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Opinion: Cartoonists and a new world

November 19, 2013 in Comment, General, News

You are here © Roger_Penwill_@_procartoonists.org

© Roger Penwill @ Procartoonists.org

The internet is a perfect medium for cartoons. Images can look much more striking on a backlit screen than they ever did in muddy print.

So the news that The Sun was dropping Andy Davey’s weekday editorial cartoon slot just as it finally attempted a serious transition to digital first publication is ironic.

I am a member of an endangered species … the cartoonists. In fact, my small colony is a sub-sub-species – the few who actually (well, as I write) make a living from the practice. The fact is that habitat change is threatening us.”
Andy Davey in an article for E!Sharp magazine

(In a fitting footnote, E!Sharp magazine moved from print to digital with the loss of Davey’s regular cover illustration).

Newspapers have been shedding journalists, photographers and cartoonists by the hundredweight over the past few years, as their print revenues have shrivelled. Few papers have managed the transition to digital presence while finding an alternative online revenue stream.

Obfuscation about their digital revenue clouds the facts but the basic problem of converting casual digital readers into paying subscribers remains.

© Ger Whyman at Procartoonists.org

© Ger Whyman @ Procartoonists.org

Publishing companies have tried two basic strategies. News UK papers The Times and The Sun are now both largely behind subscriber paywalls, amid huge tidal waves of PR and free giveaways. This was a a principled decision (nobody should work for nothing) but a rather brave one in a world where news and information is now free, instant and ubiquitous. The results are presently understood to be mixed.

The other model is the new-media idea that you give away your content and hope that spin-off merchandising and advertising revenue will flood in on the back of your increased global readership. Online services can be developed for a motivated and loyal crowd of customers.

© Dave Chisholm @procartoonists.org

© Dave Chisholm @ Procartoonists.org

The Guardian has attempted to make itself into the best upmarket liberal global news brand in this fashion. The Daily Mail has morphed silently into a sort of daily global Hello! magazine, titillating the masses with its “Sidebar of Shame”, in the process becoming the most widely read digital newspaper worldwide.

Significantly, neither of these organisations have been over keen to reveal how much revenue this accrues  and how it stacks up against their legacy costs of business.

But publishing companies and newspapers as product form only a small patch of land in the shrinking traditional habitat of the cartoonist. Magazines used to be a source of welcome revenue for scribblers. However, the rates of pay have been slashed over the years to levels of vanity publication. Regular readers and subscribers to this blog will also know about the direct-to-audience efforts that many cartoonists have made in recent years.

© Matt Percival at procartoonists.org

© Matt Percival @ Procartoonists.org

The traditional confidence in the utility of our skills leads the Guardian cartoonist and PCO member Martin Rowson to characterise our trade as parasites. Once the carrier dies, “like any hideous sensible parasite, we’ll just jump off on to the next host”.

And there is some truth in this.

In Georgian times, cartoonists plied their trade by selling prints of their work in coffee shops. The radical coffee shop died a death as the prim Victorians arrived. Consequently, cartoonists jumped on to new hosts ushered in by advances in print – Punch and similar magazines.

Newspaper circulation wars in the 1900s then saw a race to hire cartoonists, providing a very welcome long-lived carrier for us parasites. The chronic morbidity of printed newspapers means we have to find a new habitat.

Ed adds: And, of course, many of us are adapting successfully. If you have comments about any of themes in this piece please do add them in comments.

Cartoon Pick of the Week: Redacted

June 19, 2009 in Links, News

foghorn_for_posting_redacted MPs are back in the news again with the release of their heavily blacked-out expense reports, so Bloghorn has a special round-up of the best of the redacted, censored and otherwise obscured cartoons for the week ending the 19th June 2009.

One: Matt in the Daily Telegraph gives us a historical perspective on the story.

Two: Mac in the Daily Mail shows us a sneak preview of the upcoming Iraq enquiry testimony from Gordon Brown.

Three: There’s a brand-spanking new ceremonial role in the Houses of Parliament in Peter Brookes cartoon for The Times

Four:whilst Dave Brown lets it all hang out in the open for the Independent

Five: Steve Bell in The Guardian goes with Tony Blair’s knowledge of torture in interrogations.

Six: It’s all done in the best possible taste for Andy Davey in the Sun

Seven and Eight:and finally, Paul Thomas in the Daily Express and Tim Sanders in the Independent just can’t find the words

Note: in the spirit of openness, and unlike the Goverment, Bloghorn believes that you should know all about this. Simply highlight the text above to reveal the redacted sections.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

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Cartoon Pick of the Week

June 5, 2009 in Links, News

Bloghorn spotted this great work during this week ending the 5th June 2009.

One: Matt from the Daily Telegraph on Gordon in isolation.

Two: Mick Stevens in the New Yorker on modern publishing.

Three: and finally, Mac in the Daily Mail on picking the new cabinet- “Mrs Perkins. How would you like to be Home Secretary?”

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent
Subscribe to The Foghorn – our print cartoon magazine

Illingworth exhibition opens

May 28, 2009 in General

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The exhibition celebrating the life and work of the Daily Mail cartoonist Leslie Illingworth was opened on Tuesday evening at the Political Cartoon Gallery in London by celebrated cartoonist and artist Ralph Steadman.

Leslie Gilbert Illingworth (1902 – 1979) was perhaps one of the last great practitioners of penmanship to take up political cartooning. This book is not only a biography of one of the twentieth century’s most important cartoonists, but also a visual and detailed chronicle of thirty years of history through roughly three hundred cartoons that were originally published in the Daily Mail.

The Political Cartoon Gallery is open Monday to Friday 9am – 5.30pm and on Saturdays between 11am – 5.30pm. Phone Dr Tim Benson on 01923 242769 for further details or email him at info@politicalcartoon.co.uk

UPDATED: Christian Adams has a write up of the opening night here

Cartoon Pick of the Week

May 22, 2009 in Comment

Bloghorn spotted this great work during this week ending the 22nd May 2009.

One: Christian Adams in The Daily Telegraph on defences over MPs expenses

Two: Mac (Stan McMurtry) in The Daily Mail: “Bad news, Joanna Lumley has called a snap election.”

Three: and Tim Sanders in The Independent on bureaucracy.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent
Subscribe to The Foghorn – our print cartoon magazine

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by Royston

Cartoon Pick of the Week

April 10, 2009 in Links, News

Bloghorn spotted this great work during this week ending the 10th April 2009.

One: Mac in the Daily Mail: “Yes, I’ve resigned. But how the hell did you know?”

Two: Paul Noth in The New Yorker with an Easter cartoon.

Three: Martin Honeysett in the PCO magazine The Foghorn on animal testing. For more on the current issue of Foghorn, click here.

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The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Making fat jokes about politicians

January 27, 2009 in General


Christian Adams at the Telegraph writes on the challenges of drawing the prime minister and the newspaper’s leader column offers another thought in response. Other papers picked up Christian’s story with Dave Brown of The Independent chipping in here and Martin Rowson popping up on BBC Breakfast.

Bloghorn’s cartoon pick of the week

September 12, 2008 in Links, News


Bloghorn spotted this great work this week. Quite a lot of it appeared to be bashing the Prime Minister …

One: Dave Brown in the Independent on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN

Two: Noel Ford in the Church Times on Fairtrade clergymen

Three: Mac (Stan McMurtry) in the Daily Mail on life’s little problems. “Maybe it’s someone to see the house”

Week ending 12th September 2008

It’s British cartoon talent