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Cartoonists prepare to do battle

November 17, 2014 in Events, General, News

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A team from the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation will once again take part in the Battle of the Cartoonists. (Cartoon above by Bill Stott)

The event is organised by the Campaign for Drawing, the people behind The Big Draw, and will take place at the Electrician’s Shop gallery, Trinity Buoy Wharf, in east London this Sunday (23 November) from 12pm-5pm. Admission is free.

Four teams, from Procartoonists, The Guardian, The Independent and Private Eye will each create huge banners on the theme of “Recording Britain Now” (click here for the full list of events on that theme).

The winner will be chosen by popular vote i.e. the team that gets the most cheers and applause. Banners from previous Battles over the past decade will be on display. Free cartoon workshops for all ages will also take place.

PCO members at work on Battle of the Cartoonists banners at Somerset House in 2006 ...

PCO members in the Battle of the Cartoonists at Somerset House 2006 …

... Covent Garden in 2007 ...

… Covent Garden 2007 …

... St Pancras Station in 2008 ...

… St Pancras Station 2008 …

... the Idea Generation gallery 2009 ...

… the Idea Generation gallery 2009 …

... Hay's Galleria 2010 ...

… Hay’s Galleria 2010 …

... and the V&A, 2012.

… and the V&A 2012.

Sir John Sorrell, a cartoon and drawing aficionado who was was publisher of The Cartoonist, the “cartoon newspaper”, will launch the event and will give a talk about the importance of visual satire.

The team line-ups are as follows (all teams feature Procartoonists members):

Procartoonists.org Andy Davey, Jeremy Banx, Neil Dishington, Steve Way

Private Eye Henry Davies, Kathryn Lamb, Simon Pearsall, David Ziggy Greene

The Guardian Ros Asquith, Steve Bell, Ben Jennings, Kipper Williams

The Independent Dave Brown, Peter Schrank, David Simonds, Matt Buck

We wish all the teams the very best of luck!

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.

The Round-up

December 22, 2012 in General, News

© Jamie Smart – Fumboo.org @ Procartoonists.org

They said it would be the end of the world, but they were wrong … The Dandy is still with us (albeit in digital form), as mentioned here last week. There is, however, a documentary on 75 years of the comic, Just Dandy, showing on BBC One on New Year’s Eve, featuring contributions from the likes of Frank Skinner, Brian Cox, Bill Paterson and Nick Park. The programme is only being shown in Scotland, sadly but perhaps it will turn up on the iPlayer.

Following on from last week’s series of articles in the New Statesman celebrating British comics, the Economist chips in with an article on the rise of the webcomic, whilst their editorial cartoonist Kevin ‘KAL’ Kallaugher reflects on 35 years of drawing for the magazine.

For another perspective on the state of British comics check out Dandy contributor Jamie Smart’s blog post “I love stupid comics”.

Less happily, The Guardian reports the death of its longtime cartoonist and illustrator Peter Clarke.

 

The Round-up

November 24, 2012 in General, Links, News

© Dave Walker @Procartoonists.org

Dave Walker, regular contributor to Church Times and a member of Procartoonists.org, produced the cartoon above for The Guardian this week, following the Church of England’s decision to reject the ordination of women bishops. Dave’s cartoon has attracted more than 100 comments, and counting.

Having moved into greeting card designs, Matthew Inman – the cartoonist behind US website The Oatmeal – is being sued for trademark infringement. Inman was involved in another legal rights battle earlier in the year, against online content aggregator FunnyJunk. In that instance, FunnyJunk had been using Oatmeal material without permission – but bizarrely issued a lawsuit against Inman. Refresh your memory by reading our coverage of the case.

Darren Davis, the man behind independent comics publisher Bluewater Productions, is embracing a move into digital publishing, but is finding another side of the internet – online criticism – hard to take.

The New Yorker has published its third annual ‘bookazine’ cartoon compilation. The New Yorker Cartoons of the Year 2012 features more than 250 of the best gags that have run in the magazine this year, along with new material. No word yet on whether it will be distributed outside the US, but previous editions have made their way to the UK courtesy of discerning stockists including the London Review Bookshop.

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by Royston

Big drawings from The Big Draw

October 2, 2012 in General

To spare you lots of pictures of cartoonists bending over tables and displaying their bald spots – with the exception of the Big Girls Drawers team, of course! – we present a selection of details from the seven banners in the Battle of the Cartoonists in the V&A’s Raphael Room.

Procartoonists.org banner

The Procartoonists.org banner, a response to "The Sacrifice at Lystra", was created by William Rudling, Kate Scurfield, Guy Venables and Gerard Whyman

Private Eye banner

Private Eye drew "Paul Preaching at Athens". Banner by Martin Honeysett, Andrew Birch, Simon Pearsall and Henry Davies

The Private Eye team, captained by the non-playing Tony Rushton, emerged victorious once again.

Reader's Digest banner

Reader's Digest got "The Miraculous Draught of Fishes". Banner by Steve Way, Simon Meyrick-Jones, Nathan Ariss, Rob Murray and Royston Robertson

Big Girls Drawers banner

"The Healing of the Lame Man" by the Big Girls Drawers team of Chichi Parish, The Surreal McCoy, Kathryn Lamb and Rosie Brooks

Before the Battle, Rosie Brooks from the Big Girls Drawers team, who is also a member of Procartoonists.org, appeared on BBC Radio London to talk about The Big Draw and cartooning in general. You can hear it here.

Telegraph banner

The Telegraph team of Patrick Blower, Charles Peattie, Matthew Buck and John Springs took on "The Conversion of the Proconsul"

The Sun banner

"Christ's Charge to Peter" was drawn by The Sun team of Andy Davey, Clive Goddard and Tim Harries

The Sun team must be congratulated for getting by with just three cartoonists, compared to, say, the Reader’s Digest with five. The Battle of the Cartoonists is nothing if not an uneven playing field.

Guardian banner

"The Death of Ananias" was drawn by the Guardian/Observer team of Kipper Williams, Dave Simonds, Nicola Jennings and Harry Venning

Photographs by Gerard Whyman, Nikki Harries and Royston Robertson

Does my cartoon look big in this?

July 13, 2012 in General, News

If a cartoon is visual communication, legibility is key to every image that needs to use words. But technology can be disruptive, of course. And so, to The Guardian website for some proof:

Cartoon: Digital display of cartoon clip

Digital display of cartoon clip at The Guardian. Screengrab image is at 1:1

Reader reaction: I need a bigger cartoon for legibility

In a similar vein: What’s the point in employing a great cartoonist … ?

Reader reaction: Leave the cartoon off the digital version of the paper

Cartoonist responds: In detail

Why is this happening?

When the internet was young, pictures used to be displayed in very small shapes. This was usually to keep bandwidth demands low so that your dial-up modem could cope. You could compare this technique to the great expense of paper at the start of the age of print.

Now, the bandwidth that enables digital communication is much bigger, with broadband, and picture sizes have grown as a result. And not just in the physical dimensions of width and height. This also applies to the amount, or weight, if you prefer, of information inside each image you see. This applies to image display on the web, on your mobile phone or perhaps now on your tablet PC.

Detail, commonly stored as picture resolution, or dots (of data) per inch has increased massively and this potentially allows download of print quality imagery direct from the web. Of course, this is both a marvellous opportunity (Big cartoons, yay!) and a problem (Easier to nick, boo!)

Cartoonists might think about their own behaviour, if they distribute images by web, by noting how each third-party provider they use deals with image resolution. Of course, the simplest way to do this is to manage the resolution at the traditional 72 dots per inch before you supply to any other production house.

Downloading of artwork is an old problem that we have written about before. There are tools you can use to control unbidden usage of your work. And we have a short series of posts on some of these tools coming up.

If you enjoy what we do here, please consider subscribing to our email updates on the right-hand side of this page.

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by Royston

Swift satire from Rowson

March 28, 2012 in General, News

An exhibition featuring artwork from Martin Rowson’s new graphic novel version of Gulliver’s Travels opens at the Guardian News & Media building in London today.

The exhibition runs until April 12 and is open each day from 10am-6pm. Admission is free. Rowson’s modern-day take on Jonathan Swift’s tale is published by Atlantic Books.

You can hear the Procartoonists.org member talk about the book in an audio slideshow on the Guardian’s website.

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by Royston

Back to the cold days

January 10, 2012 in Events, News

Cold war cartoon

The exhibition Drawing the Curtain: Soviet Cartoons from the Cold War, hosted by Guardian News and Media, opens on January 19.

It marks the publication of the book Drawing the Curtain: The Cold War in Cartoons by Tim Benson of the Political Cartoon Society. The book takes key moments in cold war history, such as the space race and the Cuban missile crisis, and shows how they were represented in Soviet and Western cartoons.

The exhibition runs until February 16, and is open each day from 10am to 6pm. Guardian News and Media is at Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1.

Cartoonist guards her rights

September 15, 2011 in News

The appearance of a cartoon in a newspaper or upon a website usually produces a frisson of joy for the cartoonist who made it – unless it has appeared without their permission.

The American cartoonist Stephanie Piro, who had this unfortunate experience recently, told The Bloghorn what happened – and more importantly what to do about it should it happen to you:

A couple of months ago a cartoonist colleague, emailed me to ask if the Guardian news website was a client of mine as she recognised my work there. I told her they weren’t and then followed the link she provided.

Guardian Bookshop @Bloghorn

Reconstructed image of the licensing infringement

This was, of course, upsetting as it appeared to have come from here or here.

Over the years I have had several major instances of my work being used without my permission. As my website rates for a single image are reasonable, I was surprised someplace as established as The Guardian would use an image without first contacting the artist and paying for it.

I eventually succeeded in contacting The Guardian through its Readers’ Editor and sent an invoice. After more prompting, I finally heard from a woman who was in charge of the books site on the Guardian site who blamed a third-party organisation and apologised.

This was unacceptable to me. When I threatened to spread the word to the NCS (the US National Cartoonists’ Society), the PCO (the UK Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation) and all the professional cartooning boards I belong to … then they responded to my invoice.

This was more meaningful than a simple apology.

The Bloghorn commends this excellent example of how you should look after your work. We also credit The Guardian and their contracted third-party agency for reacting to Stephanie’s messages and by eventually promising to pay for the use of her work over the previous nine months.

If you have anything helpful to add about the best way to manage your business interests please add it to the comments below. If you are a UK-based professional cartoonist you may also want to consider applying to join the PCO.

The Bloghorn is made on behalf of the UK’s Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation

Round up: What the Bloghorn saw

August 7, 2011 in Comment, News

Rob Murray writes:

Music by The Smiths has inspired a comics collection, Unite and Take Over, due for release in November. Smiths fan Shawn Demumbrum of Phoenix, Arizona has assembled 13 creative teams to interpret songs by the band as comic strips, each three or four pages in length. Demumbrum, who is currently looking for contributions towards printing costs, discusses the project in a promotional video here, and with the Guardian here.

Another rock band, Art Brut, have commissioned a 28-page comic to mark the release of their latest album. The comic features art by Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley, and you can read more about the project here.

Elsewhere, a vintage TV clip of film director and Monty Python animator Terry Gilliam discussing his animation techniques has resurfaced courtesy of Cartoon Brew. The blog points out that, given the continuing interest in animation, it is a shame that such shows no longer exist. Bloghorn agrees, but would also like to see more in-depth coverage of other cartooning formats.

As always, please alert us to anything we might have missed, using the comments below. Thanks.