It’s the summer lull. So we offer you a short round-up of cartooning news before we hit the beach with a very large book that...Read More
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The final word on this year’s Big Draw launch goes to Libby Purves, journalist, broadcaster, compere of the event and Procartoonists.org patron, who sent us this dispatch from the front line of the Battle of Cartoonists
I may not be a trained war correspondent but here goes: In that echoing temple of Papal tapestry-based art, the Raphael Room at the V&A, the Battle of the Cartoonists was duly joined last Sunday. Given the utter impossibility of commentating in an acoustic like a giant’s bathroom, after the initial draw for subjects – and the scuttle of massed cartoonists towards the free felt markers – I resolved to chronicle it on Twitter.
Someone had to. It is not every day (thank goodness) that you see, beneath sombre Biblical scenes, the wild-eyed geniuses of Private Eye, the Telegraph, the Guardian/Observer, Big Girls Drawers, Readers Digest, Procartoonists.org and the soaraway Sun gathered together in a sort of stone barn.
They were all fiercely at it, fending off swirling crowds of public, and working round not only the Stygian gloom of the gallery but dozens of small, inquisitive fingers groping at the side of their canvases. For the V&A on a Sunday, frankly, is always a bit like a middle-class family version of the last 20 minutes of the Roman Empire, with brats tearing round, lying on the mosaic floor drawing their own pictures, and intermittently going out to fall into the fountain and come back soggy but unbowed.
Big Girls Drawers spent some time decorating their table with enormous knickers, while the rest knuckled down to sketching and muttering and stealing one another’s pens. The girls got The Healing of the Lame Man, the Telegraph The Conversion of the Proconsul, Private Eye got St Paul at Athens, the Guardianista faction The Death of Ananias, Readers’ Digest The Draught of Fishes and The Sun got Christ’s Charge to Peter.
The Procartoonists team rather got the short straw with The Sacrifice of Lystra. This involved members of the public – and the commentator – sidling up to them with “Who?” [Ed's note: It's actually AT Lystra, but it was very dark in the room!] and wondering if it had anything to do with Lycra, therefore the Olympics, therefore something we had heard of.
So on it went, good-humoured and frenetic, and on went the tweets:
“Honeysett & co have given St Paul three toes. PCO team working Will and Kate and Pope into Bible scene”
“Telegraph team huffily say Proconsul themes are secret. Readers Digest are drawing a dog. Andy Davey of the Sun drawing manically, subject as yet unclear”
“Big Girls Drawers team just added fab corgi joke. I love cartoonists”
“330 pm. Brilliant. Adults and kids now lying on cold stone floor drawing their own cartoons. Professionals battle on.”
“Aha! Everyone breaking out colours now. And Daleks. And Harry’s bum. Private Eye v funny already”
“Guardian team being impeded by small children. Excellent temper-management. Kipper on fire!”
“Hmm NHS satire creeping in to Healing of the Lame banner. Telegraph team having Ionic columns pawed by infants”
“Sun team on Harry gags. Guardian too. Procartoonists gone insanely Biblical. Telegraph got good V&A in-joke”
“There are even Ninja Turtle jokes! From Reader’s Digest! Not many national art events span such cultural richness”
“5 mins to go. Huge variety of styles from stark b&w to exuberant larkiness”
And then there was the judging.
Popular cheering and clapping having been banned by anxious curators, in case dust was dislodged and damaged the Raphaels, the Big Draw decided the clever thing would be to get people to cluster round their favourite and see who had most.
This profoundly, confusingly, almost Old-Labourishly block-vote system proved unreliable and, given the loud cheering that happened anyway, really quite suitably absurd. Private Eye won. But actually, everyone did.
Compere Libby Purves of the oh-so-neutral Times newspaper will be keeping order. In a brief spot of self-congratulatory parping from our resident Foghorn, Procartoonists.org has members in all seven of the teams.
- Big Girls Drawers Chichi Parish (captain), The Surreal McCoy, Kathryn Lamb, Rosie Brooks
- Guardian/Observer Kipper Williams (c), Dave Simonds, Nicola Jennings, Harry Venning
- Readers’ Digest Steve Way (c), Simon Meyrick Jones, Nathan Ariss, Royston Robertson
- Procartoonists.org Pete Dredge (non playing c), William Rudling, Kate Scurfield, Guy Venables, Gerard Whyman
- The Sun Andy Davey (c), Clive Goddard, Tim Harries
- Private Eye Tony Rushton (non playing c), Martin Honeysett, Andrew Birch, Simon Pearsall, Henry Davies
- The Telegraph Patrick Blower (c), Charles Peattie, Matthew Buck Hack Cartoons, John Springs
Cartoon workshops will be held throughout the Big Draw, Big Make event this Sunday (September 30) at the V&A in London.
They will take place in the Raphael Room, the same venue as the Battle of the Cartoonists, and are being run by Procartoonists.org members. Running times are: 11am-12.30pm Robert Duncan; 12.30pm-2pm Tim Harries; 2pm-3.30pm Wilbur Dawbarn; and 3.30pm-5pm Cathy Simpson.
Download the full schedule here if you want to make it a family day and get involved in the child and adult-friendly activities.
A 30-minute talk by Gerald Scarfe – 50 Years of Being Rude – will be held at 2.45pm. Booking is advised for that event.
This Sunday (September 30) at 2pm, seven teams of Britain’s best cartoonists will gather in The Raphael Room at the Victoria and Albert Museum in The Battle of The Cartoonists.
Half an hour before the start of play, the teams – The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Sun, Private Eye (Hoorah!), Big Girls Drawers, Reader’s Digest and Procartoonists.org – will each be allotted one of Raphael’s seven massive cartoons hanging on the walls to inspire them, and will draw something connected with it (or maybe not) on a great big banner.
Two and a half hours later, the completed (or maybe not) banners will be shown to the assembled throng, and the winner will be the one that gets the most applause.
Light-hearted stuff, you say? Think again! Previous years have seen skullduggery, blatant cheating, tantrums, verbal and physical assaults, kidnapping and arson as passions run high and the ink runs like blood.
Members of the Royal family, top politicians, celebrities and foreign dignitaries are all people who might well be there – so make sure you arrive early!
Editor adds: Our thanks to Andrew for writing the above.
Event site: The Raphael Room at the Victoria and Albert Museum – The Battle of The Cartoonists.
Organisers and friends of Procartoonists.org: The Campaign for Drawing
Reading: What WAS a cartoon
The day sees the return of the Battle of the Cartoonists, with seven teams of cartoonists providing a comic, contemporary response to seven tapestries based on cartoons (the non-funny kind) by Raphael.
Procartoonists.org will have a team in play and there will be a plenty of our members in the other six teams: Big Girl’s Drawers, Private Eye, Reader’s Digest, The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Sun. Read our report from the last Battle in 2010
Free cartoon workshops will also be provided, courtesy of the Procartoonists.org members Wilbur Dawbarn, Robert Duncan, Cathy Simpson and Tim Harries.
The day will also feature talks by Quentin Blake and Gerald Scarfe and there will be pop-up studios, digital drawing games, portfolio advice from experts, and a visit from the CBeebies arts and crafts maestro Mister Maker.
All activities are free, but some require advance booking. For more information about Big Draw, Big Make and the Big Draw events taking place in October, visit campaignfordrawing.org
December 31, 2010 in Comment
As the pencil of 2010 contacts the eraser of 2011, Bloghorn thought it was time to record some of the year’s highs and lows – and to speculate about the new year.
But first, news of a PRIZE competition which will be coming on Bloghorn over the New Year Bank Holiday weekend … so watch this space.
You can explore our full monthly archives of stories from the world of UK cartooning in 2010 at: January - February - March – April – May - June – July – August – September – October – November and December.
As you can see it’s been a packed show, featuring a fantastic Ray Lowry retrospective, above, at the Idea Generation Gallery, mixed with the odd rotten moment like losing Les Gibbard. We have had the fantastic highlights of our traditional events such as the Big Draw and Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival and, happily, the late great Alan Coren rose from the grave and provided a shot of welcome wisdom.
The promised appearance of The House of Illustration in London has long cheered many as this will be a sister organisation to our long-time favourite The Cartoon Museum, which lies close to the proposed new attraction at King’s Cross in London. The £6.5m fundraising target is stiff but site building has started and you can read more about the full plans here. Meanwhile, the crew at The Cartoon Museum excelled themselves with a fine range of shows and events, excelling with a fantastic Ronald Searle display as the man reached his 90th birthday.
What’s the difference between cartooning and illustration Bloghorn hears you ask?
Try these definitions from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, although we thinks Searle shows the interchangeability of the terms about as well as anyone.
Car-toon – noun
From the Italian cartone pasteboard, cartoon, augmentative of carta leaf of paper.
Something that serves to illustrate: an example or instance that helps make something clear : a picture or diagram that helps make something clear or attractive.
Happily, the past year has also seen terrific development in the way cartoons are being used in media and the possibilities, and markets will grow in the new year. We’ve got evidence below from The Times and its current TV advertising. You can find a link to the cartoon they are promoting lower down this article …
Of course, we work on non-mobile television too, check out the titles to the new BBC adaptation of Just William and bow to the pen of cartoonist Ed McLachlan.
You’ll find a fantastic selection of the UK’s finest cartoonists working in all forms of the art at our UK Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation portfolio site which we will also be updating during 2011.
On the site the new and less-and-less unusual Government can expect its usual share of drawn innovation and horror – try Strictly Coalition for a start. In similar fashion, we wrote disobliging things about some parts of the Arts Council England because they sometimes deserve it.
You can follow us day-to-day by adding your email address to our mailing list, which you can find on the right hand side of this blog, by following us on Twitter, or reading us inside the strange world of Facebook.
December 6, 2010 in Comment
Now, news reaches us of a performance event in New York, above, featuring three teams of cartoonists from The New Yorker coming up with improvised drawings based on a selection of words.
The New York Observer has the story: Battle of the Sharpies: Cartoonists square off with their pens. The author of the piece, Alice Gregory, explains the appeal of this kind of live cartooning event:
There’s nothing more impressive than good improv. To see spontaneous wit at work may be the most humbling form of entertainment. What, no Google to confirm spelling? No coffee to spur that sparkle? On-the-spot illustration is fun to witness.
The voting system sounds familiar to any cartoonist who has taken part in the Big Draw’s Battle of the Cartoonists:
In lieu of a scientific system—tallied points, say—the victors were determined by subjective shouts. The decibel levels were ambiguous, but an executive decision was made for the sake of efficiency.
We feel the losers’ pain! But, it’s all just for fun, of course, and the greater goal is achieved: reminding people how much fun cartoons can be.
Thanks to The Surreal McCoy for the link.
Footnote: The Big Draw 2011 is looking for help with funding.
Go here: The Big Give