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Japanese Earthquake Cartoon Appeal

May 5, 2011 in News

PCOer Martin Honeysett writes:

I’ve been asked to pass on this request for cartoons to support those affected by the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami, where many will be suffering long after the media focus has moved on. This appeal is from the Kyoto Cartoon Congress who seek entries for an exhibition in Kyoto later in the year.

The theme is “Japan: Never giving up” reflecting the stoicism of the Japanese in coping with natural disasters, in memory of the victims and offering our encouragement to the survivors who have to rebuild their lives.

Details and entry forms can be downloaded from www.kyoto-seika.ac.jp/kicc/

Martin spent two years teaching cartooning at Kyoto Seika University Cartoon Faculty as a visiting professor. You can read about his experiences here in Bloghorn.

Japanese Nuclear Boy

March 18, 2011 in News

Artist Kazuhiko Hachiya has made an animated short to help explain the ongoing nuclear crisis to Japanese children. The clip’s title character, Nuclear Boy, plays the role of the ill child representing Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

Reaction to the colorful clip has been mixed, with some folks calling it distasteful and others arguing it makes the situation more comprehensible for worried young children. Please comment below if you would like, Bloghorn does moderate comments if needed.

Manga at the Museum

November 25, 2009 in General

hoshino_smallThe British Museum is currently exhibiting original artwork from acclaimed Japanese manga artist Hoshino Yukinobu‘s newest comic. The exhibition follows the adventures of Yukinobu’s character Professor Munakata and is set in the Museum itself. The work uses icons including the Sutton Hoo mask and the Lewis chessmen. Artwork from more of Yukinobu’s manga also features at the museum, alongside talks and family events.

British film director Ken Russell has written a review of the exhibition for The Times.

Turning Japanese

April 16, 2009 in General

PCOer Martin Honeysett responds to an article in The Guardian which reported Japanese plans to boost their national economic prospects with drawing. Martin recently spent two years in Japan as a visiting professor of visual communication.

It comes as no surprise to read that the Japanese Prime minister keeps manga comics in his official limo. Manga is huge in Japan. Not just the comics but the whole pop culture that feeds off it.

That 90% of it is, in my opinion complete pap, seems to encourage rather than hinder its popularity.

Originally the word manga encompassed all cartoon drawing including political, strip and single panel cartoons. These are now overshadowed and squeezed out by the popular comic genre.

So while the idea that a Prime Minister keeping comics in his car might seem appealing, remember that our politicians already keep them in their toilets. Sharp, satirical, funny, well drawn cartoons and caricatures.

Not that we can ignore manga and the power or popular culture. It’s interesting to note that even in Japan the volume of printed manga is decreasing while online and e-manga is rapidly increasing. Way to go?

Teaching cartooning in Japan

February 6, 2008 in General

Martin Honeysett spent two years in Japan teaching cartoon drawing at a university. He talks about his experiences here.


One of PCO member Martin Honeysett’s cartoons from his time in Japan

How do you teach cartooning? All the cartoonists I know are self taught, although some may have done an arts course at some time. I can see how you can teach the elements of drawing but is it possible to teach the elements of satire and humour, the creation of ideas?

These were some of the many thoughts that buzzed round my head prior to and during the long flight to Kyoto, Japan, in late March 2005. I was due to become the first visiting professor at the Kyoto Seika University Cartoon Faculty. I was excited and somewhat nervous, not really knowing what to expect or what was expected of me.

I first visited Japan 20 years ago as one of a group of English and French cartoonists. A sort of cultural exchange organised by James Taylor, a publisher and cartoon enthusiast who’d managed to squeeze some funding from the Japan Foundation. The English element apart from James Taylor, consisted of Bill Tidy, Clive Collins, Roy Raymonde, Michael Ffolkes and myself.

The French contingent included Avoine, Bridenne, Nicoulard and Mose, the patriach of French cartooning, It was a great trip, two weeks of non-stop meetings, sightseeing and entertainment supplemented with warm and generous Japanese hospitality. Most of the time was spent in Tokyo but we also spent a few days in historic Kyoto, once the Capital. Professor Yasuo Yoshitomo who inaugurated and runs the cartoon department at Seika had invited us there.

The English contingent at least, was somewhat sceptical about the idea of a university teaching how to draw cartoons. I remember Bill Tidy, forthright as ever, standing up during a question and answer session holding a sheet of paper. “What you should do,” he said, “Is write down all the theories and teaching about cartooning and then …” He crumpled the paper into a ball and tossed it to the floor. Fortunately perhaps, the Japanese staff and students, looking on in bafflement, had no idea what he was on about.

I always hoped that I might return at some stage but thought less and less about it as the time passed. I heard later that Mose and Roy Raymond were regularly invited out for the bi-annual exhibition and I kept in contact by entering works for it and winning the occasional award.


One of PCO member Martin Honeysett’s drawings from his time in Japan

Then in 2002, out of the blue, I received an invitation to visit Kyoto for the exhibition. Not for the first time I was stepping into dead man’s shoes, for sadly, Mose had died.

I flew out with Roy and we joined another two cartoonists. Ponnappa from India and Pere from Spain. It was during this trip that I was asked if I would be interested in the idea of being a visiting professor. I said I was very interested but was cautioned that this was a tentative enquiry and in that Japan these things take some time to be decided.

So I returned home trying not to be too excited, looking forward to some sort of confirmation to arrive. It never did, so after a while I thought they’d given up on the idea . Then, two years later, I was again invited out for the exhibition and again asked if I’d be interested. I replied in the affirmative and this time it was confirmed.

For more, see issue 31 of The Foghorn.

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