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Restaurant has great taste in cartoons

December 9, 2013 in General, News

Andy Davey gorges on a fine selection of cartoon morsels

There is a rather nice restaurant in a picture-perfect situation, hidden inside a particularly ugly example of Sixties architectural brutalism on the banks of the river in Cambridge. It’s the on the first floor of the University Centre.

Tom Walston © Sir Cam

It’s called the Riverside Restaurant, but don’t tell anyone about it – it’s a local secret. It’s run by a nice chap called Tom Walston (above, photograph © Sir Cam).

We at have a particular regard for him because he rather likes cartoons. So much so that he has plastered the walls of the approach to the restaurant with gag cartoons, all on a food and drink theme. We went along to find out how this came to be.

Tom had become bored with the usual watercolours depicting rows of punts or King’s College. So after chortling at a cartoon by Gabriel Alborozo, then drawing as W. Spring, in his copy of Private Eye ten years ago, he phoned the mag to ask if he could buy the original. In those days before data protection, when real people sat at the end of phone lines, he was given the phone number of the cartoonist.

Restaurant cartoon by Alborozo

© Gabriel Alborozo @

After a quick negotiation, the original cartoon was wending its way to Tom. He framed it and hung it on the wall. People commented that it would be nice to have a few more so, with a degree of patience and persistence, a rather excellent collection of cartoons by the great and the good of UK gag cartooning was built up by Tom. Employing a local framer to give the mostly monochrome cartoons more visual presence, a whole wall was covered with the gags.

There are gags by familiar names such as McLachlan, Geoff Thompson, Robert Thompson, A.J. Singleton,  Newman, Ian Baker, Pilbrow, Reeve, Dish, NAF, Honeysett, Pearsall, Larry, Tony Husband, KES, BerniePAK, Parker, Warren and Peattie, and Knife and Packer, among others.

Tom says he likes it because it’s different to most walls in the colleges, which are full of dark portraits of worthy Victorian beards, bursars and beadles.

Punters seem to agree – he often sees a party of diners appreciating the gags before heading in to the restaurant. He has also enjoyed buying direct from the artists concerned as it makes the transaction more interesting.

Ed adds: Phone numbers of cartoonists for purchase of original artwork you say? Try here.

Opinion: Cartoonists and a new world

November 19, 2013 in Comment, General, News

You are here ©

© Roger Penwill @

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

© Ger Whyman @

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

© Dave Chisholm @

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

© Matt Percival @

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.

The sky is falling in

November 9, 2013 in Events, General, News

News that a satellite is descending to earth in an uncontrolled fashion reminds us that there’s nothing new under the sun – as these cartoons from Martin Minton – A cartoon novel by Ken Pyne show.


Cartoon © Ken Pyne from Martin Minton - a cartoon novel


Cartoon © Ken Pyne from Martin Minton - a cartoon novel

Ken told us:

Funny, I was only thinking of that book a couple of days ago in Waterstones. When it came out the publisher sent a blurb round saying it was a ‘Cartoon Novel’ and a book reviewer called me ‘pretentious’ for calling it that. How times have changed – now you can’t move around a book shop for ‘Graphic Novels’.

UK Professional Cartoonists

Opinion: The Sun drops editorial cartoons from weekday editions

November 7, 2013 in Comment, General, News

Rome Burns © Andy Davey for The Sun @

© Andy Davey for The Sun @

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 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: 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.

Opinion: Cheerleading for art, part 2

September 25, 2013 in Comment, General

Bill Stott at the Shrewsbury Cartoon festival

Bill Stott at the Shrewsbury Cartoon festival @

Bill Stott continues to put the case for better art education in schools.

You can read part one here.

Of course, Michael Gove could be a keen and knowledgeable student of the arts – first in line when there’s something new at Tate Modern, burning his thumbs on disposable cigarette lighters at Glastonbury, and clamouring for Bob Fosse retrospective tickets at the Albert Hall. Could be. He could be utterly distraught at the arts’ demotion.

Maybe he removed the arts from the core curriculum because he simply had to make cuts. Something had to give. And he couldn’t possibly cut maths or English or the Blessed Sciences could he? Couldn’t he? Why not? Well because there’d be a national outcry wouldn’t there?

And he couldn’t dare cut P.E., not after the glorious Olympic Games and their glittering, noble legacy. And we simply must have more physicists. We’re way behind Norway here, and standards in English literature in the UK are bettered by kids in Japan.

How about standards in arts education in the last 20 years? Anybody bothered looking at those in comparison with other countries? The UK would probably do well enough. But doing well in arts education overall, certainly in the secondary sphere, has never counted for much in the UK, mainly because those who judge it had a meagre arts education themselves.

So in demoting arts education to the fringes of the National Curriculum, Mr Gove is on safe ground. The majority of the enfranchised population will not rise up in horror. They are drip-fed the notion, mainly through the popular media, that dance is only for the naturally violently talented Billy Elliots of this world and that their dogs could do what Tracey Emin did to become a millionaire.

And yet, while we all know that nobody can expect to live a fulfilled and rounded life without having studied compulsory geography, the arts will out. Arts workshops, nearly always run on a shoestring, abound. Successful arts professionals give their time for not much money, and often for nothing at arts festivals, like – dare I say it ? – the Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival.

Their workshops are always full, not with the naturally capable but with all ages who want to know how. Is that how geography workshops operate? At geography festivals? Is there a “Big Geog” jostling for a place in the nation’s affections with the evangelic barnstorm that is the Big Draw? Of course not.

Who’d go to a geography workshop? Don’t need to. That’s all looked after in school after cheerleading on Tuesday afternoons. The Big Draw probably doesn’t ask for tick-box answers about Jasper Johns, but it IS hands on.

Making communicative marks is probably the one thing the human animal can do which other animals can’t. Yes, some humans can draw well naturally. But by the same token, other humans like Sebastian Vettel can drive cars naturally well. Their prowess doesn’t put the majority of us off learning to drive. But we do that for socio-economic reasons. We don’t learn to draw for the same reasons.

© Bill Stott @

© Bill Stott @

So why do we/should we do it? Why should Mr Gove do it? Its because its EDUCATIONAL, that’s why. To “educate” means to “bring out”, and I’d bet a pound to a penny that an arts workshop or a practical, hands-on Big Draw session will bring out more hitherto unseen natural ability than would a geography festival.

I suppose I’d better apologise now for having a pop at geography. Its probably down to Mrs Leeming fifty-odd years ago. She was very keen on my class knowing all the facts and figures surrounding worldwide ground-nut production in countries that are no longer part of the British Empah and have names of their own now. It was hugely boring.

Mrs Lemming (her nickname) was a bit limited. There’s nothing limited about the arts education potential in this country. Sadly, should the essentially inexperienced, non-drawing, non-painting, non-sculpting Mr Gove get his way, that will all get booted into the long grass (quite close to where they’re practicing core curriculum cheerleading).

And who’s fault is it? Let’s start alphabetically: The Arts Council?

Editor says: Thanks,  Bill. Feel free to join the debate by commenting below.

Opinion: Cheerleading for art

September 20, 2013 in Comment, General

Bill Stott at Big Board

Bill Stott at the annual Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival

Bill Stott writes:

Remember your school reports? They become ingrained. Like your first snog. Mine weren’t bad. English, history, art, even P.E. (he was a bully) were all good but then they fell into the maths abyss. That bit was never good. I really didn’t care how long it took six men with rubber teaspoons to fill six wheelbarrows etc.

Last week I saw my 11-year-old grand-daughter’s report . She’s in Year 7 (that’s first year in old money and is a term thought up by some non-teaching think-tanker to give the impression that the learning process is seamless. It most definitely is not.) It was a good report apart from maths where the rubber teaspoon brigade didn’t quite click.

But there were a couple of subjects Grandad didn’t quite understand, i.e. why they were being taught and how they being taught. One was, you won’t believe this, cheerleading. That’s right, cheerleading. I mean, dear God, this is an all-girl comp. What on Earth is the school encouraging here ? Cheerleading is where a group of comely young women wiggle about celebrating male sporting prowess, isn’t it?

And the other was – gimme an A, gimme an R, gimme a T – Art, art art! (See? We got there eventually). Emily – for it is she – got a good comment in art. So I asked her what they did in art. “Well,” she said. “We’ve just done Jasper Johns.”

Now, I think that art, unlike cheerleading, is useful and teachable, and I’m all for the Big Draw events. But Emily and her 11-year-old chums don’t get all hands-on with clay, ink and paint. No. They DO Jasper Johns. She did say that “sometimes” they were allowed to draw. But mostly they DID artists. Don’t misunderstand me, nothing wrong with history of art. But exclusively? With 11-year-olds?

So who’s the villain here? I will tell you. It is Michael Gove, that’s who. I know that cheerleading sneaked in under the common-sense radar because apparently it’s accepted as being an alternative to P.E. Do they do history of cheerleading too?

Mr Gove doesn’t care about the arts subjects – quite possibly because his own art education was a bit thin. He sees dance, drama, music and art as hobbies. Pastimes. They no longer merit a place in the core curriculum (from September 2014) but because it bumps and grinds in under the P.E. banner, cheerleading does.

A pound to a penny Mr Gove believes that being able to draw is a “gift” and cannot be taught. He probably believes he can’t draw. I could teach him.

Ed adds:  We hope Mr Gove takes up Bill’s kind offer. We think a lesson would make some fine Reithian-style television for the British Broadcasting Corporation or similar. Don’t miss part two of Bill’s thoughts on art in education which is due next week.

Cartoon © Bill Stott @

© Bill Stott @


Behind the bandstand

August 19, 2013 in Events, General, News

These seaside pictures artfully displayed behind the bandstand in Herne Bay have been saved from a municipal whitewashing.

Duchamp_in_Herne_Bay_Banx_Cartoons_panorama @

© Banx @

The Jeremy Banx cartoons were drawn at the recent Duchamp in Herne Bay event.

Duchamp_in_Herne_Bay_Banx_Cartoons_panorama @

"Operated by Serco" and "Water Aid" © Banx @

Fears that the jokes would fall victim to a “Serco-style” cleaning operation, as noted in part one of the cartoon trio, proved unfounded. Happily, this made a planned petition to the local council redundant.

Banx told us:

‘‘Let the council be warned: If they had whitewashed my triptych, I might have been forced to redo it in Whitstable, where the arty-farty Islington-on-Sea smart set appreciate a good urinal gag’’.

Duchamp_in_Herne_Bay_Banx_Cartoons_panorama @

"The Acme Fracking Company" © Banx @

Now that these cartoons have been saved for the nation, we may all look forward to Jeremy and the other members adding to the gaiety of the UK again next year.

Indeed, if you run an event that would benefit from input from a selection of the country’s best cartoonists, do feel free to contact us here to discuss possibilities.

The Big Boards from Shrewsbury Cartoon 2013

April 24, 2013 in Events, General, News

The huge drawings made in the town Square in Shrewsbury on Saturday 20th April at the tenth edition of the cartoon festival.

The huge drawings made in the town Square in Shrewsbury on Saturday 20th April at the tenth edition of the cartoon festival.

Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival 2013

April 20, 2013 in Comment, General, News

You will be able to follow some of the events at the festival  by following the stream below.

The members of the UK Professional Cartoonists at the tenth edition of the festival.