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Battle fought, then sandwiches

November 24, 2014 in Events, General, News

Andy Davey works on the Procartoonists team banner

Andy Davey works on the Procartoonists team banner

Andy Davey gives his post-match analysis, as Procartoonists team captain, on the Battle of the Cartoonists 2014 Photos by Kasia Kowalska

It was great to take part in the Battle of the Cartoonists at Trinity Buoy Wharf in one of the less glamorous quarters of London’s fashionable Docklands. We cartoonists are not used to glamour, so it was perhaps fitting that a bunch of grubby satirists should be let loose in an old oil and hemp store on a wharf overlooking the Dome.

We, the PCO team, had done some vague pre-planning but left enough room for the spontaneity and creativity of the el Galacticos in our team – Jeremy Banx, Guy Venables and ex-Punch and Readers Digest cartoon editor Steve Way.

The Procartoonists team of Andy Davey, Jeremy Banx, Steve Way and Guy Venables

The Procartoonists team of Andy Davey, Jeremy Banx, Steve Way and Guy Venables at work. Note PCO banner from the 2008 St Pancras Battle in the background.

The work was good all round this year,  the quality of banner artwork was excellent and all kept on-theme (Recording Britain Now). The Independent deservedly won with a cohesively themed banner showing the map of the UK boasting “Here Be Monsters”. The draughtsmanship was superb, led by the inestimable pen of Dave Brown, with Peter Schrank, Dave Simonds and Matt Buck.

The Independent's winning banner

The Independent’s winning banner. Click to enlarge

Dave Brown, Matt Buck and Dave Simonds celebrate Grand Prix-style

Dave Brown, Matt Buck and Dave Simonds celebrate Grand Prix-style

Other teams present were The Guardian (Steve Bell, Ros Asquith and Kipper WIlliams) and Private Eye (Simon Pearsall, Henry Davies, Kathryn Lamb and David Ziggy Greene). The Eye, those perennial winners of the popular clap-o-meter vote, didn’t win this year but had a banner that could easily have done so – a delight of wit, simplicity and minimalism, including several excellent gags.

Detail of Henry Davies cartoons from the Private Eye banner

Detail of Henry Davies cartoons from the Private Eye banner

Kipper Williams and detail from the Guardian banner

Kipper Williams and detail from the Guardian banner. Click to enlarge

Of course, it pains me to say all this as captain of the Procartoonists.org team. I have, of course, offered, in the manner of honour down the centuries, to take the pistol and whisky option, or a more public display of seppuku with a blunt nib.

It’s quite a challenge to get the whole thing planned, drawn and coloured within the two-hour limit, so seeing the banners finished is always a treat. And it’s even more of a treat to get a free bacon sandwich and beer afterwards. Phew, largesse unknown to the likes of us scribblers.

The banners are to be sold off, apparently, so if you want a 4m x 1m work of spontaneous art to decorate your stately home, contact the Campaign For Drawing.

For sale: the finished PCO banner is held aloft

For sale: the finished PCO banner is held aloft

Profile photo of Royston

by Royston

Cartoonists prepare to do battle

November 17, 2014 in Events, General, News

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A team from the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation will once again take part in the Battle of the Cartoonists. (Cartoon above by Bill Stott)

The event is organised by the Campaign for Drawing, the people behind The Big Draw, and will take place at the Electrician’s Shop gallery, Trinity Buoy Wharf, in east London this Sunday (23 November) from 12pm-5pm. Admission is free.

Four teams, from Procartoonists, The Guardian, The Independent and Private Eye will each create huge banners on the theme of “Recording Britain Now” (click here for the full list of events on that theme).

The winner will be chosen by popular vote i.e. the team that gets the most cheers and applause. Banners from previous Battles over the past decade will be on display. Free cartoon workshops for all ages will also take place.

PCO members at work on Battle of the Cartoonists banners at Somerset House in 2006 ...

PCO members in the Battle of the Cartoonists at Somerset House 2006 …

... Covent Garden in 2007 ...

… Covent Garden 2007 …

... St Pancras Station in 2008 ...

… St Pancras Station 2008 …

... the Idea Generation gallery 2009 ...

… the Idea Generation gallery 2009 …

... Hay's Galleria 2010 ...

… Hay’s Galleria 2010 …

... and the V&A, 2012.

… and the V&A 2012.

Sir John Sorrell, a cartoon and drawing aficionado who was was publisher of The Cartoonist, the “cartoon newspaper”, will launch the event and will give a talk about the importance of visual satire.

The team line-ups are as follows (all teams feature Procartoonists members):

Procartoonists.org Andy Davey, Jeremy Banx, Neil Dishington, Steve Way

Private Eye Henry Davies, Kathryn Lamb, Simon Pearsall, David Ziggy Greene

The Guardian Ros Asquith, Steve Bell, Ben Jennings, Kipper Williams

The Independent Dave Brown, Peter Schrank, David Simonds, Matt Buck

We wish all the teams the very best of luck!

Video: Cartoonists in Herne Bay

September 23, 2014 in Events, General, News

This short video covering the exhibition and live cartooning in Herne Bay last month has been posted online by David Good Videos.

Former PCO chairman Nathan Ariss is our host, taking us through the background to the event and the live drawing that took place. Sue Austen of Beach Creative in Herne Bay and cartoonist Tim Harries talk about the workshops.

Our thanks go to David Good who also made a film on last year’s Marcel Duchamp festival in Herne Bay, which included a cartooning element.

UPDATE, 30 September: Rather than let all the footage he filmed go unseen, David Good has made another short film on the Herne Bay event. See below.

This time he talks to cartoonists Matt Buck, Royston Robertson and Steve Way.

See also:
David Good Videography
Procartoonists.org portfolios

A surreally great weekend

August 5, 2014 in Events, General, News

Happy caricature subjects, we assume, drawn by Alex Hughes. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Happy caricature subjects, we assume, drawn by Alex Hughes. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Cartoonists Beside the Surrealside in Herne Bay at the weekend was a scorching success. Here’s co-organiser Nathan Ariss with his post-event analysis:

I have only just recently discovered the true meaning of some of those well-worn platitudes, such as “Build it and they will come” and “We really couldn’t have done it without you” etc.

The Herne Bay cartoon festival has grown organically in fits and starts, borne late from the Duchamp Festival last August. I’ve been privileged to have midwived it into being, along with many of the town’s inspirational “can-do” types.

The Procartoonists undoubtedly owe a huge debt of gratitude to Beach Creative this year, run by Mandy Broughton and Mandy Troughton; the exceptional exhibition template provided for us by David Cross; and the organisation powerhouse and savviness of Sue Austen and Steve Coombes, who opened their home and list of contacts to greet, feed and publicise a multitude of cartoonists.

They also ensured that all the ridiculous ideas and things I threw at them to produce actually came into being. Thanks must also go to Arts Council England.

A collaborative effort. Insert "drawing a crowd" picture caption here. © Kasia Kowalska

A collaborative effort on a big board. Insert regulation “drawing a crowd” picture caption here. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

But, of course, a Bandstand full of cartoonists, ready with boards and tables, workshops and games, and paper and pens and paints and ideas, is only part of the picture. Thankfully, the informative and intelligent press and TV coverage we managed to garner ensured eager and expectant waves of audience for us to entertain and amuse.

BBC News preview of the event
ITV News report on the day

The event was a hit with the public, left, as well as cartoonists such as Cathy Simpson and The Surreal McCoy © Mika Schick

The event was a hit with the public, left, as well as cartoonists such as Cathy Simpson and The Surreal McCoy. Photos © Mika Schick

Thanks to Nathan. The big boards drawn at the event will be on display at the town’s Clocktower this summer. Here are some more photos (click any image to enlarge) then we will shut up about the festival … until next year.

An ilustrated man takes part. Photo © The Surreal McCoy

An illustrated man takes part. Photo © The Surreal McCoy

The public very very willing to chat and discuss the drawings Matt Buck talks cartoons. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

The public was very keen to engage with the work and discuss the drawings. Matt Buck talks cartoons. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

The comic strip workshop run by Tim Harries was packed throughout the day. There was also one on Saturday. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

The comic-strip workshop run by Tim Harries was packed throughout the day.  He also hosted one on Saturday at Beach Creative. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Glenn Marshall finds a unique way to display his cartoon of Dali's iLobster. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Glenn Marshall finds a unique way to display his cartoon of Dali’s iLobster. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Finished work: Dave Brown channels seaside postcard maestro Donald McGill and Chris Burke serves up Dali with melted ice-creams. Delicious. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Finished work: Dave Brown channels seaside postcard maestro Donald McGill and Chris Burke serves up Dali with melted ice-creams. Delicious. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Many thanks to Kasia Kowalska and Mika Schick and The Surreal McCoy for the photographs.

For more photos and cartoons from the event, see the Beach Creative photo gallery, and you can see more on Twitter at the #CartoonistsLive hashtag.

Exhibition: Pastiche, Parody and Piracy

June 12, 2014 in Events, General, News

Steve Bell: "I licence the logo bearers ..."

Steve Bell: “I licence the logo bearers …”

Many PCO members feature in an exhibition that brings together cartoonists and contemporary artists called Pastiche, Parody and Piracy and opens at the Cob Gallery in north London on 20 June.

The exhibition was put together by the the curator Camilla Ellingsen Webster with artist Miriam Elia and cartoonist Jeremy Banx, with the aim of showing the importance of the “appropriation” of images made by others in art and satire.

The team say that they were inspired to “celebrate the historical creative act of pastiche, parody and piracy” after Penguin UK threatened to pulp Elia’s book We Go to the Gallery, a parody of the Ladybird series of children’s books.

Alongside Banx, the PCO members involved are: Nathan Ariss, Steve Bell, Andrew Birch, Matt Buck, Wilbur Dawbarn, Pete Dredge, Noel Ford, Steve Jones, Kathryn Lamb, Chris Madden, Glenn Marshall, Alexander Matthews, Jonathan Pugh, Ken Pyne, Royston Robertson, Martin Rowson, Cathy Simpson, Bill Stott, The Surreal McCoy and Mike Turner.

Wilbur Dawbarn plays with Dance by Matisse

Wilbur Dawbarn plays with Matisse’s Dance

As well as cartoons, this exhibition will feature projections, photographs, prints and collage that use or pastiche other works of art, characters and logos.

The use of other works – though it has long been a tool in art – can be a controversial issue, particularly as those works are often copyrighted. The exhibition has already stirred up debate within in the PCO, with some members refusing to take part.

The gallery says: “The pieces in this exhibition play with other people’s ideas and pre-existing works to showcase a selection of contemporary appropriation in art that is often mischievous, somewhat humorous, and often unsettling. It plays with what the viewer might be comfortable with and questions ideas of authorship and originality.”

The title for this exhibition was inspired by a proposed exception for parody, satire and pastiche in a government copyright law. If it is passed, the act of subverting and appropriating elements of popular culture will be protected from large companies that often seek to silence artists through the courts.

Chris Madden takes on the House of Mouse

Chris Madden takes on the House of Mouse

“We believe this is crucial for the future of appropriative art and satire, and although the law has been delayed, we are putting on this exhibition to celebrate artists, satirists and cartoonists who are paving the way,” say the organisers.

Pastiche, Parody and Piracy: Exploring Different Approaches in Contemporary Art Appropriation is at The Cob Gallery, London NW1 from 20 June – 5 July. For more, email info@cobgallery.com or call 020-7209 9110

Roger and out: Chairman steps down

May 1, 2014 in Events, General, News

Roger Penwill narrates the Melodrawma at Shrewsbury 2014

Roger Penwill narrates the Melodrawma at Shrewsbury 2014. Photo by Kasia Kowalska

Roger Penwill reflects on more than a decade as chairman of the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival as he hands over the reins:

I first approached the town of Shrewsbury with the idea of staging an annual cartoon festival in 2002. Back then very few people knew what a cartoon festival was, including the local council.

The idea gradually took root and the Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival began in 2004. I had no idea that it would still be going strong after 11 years, I didn’t expect it to last more than two. It is the UK’s longest running annual cartoon festival by far and is currently the only one of its kind in the country. Hopefully it will still be with us for many years into the future.

Each year we festival organisers have enticed top cartoonists from our country and around the world to Shrewsbury in April. Numerous talks and workshops have been given over the “Cartoonists Live!” weekends. Nearly 50 exhibitions of cartoons have been shown, often giving the public opportunities to buy this collectable art form.

Roger Penwill drawn at Shrewsbury 2014 by Matt Buck

Roger Penwill drawn at Shrewsbury 2014 by Matt Buck

Exhibitions of cartoons from the UK, Australia, France, Greece, Germany, Holland, the US and elsewhere have been staged. Also each year, drawing live, have been many of the country’s best caricaturists. The huge Big Board cartoons were a world’s first for the festival.

What makes cartooning appealing to all ages is its emphasis on fun. The festival is defined by its humour, from its often bemused mascot Barry the Shrew (Shrew … Barry – geddit?) to the chaotic Melodrawma comic strip, which is drawn to a live narration, musical accompaniment and sound effects.

The festival may well have inspired many who have visited it to take up pen and brush. We would like to think so. It certainly was the inspiration for the birth of the Professional Cartoonists Organisation, with which it is closely linked.

The festival has been well-supported by the Shropshire Council from the start, but this year it could not continue with its funding because of cutbacks. The festival is therefore adapting to a self-funded future, which it is confident it can do.

Detail from this year's Big Boards, photographed by The Surreal McCoy

Detail from this year’s Big Boards, photographed by The Surreal McCoy. Clockwise from top left: Bill Stott, Chichi Parish, Dave Brown, Rupert Besley, Rich Skipworth and Royston Robertson

After 11 years in charge, I felt this was time for a fresh hand on the tiller so I’ve decided to remove mine. Happily I have been able to hand over the chairmanship of the organising team to Rich Skipworth.

Apart from being a splendid cartoonist himself, Rich is a proven of organiser of cartooning events. I am sure he’ll do a grand job.

So, another enjoyable and popular festival has been and gone (but the exhibitions are still open) and the serious planning for next year gathers pace …

From Herriman to Holte: Another ten great cartoonists

January 19, 2011 in Comment

The cartoonist Gerald Scarfe has made a list of his ten favourite cartoonists, for the Daily Mail website. It includes some inarguable choices as well as some surprising ones.

Ronald Searle, widely regarded as Britain’s best living cartoonist, is on there. There are also choices from the worlds of fine art, such as Picasso, and film-making, which is represented by Walt Disney, more for his skill at getting great work from others than his own drawing talents.

We asked members of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation, which runs the Bloghorn, to name their favourite cartoonists not on the Scarfe list. It’s not a poll, or a “top ten”, just an informal list of another ten great artists, and it shows the wealth of variety and creativity to be found in the world of cartooning.

Hector Breeze cartoon

1. Hector Breeze (Born 1928). Picked by Pete Dredge: “A master of the pocket cartoon. Out of the mouths of his mundane, benign, chunkily drawn characters comes the sharpest of captions.”

Robert Crumb cartoon

2. Robert Crumb (Born 1943). Picked by Royston Robertson: “He has been satirising the way we live since the 1960s with his dense, inky, cross-hatched drawings, displaying human folly in all its gory glory. Not for nothing was he described by the art critics Robert Hughes as ‘the Bruegel of the last half of the 20th century’.”

George Grosz painting

3. George Grosz (1893-1959). Picked by Matt Buck and Andrew Birch (both blatantly ignoring the brief of people not on Scarfe’s list, Bloghorn notes!) Matt says: “Grosz drew with an unsparing eye and produced powerful reflections of what people do rather than what they say they do.” Andrew adds: “For me German Expressionism was one of the most important art movements of the 20th century, whose brutal and honest line laid the foundation for many later cartoonists like Steadman.”

Heath Robinson cartoon

4. William Heath Robinson (1872-1944). Picked by Rupert Besley: “He was an original, creating a wonderful, instantly recognisable world of his own. He satirised the growth of mechanisation, but did so in a gloriously enjoyable way that always kept the human at the centre of it all. Which other cartoonist has added his name to the language and booked his place in every dictionary?”

George Herriman cartoon

5. George Herriman (1880-1944). Picked by Wilbur Dawbarn: “From the gorgeously scratchy line work and absolute poetry of the writing in the early years, to the sheer majesty of composition in the latter years, Herriman’s Sunday Krazy Kat pages are, to my mind, some of the finest examples of comic art ever penned.”

Holte cartoon

6. Trevor Holder, aka “Holte” (Born 1941). Picked by Roger Penwill: “Glorious technique, a master of expressive line and a very funny, wicked sense of humour. Some of his cartoons are timeless classics.”

Kliban cartoon

7. Bernard Kliban (1935-1990). Picked by Chris Madden: “I came across a book by B. Kliban: Cat Dreams. I’m not sure what they’re about. I’m not even sure if they’re funny (do cartoons actually have to be funny?) But they’re brilliant. Apparently he grew to detest drawing cats in the end, but they were what everybody wanted. Beware success.”

David Law cartoon

8. David Law (1908-1971). Picked by Steve Bright: “Beautifully fluid and loose line, amazing perspectives and angles, and the master of life and motion in all that he drew. Law inspired millions of kids to pick up a pencil through his marvellous work in the Beano, Dandy and Topper.”

Phil May cartoon

9. Phil May (1864-1903). Picked by Mike Turner: “A breakthrough in culling captions down to a minimum. Great art, brilliant caricatures, sheer good humour relating to ‘the man in the street’ or the ‘man on the horse-drawn omnibus’

Bill Tidy cartoon

10. Bill Tidy (Born 1933). Picked by Bill Stott: “For his excellent gags and consummate drawing, especially in his history-based stuff.”

What do you think of the list? Got a favourite cartoonist you’d like to add to it? Let us know in the comments below.

Make Your Mark on the Future: Big Draw 2010

May 26, 2010 in Events, General, News


Sue Grayson Ford
Director of the Campaign for Drawing launched Big Draw 2010 on Monday. This year – Make Your Mark on the Future – will feature events and activities around the country throughout October.

The event also saw the official launch of the website drawandfoldover.com (as mentioned previously) with a special drawing by Posy Simmonds, Steven Appleby, storyboard artist Nesta Morgan and Bloghorn’s own, Matt Buck. The results were projected on a giant screen in the auditorium as they drew.

Winners of the Drawing Inspiration Awards received a certificate drawn by Quentin Blake and a cheque. These were presented to a variety of organisations and institutions for their work in promoting drawing and it’s use in education and for the public benefit. Winners included the Prema Arts Centre in Gloucestershire, Stockport College and Worcester Porcelain Museum. The Arts Award Prize was presented to 15 year old Phoebe Hill for her Giant’s Garden project at Lyme Regis ArtsFest. The Awards this year also featured the first overseas winners, with the Playeum Play Centre in Singapore being co-winner of the Barbara Whatmore Charitable Trust Awards and the Kecskemét Cultural and Conference Centre in Hungary being a runner-up.

Bloghorn should add that the adaptation of Posy’s drawn book Tamara Drewe premiered in Cannes at the film festival and will be out later in the year.