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End of an era at Private Eye

December 17, 2012 in Events, News

Tony_Rushton_private_eye @ procartoonists.org

Tony Rushton, for sometime of Private Eye @ procartoonists.org

Private Eye magazine says farewell to its longtime art director Tony Rushton tomorrow, with a party near its offices in Soho, London.

Tony has been with the magazine for 50 years, joining at issue 11, and is responsible for the old-school “cut n’ paste” look to which Britain’s leading satirical magazine has doggedly stuck over the decades.

He’s also the man the cartoonists deal with, though the ultimate decision on what goes in the mag is made by Ian Hislop, the editor. Pete Dredge, a Procartoonists.org member and Private Eye veteran (sorry, Pete) told us:

“Receiving a ‘Good morning, good morning, it’s Tony Rushton’ phonecall is usually a precursor of good news for cartoonist contributors to Private Eye. An acceptance of a single gag idea, or more rarely, a cartoon strip commission, is usually heralded by a call from Tony.

“Things do change at the Eye but usually inperceptibly – when did Colemanballs become Commentatorballs? – so it will be interesting to see how Tony’s departure after 50 years will have an impact on the unique look of the mag, a look that has borne the Rushton stamp for all these years.”

The Independent has a profile of Tony here, which features this key quote:

“If you took away the cartoons from Private Eye it would be a very boring magazine, a worthy, boring magazine.”

Procartoonists.org says amen to that and wishes Tony Rushton the very best for his retirement.

Photo from V&A’s Private Eye at 50 video, via Eye magazine (a different one)

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by Royston

Remembering Ronald Searle

May 22, 2012 in Events, News

Ronald Searle Punch cover

The Chris Beetles Gallery is hosting the exhibition Ronald Searle Remembered, in memory of the cartoonist who died in December.

The show, which starts today, features more than 400 works by Searle, who is widely regarded as the greatest cartoonist of the 20th century. It runs until June 9.

It includes some of the clandestine drawings he produced as an inmate of Changi Gaol, the notorious Japanese prisoner of war camp,  Punch covers, such as the one above, plus book and magazine illustrations.

St Trinian’s and Molesworth are represented, of course, alongside adverts for Lemon Hart rum and Searle’s reportage on many issues of the day. Also included are unpublished letters that provide new insights into the life of the great man.

Ronald Searle letter

Detail from a letter sent from Singapore, September 21, 1945

The gallery has produced an accompanying 200-page fully illustrated catalogue, featuring newly researched essays and notes. For more details, and to view the exhibition online, visit the Chris Beetles Gallery website.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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.

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by Royston

Joke cartoons show opens

January 27, 2010 in General

pak_joking

The Only Joking! exhibition, a collection of gag cartoons old and new, opened at the Cartoon Museum in London today (Jan 27).

The show is designed to raise spirits in the deep winter with a few much-needed hearty chuckles, though when PCOer Martin Honeysett attended the private view yesterday he found that many people were clearly at home nursing winter colds (like this Bloghorn writer!)

Martin said: “I suppose the sparcity of cartoonists in the pub beforehand should have indicated the smallness of the throng attending. Never mind, all the better to get a good view of the fine work on display, extolling the virtues of this form of comic art and the lack of current appreciation.

“It’s a nice mix of old and new and an opportunity to see some gems from the museum collection. Well worth a visit.”

So, sup up your Lemsip (other cold remedies are available) and get down to the Cartoon Museum in Little Russell Street before the exhibition ends on March 1. For more details visit the website.

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by Royston

Original Ogri cartoon artwork for sale

January 18, 2010 in General

ogri
Cartoonist Paul Sample is to auction around 500 pieces of original artwork from his strip Ogri, which he created in 1967 and has featured in Bike magazine for 35 years.

The Telegraph website has the full story. Ogri has also featured prominently in Telegraph Motoring.

Ogri is a great example of a cartoon that works wonders for the profile of its niche publication while remaining accessible and popular. As Sample himself says: “Most people think Ogri is about biking but it’s not, it’s about life in general. The inspiration comes from riding my bike, talking to people in the pub or things on the news.”

Bloghorn hopes other niche publications will take note and consider commissioning such strips. There are plenty of cartoonists in the PCO, which runs this blog, with pens poised, ready to draw them.