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Young Cartoonist of the Year 2013

October 3, 2013 in Events, General, News

 

Will McPhail cartoon @procartoonists.org

© Will McPhail cartoon @procartoonists.org

We are particularly pleased to say that one of our members has won the annual award although none of our membership were too surprised.

Hearty congratulations go to Will McPhail who secured the under 30 years prize from our friends at the British Cartoonists’ Association and The Cartoon Museum.

Harry McSweeney carried off the under 18 years prize for this natty observation on the human condition.

Cartoon: Harry McSweeney Young cartoonist of the Year 2013 @procartoonists.org

© Harry McSweeney Young cartoonist of the Year 2013 @procartoonists.org

Harry told us:

He was especially chuffed that he had beaten such a lot of entries and the £250 was the icing on the cake. The congratulations letter from Martin Rowson really appealed to Harry’s sense of humour. He was made to feel very special at the awards ceremony and he enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame. He appreciated the advice he received from the professional cartoonists, mostly  to keep on drawing! He especially took on board the advice from Will McPhaill who having made it as an artist/cartoonist which would be Harry’s dream job. They shared a comedy moment on the podium with a mix up with winners certificates (Harry feeling he had the better deal receiving the Under 30 certificate which will last him another 16 years!)

This whole experience has definitely boosted his confidence and encouraged him to keep on drawing.As one former Punch cartoonist told him getting in to bother at school for doodling, never did him any harm! 

It’s good to see our fine old trade being renewed in this way and so we also tip our hats to the Spectator magazine which has also dipped a toe in the murky waters of running cartoon competitions. This undertaking is supported by John Lobb, the bootmaker which may be handy in the event of an online kicking.

If you would like some evidence about the challenges of running a public competition, you can read all about Cartoon Idol of recent years past or some lively public comment about the Spectator’s latest prize offering over at the public forum of the Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain.

Opinion: The postcard’s future

June 5, 2013 in Comment, General

Rupert_Besley_on_Postcards_4_@_procartoonists.org

© Rupert Besley @ Procartoonists.org

Rupert Besley delivers part two of his article on the humble cartoon postcard. You can read part one here

Postcards and cartoons are the perfect marriage, the dream team, two forms of relative ephemera, each made for the other. Both are finding life tough at present, as old-style print gets edged out by new electronic media, and each has need of the other. Postcards must adapt to survive.

It has been done and can be again. In the 1980s, Scottish postcards were stuck in a rut of lurid images of heather, pipers and Highland cattle knee-deep in Loch Lomond (sometimes with faked sunset added on top). Along came Colin Baxter and Michael Macgregor, bringing misty, seductive, moody views of Real Scotland and whole new businesses were born.

© Rupert Besley @ Procartoonists.org

© Rupert Besley @ Procartoonists.org

Failure to change did for card-firms in the past. Dixon’s operated from an aircraft hangar of a factory, filled with huge presses that pumped out cards to fill every creaking carousel in the land. For a card to succeed, it had to sell in hundreds of thousands. But nobody wanted to see the same card year after year.

As with print-on-demand books, the technology is now here for small runs and rapid distribution. As papers and magazines cut back on cartoon “extras”, cartoonists need to explore new outlets for their work. Postcards need new life breathed into them; cartoons need more ways of being circulated and seen. The two should get together more often.

Rupert_Besley_on_Postcards_8_@_procartoonists.org

© Rupert Besley @ Procartoonists.org

Postcards are effective carriers of simple messages. Mostly the messages are equally trite on front and back. But the space is there for other purposes, whether for promoting a place, a business, a particular event, or campaigning on a topical issue. Or maybe just to spread a joke. (And why not?)

Cartoons, too, are handy means of encapsulating difficult ideas and sending messages that are witty, memorable and quick to take in. Make a set, put them on cards and hey presto: collectibles.

© Rupert Besley @ Procartoonists.org

© Rupert Besley @ Procartoonists.org

To take off again, postcards need a novelty factor, some new twist on all that has been done before. Marketing and making money from cards is never easy; they are low-price items and fiddly to deal with. Those are the challenges – and the opportunities.

Just don’t write off the humble postcard. It may yet have a future.

Thanks very much to Procartoonists member Rupert Besley for writing for us and for the terrific sequence of cartoons.

© Rupert Besley @ Procartoonists.org

© Rupert Besley @ Procartoonists.org

Opinion: The postcard is not dead

May 29, 2013 in Comment, General

© Rupert Besley for procartoonists.org

Procartoonists member Rupert Besley takes a look at a much-loved old form for cartooning: the postcard

In 1899 a Norwegian cruise ship doing the coastline despatched 20,000 postcards in the course of one trip*. The unfortunate crewman charged with postmarking each stamp suffered blisters to the hand.

In 1903 the British alone sent 600 million postcards – and that excludes the number sold but then not mailed, collected in albums or stuffed in drawers. 1902-15 is generally hailed as the Golden Age of the Postcard.

Everyone was at it and the postman could call up to five times a day. A cautious estimate puts the number of postcards produced and sold worldwide in the years 1895-1920 as at least 200 to 300 billion (most of them now in my loft).

Those days are gone. There are quicker, easier, cheaper ways of keeping in touch. Email and the txt mssge have done for the postcard, as have Royal Mail and the Post Office, intent, it would seem, on killing off all forms of postal communication. Kicked in the teeth but not yet dead, the postcard won’t let go that easily. Miraculous revivals have happened before.

The first postcard craze came on the back of improved cheap printing, increased travel and the passing of laws that gave holidays to workers. By the 1920s the novelty had passed. Card sales slumped and publishers went out of business.

Then, in the 1970s, came a second Golden Age, thanks to better colour printing and a new wave of foreign travel. Holidaymakers liked to show they had gone one better than their neighbours on choice of destination.

Again, it would not last for ever. Not many people beyond the collector Martin Parr were keen in the 1990s to seek out tired images of dull places where parked cars had not moved or fashion changed for 30 years.

The history of postcards and cartoons © Rupert Besley for procartoonists.org

© Rupert Besley for procartoonists.org

In 1998 the company J Arthur Dixon finally closed, the postcard side of its business being acquired by John Hinde. Within a few years Hinde’s, too, gave up on postcards, turning instead to novelty gifts from the Far East.

Judge’s hit the rocks (receivership) in 1984, but continued in new hands on a more limited operation. Bamforth’s hit similar hard times. And yet … Royal Mail recently recorded more than 106 million postcards still passing through their system in a year, 10 million up on 2001. The humble pc may yet outlive the PC.

The postcard outscores new technology on several points. Gift or souvenir, it’s something physical and collectible, a permanent reminder. Stuck on shelves, perched on ledges, pinned on noticeboards, cards have staying-power.

They don’t even need posting to have an effect. Hans Fallada’s famous cat-and-mouse chase novel, translated as Alone in Berlin, is based on fact: from 1940, mysterious scrawled postcards appeared in the halls and stairwells of buildings, attacking the Nazi regime.

Rattled by the effects of this propaganda, the Gestapo took three years to find the perpetrators – not the major conspiracy it suspected but a modest, barely literate couple who had suffered family loss to the Nazi war machine. Gripping but grim. Postcards have that power.

Rupert Besley on Postcards and cartoons @_procartoonists.org

© Rupert Besley for procartoonists.org

Usually it’s a lighter message they send. In the 1950s my great-aunts lived together on virtually no income in a house unchanged since it was fitted out by their grandfather in the 1870s. On the walls hung dismal dark prints of battle scenes and death, from Nelson at Trafalgar to The Return from Inkerman.

But into the frame corners and front of each picture my aunts had inserted cheerful postcards guaranteed to raise a smile. Which brings me to cartoons (At last! – Ed). 

Thanks to Rupert from the scene setting and look out for part two of his postcards feature next week.

*Figures from An Entangled Object by B. Rogan, University of Oslo

Mrs Thatcher and the cartoonists

April 10, 2013 in Comment, General, News

Peter Brookes of Times on Margaret Thatcher @ procartoonists

© Peter Brookes of The Times @ Procartoonists.org

Powerful people in politics with wealth and helpers mix myth and reality to help deliver a projection of their achievements to the public. Parts of the same formula also drive the work of many cartoonists.

Dave Brown of The Independent on Mrs Thatcher

© Dave Brown of The Independent @ Procartoonists.org

Both sorts of visual trickery are now at work in the national catharsis following the death of the former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Matt Pritchett of the Telegraph on Mrs Thatcher

© Matt Pritchett of The Telegraph @ Procartoonists.org

We’ve gathered ten cartoons for you to enjoy, whatever your opinion of the politician. We are sure you will have seen more, please do add links in the comments.

There is a mixture of reactions here from fresh-off-the-drawing-board images to retrospectives from the 1980s like this one.

Noel Ford of the Daily Star on Mrs Thatcher @ procartoonists

Noel Ford from the Daily Star @ Procartoonists.org

There are reactions from the regions …

Frank Boyle Edinbugh Evening News on Mrs Thatcher

© Frank Boyle of the Edinburgh Evening News @ Procartoonists.org

delayed jokes …

Christian Adams of The Telegraph @ procartoonists

Christian Adams of The Telegraph @ Procartoonists.org

iconography …

Steve Bell of The Guardian on Mrs Thatcher @ procartoonists

© Steve Bell of The Guardian @ Procartoonists.org

futurology …

Hack Cartoons on Mrs Thatcher from Tribune @ procartoonists

© Matt Buck Hack Cartoons for Tribune @ Procartoonists.org

appeals …

Banx of the FT on Mrs Thatcher @ procartoonists

© Banx of the Financial Times @ Procartoonists.org

and pathos.

Steven Camley of The Herald on Mrs Thatcher @ procartoonists

Steven Camley of The Herald @ Procartoonists.org

To repeat, we are sure you will have seen more and please do add them below in the comments.

Updated: Saturday 13th April. One national newspaper commissioned a whole supplement on Mrs Thatcher and gave the commission to Posy Simmonds – read it here. You will find more about Posy if you use the search tool on the sidebar of this site.

 

Avatar of Royston

by Royston

Isn’t it funny what’s not funny?

January 17, 2013 in Comment, General, Links

Ian Baker cartoon

Cartoon © Ian Baker @ Procartoonists.org

Here’s a very funny cartoon. But why is it funny? Well, E.B. White famously said that “analysing comedy is like dissecting a frog; no one laughs and the frog dies”. So let’s not go there.

Instead, our eye was drawn to a blog post by the cartoonist Christian Adams, in which he simply provides a definitive list of what is funny and what is not funny.

Of course, you can still argue with it, and roll your eyes like Woody Allen in Crimes and Misdemeanours when Alan Alda opines: “If it bends, it’s funny. If it breaks, it isn’t”, but the important fact is that no amphibians were harmed during the making of this blog post.

And, even more importantly, you’ll find lots of cartoons that can definitely be classed as funny in the Procartoonists.org portfolios.

Avatar of Royston

by Royston

Mad about Bateman

April 11, 2012 in General, News

HM Bateman self portrait
H.M. Bateman: The Man Who Went Mad on Paper opens at the Cartoon Museum in London next Wednesday (April 11).

The exhibition covers all aspects of Bateman’s career, from his early theatrical subjects to his famous The Man Who cartoons. It also includes examples of wordless strips, sketchbooks and other private works that are exhibited here for the first time.

Visit the Cartoon Museum website for opening times and admission details. The show runs until July 22.

Cartoonist ambassador

April 3, 2012 in General, News


Andy Davey, the Sun cartoonist and Procartoonists.org member, tells us about his recent experience as an ambassador for British cartoons: 

I was recently interviewed by Olena Gnes, a foreign news correspondent at the Ukrainian station Inter TV. She was interested in presenting a piece on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and was looking for an interesting hook.

Her first port of call was the Cartoon Museum in London, which had just opened its current show Her Maj, looking back at 60 years of cartoons about the Queen. The nice people there sent Olena over to me, mistakenly hoping that I could string a few aperçus together on taboos for cartoonists when depicting the Queen.

The charming Ms Gnes expected a sensible answer to the following: Do such taboos result from censorship, self-censorship or professional ethics and respect? She sought to contextualise the piece with interesting shots of finished cartoons in my rather uninteresting studio.

What could I do but accept such an invitation to make a fool of myself in front of several million people on national Ukrainian news?

In preparing a few thoughts, it struck me that her questions were interesting. There has been considerable taboo around representations of the Queen. She was never portrayed in cartoons until the 1950s and thereafter, for a decade or so, only from behind or in silhouette. It is only since the 1960s and the famous “family firm” BBC documentary of 1969 that the mystique has been lifted.

Depictions have since become less respectful – see Scarfe, Steadman, Spitting Image and Steve Bell­. But it would still, even now, be impossible to get a hurtful cartoon past the editor of any tabloid – in fact, probably more so now than ever.

I would feel pretty weird doing a hatchet job on Her Maj. It would feel like kicking my Nan. Besides, she bought one of my cartoons (HMQ, not my Nan), so she can’t be all bad [Ed’s note: it was the Bruce Forsyth cartoon above].

In the event, they came and filmed a cartoon on the studio wall [detail above] for which I provided a hugely complex explanation, together with a short interview.

The questioning was less demanding than expected and I ended up ranting about all things royal for a few minutes until Olena wisely instructed Ivan, her cameraman, to cut and run, obviously fearing I would send Kiev to sleep.

In this online clip from the news programme, a translator covers my voice, so I haven’t a clue what I said. I hope he made up something sensible.

Last few days: Her Maj: 60 Years of Unoffical Portraits of the Queen is at the Cartoon Museum until Sunday (April 8).

–>

Shrewsbury cartoon festival 2012

April 3, 2012 in Events, General

Not long to wait

Submission to festival exhibition Flights of Fancy © The Surreal McCoy

Magic! Shrewsbury 2012 Cartoon Festival

March 31, 2012 in Comment, General

The ‘Flights of Fancy’ exhibition for Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival 2012 opens to the public in the town next week. Enjoy a sneak preview of a few more submissions to the show from our members.

Procartoonists.org-Noel-Ford-Shrewsbury-2012

Submission from Noel Ford to the festival exhibition for Shrewsbury Cartoon 2012.

The main festival weekend is 19-22nd April. You can see which cartoonists are confirmed attendees here and there will be a lively fringe of other artists there too.

Procartoonists Cathy Simpson Shrewsbury 2012

Exhibition submission from Cathy Simpson.

You can find your options for transport and accomodation in Shrewsbury here and here.

Procartoonists.org + Guy Venables Shrewsbury 2012

Submission to exhibition by Guy Venables

Er, probably see you there!

Avatar of Royston

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.