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Festival details released

March 6, 2014 in Events, General, News

Barry the Shrew, the festival mascot, tunes up © Roger Penwill

Barry the Shrew, the festival mascot, tunes up © Roger Penwill

The Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival takes place next month and more details of the events have been released. 

These include the title of the music-themed exhibition: With a Song in My Art – we are featuring cartoons submitted for the exhibition – and details on the live drawing events and workshops on creating strips,  mini-comics and, er, farting musical instruments. There’s also a talk by the Clare in the Community creator Harry Venning.

Head over to events page of the official festival website for more.

There’s even a fringe exhibition. Artists in Shropshire are invited to take part in a cartoon competition organised by the VAN Gallery to coincide with the festival.

The participating cartoonists are: Rupert Besley, Steve Best, Andrew Birch, Rosie Brookes, Dave Brown, Kate Charlesworth, Jonathan Cusick, Wilbur Dawbarn, Noel Ford, Alex Hughes, Tim Harries, Tim Leatherbarrow, Chichi Parish, Roger Penwill, Helen Pointer, John Roberts, Royston Robertson, Chris Ryder, Cathy Simpson, Rich Skipworth, Bill Stott, The Surreal McCoy, Harry Venning and Gerard Whyman.

Happy members of the public at Shrewsbury Cartoon festival

Happy members of the public at Shrewsbury Cartoon festival @ Procartoonists.org

The writer and broadcaster Libby Purves, a patron of the festival as well as of Procartoonists.org, will also be attending.

Special report: 50 years of cartoons in Private Eye

September 27, 2013 in Events, General, News

Left to right: Nick Newman, Ian Hislop and Richard Ingrams

Fans of Private Eye cartoons were in for a treat this week, as editor Ian Hislop and cartoonist Nick Newman took to the stage for two separate events looking back over 50 years of visual humour in the magazine – where they picked out a few favourite gags and discussed the challenge of selecting the cartoons that make it into the magazine.

Monday night saw the pair speak to a packed auditorium at the National Theatre on London’s South Bank. On Thursday, they were joined for their appearance at the Soho Literary Festival by Richard Ingrams, Hislop’s predecessor at the Eye and now editor of The Oldie.

The talks were scheduled to coincide with the launch of Private Eye: A Cartoon History, a handsome new hardback book edited by Newman and containing more than 1000 of the best cartoons published by the magazine over the last five decades. Ingrams was promoting his latest collection of Oldie cartoons, also published this month.

© Ed McLachlan @Procartoonists.org

Hislop and Newman began their National Theatre talk by looking back at some of the Eye cartoons that have gone on to become classics, including drawings by Willie Rushton, Martin Honeysett, Michael Heath, John Kent and Ed McLachlan (above). They observed that cartoons became increasingly surreal and absurd during the 1970s – with the giant hedgehog being a case in point – and Newman noted that many of the best political cartoons have not made it into his book because their impact has been lost over time.

Libby Purves, the journalist, broadcaster and Procartoonists.org patron, was on hand to steer the conversation. She pointed out that there still seems to be life in cartoonist cliches such as the desert island and the suicidal man-on-ledge. Hislop agreed, observing that “Private Eye is nothing if not repeated jokes with slight twists.” He referred to two recent psychiatrist’s couch gags, both by Procartoonists.org member Royston Robertson, which played with the formula and made it into the magazine.

More generally, Hislop praised gag cartoonists for their ability to distil their observations of the world around them into pithy and memorable scenes. “They’ve observed it, frozen it, and made it more or less permanent,” he said.

© Alexander Matthews @Procartoonists.org

The issue of ‘bad taste’ was raised when a cartoon by PCOer Alexander Matthews (above) was met by explosive laughter – and some gasps. Purves asked where Hislop draws the line when it comes to offending his readership.

“I always have to be able to justify it – to myself, if to no one else,” said Hislop. “And sometimes there are things that might offend people, but that you think just have to be said. We got a lot of complaints about this cartoon, but I just thought it was incredibly funny.”

Newman explained to the crowd that a cartoonist’s life can be defined by whether he or she is able to cope with having most of their work rejected on a regular basis. He also agreed with Purves’ observation that there are fewer high-profile markets for cartoons these days, following the demise of Punch and with newspapers not currently running standalone gags.

Hislop said that “without Matt, The Telegraph would be in real trouble”, and argued that readers would welcome non-topical joke cartoons in the newspapers. “Editors are missing a trick; cartoons are not expensive,” he said, turning to Newman with a threatening grin before adding: “and they’re getting cheaper next week!”. We hope he was joking.

***

“I’ve got a much smaller book, but it’s also a lot cheaper,” said a deadpan Ingrams of his Oldie paperback collection, when he joined the others on stage at the Soho Theatre on Thursday. “Nick’s book is terribly good, but you can’t take it into the toilet – my book you can.”

The presence of Ingrams at this second talk meant more anecdotes about the 1960s satire boom – for example that it was Willie Rushton who persuaded Gerald Scarfe to stop drawing desert island gags and have a go at caricature.

But Ingrams was also keen to talk about the current crop of cartoonists, and his slideshow of gags from the Oldie book included one or two from younger talents, among them the cartoon below by Procartoonists.org member Huw Aaron.

© Huw Aaron @Procartoonists.org

Hislop explained that the sheer number of cartoons flooding in to the Eye means he is required to make quick decisions over what to publish.

“When I choose cartoons, I think ‘is that funny?’, rather than ‘is it beautifully drawn?’,” said Hislop. Ingrams agreed, but added that the drawing itself should be amusing, not simply the idea behind it.

“Cartoonists don’t realise that they’re probably the most important part of a magazine,” said Ingrams, citing a recent readership survey in which roughly 80% said that cartoons were their favourite part of The Oldie.

Both talks were packed and the audiences were extremely appreciative, filling the room with laughter at pretty much every cartoon shown – and with several jokes even eliciting a round of applause.

***

Also this week, Private Eye launched Newman’s book with a party at Kettner’s in Soho attended by Eye staff and dozens of the magazine’s cartoonists. A great night was had by all and it was an excellent opportunity for the cartoonists to mingle and swap stories.

Private Eye cartoonists at the book launch party © Philippa Gedge

More images from the party, by photographer Philippa Gedge, can be seen here. Head over to the BBC for a slideshow of selected cartoons from the new book.

On behalf of its members, Procartoonists.org would like to thank Private Eye and offer a toast to the next 50 years.

 

Human rights in cartoon form

September 16, 2013 in News

Know Your Rights. Cartoon © Ali Ferzat @ Procartoonists.org

Amnesty's Know your Rights booklet. Cover cartoon © Ali Ferzat @ Procartoonists.org

Amnesty International has come up with a memorable way to remind people about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: it has issued the document as a booklet illustrated with cartoons.

Know your Rights is published in conjuction with Waterstones and features 14 cartoonists, including the Procartoonists.org members Tony Husband, Fran Orford and Royston Robertson, illustrating various articles of the Declaration.

© cartoon Tony Husband

Article 4. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude © Tony Husband @ Procartoonists.org

The booklet features an introduction by the writer A.L. Kennedy and includes thoughts on human rights from the cartoonists themselves. Michael Heath accompanies his cartoon with a succint thought: “It’s nice to be able to draw anything you want without being arrested.”

The cover is by the Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat who was beaten up because he drew cartoons critical of the Assad regime.

Publication marks the fact that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was ratified 60 years ago this month. The booklet contains the full text of the Declaration.

© Royston Robertson cartoon

Article 27. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community © Royston Robertson @ Procartoonists.org

The other cartoonists in the booklet are: Steven Appleby, Liza Donnelly, Merrily Harpur, Neil Kerber, Martha Richler (Marf), Chris Riddell, Gerald Scarfe, David Shrigley [Does this mean he's officially a cartoonist now? – Ed] and Judith Vanistendael.

Know your Rights can be found by the tills in branches of Waterstones nationwide, priced £2.

The Round-up

August 16, 2013 in Events, General, Links, News

Royston's previous talk at Summer Squall 2010

Procartoonists.org writer Royston Robertson will be giving a talk about cartoons on Bank Holiday Monday (26 August) at the Kings Theatre in Ramsgate, as part of the town’s Summer Squall arts festival. The talk begins at 11am and is completely free to attend. Royston will be showing a selection of his published cartoons and talking about the process behind producing a gag cartoon for publication. This will be his second talk for the festival, with his debut in 2010 having been very popular with the public.

Cootehill International Cartoon Festival takes place in County Cavan, Ireland, over the weekend of 14-15 September.  The event will feature workshops, exhibitions and live drawing, and Hunt Emerson, Tim Leatherbarrow and Graeme Keyes are among the cartoonists taking part. Check the festival’s Facebook page for updates.

AFP.com talks to Kash, a political cartoonist who has made a career out of finding humour in the political and social troubles in his native Democratic Republic of Congo. Read the interview here. You can also see Kash draw and hear him talk about his work in this video.

And finally, PCOer Alexander Matthews gives us a behind-the-scenes look at how he arrived at his take on Ball Boy for The Beano.

Heard the one about Twitter jokes?

February 13, 2013 in Comment, General

Procartoonists.org member Royston Robertson on the rise of Twitter jokes

“Everyone’s a comedian” is a phrase often uttered sarcastically, but with the rise of the Twitter joke it almost seems true.

If you’re not familiar with the phenomenon you need to be hanging around on Twitter when a major news story breaks. Recent stories such as the horsemeat scandal, the resignation of the Pope, and the unearthing of the body of Richard III, have provoked huge numbers of jokes (click those links to see some of them). Some are by those in the business of writing jokes but most are not.

Twitter cartoon by Royston Robertson

© Royston Robertson @ Procartoonists.org

Of course there are plenty of clunkers, and quite a few groaners, but a lot of them are really rather good. And it leads to a bit of a problem for cartoonists: how do you follow that?

It can be tricky to come up with new and original ideas, possibly to be seen a day – or several days – later, in an age when a colossal wave of jokes travels around the world as soon as a story breaks.

Well, the simple answer is that you just have to up your game. Of course, you can’t read every tweet to make sure your joke hasn’t been done, you just have to get on with it. Twitter is clearly here to stay, so there’s no point in complaining.

For political cartoonists, the problem is even more acute as people have taken to predicting on Twitter how the following days cartoons will turn out, most notably when the Richard III story broke on the same day that the MP Chris Huhne changed his plea to guilty.

As predicted by the Twitterati, some cartoonists did combine the two stories. But if it is done with enough skill and original thought, it’s clear that there is a big difference between a beautifully crafted cartoon and a 140-character quip.

Ultimately, what the trend for Twitter jokes tells us is that millions of people love to look at the world and all its problems through the prism of humour.

And that has to be good news for cartoonists.

Editor asks: Do you agree? Please tell us what you think in the comments.

The Round-up

December 14, 2012 in General, Links, News

© Axel Scheffler for Royal Mail @Procartoonists.org

Axel Scheffler, the illustrator best known for his work on the Gruffalo books, has produced the designs for Royal Mail’s Christmas stamps this year. Scheffler talks to the BBC about this latest commission, and looks back at his early work, in this short video.

After widespread publicity about falling sales and the decision to cease printing, The Dandy has now gone digital. Check out the first issue of the interactive web comic here.

Newsagent Des Barr requested 50,000 copies of the last print edition of The Dandy and has been selling them from a pop-up store in Glasgow, as well as via the internet. Somewhat ironically, sales have apparently been strong – read about it here, or buy a copy.

In related coverage, New Statesman looks at the UK children’s comic industry – from the online Dandy to The Phoenix and others – and finds it is in rude health. The article is one of several published as part of a week-long celebration of British comics by the magazine. Find the other pieces here.

As part of The Guardian’s coverage of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, illustrator in residence Chris Riddell writes that he has high hopes for the future of illustration in the digital realm.

And finally, Procartoonists.org member Royston Robertson has written an article for Sabotage Times in which he lists 10 cartoonists who have influenced him.

Canvassing for charity

November 27, 2012 in Events, General, News

Cartoon canvas by Robert Thompson

Cartoon canvas © Robert Thompson @ Procartoonists.org

Many cartoonists have contributed small canvases to the Stars on Canvas 2012 charity auction, which runs online until 2 December.

They include Procartoonists.org members Jonathan Cusick, Noel Ford, Tony Husband, Royston Robertson, Robert Thompson, above, and Kate Taylor. There are also canvases by names from the worlds of sport, music and entertainment.

The auction is in aid of the Willow Foundation, which arranges special days and experiences for seriously ill 16 to 40-year-olds. More details here.

The Round-up

October 19, 2012 in General, Links, News

Gren Jones at the drawing board @Procartoonists.org

Procartoonists.org member Tim Harries draws our attention to the first episode of Rolf Harris‘ new BBC series, Rolf on Welsh Art, in which he profiles the late, great Welsh cartoonist Gren Jones. Watch the half-hour show on BBC iPlayer (available until 9 November) – or why not visit Gren’s home village and take the walking tour?

Tim also spotted this short TED talk by Sunni Brown on the merits of doodling. Elsewhere, you can see some of the photo-real portraits that artist James Mylne has produced using that classic doodling tool – the Bic biro.

US television network ABC is developing a new sitcom about a “dysfunctional cartoonist” (is there any other kind?*)

And finally, another Procartoonists.org member (and contributor to this blog), Royston Robertson, gives an interview to a local paper about his 15 years and counting as a cartoonist. Read it here.

* Editor adds: This is a joke ;)

The Round-up

August 11, 2012 in General, Links, News

© Ian Baker @Procartoonists.org

The writer and broadcaster Brian Sibley reviews the latest Cartoon Museum exhibition, Animal Crackers, and highlights cartoons by Procartoonists.org members Ian Baker, above, Royston Robertson and Ralph Steadman as being among the best exhibits. Read Brian’s write-up here. The exhibition runs until October 21.

Sticking with animals, the Chris Beetles Gallery in London is running an exhibition devoted to  ”Cat Art”. The selling show is inspired by the work of Victorian illustrator Louis Wain, and features his work alongside that of four other artists. See the featured paintings and illustrations here.

Quentin Blake and Shaun Tan are to appear at the next Comica Conversation event in London, taking place on August 27 (thanks to downthetubes.net for the tip-off).

Comics and cartoons are big internationally, and their creators are compared to rock stars on occasion – even a leading fashion designer harboured dreams of being a cartoonist. All of which raises an often-asked question …

Updated: August 12, 2012:

We are indebted to regular reader and cartoonist Mike Lynch for improving our knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the piece in the Village Voice that we linked to above.

Cartoonist refuses to grin and bear it

June 13, 2012 in Events, General, News

Matthew Inman, the cartoonist behind popular US website The Oatmeal, wrote about a website that was stealing his images a year ago.

His blog post about FunnyJunk.com received a response and the subsequent removal of Inman’s images was welcomed, even though not all of them were taken down. Eventually, Inman decided it wasn’t worth the energy to continue to pursue the remainder and he let the matter lie.

To his surprise, this month, he was served legal papers informing him that the owner of the FunnyJunk.com site was filing a federal lawsuit against him alleging defamation and false advertising. It also asked for a payment of $20,000 as a remedial act.

In response, and after taking his own legal advice, Inman wrote a new blog post, featuring the legal letter in question, and offering to undertake the following:

To raise $20,000 in donations, to take a photo of the money, to post the photo, along with a deliberately crude cartoon of the website owner’s mom seducing a Kodiak bear, below, and finally to give half the donation to the National Wildlife Federation and the other part to the American Cancer Society.

Cartoon © Matthew Inman at theoatmeal.com

The campaign, which he has dubbed “Bearlove Good. Cancer Bad” was set up on the fundraising website Indiegogo with a 15-day deadline to raise the money. Within the first hour it had raised the $20,000 target, and now stands (at the time of writing) at $142,753, with 14 days still to go.

The lawyer acting for FunnyJunk.com, Charles Carreon, is reported by MSNBC to be “bewildered” by this response.

Of course, websites that use cartoon artwork without consent are nothing new – Procartoonists.org member Royston Robertson recently tweeted about an article on Citizen Journalism that uses a cartoon of his stolen from the CartoonStock website. Matthew Buck had a similar experience with the Guido Fawkes political blog and the US cartoonist Mike Lynch reports this story from 2009. There are doubtless many more examples. Please tell us about them in the comments if you would like to share your experience.

Inman has been drawing caricatures of his contributors’ avatars on Twitter as a way of saying thank you to those who chose to donate to his successful fundraising.