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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.

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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.

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.

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Martin Honeysett

January 21, 2015 in News

THE UK CARTOON community heard today, Wednesday 21st of January 2015, of the death of Martin Honeysett.

This is a staggering loss. To those lucky enough to have known him, Martin was a delightful, learned, funny and kind man. To all, his cartoons demonstrated not only a very keen, often weird sense of humour, but an outstanding ability to draw.

Who can forget the tremendous stuff he produced whilst working and teaching in Japan ?

For any cartoonist, just looking at a Honeysett cartoon is to learn.

Thank you Martin.

Cartoon by Martin Honeysett

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: Illustration is easier than cartooning

January 24, 2013 in Comment, General

Cartoonist_or_Illustrator_@_procartoonists.org © Bill Stott

© Bill Stott @ procartoonists.org

When it was suggested by the editor that I should write a piece to the statement, “Illustration is easier than cartooning”. I thought he also ought to reverse the notion and ask an illustrator too.

Trouble is, I’m not an illustrator so know little of their strange and arcane ways. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I have illustrated a couple of books in what might loosely be called a non-cartoon style. And many years ago whilst doing a fine art degree, a snotty lecturer suggested I should switch to Illustration because my work was “rather slick and commercial”. The fool! Did he not see that I was going to be the next Jack Vettriano?

Cartoonist and illustrator are very wide terms. If by illustrator we mean those driven souls who churn out graphic novels – how do they do it? – then give me cartooning any day. On the other hand if, as a cartoonist, you get lucky with a multi-panel strip of Doonesbury or Calvin and Hobbes or The Fosdyke Saga proportions and you don’t have time to draw anything but the same re-occurring characters day after day, world without end, how do you stave off madness?

Do illustrators feel the same? What little illustration work I’ve done rapidly became tedious. Same characters, different situations. Rather more interesting to write than to illustrate. Unless, of course, you’re Victor Ambrus who is brilliant enough to stop even Tony Robinson becoming tedious.

However – I love that word, it means you’re about to kick the foregoing into the long grass – a good cartoon drawing has to be a good joke as well. Thinking of a good joke can be a killer. “Good joke” means one which in the first instance makes you the cartoonist laugh. Whether it makes a commissioning editor laugh is another matter entirely (Ian Hislop is such a tease). Some days good jokes pop up like weeds. On others – like today – there’s a great desire to draw funny stuff but nothing happens and an unhealthy amount of daytime TV is watched.

There. My head’s nearly empty now. The only thing I’d add is the word “good”. Good illustration is easier than good cartooning. Must dash, DCI Banks is on.

PS. If anybody wants a definition of “good”, ask the editor in the comments.

Editor adds: Thanks to Bill for putting his head above the parapet.

Avatar of Royston

by Royston

The artist as cartoonist

February 28, 2012 in General, News

David Shrigley fish cartoon

Review: David Shrigley: Brain Activity at the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London

A vexed question of categorisation arises when it comes to the artist David Shrigley: Is he a cartoonist?

He and many art critics appear reluctant to use the term, but there’s no doubt that black and white line drawings, many of which are designed to provoke laughter, are what he is best known for.

And there are lots of them in this Hayward Gallery show, 117 new ones, apparently, and 42 larger painted ones. Let’s call them cartoons, for the sake of argument, and because one of them has got a desert island in it.

“The responses I would like are laughter, intrigued confusion and disquiet,” says Shrigley in the exhibition guide. That certainly sounds like the intent of a cartoonist and this stated aim is pretty much achieved here. Many of the cartoons elicited laughter and some were certainly disturbing.

Animation is also a key part of the show, most notably a very satisfying new piece called Headless Drummer, which speaks for itselfThere are also lots of sculptures. These mostly retain the wonky Shrigley style and are like 3D cartoons. There’s a sculpture of a very large tea cup, with what appears to be real tea inside it. But the best joke is on the wall alongside it, on the label that tells you the materials used: Glazed ceramic, tea, milk, no sugar.

Shrigley relies a lot on incongruity, a technique well known to cartoonists i.e. putting together objects and concepts that don’t normally sit alongside each other. So we have a gravestone etched with a short shopping list – a brilliantly simple idea that reminds me of that other cartoonist-done-good, Banksy.

This is a very playful exhibition. At one point we are invited to crawl through a hole in the wall into the next room (though normal means are available for those who wish to retain their dignity). Contemporary art it may be, but you get the feeling that nobody is taking things too seriously.

Well worth a look then, and if you pay an extra £2 on top of your £8 admission you get to see the Jeremy Deller exhibition too, which is brilliant but doesn’t have cartoons in it.

David Shrigley: Brain Activity and Jeremy Deller: Joy in People are at the Hayward Gallery until May 13.

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The Wireless Cartoonist

January 3, 2012 in Comment

Radio isn’t the most obvious home for a cartoonist but thanks to BBC Radio 2′s Alex Lester it has found a regular one.  

Bloghorn Goddard Radio Cartoonist

Each month PCO cartoonist Clive Goddard provides a visual relating to one of the many offbeat discussion threads the night-time show throws up. Subjects can range from the secret thoughts of pigeons to confessions on putting bizarre concoctions in a blender. Perhaps unsurprisngly some make most sense to the show’s night owl listeners. 

The cartoon has been running since August 2009 and receives regular plugs by The ‘Dark Lord’ himself. Clive told Bloghorn its a great gig as I have a pretty free hand and have never yet had a rough (idea) rejected by BBC compliance.

We should add Alex Lester is a patron of The Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival which we will be covering at Bloghorn later this spring.

Doonesbury hits 40

October 27, 2010 in News

The first ever Doonesbury, published 26th October 1970

American cartoonist Garry Trudeau has notched up 40 years of drawing his comic strip Doonesbury. The strip first appeared as ‘Bull Tales’ in his student newspaper at Yale University from where it was picked for syndication in the national press.

As its popularity grew, rights for its publication were sold overseas and it has been a popular and long-running feature in the Guardian newspaper in the UK as a result. We know this because of the howls of protest when it was dropped as a part of an ill-advised redesign during 2009. The paper backed down and the strip was hastily reinstated.

The 40th anniversary of the strip is being marked by the publication of Doonesbury 40: A Retrospective, and by celebration of all things Doonesbury-esque in the online magazine Slate, including an interview with Trudeau.

Workshops at Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival 2010

May 5, 2010 in Events, News

The Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival doesn’t actually finish at the end of the weekend.

Exhibitions continue in venues across the town and organisers run workshops for people keen to explore the skills of drawing and communication.


Cartoonist Wilbur Dawbarn ran one of these events and here are photos from his workshops. Bloghorn thanks Shropshire Council’s event development team for passing these along to us.


Some of the work produced will be displayed at the town’s Wakeman School and Arts College at the end of June.

An informant tells Bloghorn that Wilbur let slip he sometimes “meditated” on a subject for a cartoon while having a lie-in in the mornings. One of the older ladies immediately produced a cartoon of him lounging in bed – you can see it below.

"It's nice to finish the day's work before breakfast!"

Bloghorn thinks: If only…

Cartoon secrets revealed

April 7, 2010 in General

News reaches Bloghorn of a couple of British cartoonists revealing the tricks of the trade. Firstly there’s The TimesPeter Brookes explaining how he’ll be caricaturing the party leaders in the upcoming General Election. On drawing the current Prime Minister:

With Gordon Brown I’ll start with the hair, increasingly grey and much more coiffured these days. Then come the heavy, angry eyebrows above creased eyes, one unsighted because that is the unfortunate reality. The nose is short and stubby, with a flat base. The fleshy-lipped mouth is open in that odd gurning movement he makes with his jaw as he speaks. The ears are large, round and red. There are deep marks on the cheekbones that, with the bags under his eyes, give him that knackered, saturnine look, particularly when I add a blue-grey wash for five o’clock shadow. Sometimes I think I’ve just drawn Nixon.

Secondly, from the other end of the British cartooning spectrum we have Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons demonstrating, with video, how he goes about drawing a character digitally using a Wacom Cintiq tablet and Manga Studio software.

Of course, if you would like to see cartoonists demonstrating their skills in the flesh, we would heartily recommend you head to this years Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival, 22nd to 24th April 2010. But, if you can’t make it in person, we’ll be providing full coverage here on Bloghorn.