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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.

The Round-up

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

Kasia Kowalska writes:

Dave Walker, a Procartoonists member, talks about what makes him tick in a short film by Michal Dzierza, above, called Being A Cartoonist.

If you like to know what makes other people tick, a new exhibition celebrating the life and work of Mel Calman has opened at the Freud Museum in Hampstead, London. Titled Calman meets Freud, it explores the much-loved cartoonist’s interest in psychiatry and mental health.

Andy Davey has put his recent lecture on the future of political cartooning, which we previewed here, on his website “in windbaggy blog form” (his words, not ours).

Though they may not always admit it, cartoonists are often inspired by other cartoonists. Michael Maslin wanted to know what cartoon collections inspired his colleagues at The New Yorker. He calls these collections “Cartoon Bibles”.

scott adams book

Passion – even for cartoons – is not everything: Scott Adams, the man behind Dilbert, ponders the virtues of failure in this video interview. He has succeeded in writing a book about failure, above.

Sometimes even the most creative ventures fail, as the DrawQuest founder Chris Poole found out.

Yet some cartoons are destined for success. It has been 25 years since The Simpsons broke the mould and made social satire a household name. To celebrate, Lego has teamed up with Fox to re-create them as its iconic figures. Keeping with the celebratory spirit, the cartoonist and animator David Silverman has published early Simpsons drawings on Twitter.

Bill Watterson made the news by winning the Grand Prix at 41st Angouleme Festival in France for his timeless strip Calvin and Hobbes. Also, the 30th Aydın Doğan International Cartoon Competition in Turkey announced its winners, with the top prize going to a Polish cartoonist, Krzysztof Grzondziel.

One cartoonist who may be certain that such recognition will not present itself in his own country is Bonil of Ecuador. Following a press watchdog’s ruling that he had insulted Rafael Correa, the president, the newspaper El Universo was forced to publish a suitable “correction” from the cartoonist.

Avatar of Royston

by Royston

Talking truth to power

February 2, 2014 in Events, News

Cartoon © Andy Davey @ Procartoonists.org

Cartoon © Andy Davey @ Procartoonists.org

Andy Davey, PCO member and former editorial cartoonist at The Sun is presenting a talk hosted by the Centre for Journalism at the University of Kent on Wednesday (5 February).

It’s called Truth, Power and … Cartoons: Are political cartoons irrelevant? and is part of a week of presentations on activism, campaigning and politics at the university.

Andy told us: “I’m showing how important, trenchant and powerful cartoons have been in times of yore and comparing with today’s cosy relationship between cartoonists, newspapers and politicians.”

He said the talk will also look at how political cartooning is “a life and death business” in other. less democratic countries.

“I want to make the point that we mainly address the Westminster Village soap opera, regardless of the fact that it has less and less power. Why do the real power brokers – global institutions, banks, funds, world trade organisations etc – escape criticism while we shout at the Westminster puppets on stage?”

He will also look at the changes cartoonists face in the digital age and what their future might be. Andy said he will be “making a plea that cartoons can still be powerful – perhaps when released from editors’ whims”.

The talk, which will be followed by a question and answer session, is at 1pm in room PK008 of the Pilkington Building, in the university’s Medway Campus in Chatham.

Politics and plebs at awards bash

December 6, 2013 in Events, News

Andrew Mitchell presents Steve Bell with the Political Cartoon of the Year award. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Andrew Mitchell MP presents Steve Bell with the cartoon of the year award. Photo © Kasia Kowalska @ Procartoonists.org

Kasia Kowalska writes:

The annual Political Cartoon of the Year Awards, hosted by the Ellwood Atfield Gallery, in Smith Square, Westminster, were full to the brim with guests and cartoonists alike.

You didn’t have to move far to rub shoulders with the elite of political cartooning in Britain today – most of the nominees, from Christian Adams to Ingram Pinn, Bob Moran to Martin Rowson, were there.

In his welcoming speech, Dr Tim Benson of the Political Cartoon Society, thanked the organisers and said: “We do not lead the world in many things, but we certainly have always led the world with regard to political cartoons.”

Following the introduction of online voting for the Political Cartoon of the Year for the first time, he hinted that, in the future, members of the public would also be able to vote for the Political Cartoonist of the Year.

This year’s awards were presented by the Rt. Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, the former Chief Whip, who has found himself at the sharp end of many a cartoonist’s pen over the past year, during the Plebgate scandal. In spite of this, he admitted that he could not resist accepting the invitation, as he is an enthusiastic collector of political cartoons.

He did not resist giving the gathered cartoonists a taste of their own medicine by reflecting on the unique relationship between politicians and cartoonists as he recalled a recent interview by the head of the Israeli intelligence service who said “he didn’t like politicians because they tended to leave their wounded on the battlefield”.

He added: “It struck me that that’s basically what politicians may do … and then cartoonists come along and finish them off.” He stressed that it is, nonetheless, an enduring relationship.

Steve Bell Margaret Thatcher cartoon

Political Cartoon of the Year © Steve Bell @ Procartoonists.org

Steve Bell was announced the winner of the coveted Gillray Cup for Political Cartoon of the Year for his portrayal of Margaret Thatcher, above, with Andy Davey as the runner up. Morten Morland was named 2013 Political Cartoonist of the Year.

Upon accepting the award from Mr Mitchell, Steve Bell said: “it’s a great honour to get the Gillray goblet, it’s the one to win, that’s for sure.”

Andy Davey accepts his award, flanked by Andrew Mitchell and Tim Benson

Andy Davey accepts his award, flanked by Andrew Mitchell and Tim Benson. Photo © Kasia Kowalska @ Procartoonists.org

The acceptance speech by Andy Davey, who was recently let go in cuts at The Sun, was greeted with a cheer when he addressed the room by saying: “Either you lot are masters of paradox and satire or you’re a bunch of plebs.”

Morten Morland said that he was “as surprised as everyone else and very glad to win the Low Trophy”.

Political Cartoonist of the Year Morten Morland, with the cartoon collector Geoffrey Buchler

Political Cartoonist of the Year Morten Morland, with the cartoon collector Geoffrey Buchler. Photo © Kasia Kowalska @ Procartoonists.org

The exhibition of the political cartoons will run at the Ellwood Atfield Gallery until 23 December.

Many thanks to Kasia for the report and photographs. You can follow Kasia on Twitter: @katyrosesmith

Opinion: Cartoonists and a new world

November 19, 2013 in Comment, General, News

You are here © Roger_Penwill_@_procartoonists.org

© Roger Penwill @ Procartoonists.org

The internet is a perfect medium for cartoons. Images can look much more striking on a backlit screen than they ever did in muddy print.

So the news that The Sun was dropping Andy Davey’s weekday editorial cartoon slot just as it finally attempted a serious transition to digital first publication is ironic.

I am a member of an endangered species … the cartoonists. In fact, my small colony is a sub-sub-species – the few who actually (well, as I write) make a living from the practice. The fact is that habitat change is threatening us.”
Andy Davey in an article for E!Sharp magazine

(In a fitting footnote, E!Sharp magazine moved from print to digital with the loss of Davey’s regular cover illustration).

Newspapers have been shedding journalists, photographers and cartoonists by the hundredweight over the past few years, as their print revenues have shrivelled. Few papers have managed the transition to digital presence while finding an alternative online revenue stream.

Obfuscation about their digital revenue clouds the facts but the basic problem of converting casual digital readers into paying subscribers remains.

© Ger Whyman at Procartoonists.org

© Ger Whyman @ Procartoonists.org

Publishing companies have tried two basic strategies. News UK papers The Times and The Sun are now both largely behind subscriber paywalls, amid huge tidal waves of PR and free giveaways. This was a a principled decision (nobody should work for nothing) but a rather brave one in a world where news and information is now free, instant and ubiquitous. The results are presently understood to be mixed.

The other model is the new-media idea that you give away your content and hope that spin-off merchandising and advertising revenue will flood in on the back of your increased global readership. Online services can be developed for a motivated and loyal crowd of customers.

© Dave Chisholm @procartoonists.org

© Dave Chisholm @ Procartoonists.org

The Guardian has attempted to make itself into the best upmarket liberal global news brand in this fashion. The Daily Mail has morphed silently into a sort of daily global Hello! magazine, titillating the masses with its “Sidebar of Shame”, in the process becoming the most widely read digital newspaper worldwide.

Significantly, neither of these organisations have been over keen to reveal how much revenue this accrues  and how it stacks up against their legacy costs of business.

But publishing companies and newspapers as product form only a small patch of land in the shrinking traditional habitat of the cartoonist. Magazines used to be a source of welcome revenue for scribblers. However, the rates of pay have been slashed over the years to levels of vanity publication. Regular readers and subscribers to this blog will also know about the direct-to-audience efforts that many cartoonists have made in recent years.

© Matt Percival at procartoonists.org

© Matt Percival @ Procartoonists.org

The traditional confidence in the utility of our skills leads the Guardian cartoonist and PCO member Martin Rowson to characterise our trade as parasites. Once the carrier dies, “like any hideous sensible parasite, we’ll just jump off on to the next host”.

And there is some truth in this.

In Georgian times, cartoonists plied their trade by selling prints of their work in coffee shops. The radical coffee shop died a death as the prim Victorians arrived. Consequently, cartoonists jumped on to new hosts ushered in by advances in print – Punch and similar magazines.

Newspaper circulation wars in the 1900s then saw a race to hire cartoonists, providing a very welcome long-lived carrier for us parasites. The chronic morbidity of printed newspapers means we have to find a new habitat.

Ed adds: And, of course, many of us are adapting successfully. If you have comments about any of themes in this piece please do add them in comments.

Opinion: The cartoonist and the editor

November 12, 2013 in Comment, General, News

Editor_and_editorial_cartoonist_a_metaphoe_@_procartoonists.org

© Andy Davey @ Procartoonists.org

Following the news that one of the UK’s mass market national newspapers had removed its weekday editorial cartoonist we asked Andy Davey to write about the strange relationship that lies at the heart of such jobs.

For the UK cartoonist, working outside of the beneficence of a major newspaper brings benefits and troubles; editorial freedom and financial uncertainty. Creative freedom and money are rarely thrown together at the same artist.

In general, print editors and proprietors control content with an iron hand, especially when they are paying for it. Tabloid editors for example, are a clever bunch. They know how to run tight, focused media organisations. There is little or no room for a dissenting voice. The paper has to speak with one voice on a narrow range of issues.

Cartoonists are not hired to express their idiosyncratic views of the world, they are there to draw an on-message gag about something that is being highlighted in the day’s paper (preferably on the same page). Topics that are fair game are often defined and limited by who the paper “likes” (politicians or celebs they seek to cultivate) at any one time.

This can become wearing for the cartoonist who likes to come up with his/her own ideas – and that is pretty well all cartoonists (It is one of the key identifiers between cartoonists and illustrators – Ed).

The constraint of the ‘‘family paper’’, hard as it has sometimes been to believe in the era of phone hacking, also prevents anything too graphic from being published. Consequently, editorial cartoons in the tabloids can often look like sad toothless pastiches of the deferential 1950s.

Tabloid readers are conditioned to expect short, snappy articles and plenty of photos. The editorial pages, unlike the rather type-heavy pages in the broadsheets, are awash with images and banner headlines. Cartoons must fight to make themselves seen amid all this; even more so amid the flashing ads and animated pop-ups on the web versions.

A looser hand on the editorial tiller would allow stronger satirical graphic cartoons to attract the eye in traditional print and also in the relatively new digital environments.

Editor adds: Thanks to Andy to writing this. What do you think about editorial cartoons in the newspapers? Please free to dive into the comments below.

Opinion: The Sun drops editorial cartoons from weekday editions

November 7, 2013 in Comment, General, News

Rome Burns © Andy Davey for The Sun @ procartoonists.org

© Andy Davey for The Sun @ procartoonists.org

Andy Davey writes:

After more than 40 years, The Sun has cut editorial cartoons from the weekday editions of the paper.

The paper has boasted a roster of excellent cartoonists to poke fun at the political shenanigans of the day. Names such as Stanley Franklin, Dave Gaskill, Keith Waite, Paul Rigby, Posy Simmonds, Tom Johnston, Bill Caldwell, Bernard Cookson and Charles Griffin have all served on the super soaraway paper. But recently, circulation of printed publications has sunk, taking with it into the deep briny blue a huge wad of advertising revenue.

I write as the most recent regular incumbent and my cartoons have now been dropped. No reason was given to me, but it seems likely it was a financial decision. Cartoonists, together with many journalists and photographers, are apparently too expensive for these times. It’s much more cost effective to fill the editorial page with a splash headline and a crowdsourced free or cheap image.

The paper will still run editorial cartoons by another PCO member, Brighty (Steve Bright), in the Sun on Sunday and in Trevor Kavanagh’s Monday editorial column.

Traditionally, papers have run editorial, gag and strip cartoons but this has begun to change over the past few years.

The loss of daily editorial cartoons from The Sun is significant but it is not alone in ditching its cartoonists. Last month, The Sunday Times cast off several long term freelance cartoonists. The Mirror dropped daily editorial cartoons years ago and The Observer had a clear-out recently.

Alongside this, rates of pay have been cut. In 2011, The i newspaper, sister to The Independent, decided it needed strip, gag and editorial cartoonists to make its content shine. Instead of hiring cartoonists at a standard industry rate, it ran a competition in the oh-so-fashionable form of a “Cartoon Idol” to find new talent. The pay was so derisory that only one cartoonist could afford to take up the offer.

We at Procartoonists.org may be biased, but we think cartoons are still loved and appreciated by readers. It is a shame to see them disappearing at a time when humour and satire is desperately needed.

Ed adds: Procartoonists.org thanks Andy for sharing his thoughts here.

Sun shine wears off for Davey

November 7, 2013 in Comment, General, News

The_sun_logo_@_procartoonists.orgThe Sun, the largest circulation print newspaper in the UK is now without a weekday editorial cartoonist after Andy Davey, one of our members, left the paper.

With Andy’s help we shall be writing about this story and what it represents during the next week but you will get advance warning if you read one of our recent posts from Nick Newman of Private Eye (also a member) and a large piece produced by the New Statesman magazine during last summer.

The Round-up

July 15, 2013 in General, Links, News

Chris Burke in his studio © Anke @Procartoonists.org

Chris Burke, the widely published caricaturist and illustrator – and Procartoonists.org member – gives a local blog a tour of his home and studio in Royal Tunbridge Wells. Read the resulting feature interview, and see plenty of examples of Chris’ work,  here.

The Guardian has an interview with David Fickling and family – the tribe behind weekly comic The Phoenix – told in comic-strip format.

Charlie Paul, director of the Ralph Steadman documentary For No Good Reason, shares a short time-lapse film showing the Procartoonists.org member in action. (Brought to our attention by the Cartoon Museum – follow them on Twitter: @cartoonmuseumuk.)

Following a long-awaited British – or is that Scottish? – victory in the men’s singles event at Wimbledon, Andy Murray has been popping up in many a cartoon. He appears alongside his mother, Judy, in the 75th anniversary issue of The Beano; has been knighted courtesy of Procartoonist Andy Davey in The Sun; and was cynically adopted by the politicians, in cartoons by Christian Adams for The Telegraph and Peter Brookes for The Times.

The Round-up

May 10, 2013 in Events, General, Links, News

© Christian Adams for The Telegraph @Procartoonists.org

The Premier League was rocked this week by the unexpected news of Sir Alex Ferguson‘s retirement, and cartoonists had a ball with it (sorry). In The Telegraph, Christian Adams put the news in context (above), while Matt Pritchett drew parallels with another recent shock resignation. Over in The Guardian, Kipper Williams considered the impact on industry. On the news that David Moyes is taking the reins, Procartoonists.org member Andy Davey pictures the handover in The Sun.

Rob Murray (full disclosure: the writer of this post!) will be opening up his studio to the public from 16-19 May, exhibiting and selling original cartoons from Private Eye, Reader’s Digest, The Spectator and elsewhere as part of the Summer Open Studios show at Wimbledon Art Studios. Entry is free and all are very welcome.

Stephen Collins celebrates the publication of his new book, The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, with a launch party this evening at Gosh! in London. See preview pages in the ‘Big Comics’ section of his website.

Own-it offers a helpful and concise look at the ongoing controversial changes to UK copyright legislation, which pave the way for licensing of orphan works. Read it here.

An obituary for Margaret Groening reveals that her son – Simpsons creator Matt – believes in writing about what (or who) he knows. The Telegraph picks up on the story and provides this handy interactive family tree.

And finally, having recently challenged New Yorker cartoonists to a reverse-engineered caption contest, cartoon editor Bob Mankoff invites readers to have a go.