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The Round up

December 22, 2013 in Events, General, Links, News

Kasia Kowalska writes:

The Winter Solstice is behind us and the traditional festive fun is in full swing.

Christmas season is upon us © Martin Honeysett @ procartoonists.org

© Martin Honeysett @ procartoonists.org

Also high on the agenda is freedom of speech after the London School of Economics apologised to two students who had been banned from wearing T-shirts featuring cartoons of the prophet Mohammed and Jesus Christ.

Twitter was also accused of losing its sense of humour. The microblogging site ran into trouble when it removed tweeted cartoons by the Indian political cartoonist Manjul.

The truth Hits Everybody art by Daniel Clowes :: scanned from 20th Century Eightball :: Fantagraphics Books :: 2002 © procartoonists.org

The truth hits everybody. Art by Daniel Clowes from 20th Century Eightball by Fantagraphics Books 2002 @ Procartoonists.org

The Hollywood actor Shia LaBeouf is likely to be crossed off Daniel Clowes’ Christmas card list following accusations that he plagiarised the Ghost World creator’s 2007 comic Justin M. Damiano in his short film HowardCantour.com. Removal of accreditation for cartoonists in this age of digital ubiquity is a not an uncommon experience as a similar story from Rachel Duke illustrates.

Moving from theft to sharing, the CEO of Bitstrips has rebuffed claims that the social-media platform is a flash in the pan. The self-generated storytelling programme was the second most downloaded app in the world during November. Stuart Dredge found out why.

Movie interactives mashups from the Guardian © procartoonists.org

Matt Blease drawing for the Movie Mashups interactive app at The Guardian website @ Procartoonists.org

We note, see above, that other sites are also following this new fad. (Yes, we are looking at you The Guardian).

Seventeen years ago this month one of the founders of Private Eye, Willie Rushton, died. Adam Sonin remembers him as “the greatest satirist of them all” and explains the origins of the eccentric radio game Mornington Crescent.

For all the culture vultures out there, desperate to avoid last-minute Christmas shopping, there is still a chance to see The Age of Glamour at the Cartoon Museum which ends on Christmas Eve. Also, Cartoons and Caricatures at the Bank of England finishes on 31 December and The National Theatre’s Lampoon exhibition will end on 5 January.

Trippin' through the rain @procartoonists.org

Trippin’ through the rain from Toddles’s Comic Almanac 1862 @ Procartoonists.org

If you would rather stay inside than brave the current weather, you can always entertain yourself by trying out different cartoon styles. Which is exactly what Mike Holmes did when he created 100 cartoons of himself and his cat.

A Merry Christmas to us all.

Updated: 24th December with the sad news that political image maker Leon Kuhn has died.

work_pay © Leon Kuhn @ procartoonists.org

© Leon Kuhn @ procartoonists.org

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.