I stand on the beach, I can see a ship on the surface, but I don’t want to just look at that. I want to dive in and see what’s beneath. You can understand more of the sea if you dive in.

Of course there’s a risk, but you will understand more. I always have a philosophy, I say why pinch when you can punch? If you do [it] from the surface you only pinch, you don’t punch.


Al Jazeera: There’s obviously a lot of focus on political cartooning now, following the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Can cartoonists sometimes go too far?

Zunar: Let me ask a question, if the Prophet Muhammad were still alive would he have ordered the cartoonists to be killed?

He would not. Prophet Muhammad would never have told us to do that.

You have a right not to agree with the content of the cartoon. Me, as a Muslim, I also don’t agree. But cartoonists have a right to draw what they draw, but sentiment and perspective is very subjective.

I’m the small scale of Charlie Hebdo. I’m being attacked by the Malaysian government. If they don’t agree with my cartoon fine, but don’t use criminal law against me. If you say my cartoons are defamatory, you can sue me. But why use criminal law to put me behind bars before the trial?

When it comes to Charlie Hebdo, it’s also like that. You didn’t give them a chance to explain themselves, you just went and shot them. Deal with it in a civilised manner. If you don’t agree, you can rebut it. It’s just a cartoon. So what?

Source: Al Jazeera

W. Heath Robinson Cartoons Saved for the UK

April 13, 2015 in News

IN A RECENT BBC News report, it was revealed that grants of up to £300,000 have helped stop a large number of works by cartoonist and illustrator William Heath Robinson being sold and potentially broken up.

Robinson was that much loved cartoonist of ridiculously complicated devices for achieving comparatively simple objectives.



From the the BBC News article, which can be seen in its entirety HERE:

“These fantastically wry cartoons represent British humour at its best,” said Carole Souter, the NHMF’s chief executive. “We felt that it was important to keep this collection together for the nation to rediscover and enjoy.”

The collection, which includes rare early sketches and advertising commissions, will be displayed at the new Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner, north west London, when it opens in April 2016.

“We are proud to become custodians of such an exciting collection of works by one of Britain’s best loved artists,” said Geoffrey Beare of the WHRT.

Born in 1872, William Heath Robinson moved to Pinner in 1908. He died in September 1944, aged 72.

More Cartoon News: ISIS, The Beano and Cartoons as ‘Offending Art’

April 3, 2015 in News


(photo courtesy of Department of Defense)

“Ten days ago, the United States dropped a visually head-turning (and -churning) leaflet cartoon over Raqqa, the power center of the Islamic State’s operations, reported several outlets today, including USA Today.

Every so often, critics question the power of a cartoon: In the wake of attacks like that on Charlie Hebdo, how can the dip pen possibly be mightier than the sword?

To return that volley of criticism, perhaps this is how, as reportedly provided by the Military Information Support Operations Command. The Pentagon opts for watercolors over waterboards, and graphite is fired instead of lead.”

Read the full article HERE.

A CAREER IN CARTOONING by Beano Cartoonist Nigel Parkinson

Beano illustrator Nigel Parkinson

“He was still at school when he decided he wanted a career in comics and cartoons, but his family and teachers were not exactly encouraging. There were fears around the job’s precarious nature, and as a career it wasn’t taken seriously. “I remember an aunt saying, ‘being in comics would be nice, but perhaps you could get a proper job, like a fashion designer?’” He was advised to teach, even become a miner, but not a cartoonist.”

Read the article from the Guardian HERE

The Offending Art: Political Cartooning after the Charlie Hebdo Attacks

Philadelphia Daily News cartoonist Signe Wilkinson offered a multiple-choice test in 2010

“The Charlie Hebdo murders, and an attack aimed at Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who had drawn images of the Prophet Muhammad many Muslims considered offensive, a month later in Copenhagen, focused attention on the threat to Western satirists. But political cartoonists around the world are at risk.”

AN IN-DEPTH look at the art of the satirical, viewpoint-changing cartoon from Nieman Reports. It provides a succinct historical and global perspective to the threats against freedoms of speech and cartooning in the wake of the Paris and more recent Copenhagen atrocities.

Full article HERE


Cartoon News Digest . . .

March 20, 2015 in News

THANKS TO THE tireless research by several PCO members, a backlog of worthwhile cartoon news from around the globe appears in the form of links in the members’ forum pages.

It’s more practical, to say nothing of time-saving to sometimes simply re-post the links for public consumption here:

Asterix cartoon raises £100,000 for Charlie Hebdo victimsA panel from the cartoon that was sold in Paris

A comment from The Guardian about their own cartoonist: I may not always agree with cartoonist Steve Bell, but I defend his right to drawSteve Bell's If ...

As part of its 2015 Freedom of Expression awards, Index on Censorship asked cartoonists from around the world to reflect on their own experience of creative liberty – or the lack of it. From The Guardian: Freedom of Expression Awards

David Rowe cartoon

Shropshire Live reports that Shrewsbury’s festivals will literally pass the baton to one another after many of the town’s attractions signed up to a fantastic new initiative. Over the last few years the number of festivals held in Shrewsbury from the spring, throughout the summer and into the autumn has shot up, including the annual Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival. And this year organisers of events big and small will promote each other by the handing over of a ceremonial baton.

Read the full article via at:  Shrewsbury festivals sign up to “pass the baton”The Shrewsbury Festivals Baton is launched in the Square. Bill McCabe from the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival, front left and Karen Higgins from The Big Busk with the Baton, joined by other festival representatives

PCO Cartoonist News: Rupert Besley

March 18, 2015 in General, News

Cartoonist Rupert Besley Live Cartooning

CARTOONIST AND PCO member Rupert Besley has had work widely published over a 30-year career, including in Punch and The Oldie. Many tourists will have found his cartoon cards with their distinctive pen-and-ink style with ink and watercolour washes in seaside resorts around the UK and students will have had some of their text books enlivened by his cartoon illustrations.

As the demands for cartooning have changed over the past few years, he has seen himself ‘performing’ live (above) by illustrating history talks and corporate conference discussions. Rupert’s website is HERE and his PCO portfolio is HERE.