You are browsing the archive for 2009 August.

The future of the newspaper editorial cartoon

August 30, 2009 in Comment


Former editor of The Guardian, Peter Preston has written a piece in The Observer newspaper bemoaning the decline in numbers of editorial or political cartoonists being used in newspapers. You can read it here.

Preston focuses on recent job losses in the United States, which mirror the speedy decline of the print media there, but this trend has been long established. The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists made an awareness campaignBlack Ink Monday – back in 2005 in which all the practising professionals in US newspapers devoted a day’s work to highlighting a decline in the published drawn art form.

So, Bloghorn thinks Preston’s observations are a simple statement of fact. There are many fewer cartoonists employed by both UK and US newspapers than there were in the heyday of the print media before the advent of the 24 hour digital publication tools.

The decline in the use of print cartoon content comes as the media companies who own the print products reduce their costs to try and maintain their profits in competition with the digital media.

Preston also argues the digital media doesn’t suit the traditional drawn forms of communication, Bloghorn doesn’t agree on this point, but thinks the old print and emerging digital media industry is yet to find right method of presentation for the future of drawing about life.

If you know better please tell us why in the comments below.

by Royston

Cartoon Pick of the Week

August 28, 2009 in Links, News

Bloghorn spotted this great work during this week ending the 28th August 2009.

One: Alexander Matthews in Private Eye: a new version of King Kong

Two: Stan McMurtry, aka Mac, in the Daily Mail: Strictly Joe Calzaghe

Three: Matt Pritchett in the Daily Telegraph: Jacko Latest

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent
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Artist of the Month – Steve Bright

August 28, 2009 in Events


In our last question for August, Bloghorn asked our Artist of the month, Steve Bright, what is the future of cartooning in the digital age?

I think (with some sadness) that the future of cartooning IS the digital age. Not only do I supply almost all of my artwork in digital format these days (and other than my caricature gig work, it’s 100%),
but almost every client I’ve worked for in recent times has wanted it that way.

Perhaps that’s not entirely surprising, since in most cases they find me via computer technology, and my website in particular. But none the less, even the older traditional markets such as the Beano and Dandy now receive their artwork digitally as the norm, and put up with physical pieces of artwork cluttering their desks only because some of the artists they still favour (I’m no longer one of them), who are not computer savvy, are worth the inconvenience.

From a nostalgic viewpoint, I much prefer the vision of the office in the “olden days”, with artwork adorning every desktop, and the smell of Cow Gum fighting with cigarette and pipe smoke for dominance. But in the later years, when all they wanted from me was a high resolution jpeg, I got to keep all my original artwork. Before that became the norm, I, along with every other freelancer, was sending them page upon page of original art every week, never to be returned to any of us. That alone has made me more grateful for the technological advancements than I can put into words, but there’s more – much more!

Anyone in our business who doesn’t at least try to embrace as much of it as possible is not going to last much longer in the game. I don’t say that with any sense of complacency, but as a fact that faces us all. The key is not to think you need to know it all in order to use the technology. You pick up a phenomenal amount as you go along, and it’s a constant learning curve for even the most advanced of users, but always at your own pace.

It can also be fun – which is our business after all.

Our thanks to Steve for his answers which you can find along with those from many other professional cartoonists in our Artist of the Month archive.

Team Bloghorn announced!

August 26, 2009 in General

bd_banner2008Clive Goddard, Andy Bunday and Nathan Ariss will be representing the PCO in the form of Team Bloghorn at this year’s Big Draw Battle of the Cartoonists challenge on Saturday 12th September, 2-5pm at the Idea Generation Gallery, 11 Chance Street, London E2 7JB (map).

Team Bloghorn is understood to be up against Dave Brown’s Independent and Andy Davey’s The Sun teams with, possibly, Private Eye too.

The Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation previously competed in the Battle of the Cartoonists in 2008 and 2007

by Royston

The Genesis of Robert Crumb

August 24, 2009 in General

This autumn sees the long-awaited release of an adaptation of the Book of Genesis by underground comics legend Robert Crumb. Yes, it’s the Bible with “adult supervison recommended” on the cover.

You can expect to see some “controversy” in the mainstream media about this. People who like to be “up in arms” about things will no doubt be up in arms at the very idea of the man behind Mr Natural and Fritz the Cat doing God.

Crumb’s Genesis project has been in the works for several years, now. Here’s a Guardian article from 2004 about it, by PCOer Martin Rowson.

Would you Adam and Eve it? R Crumb in the Garden of Eden Scan from Boing Boing

According to The New Yorker, which recently carried excerpts of the book, “at first, Crumb thought about doing a take-off of the story of Adam and Eve, and then a friend suggested he do the whole of Genesis.

“Crumb accepted the challenge, but the text seemed to him so bizarre that he realised he couldn’t sustain a satirical approach. He resolved to use the words of the Bible unabridged: “I did it as a straight illustration job.”

That means that this will be no sanitised, modernised version. This is the Bible with the sex and violence left in. Sunday school teachers, you have been warned.

Robert Crumb is 65 and is set to become a grandfather at around the time that Genesis appears. The man who once claimed he gets cranky if he doesn’t draw every day is unlikely to retire, but there is no word yet on whether he is going to tackle the rest of the Bible.

Artist of the Month – Steve Bright

August 21, 2009 in Events

The PCO Artist of the month for August is Steve Bright and Bloghorn asked him which other cartoonists’ work he admired.

There are far too many names to list here, and yet I’m neither a follower nor expert in any other cartoonist’s work. I have a few books by other cartoonists I enjoy, but no definitive collection.

There are also many little known names whose work almost certainly influenced a large percentage to pick up a pencil and begin drawing cartoons. They seldom get a mention beyond the forums populated by UK comics geeks, so I’ll mention a few here.

Cartoon greats such as David Sutherland, Robert Nixon, Ron Spencer, Bob McGrath, Ken Harrison, John K. Geering, Jim Petrie, Reg Parlett and Tom Paterson may reside deeper in the shadows than the more famous comic greats such as Ken Reid, Leo Baxendale and Dudley Watkins, but they have had every bit as profound an influence on me as any other cartoonist.

Many cartoonists cut their cartoon teeth (like me) on the likes of the Beano, Dandy and Whizzer & Chips. They may not know the names, but they certainly were influenced by them.

Did Steve have any tips for wannabe cartoonists?

These days, I would not advise anyone to take up drawing cartoons as a full-time career, no matter how talented they were. I actually feel it would be irresponsible and my conscience won’t allow me to do it. Very different to how I viewed it less than 20 years ago.

However, assuming we’re talking about wannabes who are already beyond the Dissuasion Stage, and are focussed, determined and single-bloody-minded enough to have a go regardless, the only really sound advice I think I could give them would be … to copy!

Studying other cartoonists is important, but only by copying (or even tracing) their work will you begin to appreciate the nuances of how they draw, and it will teach you more than any verbal advice can ever come close to. Naturally, I’m not suggesting that anything you copy can be claimed (or sold) as your own, but as a learning device, there is no better in my opinion.

Much of the early part of my career was built on an ability to “ghost” the work of other artists, and that skill was developed by copying the characters as closely as I could, even (and especially) down to the thickness of line they used, and emulating those characteristics as a style, and not just as the odd figure or two.

My own style is a hybrid of many others, and I can vary it significantly from project to project. Certainly, there are many cartoonists who have managed to earn a good living with one particular style throughout their career, but I do think they are the exception.

Being adaptable opens many more doors, some more inspiring than others, but when there are bills to be paid, there’s little room for tying your integrity to one style of drawing. Sometimes a writing ability can be a real asset too.

Amazon announces Comic Strip Superstar contest

August 19, 2009 in Comment

Internet book retailer and US comic publisher Andrews McMeel Publishing have launched a new contest to search for a new Comic Strip Superstar. Following two elimination rounds a panel of comic strip luminaries including Doonesbury‘s Gary Trudeau will select 10 finalists, and the winner will be picked by a vote by customers. The winner will receive a publishing contract, a $5000 (approx £3000) advance and a monthly stipend to develop 20 further strips.

For more details see here and you can read the official rules here. The deadline for all submissions is Saturday 12th September. Although the contest is being hosted by the US version of, it is open to customers from a further 23 countries, including the UK.

by Royston

Shrewsbury festival gets spooky

August 17, 2009 in General

The organisers of the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival have announced the theme for next year’s event: magic, myths and the paranormal.

PCOer Roger Penwill, the Chairman of the festival, told Bloghorn: “After finding the humour in earthly subjects in the six previous festivals this will be the opportunity for cartoonists, with their fertile imaginations, to look sideways at otherworldly matters.

“It’s a chance to deal with smoke and mirrors, the stuff of legend, and things that go bump in the night. The results could be scary … but probably not.”

The Professional Cartoonists Organisation is closely involved in the development and staging of the festival together with Shropshire Council and Shrewsbury Civic Society. Check out the festival website for future developments.

The 7th Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival takes place in the Shropshire market town on April 22-25, 2010.

Cartoon Pick of the Week

August 14, 2009 in Links, News

Bloghorn spotted this great work during this week ending the 14th August 2009.

One: Matt in the Daily Telegraph on US attacks on the NHS

Two: Paul Thomas in the Daily Express on the stand-in

Three: Tim Sanders in The Independent on Clinton in Korea

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent
Subscribe to The Foghorn – our print cartoon magazine

Artist of the Month – Steve Bright

August 14, 2009 in Events


Bloghorn asked PCO Artist of the Month, Steve Bright, how he makes his cartoons.

I have only just become fully digital, and now require an alternative power source to coffee and Chocolate Hobnobs to produce cartoons. It’s been a gradual process however.

The majority of my career has been carved out using automatic pencils, no-buff erasers, Gillott’s 303 nibs dipped in Rotring black drawing ink, sable brushes dipped in Winsor & Newton coloured inks, all employed upon A2 sheets of bleed proof marker pad paper or Bristol Board.

In the past ten years or so, computer technology has replaced or diminished the role of all of those elements. The recent arrival of my Wacom Cintiq has banished them from my drawing board completely. I now do everything using the Cintiq linked to my laptop, and my biggest fear is no longer a missed deadline, but a prolonged power cut.

Oddly, most of the tools I’d used in the early years was pretty much the same as that used by cartoonists for the previous hundred years. But such is the pace of the technology now, I’ve outgrown a scanner and several drawing tablets in a just few years. It’s a little bit scary for someone who swore he’d never change his drawing ways when others were dipping their toes in the cyber waters.

I’ve taken much longer than some to become a convert. But I have no regrets, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend others to do it when the time is right for them. I know I shall revisit the old methods again eventually, but for fun rather than commerce. There is no turning back now.