You are browsing the archive for 2009 October.

by Royston

Alexander bids for Superstar status

October 31, 2009 in General

Alexander Matthews has made it to the final of a worldwide comic strip competition. The Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation member has made the final ten of Amazon’s Comic Strip Superstar, with a strip entitled Evil Twin

According to the site, “Evil Twin is the story of twins Myron and Ludwig, two 10 year-old boys who, like most brothers, are engaged in a constant battle of one-upmanship. They trade insults, devise devious schemes, and have a vivid fantasy world”. You can see ten daily strips and two colour Sundays here: Evil Twin. and US comic publisher Andrews McMeel Publishing launched the contest in August. There were expecting around 5,000 entries. Following two elimination rounds, a panel of comic strip luminaries including Doonesbury‘s Gary Trudeau selected ten finalists. The winner, who will be picked in a vote by Amazon customers, will receive a publishing contract, a $5,000 (approx £3,000) advance and a monthly stipend to develop 20 further strips.

alex_matthewsBloghorn, our chests heaving with pride, asked Alex, left, about the competition. What’s the story with Evil Twin, Alex?

“I came up with the idea by wondering how to get my monkey characters from my previous strip King Monkey into two human characters. I was really happy with that strip and I thought it was the funniest stuff I had done, but it didn’t feel somehow commercially viable. Then the idea of twins came to me, and I suddenly realised how I could get a bit more reality into a strip. I was able to base a lot of the ideas on antics that my brother and I would get up to when we were kids. It felt to me that it might really connect to an audience with that kind of grounding in actual things we did and said. I think it’s important not to over-think a strip and overload it with characters and a too-clever scenario.”

You’re also making a name for yourself as a magazine gag cartoonist. Without wanting to get into a Harry Hill style “Which is best?” fight, do you prefer creating gags or strips?

“Gags, definitely. They take so much less time to draw! I can come up with strip ideas more easily, but good gags are much tougher. The characters in a strip allow you to hang a joke on something more tangible, but that rewarding effort of coming up with ideas added to the ease of drawing, makes gags win every time. I love that feeling of thinking up what I hope is a winning gag idea (happens all too rarely!) I’ve always wanted a published strip, though, and I don’t want to let go of that dream.”

Bloghorn hopes the dream comes true for Alex. You can vote for your favourite Comic Strip Superstar entry at the website, all you need is an Amazon account. Voting ends November 6.

Artist of the Month – Chichi Parish

October 30, 2009 in Events


In our last chat with Artist of the Month Chichi Parish Bloghorn asked if she had any hot tips for wannabe cartoonists?

Be curious, experiment, knowledge-share, join online forums, try all sorts of digital or traditional media until you find one which sings your song. Never be afraid to ask questions, no matter how dumb you may sound. I never went to art school, so it’s still a huge learning curve for me and I am never afraid to say “How did you do that?”

So, what’s the future of cartooning in the digital age?

Unimaginable potential.

Bloghorn thanks Chichi for the words and pictures over the past four Fridays. Remember, you can enjoy our Artist of the Month archives at any time.

Cartoonists crack Eggheads

October 30, 2009 in Comment


The Eggheads (Chris Hughes, Daphne Fowler, CJ de Mooi, Barry Simmons, Judith Keppel and Kevin Ashman) by Cartoonists' team member Chris Burke

The Cartoonists, a team put together by the Professional Cartoonists Organisation, stormed to victory on the TV quiz show Eggheads last night, after winning each of their head-to-head rounds. Egghead Kevin Ashman described it as “the most comprehensive defeat we’ve ever had”. Here, team captain Alex Hughes explains how it all happened

A little over a year ago, I was approached by the makers of BBC quiz show Eggheads and asked if I’d like to put together a team of cartoonists for the upcoming series. I’ve done the odd pub quiz in the past, so accepted the offer and duly went about recruiting a team from the ranks of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation – a team comprising myself, Chris Burke, Robert Duncan, Graham Fowell, Royston Robertson and Martin Rowson. We sailed through the December audition and subsequently were invited to record the show in January of this year.

For the uninitiated, Eggheads itself is a fairly straightforward quiz. Each day, a new team of challengers goes up against the Eggheads, a team comprising past winners of other TV and radio quizzes such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Mastermind, Fifteen to One, The Weakest Link and Brain of Britain – the cream of British quiz talent.

The Cartoonists Team - Alex Hughes, Royston Robertson, Robert Duncan, Graham Fowell and Martin Rowson

The Cartoonists (Alex Hughes, Royston Robertson, Robert Duncan, Graham Fowell and Martin Rowson)

For our bout, the Eggheads team comprised Kevin Ashman, CJ de Mooi, Daphne Fowler, Chris Hughes and Barry Simmons. Judith Keppel was waiting in the wings and Chris Burke was the stand-in for the Cartoonists.

The first four rounds are a series of head-to-head questions from a given category, where we pick one of our team to go up against our pick from the Eggheads. The contestants then go into the “question room” (in reality, a bench behind the main set) and are given three multiple choice questions each. If there’s no outright winner, it goes to “sudden death”.

The winner of each round is “safe” and allowed to compete for their team in the final round, whilst the loser is not. The final round is a general knowledge team round with the surviving challengers competing directly against the surviving Eggheads for the prize money, which, if it’s not won is rolled-over to the next day.

The Cartoonists (Alex Hughes, Robert Duncan, Royston Robertson, Chris Burke, Graham Fowell and Martin Rowson) outside BBC Television Centre

The Cartoonists (Alex Hughes, Robert Duncan, Royston Robertson, Chris Burke, Graham Fowell and Martin Rowson) outside BBC Television Centre

On the day of the filming we arrived bright and early on a crisp January morning with, as requested, a selection of light, brightly coloured non-patterned shirts at BBC Television Centre in White City, London. After resting in the former Top of the Pops Green Room we were ushered into the studio, which is when the nerves kicked in. Make-up was applied, microphones were attached and we met host Jeremy Vine.

There wasn’t much time for chit-chat though (up to five episodes are shot per day), so we went straight into the contest …

…and we won! We were only the sixth team out of the ten series to beat the Eggheads in each of the first four rounds. But to top that, we are the first team to have beaten the Eggheads outright, winning in every single round plus the final – we only got three questions wrong between us in the whole show.

And best of all, the last question, which surviving Egghead Kevin Ashman could not answer, was a cartoon question.

So, well done, team, we did brilliantly! Congratulations to Robert, Royston, Graham, Martin, and Chris in reserve. And our thanks to Al Capp‘s Shmoo


The editor adds: The BBC iPlayer recording of the show should be available online until November 5th 2009.

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by Royston

Cartoonists on Eggheads tonight

October 29, 2009 in General


A team representing the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation, the organisation behind the Bloghorn, is set to appear on the BBC quiz show Eggheads tonight (October 29) at 6pm on BBC Two.

The Cartoonists are, left-to right, Chris Burke, who was team stand-in, Alex Hughes, Royston Robertson, Robert Duncan, Graham Fowell and Martin Rowson.

See the Bloghorn tomorrow for a full post-match report.

Spotted at Bloghorn

October 28, 2009 in Comment

Reader Euphrosene Labon spotted this – and Bloghorn recommends it. Phill Jupitus and comics.

Bloghorn Ten Second Cartoon

October 28, 2009 in Comment

Cartoon courtesy of PCOer Nathan Ariss.

by Royston

Viz in rude health after 30 years

October 26, 2009 in General

The first issue of Viz, from December 1979, and the 30th birthday issue

Viz comic is celebrating its 30th birthday with a bumper issue featuring characters old and new and a new exhibition of original artwork.

The exhibition 30 Years of Viz opens at the Cartoon Museum in London next week (November 4) and runs until January 24.


If 30 years seems like rather a long time, that probably because the comic was little known outside Newcastle and the surrounding area until 1985 when a deal with Virgin put it in the company’s megastores nationwide. Once John Brown from Virgin set up his own publishing company, taking Viz with him, its circulation rocketed and in the late 1980s and early 1990s it became a household name, shifting more than a million copies of each issue.

Over the years there has been much outrage and controversy surrounding Viz – they had to drop the word “comic” to show it’s not for kids – but things have calmed down somewhat and it is now an established part of the British cultural landscape. Circulation is now a much reduced, but still perfectly healthy, 82,000.

Viz is such a part of the establishment that they’ve been talking about it recently over at The Spectator, where, bizarrely, Sinclair McKay argues that the magazine clearly has a Conservative agenda and that David Cameron need look no further for a picture of “Broken Britain”. In the same magazine, Rod Liddle begs to differ, pointing out that Viz is essentially apolitical, taking potshots at everyone.

If the Tories really want to take Viz to their hearts, a better strategy would be to point out that in its early days it was helped on its way with a cash injection from Margaret Thatcher’s Enterprise Allowance Scheme – surely the biggest success story to come out of that scheme?

A less highbrow take on Viz can be found at The Sun, as you might expect, where they list their favourite Top Tips from the mag. Cartoonist and blogger Lew Stringer, who has drawn a new episode of the Viz classic strip Pathetic Sharks for the anniversary issue, also talks about Viz on his blog.

Meanwhile, the Viz founder Chris Donald, who bowed out ten years ago, tells Newcastle paper the Sunday Sun that he has no regrets and shows us some of his snaps from Viz’s heyday. Bloghorn recommends Donald’s book, published in 2004, Rude Kids: The Unfeasible Story of Viz.

And finally, if you missed it earlier in the year, you can still catch the Culture Show’s take on 30 years of Viz on You Tube.

Happy Birthday, Viz!

The Cartoon Museum, at 35 Little Russell Street, Bloomsbury, London is open Tuesday-Saturday 10.30am to 5.30pm and Sundays 12pm to 5.30pm.

by Royston

Cartoon Pick of the Week

October 23, 2009 in General

Bloghorn spotted this great work during this week ending the 23rd October 2009.

One: Morten Morland in The Times, going postal

Two: Kipper Williams in The Guardian on the
bonus culture

Three: Christian Adams in The Daily Telegraph on the fantasy world of the BNP leader

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

A pick of Posy Simmonds

October 23, 2009 in General

Cartoonist and social satirist Posy Simmonds will be talking about her graphic novel adaptations of classic literature in London on Saturday 24th October.

Posy will be demonstrating and discussing her work and particularly her recent book Tamara Drewe which was based on Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From the Madding Crowd. The film adaptation of Posy’s work is in production now.

You might even get a sneak preview of her next project too.

Her distinct and successful method for adaptations and adjustments would certainly make a interesting contrast with Robert Crumb‘s efforts to rewrite the book of Genesis. Perhaps one day we will get them both talking on the same stage…

Posy Simmonds is performing at Hall One of King’s Place at 4pm on Saturday as a part of The Guardian’s Hay Festival.

Artist of the Month – Chichi Parish

October 23, 2009 in Events


Our PCO Artist of the Month Chichi Parish, spills the beans on which other cartoonists’ work have inspired her.

During my formative years, I was brought up and educated in Spain. As a 7 year old kid, devoured Francisco Ibáñez’s ‘Mortadelo y Filemon‘ a comic about two detective agents and the cartoon strip ‘Mafalda‘ the creation of Argentine cartoonist, Quino.

It’s hard to choose which other cartoonists’ work I admire because there are so many. Gillray always takes my breath away. Other cartoonists’ whose work I like are: Steinberg, Bretécher, John Glashan, Sempe, Crumb, Calman, Leunig, Charles M. Schultz . How long have you got? My list is endless.

You can explore more great words and work inside Bloghorn’s Artist of the Month archives