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The commercial art

January 31, 2014 in Comment, Events, News

Cartoon_Museum_Exhibition_bring_me_laughter © Jonathan Cusick @ procartoonists.org

© Jonathan Cusick @ Procartoonists.org

A collector of cartoons spoke some home truths at the recent private view of Bring Me Laughter. Kasia Kowalska writes.

In his speech opening the show, George Walker implored all those present to remember that he’s “not a Rothschild”. He was, undoubtedly, being modest as, together with his wife, Pat, he has dedicated more than 60 years to a collection that boasts drawings and cartoons by the great cartoonists of our age: Max Beerbohm, Phil May, H.M. Bateman, Heath Robinson, Ronald Searle and Trog, to name but a few.

The Queen © Jonathan Cusick @ procartoonists

© Jonathan Cusick @ Procartoonists.org

In this fine company one can also find several examples of George Walker’s own drawings and cartoons, which received a lot of attention on the night. Son of a miner, he recalls his father saying that ‘‘He thinks about nowt but actin’ and paintin’”. Although he left school at a young age to work in a local factory in Cumbria, George never let go of his passion for drawing and studied at Carlisle College of Art in his spare time.

The Walker collection includes several caricatures by PCO member Jonathan Cusick who attended the opening of the exhibition. Although Pat and George had commissioned him several times, this was the first time Jonathan had met them in person. ‘‘It’s a thrill to find my work amongst so many great names,’’ he said, selecting drawings by Heath Robinson, George Belcher and Pont as his personal highlights of the collection.

Jonathan Cusick withe George Walker and the piece that gave the exhibition its title @ Procartoonists.org

Jonathan Cusick. left. with George Walker and the piece that gave the exhibition its title. Photo ©Kasia Kowalska @ Procartoonists.org

Anita O’Brien, curator of the Cartoon Museum, said that George Walker ‘feels vindicated in the increasing attention which cartoon art has attracted in recent years: “There is some satisfaction in always having admired so-called ‘commercial’ art, for so long considered greatly inferior to ‘fine art’ and now commanding the respect that the best of it deserves.’’

Long may it continue.

Bring Me Laughter an exhibition from the private collection of George and Pat Walker is at the Cartoon Museum until 23 February.

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.

Avatar of Royston

by Royston

Trog, Flook and Humph too!

January 7, 2013 in General

Frankie Howerd by Trog

Frankie Howerd by Trog (© Wally Fawkes) @ Procartoonists.org

An exhibition featuring the work of Wally Fawkes, aka Trog, opens at the Cartoon Museum in London today (7 January).

Fawkes, who retired in 2005, drew caricatures, political cartoons and strips for the Daily Mail, Punch, The Observer and The Sunday Telegraph. His best known creation is the comic strip Flook, which ran in the Mail for 35 years.

Flook by Trog (Wally Fawkes)

Flook by Trog (© Wally Fawkes) @Procartoonists.org

Flook was often written by the late Humphrey Lyttelton, who played jazz with Fawkes and was a close friend. The inimitable voice of the BBC Radio Four show I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue was also cartoonist – drawing as Humph – and some of his artwork also features in the exhibition.

Cartoon by Humph

Humphrey Lyttelton and Wally Fawkes – as seen by Humph himself (© Humphrey Lyttelton)

Meanwhile, the Telegraph has an article today by Martin Chilton Celebrating the great cartoons of TrogTrog, Flook and Humph too! runs until March 10. For details on admission and opening times, visit the Cartoon Museum website.

The Queen by Trog (Wally Fawkes)

The Queen by Trog (© Wally Fawkes) @ Procartoonists.org

John Jensen on Trog and Illingworth

June 3, 2009 in Comment

Leslie Illingworth by Trog (via www.camdennewjournal.co.uk)

Leslie Illingworth by Trog

PCOer John Jensen writes on cartoonists Wally Fawkes (Trog) and Leslie Illingworth:

Two great cartoonists were seen recently at Tim Benson’s Political Cartoon Gallery. One of them was dead, the other elderly but very much alive. Wally Fawkes ‘TROG’, a wonderful caricaturist, was paying his respects to an old friend, the late Leslie Illingworth (1902-79) whose drawings were on display in a new exhibition. Tim Benson’s book – Illingworth, political cartoons from the Daily Mail 1939-69 – was also making its debut.

TROG is no longer drawing and for the cruellest of reasons: his eyes have let him down. This is a tragedy for Wally and a loss to the many people who appreciate and love his skill. I’ve known his work since the early 50s and known him personally, but slightly, for more than forty years. Yet, in company with many people who ‘know’ Wally, I barely know him at all. He doesn’t mind making a display of himself when trumpeting his jazz, but when it comes to drawing he rarely puts in an appearance, refuses to make speeches let alone give a talk or lecture. When he does turn up he is invariably a quiet presence and, for some of us, far too modest. But that modesty doesn’t derive from uncertainty: Wally knows his worth, he just doesn’t shout about it. His qualities speak for him. Unlike his jazz,Wally’s drawing is not spontaneous nor is it laboured. Instead, his caricatures result from observation and analysis of his subjects: forensic dissections.

Three collections of his work have been published none of which do him justice though they are better than nothing. First, from Canada, Trog, the Cartoonist of the Year, Le Pavillon International de l’Humour, Montreal, 1976; The World of Trog, Robson Books, 1977, and finally, Trog, Forty Graphic Years, Fourth Estate 1987. All in black-and-white. All lacking colour! Colour is one of Wally’s strengths.

Leslie Illingworth would have been pleased Wally turned up for the occasion. They were old friends. Leslie is generally considered to be the last of the great pen-draughtsmen in the Punch, Victorian tradition. Sad, therefore, that none of his drawing for Punch appear in Tim Benson’s selection. This is not for the want of trying, but circumstances said No. Draper Hill a collector of Illingworth’s vintage originals, and author of the definitive James Gillray biography, died recently. He had been ill for quite a while and uncontactable. A future volume, perhaps, in due course? Leslie, like Wally, was a wonderful colourist. If Illingworth had a fault, and he had, it was that power and emotion were in thrall to his precise draughtsmanship. That said, it is the penwork, the superb scraper-board cartoons and his colour illustrations that remain to be admired in the pages of Punch and, when possible, collected.

Illingworth was the kindest of men. Too generous sometimes. His Welsh accent was beguiling and his huge bushy eyebrows were the only alarming thing about him.

The exhibition of cartoons by Leslie Illingworth continues at the Political Cartoon Gallery, 32 Store Street, London WC1E 7BS. You can contact them at 020 7580 1114 or info@politicalcartoon.co.uk.

You can read more of John Jensen’s contributions to Bloghorn here.