You are browsing the archive for Mel Calman.

A meeting of minds

February 13, 2014 in Events, News

Kasia Kowalska reports from the opening of Calman Meets Freud at the Freud Museum in Hampstead, London

"I hope I'm not boring you."  © Mel Calman @Procartoonists.org

“I hope I’m not boring you.” © Mel Calman @Procartoonists.org

The first thing you notice as you join the small gathering of family, friends and colleagues of Mel Calman at the Freud Museum is the unreserved warmth with which they talk about him.

It soon becomes apparent that he must have been a generous and engaging man and that he inspired love and loyalty in those who got to know him.

His daughter Claire Calman, who co-curated the exhibition with her sister Stephanie Calman, called it a “real labour of love” and remarked that it coincides with the 20th anniversary of Mel Calman’s death.

“Everything about Mel is still in sharp focus after 20 years” said the Times political cartoonist Peter Brookes, who worked with Calman in the 1990s. “His gruff bonhomie, his decency and kindness.”

Sir Peter Stothard, former Times editor with Peter Brookes, editorial cartoonist at the paper © Kasia Kowalska @ Procartoonists.org

Sir Peter Stothard, former Times editor with Peter Brookes, editorial
cartoonist at the newsaper © Kasia Kowalska @ Procartoonists.org

The theme of psychology is explored in the exhibition and it reflects on both therapy and mental health, but the cartoons also explore the nature of relationships and intricacies of our private lives. Lisa Appignanesi, chair of trustees at the Freud Museum, said that it was “particularly wonderful to have Calman at the museum as Freud loved jokes“.

If you knew nothing about Mel Calman except for his cartoons, you would already know that he was funny, thoughtful and deeply interested in people and their inner lives. Peter Brookes called Calman’s cartoons “deceptively simple”.

Calman’s cartoons snap what one may be thinking or feeling into a surprisingly crisp form and clinch it with a witty, singular statement. They say that it’s OK not to be OK.

His “little man” who sometimes feels unloved and often put upon, unfit to tackle all of life’s problems, is prone to melancholy and depression. This was also true of Calman himself.

"Are you suffering from too much life again?" © Mel Calman @ Procartoonists.org

“Are you suffering from too much life again?”
© Mel Calman @ Procartoonists.org

Sir Peter Stothard, who was his editor at The Times, said: “Mel was a cynical realist, a laughing pessimist — a perfect fit for the Freud Museum.”

Among the cartoons and publications on display is a large collection of objects from the family’s private collection including personal letters, notes and the famous B5 pencils that became Calman’s medium of choice.

Cartooning permeated Calman’s life and he used it as a means of communication that stretched beyond his professional career. One object from the collection is a drawing on an envelope addressed to his young daughters at an imaginary address. It features a cartoon stamp and, in the top left corner, the word “AirMel”.

Calman Meets Freud runs until 16 March

The Round-up

February 10, 2014 in Events, General, Links, News

Kasia Kowalska writes:

Dave Walker, a Procartoonists member, talks about what makes him tick in a short film by Michal Dzierza, above, called Being A Cartoonist.

If you like to know what makes other people tick, a new exhibition celebrating the life and work of Mel Calman has opened at the Freud Museum in Hampstead, London. Titled Calman meets Freud, it explores the much-loved cartoonist’s interest in psychiatry and mental health.

Andy Davey has put his recent lecture on the future of political cartooning, which we previewed here, on his website “in windbaggy blog form” (his words, not ours).

Though they may not always admit it, cartoonists are often inspired by other cartoonists. Michael Maslin wanted to know what cartoon collections inspired his colleagues at The New Yorker. He calls these collections “Cartoon Bibles”.

scott adams book

Passion – even for cartoons – is not everything: Scott Adams, the man behind Dilbert, ponders the virtues of failure in this video interview. He has succeeded in writing a book about failure, above.

Sometimes even the most creative ventures fail, as the DrawQuest founder Chris Poole found out.

Yet some cartoons are destined for success. It has been 25 years since The Simpsons broke the mould and made social satire a household name. To celebrate, Lego has teamed up with Fox to re-create them as its iconic figures. Keeping with the celebratory spirit, the cartoonist and animator David Silverman has published early Simpsons drawings on Twitter.

Bill Watterson made the news by winning the Grand Prix at 41st Angouleme Festival in France for his timeless strip Calvin and Hobbes. Also, the 30th Aydın Doğan International Cartoon Competition in Turkey announced its winners, with the top prize going to a Polish cartoonist, Krzysztof Grzondziel.

One cartoonist who may be certain that such recognition will not present itself in his own country is Bonil of Ecuador. Following a press watchdog’s ruling that he had insulted Rafael Correa, the president, the newspaper El Universo was forced to publish a suitable “correction” from the cartoonist.

What Art thou Foggy?

September 21, 2012 in Comment, General

Foghorn September 15 @procartoonists.org

© Andy Davey @procartoonists.org

Our anthropomorphic Foghorn tackles the big question…

Profile photo of Royston

by Royston

Cartoons are good in a crisis

February 4, 2009 in General

calman
Cartoon by Mel Calman

Crisis? What Crisis?, an exhibition of original cartoon artwork relating to various financial and political crises over the past 100 years, is part of the Watercolours and Drawings Fair at London’s Covent Garden.

The fair runs from today (February 4) until February 8 and is held at the Flower Cellars, 4-6 Russell Street, Covent Garden.

Exhibitor Jonathan Pugh of The Times offered this thought:

It’s the only place in the whole of London you’re likely to hear any laughter.

The cartoon show includes works by dozens of cartoonists, past and present, including, Giles, Gerald Scarfe, John Jensen, Heath Robinson, Ken Pyne, Mac, Martin Rowson, Matt, Mike Williams, Peter Brookes, Steve Bell and Tony Husband.

For more information, visit the Watercolours and Drawings Fair website

Artist of the Month: Kate Taylor

November 21, 2008 in Events

Bloghorn asked our Artist of the Month, Kate Taylor, how she started out in drawing;

Since childhood Kate loved to draw and only ever wanted to be an illustrator. She has always worked as a self-employed freelancer, but, with her output always “veering towards” cartooning.

She always admired the cartoons of the late Mel Calman but tells us she tries not “to look at other people’s work too much, because everyone else seems so funny.”

Bloghorn says click T for Taylor

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

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by Royston

Celebrity cartoonists

July 17, 2008 in General

As cartoonist-turned-comedian Phill Jupitus prepares to talk of his love of cartoons on the radio, PCOer Royston Robertson looks at some other celebrities who once wielded drawing pens

MEL CALMAN called his autobiography What Else Do You Do?, after the question that is so often put to cartoonists. In fact, there appear to be many cartoonists who not only did something else, but found that that occupation eventually made their name, to the point where the career in cartooning became a largely forgotten footnote.

It was only after the death of the comedian Bob Monkhouse that I heard that he had once been a cartoonist. And quite an accomplished one. He had worked for Beano publisher DC Thomson.


A cartoon by Bob Monkhouse of PCOer Noel Ford, along with a photo of Bob working on that very drawing. Noel, who once worked with Bob at the BBC, assures us that he really did look like that weird in the 1970s

At about the same time, I read an article about the novelist John Updike and how he had been obsessed with cartoons as a child. Updike also tried his hand at being a cartoonist before coming to his senses and deciding that writing was the better path to take. It was certainly the more lucrative.

Another writer who has dabbled with cartooning is Will Self. Some of his work can be seen in a compilation of his newspaper and magazine articles called Junk Mail. The drawing is crude but some of the gags are pretty good.

BBC 6Music presenter Marc Riley, formerly “Lard” of Mark and Lard fame on Radio One, and an ex-bass player with The Fall, is another ex-cartoonist whose drawing was somewhat on the crude side. You may remember his Harry the Head from Oink! Comic. He also appeared in photo strips in Oink! He was the guy with the big nose.

Another former cartoonist is broadcaster Andrew Collins, also an ex-New Musical Express journalist, EastEnders scriptwriter, Radio Times film writer and general overachiever. He chronicled his love of cartoons and half-hearted attempts to make a living drawing owls and wizards for puzzle magazines in Where Did it All Go Right and Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, his bestselling memoirs of growing up in the 1970s and 1980s.

Talking of the NME, anyone who used to read the music paper in the early 1990s may remember a cartoon drawn in the style of Gillray called Dr Crawshaft’s World of Pop. But did you know that it was drawn by Arthur Mathews who went on to co-script the sitcom Father Ted?

So I suppose there’s hope for us all if we get disillusioned with the world of cartooning. Right, it’s time to get back to the drawing board/typewriter/record decks …

Comic Love is on BBC Radio Four at 10.30am on Saturday 19 July.

The PCO British cartoon talent