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Fun in the sunshine at Herne Bay

August 10, 2015 in Events, General, News

Board by Rob Murray. Photo © Gerard Whyman

Board by Rob Murray. Photo © Gerard Whyman

The sun shone on the Herne Bay Cartoon Festival yet again this year. Here’s a selection of photos of the live-drawing day, 2 August, by Kasia Kowalski and Gerard Wyman.

Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Cartoonists at ease, at easels. Click image to enlarge. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Surreal McCoy and Cathy Simpson with the essential tools of the trade: pens. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Surreal McCoy and Cathy Simpson with the essential tools of the trade: pens. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Jeremy Banx at work. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Jeremy Banx at work. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

... and his finished board. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

… and his finished board. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Several flags by Banx, all with different seaside designs, were flown from the turrets of the Bandstand. Pic © Jeremy Banx

Several flags by Jeremy Banx, all with different seaside designs, were flown from the turrets of the Bandstand. Pic © Jeremy Banx

Here's another of the flags from a few days earlier, the festival launch, with Royston Robertson, Nathan Ariss and Be a Francis, 8. Photo © Brian Green for the Herne Bay Times

Here’s another of the flags from a few days earlier, the festival launch, with Royston Robertson, Nathan Ariss and Bea Francis, 6. Photo © Brian Green for the Herne Bay Times

Simon Ellinas draws caricatures. Photo © Gerard Whyman

Simon Ellinas draws caricatures. Alex Hughes also tirelessly drew festival-goers throughout the day. Photo © Gerard Whyman

The weather allowed cartoonists to display a range of silly hats. Left to right: Ger Wyman, Royston Robertson, Matt Buck. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

The weather allowed cartoonists to display a range of silly hats. Left to right: Gerard Wyman, Royston Robertson, Matt Buck. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Tim Harries hosted a cartoon workshop. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Tim Harries hosted a cartoon workshop. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

The illustrated man: Glen Marshall's board was more performance art than cartoon. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

The illustrated man: Glen Marshall’s board was more performance art than cartoon. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Bill Stott's board tackled a favourite current obsession of the media: seagulls. Perfect for Herne Bay! Photo © Gerard Whyman

Bill Stott’s board tackled a favourite current obsession of the media: seagulls. Click to enlarge and read. Perfect for Herne Bay! Photo © Gerard Whyman

More seagulls by Royston Robertson. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

More seagulls by Royston Robertson. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Cartoonist Rob Murray does like to be beside the seaside. Photo © Gerard Whyman

Cartoonist Rob Murray does like to be beside the seaside. Photo © Gerard Whyman

One of the communal boards, with cartoons by Ger Wyman, Matt "Hack" Buck, Royston Robertson, Des Buckley, Tim Sanders and Nathan Ariss. Photo © Gerard Wyman

One of the communal boards, with cartoons by Ger Wyman, Matt “Hack” Buck, Royston Robertson, Des Buckley, Tim Sanders, Steve Way and Nathan Ariss. Click image to enlarge and read. Photo © Gerard Wyman

Herne Bay Cartoon Festival wouldn't be complete without a great seaside cartoon by The Independent's Dave Brown. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Herne Bay Cartoon Festival wouldn’t be complete without a great seaside cartoon by The Independent’s Dave Brown. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

We say gags, they say single-panel

July 2, 2013 in Comment, General

Pete Dredge offers a British perspective in reaction to an American cartoonist’s views on the cartooning game

“Single-panel” or “gag” cartoonist? The former is the default description from over the pond and is infinitely preferable to the UK’s more downmarket “gag” label for those of us who create the stand-alone joke.

Cartoon by Pete Dredge

Single-panel or gag? Cartoon © Pete Dredge

Apart from that, there appears to be little difference in attitudes to gag cartoonists on either side of the Atlantic, if the video talks by the New Yorker cartoonist Matthew Diffee – as recently featured on this blog – are anything to go by. (Well, apart from the fact that most US cartoonists seem to be equally as eloquent with a microphone as they are with a pen, something that the reserved UK cartoonist can find difficult to master.)

It was comforting to know that our US counterparts are bombarded with the same probing questioning from inquisitive admirers. “Where do you get your ideas?” appears to top both the UK and US list. Diffee perceptively regards this as “a good question, it is the only question because without an idea there is no cartoon”. He then offers up the disarmingly honest answer “We think of ’em!”

Brilliant!

Why haven’t we ever thought of that? UK gagsmiths start to ramble on about lateral thinking, brainstorming and word association whilst our inquisitor’s eyes start to glaze over.

“I wish I could do that” and “I could never do that” are supplementary statements thrown up by the misguided onlooker. Diffee believes that these admissions underline the misconception that cartoonists draw “for fun”, something that can be churned out at the drop of a hat. “How long have you tried?” he asks. He points out that it takes several hours and a pot of coffee to come up with ideas.

Then there’s the ability to handle rejection. Diffee likens the inevitable low hit rate – at The New Yorker one in ten is “top of the game”, more often it’s something like one in 30 – to the a mother sea turtle laying thousands of eggs. After being subjected to the ravages of crabs, birds and fish, if one baby makes it through then it’s job done.

Another characteristic shared by both US and UK cartoonists is the requirement to develop stoicism when confronted by other media types. One video featured Diffee being interviewed after his talk by a hack from Forbes magazine.

Trying hard to describe the idea-creating process, he says: “It’s about concepts, like comedy writing, it’s about language, not drawing, at this stage.” The journalist seemed to struggle with this abstract notion.

But Diffee soon has the measure of his inquisitor and describes how he is trying to keep up with the latest hi-tech devices. “Have you seen them? They’re amazing. You click on the end and it comes out here,” he says, describing a propelling pencil to his bemused interrogator.

Many thanks, Pete. Do you have any views on cartooning US and UK style? Let us know in the comments below.

Exhibition is animal magic

July 22, 2012 in Events, News

Animal crackers cartoon by Royston

Animal Crackers cartoon by Royston Robertson @ Procartoonists.org

The exhibition Animal Crackers: A Cartoon and Comic Bestiary is at the Cartoon Museum in London from this Wednesday (July 25).

It looks at how animals have inspired all kinds of cartoonists across the ages, whether they are working in comics, political cartooning, magazine gag cartoons, newspaper strips or animation.

The show promises something for everyone with more than 140 cartoons, caricatures, comics and graphic novel pages by more than 60 artists. From political images, such as the Russian bear and the City fat cat, to Wallace and Gromit and The Bunny Suicides, all anthropomorphic animal life is here.

Some cartoons suggest how much animals are just like us, such as King Louie of The Jungle Book, or Fred Basset. Others, such as Simon Tofield’s Simon’s Cat and Norman Thelwell’s lovable ponies, highlight our pets’ irritating or endearing habits.

Animal Crackers cartoon by Nick Newman

Animal Crackers cartoon by Nick Newman @Procartoonists.org

Animal Crackers includes works by major names from past and present, including Leo Baxendale, Simon Bond, Peter Brookes, Dave Brown, David Low, Mac, Matt, Chris Riddell, Ronald Searle, John Tenniel, Trog, Dudley D. Watkins and Gahan Wilson.

There’s a healthy showing of Procartoonists.org members, with Nathan Ariss, Ian Baker, Steve Bell, Andrew Birch, Andy Davey, Hunt Emerson, Jacky Fleming, Martin Honeysett, John Jensen, Nick Newman, right, Ken Pyne, Royston Robertson, above, Martin Rowson, Ralph Steadman, the Surreal McCoy, Colin Whittock, Kipper Williams and Mike Williams.

The exhibition runs until October 21. The Cartoon Museum is in Little Russell Street, near the British Museum. For further details, visit cartoonmuseum.org

Profile photo of Royston

by Royston

Husband's charity cartoon show

October 7, 2011 in Events

Tony Husband with exhibition poster

Another Pair of Underpants, an exhibition of cartoons by Tony Husband, is at Tom’s Chophouse, Cross St, Manchester, until November 10.

It features around 350 pieces — strips, topical gags and sports cartoons — along with a series of large photos of Tony at work by the photographer Wolfgang Webster.

Everything in the exhibition is for sale and the final day will see a charity dinner. Half of the proceeds will go to the Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Appeal. Prints and originals are for sale, along with books and cartoon placemats.
Tony Husband Olympics cartoon
Tony has been a regular contributor to Private Eye since 1985. He also draws sports cartoons for The Times and the Sunday Express and his cartoons have appeared in many magazines including The Spectator, The Oldie and Playboy.

The exhibition moves to Sam’s Chophouse, 8 South Parade, Leeds, on November 14, where it will run until Christmas. Tony plans to exhibit his cartoons again next year and tells The Bloghorn that the Groucho Club in London has expressed an interest in showing them.

The Bloghorn is made on behalf of the UK’s Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation

Profile photo of Royston

by Royston

Private Eye: Looking good at 50

September 13, 2011 in Events, News

Private Eye at 50

Private Eye celebrates its 50th birthday next month and appears to be in rude health, bucking the downward trend for magazine circulation in the digital age.

The anniversary is October 25 but the celebrations start on Tuesday (September 20) with the release of a new book Private Eye: The First 50 Years, a history of the magazine written by the Eye journalist Adam Macqueen that charts its rise from 300 copies of the first edition in 1961, below, to a fortnightly circulation of more than 200,000.

First issue of Private Eye

The book features interviews with key players in the Private Eye story, rare archive material and unseen photos. (There are some “seen” ones too.) And, of course, there is an abundance of the cartoons that are so central to appeal of the magazine.

You can see more of those, including many by members of the PCO, which runs The Bloghorn, when the famously anti-establishment magazine puts on a First 50 Years exhibition at the very establishment Victoria and Albert Museum [Shurely shome mishtake? – Ed]. It opens at the V&A on October 18 and runs until January 8.

Cartoons will be shown in themed sections, on politics, royalty and social observation, and there will be gags, long-running strips and caricatures. The Bloghorn will have more on the exhibition nearer the time.

Ian Hislop, Editor of the magazine, has said of the 50th anniversary: “I do not want anyone to think that this is all just a huge celebration of ourselves. Our 50th year is a chance to look back and take a dispassionate view of how marvellous we are.”

You can read more on how marvellous they are in a Media Guardian article this week and even Vanity Fair is on the case with a piece by Christopher Hitchens. Updates on the 50th anniversary celebrations will appear on the Private Eye at 50 blog.

The Bloghorn is made on behalf of the UK’s Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation

Profile photo of Royston

by Royston

How to not get into The New Yorker

September 7, 2011 in Comment

Cartoon by James Sturm
Cartoon © James Sturm

If you don’t follow the Bloghorn on Twitter (you should: @bloghorn) you may have missed this article that we highlighted recently.

James Sturm, an artist better known for graphic novels, decided to try his hand at gag cartooning for the most competitive, exclusive market there is. He writes about his exploits for Slate magazine here: How hard is it to get a cartoon into The New Yorker?

He tells of how he enjoyed the freedom of gag cartooning, how his meeting went with the magazine’s cartoon editor Bob Mankoff, and how he ultimately didn’t get into The New Yorker. But he did have lunch with lots of cartoonists, so it’s not all bad news.

In praise of the gag cartoon

March 16, 2011 in News

Bloghorn Opinion logo

Whenever the media spotlight is turned on cartoons it is often those of a political variety. These cartoons shout the loudest and have news impact. But Bloghorn writer Royston Robertson thinks it’s time to speak up for its more modest cousin: the gag cartoon.

I have been drawing gag cartoons for the magazine market for about 15 years. I love the process of coming up with new ideas and, hopefully, getting them published.

Recently I’ve been sifting through my drawings from magazines such as Reader’s Digest and Private Eye in order to put together a book collection. I’m not friends with any famous people so I had to write my own foreword for the book and decided to to put down exactly what it is I like so much about gag cartoons as a medium. This was the crux of piece:Early man cartoon by Royston

“The single-panel joke is a perfect, self-contained unit of comedy, an instant hit of humour that doesn’t demand much of your time.”

I once heard the writer Will Self describe gags as “the haiku of cartoons”. That may sound a little pretentious (from Will Self? Surely not?) but I think it’s true.

A gag cartoon is like a poem. Or a one-liner joke, perhaps. It is a small, carefully crafted article. It doesn’t have the grandeur or the, let’s be honest, occasional self-importance of the political cartoon, but it is still designed to provoke a reaction: hopefully laughter.

I have heard some claim that the gag cartoon is in some way an old-fashioned form. This is probably because it is so closely connected with magazines, so people think of crumpled, yellowing copies of Punch in the dentist’s waiting room.

Plus, magazines and newspapers are “dead-tree technology”, and that, we are constantly being told, is on the way out. But, when you think about it, the gag cartoon is actually perfectly suited for this age of the short attention-span and sits just as easily on a web page, or an iPad app, as a magazine page. And long may it continue to do so.

Royston Robertson's cartoon book
Royston Robertson’s book Penguin vs Polar Bear and Other Ridiculous Cartoons is available online here, priced £5.99 (plus £1 p+p) or you can get a digital download version for £1.99

Profile photo of Royston

by Royston

Cartoonists doing it for themselves

January 11, 2011 in News

Cartoon by Huw Aaron
Cartoonists are continuing to use the print-on-demand services provided by various websites to get their work out there.

These sites mean that they can print collections of their drawings as and when they are needed, so they don’t end up with boxes full of unsold books cluttering up their sheds.

While the cartoonists probably won’t get rich off these books, they can work well as a “calling card” for potential clients, a kind of mini portfolio. And, crucially, they allow cartoonists to sell their books online.
Cartoon book by Huw Aaron

Huw Aaron is the latest to use this model, producing a book of joke cartoons published in magazines such as Private Eye, Reader’s Digest and The Oldie in 2010, plus a few unpublished cartoons. The book is called Does This Breastplate Make Me Look Fat? He has also produced a book compiling cartoons from 2009, his first as a professional cartoonist, called Gentlemen, I’m Off to Join the Circus. Bloghorn cornered Huw to ask him a few questions …

You’re relatively new to the world of cartooning, why did you decide to do not one, but two cartoon books at this stage?

My intent from the start was to produce a collection each year of my full-time cartooning career. After one year, I was already a year behind schedule. I’ve now managed to catch up.

The first book comes with a recommendation from Richard Ingrams, editor of The Oldie. Fair enough. But also … Jilly Cooper?! How did that come about?

I had a lovely phone call from Ms Cooper last year, asking to buy a cartoon of mine she’d seen in The Oldie. As my only celebrity “fan”, she was a clear choice when looking for a few words to stick on the back cover!

You seem to be trying out lots of different drawing styles, particularly in the first book. Is that deliberate or do you just go with what feels right?

I do think that an “Aaron look” is slowly emerging, but until it does, I hope there’s enough humour in these collections to make up for the mishmash of styles.

Does This Breastplate Make Me Look Fat? and Gentlemen, I’m off to Join the Circus can be purchased online at Lulu.com for £5.99 each in paperback, or £1.99 each for a digital copy.

Profile photo of Royston

by Royston

A trip to the twilight zone, and beyond

November 29, 2010 in General, News

Martin Rowson cartoon
Here are a few interesting cartooning links to start your week. First, PCOer Martin Rowson, cartoon above, writes in today’s Guardian about the strange place that cartoonists occupy in the British media, and their love-hate relationship with editors: Cartoonists in the twilight zone

But it’s all love from one former editor, David Yelland of The Sun, who calls cartoonists “unsung heroes” in a discussion about the Ink and the Bottle exhibition on the Radio 4 Today programme, with James Naughtie and the cartoon collector Brian Sibley: Listen to it here

And finally, alongside its huge Illustrators 2010 show, the Chris Beetles Gallery in London has a new exhibition opening tomorrow (November 30) all about Dan Dare. It ties in with a new book which tells the story of how Frank Hampson created the strip: Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future

Updated by MB : 2pm 29th November. Cartoonist Colin Shelbourn sends Bloghorn this BBC podcast interview with Gary ‘Doonesbury’ Trudeau.

Tortoise Husbandry

August 2, 2010 in General, News

Tony Husband tortoise cartoon
Tony Husband’s tortoise take on England and the World Cup

Many gag cartoonists have had their fruitful areas of interest over the decades. The very wonderful Larry (Terry Parkes) spent productive years milking the world of art, and the great, and recently late, Ray Lowry would have been bereft without rock ‘n’ roll or Nazis.

PCOer Tony Husband’s simple style of drawing – like Larry’s – belies an understanding of the joke-telling format not given to many. He has made a career as one of cartooning’s generalists, able to make a gag about anything. That was until recently, when something strange happened to the Husband oeuvre. It began to become invaded by testudines.

Gags appearing in his normal haunts like Private Eye and The Oldie began to feature tortoises with curious regularity. The Bloghorn was keen to investigate and approached Mr Husband with a demand to come clean about the tortoise invasion. Was it a failed book project – “101 Uses For A Tortoise” – or a batch of rejects from “Tortoises and Tortoisemen (incorporating Tortoise Monthly)”? We needed to be told.

Husband finally revealed all: “The Lord of all Tortoise summoned me to his palace in the deserts of Org. He gave me a mission, to bring the tortoise to the forefront of popular culture. It’s as simple as that.”

Yes, that’s what we suspected.