The exhibition With a Song in My Art opens at the Bear Steps Gallery in Shrewsbury today (21 April). This cartoon was submitted for the music-themed...Read More
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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.
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!”
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.
Cartoonists are sharpening their pencils as it is a month today until the tenth Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival.
The big weekend for the festival, when live drawing events will take place, is 19-21 April. For the first time there will be a full programme of events on the Sunday.
Before that, the main festival exhibition, on the theme of “Time”, will open on 2 April at the Upper Floor Gallery in the town’s Market Hall. The above cartoon was submitted for the exhibition by Procartoonists.org member Pete Dredge.
The exhibition runs until 6 May and will then appear at the Qube Gallery in Oswestry. We will have more detail nearer the time. You can also visit the official website and follow the hashtag #shrews13 on Twitter.
The Procartoonists.org members Pete Dredge and Graham Fowell have been singled out in the “Special Mention” category at the 18th Dutch Cartoon Festival. The theme of the exhibition was “Prejudices and Stereotypes”.
Pete told us: “I hadn’t entered one of these competitions for many years, probably over 30, so after the promptings of our Feco [Federation of Cartoonists' Organisations] officer, The Surreal McCoy, I thought, ‘Why not give it a go?’ Just missed out on the prize money, but delighted to make the Special Mention stage.”
Graham added: “It is a lovely event – I have been a regular attendee for the past few years. The festival is now permanently held in Bergen op Zoom, a lovely little town in the south of Holland with a beautiful medieval town square.”
The full list of winners can be seen here. We send our congratulations to Pete, Graham and all the winning cartoonists.
One of the prices for the skill of visual thinking is that sometimes other people admire them to the point of purchase, but not for direct attribution.
The picture above of the cover of the most recent issue of Private Eye magazine is an example of this. But, er, exclusively, we can reveal the original cartoon behind the mass-market cover page printing.
Bright ideas, we’ve often got ‘em.
At the start of the year I had a call from an agency requiring a witty cartoon to publicise a client’s beer festival. This was no ordinary beer festival…
Their budget was reasonable, roughs were presented and the job was completed and fee paid on time. There was also some throw away line about sending me some comp tickets for the October beer festival and also tickets for a June race meeting.I had forgotten all about it when, a few weeks ago, an invite to lunch with Ascot’s chief executive arrived, along with two passes for the Royal Enclosure on Royal Ascot Ladies Day. I had hardly time to get the eBay account online before the better half had bought the hat, chosen the outfit and matching accessories and booked the day off work. There was no way back. A visit to Moss Bros soon followed for suiting and booting (and top hatting). With a bit of luck there may be something left from the original fee to place an each way bet.
They had used Mac, Peattie & Taylor (“Alex”) and our very own Kate Scurfield in previous years, all hard acts to follow.
Private Eye was presented with the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation Award for Services to Cartooning last night.
A small delegation from the PCO descended on the Eye’s Soho offices to present the award to Nick Newman, cartoonist and writer at the magazine, above, on behalf of the Editor, Ian Hislop.
Accepting the award, Nick said that the Eye had always been a staunch supporter of cartoons, from the early days when it would run two or three Willie Rushton cartoons to the present day which sees dozens of gags and strips in each issue.
Noting that the PCO gave the Award for Services to Cartooning last year to the Church Times, he added: “Obviously the Church Times is a much more humorous magazine …”
Pete Dredge, PCO member and regular Eye contributor, handed over the award, which he described as “a stylish, crystal-fashioned engraved paperweight recognising Lord Gnome’s 50 years of supporting the best of British cartooning and cartoonists”.
He told the Bloghorn: “It is understood that the paperweight will be on display amongst the Eye’s other trophies, rather than holding down the ever-growing pile of cartoon submissions on the Editor’s desk.”
The PCO thanks the Eye for accepting the award, and appreciates the fact that the Ed did not say “Sorry not to use. Thanks for sending.”
Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival kicks off tonight with a drop-in cartoon workshop at the Bear Steps Gallery at 4.30pm, and a talk by Dr Nick Hiley from the British Cartoon Archive on the cartoons of Carl Giles at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery at 7pm, tickets £5.
In the meantime, the exhibition Personal Bests opened on Monday (also at the Bear Steps Gallery) and features cartoons on the Festival’s Olympic theme, including these:
Come back to Bloghorn for coverage of the festival as it happens, or follow the hashtag #shrews11 on Twitter.
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.
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.”
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’.”
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.”
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?”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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’
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.
An exhibition that is sure to bring some warmth and cheer to the winter opens at the Cartoon Museum in London on Wednesday 24 November.
Ink and the Bottle is billed as “a merry exhibition on the pleasures and perils of the ‘demon drink’ starting with a swig of gin from Hogarth and Cruikshank”. We move on to Gillray, Donald McGill, Heath Robinson and Giles before downing “a heady cocktail of contemporary cartoons”.
That includes a generous measure of PCO members, including Steve Bell, Andrew Birch, right, Clive Collins, Neil Dishington, Denis Dowland, Pete Dredge, Roger Penwill, Ken Pyne, Royston Robertson, Bill Stott and Mike Turner.
As if that’s not enough binge cartooning, there’s work by Sally Artz, Ian Baker, Hector Breeze, Dave Brown,
Chris Duggan, top, Grizelda, Andrzej Krauze, Matt, Tim Sanders, Ronald Searle, Gerald Scarfe, Silvey & Jex, Ralph Steadman, and Judy Walker.
If you fancy three more for the road, there are also contributions from the Viz cartoonists Graham Dury, Davey Jones and Simon Thorp, who are no strangers to creating characters that “like a tipple”.
Ink and the Bottle – Drunken Cartoonists and Drink in Cartoons runs until February 13. See the Cartoon Museum website for more details.