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Opinion: The curse of Management

June 9, 2014 in Comment, General

Bill Stott from Punch magazine: "Be positive! At least  now we know that being able to fly has got noting to do with having a pointy head"

Bill Stott from Punch: “Be positive! At least now we know that being able to fly has got nothing to do with having a pointy head!” Click image to enlarge

In a somewhat acrimonious departure, Richard Ingrams has resigned as editor of The Oldie. In this opinion piece, Bill Stott sees echoes from the latter days of Punch magazine and hopes that cartoonists will not see history repeat itself.

Whilst it might sound uncomfortably like a medical examination, there’s interesting stuff coming out of The Oldie right now. Quite a bit of bile. The departure of the multi-faceted, sometimes contradictory Richard Ingrams will be a huge loss, not only to The Oldie, but to gag cartooning in the UK.

Logically, bearing in mind the fact that his team apparently liked and respected him, the job should go to one of them and a cartoon-friendly status quo will spread a warm glow throughout Humourland. However, given James Pembroke’s apparent management style and his grasp of the purse strings, that may well not happen.

The Oldie’s predicament reminds me of the beginning of the end for Punch, a magazine strong on cartoons and humour but which never made a profit in its 500-year existence, unlike The Oldie which has loads of readers and does make a profit.

The similarity lies with “management”. Alan Coren, probably one of the best Punch editors, fell out with those who bought the mag and got sacked. He was locked out of his office, in fact.

After a few false starts, a new bought-in editor was presented to a restaurant full of cartoonists in thatLondon. He foolishly delayed them from getting at the free food and drink by climbing on to a rostrum to tell all hands about his vision for the new Punch. I seem to remember the sixth-form market being mentioned. Honest!

The new ed was apparently a very good manager. Quite soon after his appointment, which was made despite the existence of excellent candidates already on board, Punch ceased to be.

Could this happen to The Oldie?

Thanks Bill. We hope the answer to your last question is no! We will continue to follow developments at The Oldie, noting for starters that Mr Ingrams appears to have influential friends

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.

 

The Round-up

September 1, 2013 in Events, General, Links, News

© Stanley Franklin @Procartoonists.org

Cartoons of Margaret Thatcher – including The Pit and The Pendulum by Stanley Franklin, above, has been showing at Leeds Gallery over the summer. Read a review of the exhibition here.

The British Cartoonists’ Association is on the lookout once again for Young Cartoonists of the Year and will now also accept digitally produced artwork (although a hard copy must be submitted). Find out more about how to enter the contest here.

Artwork from Procartoonists.org member Hunt Emerson‘s adaptations of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Frankenstein will be exhibited by The Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, Cumbria, for one month from 4 October. Read more at downthetubes.net.

Procartoonists.org member Steve Bell discusses his depictions of US presidents in this audio interview and transcript.

Those interested in going behind the scenes with cartoonists and illustrators should check out both The Tools Artists Use and 20 Questions With Cartoonists.

The Oldie, one of the most high-profile markets for UK gag cartoonists, has reached 300 issues. Richard Ingrams, founder of the magazine and former editor of Private Eye, looks back on his time with both organs in this piece from The Telegraph. A new Oldie Book of Cartoons is released next month.

Also due to land on bookshelves and coffee tables in September is Private Eye: A Cartoon History. Edited by longtime Eye man Nick Newman, the book will feature more than 1,000 gags from the past 50 years. It certainly looks jam-packed, if these sample pages are anything to go by.

Ed adds: Late entry from Sarah McIntyre, aka @Jabberworks, at the Telegraph: Comic adventures for kids of all ages.

The Round-up

July 26, 2013 in Events, General, Links, News

© Kipper Williams @Procartoonists.org

Kipper Williamspocket cartoonist for The Guardian, member of Procartoonists.org, and the man behind the excellent cartoon above – has provided the illustrations for a new book of anecdotes from record shops. Read more here.

Ian Hislop and Richard Ingrams – editors of Private Eye and The Oldie respectively – will be joined by Nick Newman, long-time contributor to both magazines, for a panel session at the Soho Literary Festival on 26 September. The Cartoon Show will feature a slideshow of some of the best gags from the last 50 years, and the trio will talk about what they look for when selecting cartoons for publication. Tickets are available here.

Burmese cartoonist Kyaw Thu Yein tells Cartoon Movement about the way he works, as well as the impact of censorship, in this interview.

As The Beano celebrates its 75th birthday this week, cartoonist Nigel Parkinson talks about the success of Dennis The Menace while drawing a new strip in this short film for The Telegraph.

London’s Southbank Centre is currently host to Beanotown, a celebration of the comic that runs until 8 September and features a range of original artwork on the walls, as well as activities for the kids. Wilbur Dawbarn, a Beano cartoonist and PCO member, produced this huge map of Beanotown, which greets visitors by the entrance:

Wilbur Dawbarn for The Beano @Procartoonists.com

And finally, a brief reminder that next Saturday (3 August) will see a plethora of UK cartooning talent descend on Herne Bay in Kent, to take part in a festival celebrating the seaside town’s connection with Marcel Duchamp. Read more here, and visit us in the coming week for a more detailed post.

The Round-up

February 15, 2013 in General, Links, News

© Katharina Greve @Procartoonists.org

Above: The Pope wins the lottery and decides to quit his job, in an eerily prescient cartoon by Katharina Greve that appeared in a calendar on the very day of Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement.

Journalist Matt Geörg Moore argues that comic strips in print should be given more space and more freedom, despite the decline in newspaper revenues. Read his argument here.

Wally Fawkes, the cartoonist and jazz musician better known to cartoon fans as Trog, has been named one of the Oldies of the Year by Richard Ingramsmagazine. Read more about Fawkes, and the other Oldies, here.

Finally, some news of contests and awards. The BBC has launched a competition asking illustrators, photographers and film-makers to share their visions of the future. Meanwhile, the nomination process has now opened for the 2013 British Comic Awards.

The Round-up

October 28, 2012 in General, Links, News

MAD Magazine Alfred Champagne 300x411 Happy 56th Birthday, Alfred E. Neuman!

MAD's Alfred E. Neuman @Procartoonists.org

Fastcocreate.com looks back at the 60-year history of MAD, the subversive comic magazine, in this in-depth article and slideshow. For even more on the subject, MAD’s editors have put together an exhaustive new book.

In a short video, BBC News talks to the US cartoonists Pat Bagley and Nick Anderson about lampooning Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Watch it here.

Martin Rowson draws our attention to the announcement that a former Daily Mirror showbiz reporter, 93-year-old Donald Zec, has won The Oldie’s first art award. See Donald’s winning portrait, and the other shortlisted pictures, here.

Is it a bird? A plane? Or yet more evidence of the decline of the newspaper industry? Clark Kent has quit his job at the Daily Planet (thanks to Pete Dredge for spotting the report).

If you are Oldie enough …

July 24, 2012 in Events, General, News

Ingrams_by_Honeysett_@_Procartoonists.org

© Martin Honeysett @ Procartoonists.org

UK procartoonists.org logoMartin Honeysett writes with news of a London social occasion:

The Oldie magazine 20th anniversary party at Simpsons on the Strand was the ideal moment to present to editor Richard Ingrams a PCO award commemorating his services to cartooning for the past fifty years.

The award was gratefully received by the editor who then duly sang the praises of cartoonists and their work in his following speech (pictured).

Sadly, only a smattering of cartoonists had been invited. Setting up camp in a corner by the bar they included Sally Artz, Nick Baker, Bob Wilson, Arthur Robins and PCO members Nick Newman and Huw Aaron. The latter aroused much interest amongst the female element of the surrounding throng by being at least half the age of everyone else there.

Huw had also been instrumental in organising the award itself, tastefully designed, inscribed and eerily looking like a maquette of the recently opened London Shard.

Our thanks to the PR agency, AM&T – All Mouth & Trousers – recently appointed by the PCO at great expense and represented by Mr Honeysett.

Avatar of Royston

by Royston

Pearsall in the wilderness

September 29, 2011 in Events

Simon Pearsall cartoon
An exhibition and sale of work by the cartoonist Simon Pearsall, who draws the regular First Drafts cartoon for Private Eye, opens in London next week.

The Wilderness Years: 1963 – 2011 is at the 3 Bedfordbury gallery, which is at 3 Bedfordbury Court, logically enough, Covent Garden. It starts on Tuesday 4 October and runs for one week.

Tortoise Husbandry

August 2, 2010 in General, News

Tony Husband tortoise cartoon
Tony Husband’s tortoise take on England and the World Cup

Many gag cartoonists have had their fruitful areas of interest over the decades. The very wonderful Larry (Terry Parkes) spent productive years milking the world of art, and the great, and recently late, Ray Lowry would have been bereft without rock ‘n’ roll or Nazis.

PCOer Tony Husband’s simple style of drawing – like Larry’s – belies an understanding of the joke-telling format not given to many. He has made a career as one of cartooning’s generalists, able to make a gag about anything. That was until recently, when something strange happened to the Husband oeuvre. It began to become invaded by testudines.

Gags appearing in his normal haunts like Private Eye and The Oldie began to feature tortoises with curious regularity. The Bloghorn was keen to investigate and approached Mr Husband with a demand to come clean about the tortoise invasion. Was it a failed book project – “101 Uses For A Tortoise” – or a batch of rejects from “Tortoises and Tortoisemen (incorporating Tortoise Monthly)”? We needed to be told.

Husband finally revealed all: “The Lord of all Tortoise summoned me to his palace in the deserts of Org. He gave me a mission, to bring the tortoise to the forefront of popular culture. It’s as simple as that.”

Yes, that’s what we suspected.

Avatar of Royston

by Royston

Oldie cartoon book and exhibition

September 29, 2009 in General

oldie_cartoons“Many readers would not admit it but the first thing they do with a magazine like The Oldie is to flick through it to look at the cartoons. If that is true, as I think it is, then the cartoons assume enormous importance.”

Richard Ingrams, editor of The Oldie, and former editor of Private Eye, in an intro to The Oldie Book of Cartoons 1992-2009

Read the full piece here

The Oldie is hosting an exhibition at London’s Cartoon Museum from this Thursday, October 1, until December 24, 2009. A selection of cartoons from the new book will be on display.

You can also buy more than 100 original cartoons just around the corner at Abbott and Holder Ltd on Museum Street. See them online here