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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.

Special report: 50 years of cartoons in Private Eye

September 27, 2013 in Events, General, News

Left to right: Nick Newman, Ian Hislop and Richard Ingrams

Fans of Private Eye cartoons were in for a treat this week, as editor Ian Hislop and cartoonist Nick Newman took to the stage for two separate events looking back over 50 years of visual humour in the magazine – where they picked out a few favourite gags and discussed the challenge of selecting the cartoons that make it into the magazine.

Monday night saw the pair speak to a packed auditorium at the National Theatre on London’s South Bank. On Thursday, they were joined for their appearance at the Soho Literary Festival by Richard Ingrams, Hislop’s predecessor at the Eye and now editor of The Oldie.

The talks were scheduled to coincide with the launch of Private Eye: A Cartoon History, a handsome new hardback book edited by Newman and containing more than 1000 of the best cartoons published by the magazine over the last five decades. Ingrams was promoting his latest collection of Oldie cartoons, also published this month.

© Ed McLachlan @Procartoonists.org

Hislop and Newman began their National Theatre talk by looking back at some of the Eye cartoons that have gone on to become classics, including drawings by Willie Rushton, Martin Honeysett, Michael Heath, John Kent and Ed McLachlan (above). They observed that cartoons became increasingly surreal and absurd during the 1970s – with the giant hedgehog being a case in point – and Newman noted that many of the best political cartoons have not made it into his book because their impact has been lost over time.

Libby Purves, the journalist, broadcaster and Procartoonists.org patron, was on hand to steer the conversation. She pointed out that there still seems to be life in cartoonist cliches such as the desert island and the suicidal man-on-ledge. Hislop agreed, observing that “Private Eye is nothing if not repeated jokes with slight twists.” He referred to two recent psychiatrist’s couch gags, both by Procartoonists.org member Royston Robertson, which played with the formula and made it into the magazine.

More generally, Hislop praised gag cartoonists for their ability to distil their observations of the world around them into pithy and memorable scenes. “They’ve observed it, frozen it, and made it more or less permanent,” he said.

© Alexander Matthews @Procartoonists.org

The issue of ‘bad taste’ was raised when a cartoon by PCOer Alexander Matthews (above) was met by explosive laughter – and some gasps. Purves asked where Hislop draws the line when it comes to offending his readership.

“I always have to be able to justify it – to myself, if to no one else,” said Hislop. “And sometimes there are things that might offend people, but that you think just have to be said. We got a lot of complaints about this cartoon, but I just thought it was incredibly funny.”

Newman explained to the crowd that a cartoonist’s life can be defined by whether he or she is able to cope with having most of their work rejected on a regular basis. He also agreed with Purves’ observation that there are fewer high-profile markets for cartoons these days, following the demise of Punch and with newspapers not currently running standalone gags.

Hislop said that “without Matt, The Telegraph would be in real trouble”, and argued that readers would welcome non-topical joke cartoons in the newspapers. “Editors are missing a trick; cartoons are not expensive,” he said, turning to Newman with a threatening grin before adding: “and they’re getting cheaper next week!”. We hope he was joking.

***

“I’ve got a much smaller book, but it’s also a lot cheaper,” said a deadpan Ingrams of his Oldie paperback collection, when he joined the others on stage at the Soho Theatre on Thursday. “Nick’s book is terribly good, but you can’t take it into the toilet – my book you can.”

The presence of Ingrams at this second talk meant more anecdotes about the 1960s satire boom – for example that it was Willie Rushton who persuaded Gerald Scarfe to stop drawing desert island gags and have a go at caricature.

But Ingrams was also keen to talk about the current crop of cartoonists, and his slideshow of gags from the Oldie book included one or two from younger talents, among them the cartoon below by Procartoonists.org member Huw Aaron.

© Huw Aaron @Procartoonists.org

Hislop explained that the sheer number of cartoons flooding in to the Eye means he is required to make quick decisions over what to publish.

“When I choose cartoons, I think ‘is that funny?’, rather than ‘is it beautifully drawn?’,” said Hislop. Ingrams agreed, but added that the drawing itself should be amusing, not simply the idea behind it.

“Cartoonists don’t realise that they’re probably the most important part of a magazine,” said Ingrams, citing a recent readership survey in which roughly 80% said that cartoons were their favourite part of The Oldie.

Both talks were packed and the audiences were extremely appreciative, filling the room with laughter at pretty much every cartoon shown – and with several jokes even eliciting a round of applause.

***

Also this week, Private Eye launched Newman’s book with a party at Kettner’s in Soho attended by Eye staff and dozens of the magazine’s cartoonists. A great night was had by all and it was an excellent opportunity for the cartoonists to mingle and swap stories.

Private Eye cartoonists at the book launch party © Philippa Gedge

More images from the party, by photographer Philippa Gedge, can be seen here. Head over to the BBC for a slideshow of selected cartoons from the new book.

On behalf of its members, Procartoonists.org would like to thank Private Eye and offer a toast to the next 50 years.

 

The Round-up

August 16, 2013 in Events, General, Links, News

Royston's previous talk at Summer Squall 2010

Procartoonists.org writer Royston Robertson will be giving a talk about cartoons on Bank Holiday Monday (26 August) at the Kings Theatre in Ramsgate, as part of the town’s Summer Squall arts festival. The talk begins at 11am and is completely free to attend. Royston will be showing a selection of his published cartoons and talking about the process behind producing a gag cartoon for publication. This will be his second talk for the festival, with his debut in 2010 having been very popular with the public.

Cootehill International Cartoon Festival takes place in County Cavan, Ireland, over the weekend of 14-15 September.  The event will feature workshops, exhibitions and live drawing, and Hunt Emerson, Tim Leatherbarrow and Graeme Keyes are among the cartoonists taking part. Check the festival’s Facebook page for updates.

AFP.com talks to Kash, a political cartoonist who has made a career out of finding humour in the political and social troubles in his native Democratic Republic of Congo. Read the interview here. You can also see Kash draw and hear him talk about his work in this video.

And finally, PCOer Alexander Matthews gives us a behind-the-scenes look at how he arrived at his take on Ball Boy for The Beano.

The Round-up

August 11, 2013 in Events, General, Links, News

 

© Kipper Williams @Procartoonists.org

Above: with the Duchamp in Herne Bay festivities now behind us, there’s just room for this cartoon by Kipper Williams – featuring the names of participating cartoonists, many of whom are among our membership. The original is hanging in a gallery space in the Kent seaside town, as part of an exhibition of art cartoons to tie in with the celebrations.

Alexander Matthews, a cartoonist for The Beano and member of Procartoonists.org, has started a campaign to improve the quality of children’s comics by making them more reliant on great content and less on cover-mounted freebies. He is suggesting a change to the way in which free gifts are treated under VAT rules, and is seeking support for the campaign – which he believes would benefit comic fans and cash-strapped parents alike. Read more on Alex’s blog.

Another PCO member, Tony Husband, has had cartoons about his father’s dementia tweeted to millions, courtesy of Stephen Fry. See the cartoons here, here and here. Fry also wrote the introduction for I Nearly Died Laughing, a collection of Tony’s gag cartoons that was published last year.

Looking ahead to October, Sue Grayson Ford of The Campaign for Drawing writes about what to expect from this year’s Big Draw, and how to take part.

In an interview for Truthout, political cartoonist Matt Bors discusses his influences, the dangers of on-spec work, and the value of comics journalism. Read it here.

And finally, The New Yorker’s Bob Mankoff looks at what is often considered to be one of the hardest forms of cartoon to master: the captionless gag.

The Round-up

January 11, 2013 in General, Links, News

Lord Snooty by Alexander Matthews for The Beano @Procartoonists.org

Procartoonists.org member Alexander Matthews has resurrected Lord Snooty for The Beano (above), and writes about his approach to the character on his blog. Snooty has been absent from the comic for a while (and was even replaced by his grandson for a time). Alex has also recently brought his distinctive style to another classic Beano character, Baby-Face Finlayson.

In more DC Thomson news, former Dandy editor Morris Heggie will be giving a talk about the comic’s 75 years at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh on 15 January. The talk, which follows a cartoon workshop for adults held on Wednesday, complements the library’s ongoing Dandy exhibition. Read more here.

Reassuring news (at least, reasonably reassuring)  for gag cartoonists came from Reader’s Digest (UK) this week, after mass redundancies painted a bleak picture. While the company – which was bought out of administration in 2010 – is downsizing and will no longer sell retail goods, it apparently intends to continue publishing the monthly magazine as normal. Read the story here.

Axe Cop, the bizarre webcomic created by a five-year-old boy and illustrated by his cartoonist older brother, has been made into an animated TV show. Watch a clip here.

And finally, click here to be taken on a brief tour of The Certified Hunt Emerson, an iPad app featuring more than 200 pages of work by the renowned underground cartoonist (and Procartoonists.org member).

 

 

The Round-up

October 7, 2012 in General, Links, News

Above: the US editorial cartoonist Jeff Danziger talks about his work (thanks to Mike Lynch for the video).

Alexander Matthews, the Procartoonists.org member whose work appears in The Dandy, Private Eye and The Phoenix among others, writes on his blog about what he sees as the key ingredients for writing a funny kids’ comic strip. Read the post here.

A new exhibition at the Jewish Military Museum in Hendon features political cartoons by Jewish cartoonists dating back to the 17th Century. Read more about Cartoons At War here. (Thanks to The Surreal McCoy for the link.)

Finally, the Syrian cartoonist Juan Zero tells Al Jazeera his work has become bolder since the conflict began in his country, and discusses the power of cartoons as protest.

The Round-up

August 19, 2012 in General, Links, News

© DC Thomson

The Dandy has received a huge amount of media interest since our post earlier this week about the comic’s struggle for survival, and sadly it has now been announced the last print edition will be published in December.

Judge Dredd co-creator John Wagner has paid tribute to the comic, and the Dandy cartoonists Jamie Smart, Lew Stringer and Procartoonists.org member Alexander Matthews have all said their piece in support of the comic, which will continue online. In a report for the BBC, Anita O’Brien, curator at The Cartoon Museum in London, points out that this does not signal the demise of comics as a format.

In happier Dandy-related news, publisher DC Thomson has teamed up with the University of Dundee to launch a competition asking cartoonists to revamp one of the comic’s old characters. Read more here.

Cartoonist Joe Sacco talks about the inevitable impact of subjectivity and morality on his war reportage, while a thought-provoking article considers the importance of truth and honesty in autobiographical comics.

Finally, Matt Pritchett, the celebrated pocket cartoonist for The Telegraph, tells the paper about how his experience of the housing market has inspired some of his pithiest cartoons.

The Round-Up

June 1, 2012 in General, Links, News

© Alexander Matthews and Wilbur Dawbarn / The Phoenix

Alexander Matthews and Wilbur Dawbarn, both Procartoonists.org members and known for gag cartoons as well as comic strips, are collaborating on “Useleus”, a new series for the weekly comic The Phoenix. Alex writes the strip, while Wilbur provides the artwork, above. The strip will tell the story of “by far the most rubbishest warrior in all of Ancient Greece”. You can find out more here. Meanwhile, Alex is also working on a new strip for the Dandy, called “Grrrls!”, as alluded to on his blog.

Vanity Fair conducts an interview with Bob Mankoff, cartoon editor of The New Yorker, about that most prevalent of cartoon cliches:  the desert island.

Tom Richmond, cartoonist for MAD Magazine, has been awarded the top honour of Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year at the Reuben Awards. Read more here.

And finally, don’t make him angry, it’s his birthday. Time magazine looks back at 50 years of the Incredible Hulk in this slideshow.

 

Avatar of Royston

by Royston

Cartoons kick over the statues at V&A

October 19, 2011 in Events

Private Eye: The First 50 Years

After much media hoopla, Private Eye: The First 50 Years opened at the Victoria & Albert museum in South Kensington, London, yesterday. The exhibition will run until January 8.

The free exhibition explores the wealth of artistic talent that the magazine has showcased since 1961 and features original artwork for some of the funniest Private Eye cartoons.

Cartoonist Nathan Ariss attended the private view. He writes:

“According to one insider it was ‘the most fun’ the reverent halls had witnessed in decades. Yes, the PE PV at the V&A was AOK, and deemed a rather fine night indeed.

“A [insert collective noun here] of cartoonists were interspersed with some serious marble statues and seriously well-off people and then somewhat embarrassed by a warm and gracious speech from the Editor, [Is this guy after an OBN? – Ed], Ian Hislop, who paid full tribute to the importance that cartoons have played in the magazine’s success.

“I imagine the exhibition will be equally as enjoyable as all the sparkling repartee and champagne on the night itself, but I’m afraid I became somewhat tired and emoticon as the night wore on. Thankfully the exhibition is still on until the new year.”

National Association of Builders Convention by Ken Pyne

National Association of Builders Convention by Ken Pyne

Many cartoonists started their careers at the magazine, and they can be seen in this show, including Gerald Scarfe, Ralph Steadman, Willie Rushton, Barry Fantoni, Nick Newman and Michael Heath

There are lots of cartoons in the show by members of the PCO, which runs the Bloghorn, such as Andrew Birch, Wilbur Dawbarn, Neil Dishington, Pete Dredge, Len Hawkins, Martin Honeysett, Tony Husband, Ed McLachlan, Alexander Matthews, Ken Pyne, above, Royston Robertson, Mike Turner, and the PCO patron Bill Tidy.
Private Eye editor's office

The cartoons are in themed sections, on politics, royalty and social observation. There are single-panel cartoons, long-running strips and caricatures.

Hislop has chosen 50 of the best front covers, one from every year the magazine has been published. The exhibition also evokes the atmosphere of the magazine’s Soho office, with a recreation of the Editor’s desk, right, and a messy production table.

Here’s a round-up of some of the many Private Eye: The First 50 Years features you can currently see on the net:

A behind the scenes look at the production of the Eye, including a video of how a Ken Pyne cartoon progresses from idea to page, can be seen on the V&A site.

The Private Eye blog has a piece on putting the exhibition together.

Fifty years of Private Eye as seen by The Wall Street Journal

… and by Creative Review.

Ian Hislop takes the BBC’s Will Gompertz on a tour of the exhibition. The site also has political leaders and pundits giving their views of Private Eye

And finally, to coincide with the 50th celebrations, the Chris Beetles Gallery has an online exhibition selling artwork by Private Eye cartoonists.

The Dandy relaunches (again)

October 20, 2010 in News

The Dandy, Britain’s longest running comic, published by DC Thomson, is due to relaunch next week with a new look.

Not much has been made public about the makeover, but the current unpopular fortnightly magazine-style incarnation,  Dandy Xtreme, is expected to be ditched in favour of a return to a weekly comic almost entirely composed of cartoons and strips.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that there’ll be new strips by Beano and Viz cartoonist Lew Stringer (but not, apparently, called ‘Blurp’), newcomer Andy Fenton and the PCO’s very own Alexander Matthews, alongside current favourites Cuddles and Dimples by Nigel Parkinson and Desperate Dan by Jamie Smart, who also drew the new logo, above.

The Dandy‘s website, www.dandy.com, is also expected to be revamped, and you can follow developments on its Twitter stream as well. The new-look Dandy goes on sale on 27th October at the new price of £1.50.