You are browsing the archive for 2010 July.

Democracy needs cartoonists

July 27, 2010 in General, News

PCOer Steve Bell writes in today’s Guardian newspaper about an usual opportunity for the more unseen cartoonist which he has cooked up with his colleague Martin Rowson.

We are both constantly badgered by young cartoonists waiting for us to die (as indeed Martin himself once urged me to), as well as editors complaining about how difficult it is to find fresh talent. He suggested using our longer than normal holiday period of six weeks to showcase some of the talent we know full well to be out there.

And he offers a short explanation of what the independently-minded artist does. Bloghorn thinks this definition is useful when trying to identify the drawn work of an illustrator or a cartoonist.

It does require a certain arrogance to sit in judgment over the great and good, as well as the not so good and the less great who rule our lives, but I’ve had a political agenda as long as my arm since I was in flared trousers, and have never been expected to express any point of view other than my own.

If you have things to say about what Steve has written please add them in the comments below.

Cartoonist John Callahan dies

July 26, 2010 in General, News

Quadriplegic cartoonist John Callahan has died, aged 59. Best known for his cartoons satirising attitudes to disability, Callahan was himself paralysed in a car accident in his early twenties. He also wrote books, notably his autobiography Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot (now out of print), its title taken from the cartoon above, and music, and two animated TV shows were produced from his cartoons.

He was also the subject of this documentary for Dutch TV:

Cartoonists take on Nick Clegg

July 21, 2010 in General, News

Chris Riddell's Nerve Centre. Copyright: Chris Riddell/the Observer

Former national newspaper editor, Peter Preston asked four of the UK’s top political cartoonists how they draw Nick Clegg, the new Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats in a recent article.

Preston asked Peter Brookes from The Times:

Clegg is very much the junior partner while Cameron has that air of entitlement about him. So the idea of Cameron as a prefect and Clegg as his fag seemed a theme that is infinitely playable on.

The Guardian‘s Steve Bell took a similar line:

After the election, I came across graffiti on a poster. It was one of Cameron’s posters, with him in his shirtsleeves. Somebody had written: ‘You’re my butler now’ and it just made me laugh. The world is Cameron’s butler now.

Nick Garland of the Daily Telegraph preferred to play on Clegg’s ‘boyish’ qualities:

You can imagine his mother wiping dirt off his shirt. That was noticeable in their press conference in Downing Street’s garden.

…and finally, there was a short video interview with the Observer‘s own Chris Riddell.

[…] his political position makes him an absolute gift, because of his status in this coalition. So week after week, we do Clegg as a lapdog, a ventriloquist’s dummy.

Diana Willis 1927-2010

July 21, 2010 in General, News

Diana Willis, a founder member of the organisation which set up the UK Cartoon Museum has died, aged 83.

John Jensen writes:

Diana was a daughter of the great cartoonist, H.M.Bateman and although not an artist she, through her father’s work, acquired a love and respect for cartooning. During the 1980s worked with Mel Calman, Simon Heneage and the other Members of the Cartoon Art Trust towards the formation of the UK Cartoon Museum.

Happily, the opening of the museum in her lifetime validated her enduring enthusiasm for the art.

Diana was a country woman. She loved tending her chickens, growing things: apples, figs, berries, vegetables, herbs. She was middle-class but totally without snobbery and full of quiet adventure. She once took one of her sons to a circus – the boy was 12 – and she volunteered to ride bareback. She was fitted with a harness (as always happens when a member of the audience rides bareback) the horse began its run, the harness was pulled and Diana hung in the air until the circuit was complete and she was returned to the horse’s back. This was the sort of action which a twelve year might remember for life with a mixture of pleasure and alarm.

When I was researching my book of H.M.Bateman drawings Diana revealed the family collection of originals, of rough sketches, of sketchbooks, watercolours and caricatures stored in one of Greenham Barton’s many rooms. This, around the early 1970s, was the beginning of a family friendship in which I came to love and respect Diana’s down-to-earth personality, her ability to produce wonderful food from her old-fashioned Aga and to admire the strength of her character. In company with many, many others, I am grateful that I knew her.

On Monday July 12 a Thanksgiving Service was held in Greenham church, a church so tiny that many relatives and friends could not all fit inside. Typically, Diana’s choice of music to follow the Blessing was The Padstow Lifeboat by Malcolm Arnold: a lively exit from the church.

Bloghorn thanks John for the words.

by Royston

The DFC could make a comeback

July 19, 2010 in General, News

The DFC coverThe DFC, the short-lived children’s comic which was launched in 2008 (much covered here on the Bloghorn) could be set for a return.

The publisher David Fickling has indicated that the comic could return in 2011, while acknowledging that its subscription-only format was probably a mistake.

The comics blog has the story.

Opinion: The Patron of the Arts

July 13, 2010 in Comment

Bloghorn_cartoonists © for the UK Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation
Bill Stott writes:

Mr Charles Saatchi has given the Nation a large lump of his contemporary art collection, and a gallery to keep it in. Can’t say fairer than that.

Sometimes, when we’re told that “the Nation” has stumped up daft money to keep Ravioli’s Temptation of St Botolph from disappearing into a foreign millionaire’s vault, I idly wonder, as a tiny part of the nation, whether I even had an opinion.

I can’t do that about Mr Saatchi’s munificence, though. It’s a gift. Although I do think there are still a few questions floating about. Don’t some of the items in the gifted collection already belong to people?

For example, I could have sworn somebody had bought Tracey Emin’s famous bed. Perhaps they were similarly kind and let it stay in the collection rather than carting it home to make a statement in the atrium, or to upset visiting relatives.

Or maybe they left it because the power of the piece depends on the juxtaposition of the objects within it (an art critic told me that, so it must be true). It would be expensive to keep having Trace pop in to rearrange everything after the Help had tidied it up a bit.

And which bits of “the Nation” will appreciate Mr Saatchi’s kindness? Presumably the artistic gurus who tell us what is or isn’t in this year.

Meanwhile, an art-form with a far wider appeal – UK cartooning – stutters along, self-helping as usual. Apart from a few notable, contemporary exceptions, it appears to be regarded by the artistic hierarchy snootily, and from a safe distance.

“What about Rude Britannia?” I hear you cry. Yes, it’s very posh. Lots of fanfare, but curated mainly by whom? There is due deference to Gillray and super stuff from Bell and Scarfe and Rowson … but how little Carl Giles, no Larrys, and how many Bill Tidys? These last drew, observed and commented on the way of the REAL world. And they were funny. That is cartooning’s Achilles heel. No matter how well drawn, coloured, observed a cartoon is, if it makes you laugh its not “Art”.

Good cartooning is as much an art-form as Ms Emin’s bed. And it relies on tiny, feisty outfits like the Cartoon Museum to keep banging on about it. What they could do with a new FREE gallery!

by Royston

Cartoonists in the Dragons' Den

July 12, 2010 in Events

Tim Harries and Gerard Whyman
We’ve seen elephants in London recently, and this weekend sees dragons taking to the streets of Newport. Cartoonists from the PCO are involved once again.

Sixty SuperDragons, as they are known, will make their debut in the South Wales city on Sunday (July 18). Cartoonists Tim Harries, above left, and Gerard Whyman, right, have spent much of the past two months putting colourful designs on a canvas that is somewhat different to a piece of A4 paper: a 5ft by 6ft fibreglass dragon.

Tim created a dragon called “Scrum”, covered in cartoon rugby players, and Ger created not one but two works: “Shipley”, based on the city’s maritime history (with famous Newportians past and present gazing from portholes) and “Rodney”, which was sponsored by Newport Gwent Dragons rugby team, and named after their Rodney Parade ground.

Shipley by Ger Whyman
Detail from Shipley by Gerard Whyman

Ger told the Bloghorn that when work began at the end of April, he’d already had a useful experience: “The painting of a Big Board at the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival proved a useful dry run, as many artists were working in a communal space in a disused shop – renamed the Dragons’ Den for the duration – which was open to the public. So, as well as painting, I was fielding questions from interested visitors.

“I knew I was taking on a lot of work in painting two dragons and it felt a daunting prospect. The little A4 pencil sketches had to be transferred to a 5ft structure that had curves, contours and odd crevices – no mean feat! The satisfaction of completing them was immense. Now that the project is complete I feel slightly at a loss. It’s nice to have my freedom back but I miss the camaraderie of the fellow artists in the Dragons’ Den.”

Rodney by Gerard Whyman
Rodney by Gerard Whyman

Tim said: “I put a design together loosely based on the idea of Where’s Wally? I covered the dragon statue with cartoon rugby players and only one rugby ball, which the public would be encouraged to search for. It was much more time-consuming than I’d envisioned and occasionally frustrating (where’s the “undo” button? Aaagh!) It was a strain on the knees and I had a slight addiction to Sharpie pens due to overuse.

Scrum by Tim Harries
Detail from Scrum by Tim Harries

“The good points were working alongside lots of great local artists and illustrators, having a lot of fun actually painting and designing the dragon and seeing it finished, and getting a really good reaction from the public. Would I paint another one? Ask me again in six months when my knees have mended.”

The Launch of the SuperDragons Trail takes place at Newport’s Tredegar House on Sunday.

Launch of the SuperDragons

End of an Era in Louviers

July 9, 2010 in General, News

A caricature of Daniel on one of the festival banners

Cartoon festivals pop up here and there around the globe. Some last for decades, others flourish and die swiftly. They come in many shapes and sizes but all share a common denominator: the enthusiasm of the participants to show their art to the world and the passer-by … and to have a good time doing it.

The Louviers Cartoon Festival in Northern France was one of the best attended but, sadly, its guiding light and director, Daniel Chabouis, passed away recently.  PCO member Simon Ellinas attended several of the festivals created by its memorable organiser.

Simon writes:

The English and the French hate each other. Official. Or so common folklore influenced by centuries of historical arguments, wars and petty grievances would have us believe. This hasn’t been my experience at all, with myriad pleasant and warmly welcomed visits to all parts of France.

The warmest welcome of all though was provided by the organiser of the Louviers Cartoon Festival, Daniel Chabouis, who contacted me in 2002 asking for a deputation of cartoonists to represent the UK at this most festive of festivals.

Daniel and his team were ultra-hospitable right from the start showing a depth of human kindness, consideration and extensive bonhomie often noticeably lacking elsewhere.

Passionate about the festival, he welcomed all forms of cartooning (see many of our past posts – Ed) and was able to persuade the local municipality to bankroll the event, along with many other local sponsors, for 12 years before it finally bit the credit-crunch dust and failed to surface in 2009.

Louviers Cartoon Festival at the Bloghorn

The thing he created with the Louviers Cartoon Festival which, in my opinion, is unique amongst cartoon festivals I have visited, was a real atmosphere of festival. People attended in their thousands from the surrounding cities and towns.

All the cartoonists, their exhibits and their workshops and demonstrations were under one roof. Prizes were announced over the PA throughout the event and the public were able to see the cartoonists for whom they had voted based on the cartoons they had seen. There was often a palpable and electric excitement in the air.

The Louviers Cartoon Festival was, I believe, simply an extension of the organiser’s own personality. Because Daniel Chabouis was such a wonderfully generous man with an intense joie de vivre, so the festival was always an effervescent and memorable success.

Bloghorn thanks Simon for the news, the photograph and the good memories.

Forbidden Planet to sell small press comics

July 7, 2010 in General, News

Foghorn Bloghorn for The UK Professional Cartoonists’ OrganisationUK comic retail chain Forbidden Planet has announced the start of sale for small press comics and self-published works in three stores around the country.

The first outlets, Nostalgia & Comics in Birmingham, World’s Apart in Liverpool and Forbidden Planet in Manchester, are to have special racks to house works by independent comic makers from the UK and overseas.

What’s more, they’re offering the service for free on a sale or return basis, and will take no commission. In combination with small-run and self-publishing services such as Lulu, Bloghorn thinks this represents an excellent way for independent cartoonists to get their work in front of prospective buyers without having to go through large third-party publishers and distributors.

There are more details for small press comic producers at the Forbidden Planet International blog.

by Royston

Toy Tales at the Cartoon Museum

July 6, 2010 in General, News

ivor the engine

Are you sitting comfortably, children? Then you might like to know that the exhibition Toy Tales: Highlights from Classic British Children’s Animation opens tomorrow (July 7) at the Cartoon Museum in London, and runs until September 5.

The show focuses on some of the most popular animated children’s programmes produced in Britain over the past 50 years, and will feature drawn backgrounds, cut-outs, models, sets, posters, and animation cels from Ivor the Engine – above, by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin – Noggin the Nog, The Pogles, The Clangers, Bagpuss, Roobarb, Morph, Danger Mouse, The Snowman, and Famous Fred, below, based on a book by Posy Simmonds (copyright Channel 4).

Famous Fred
The exhibition it comes right up to date with Wallace and Gromit, Bob the Builder and Peppa Pig.

These are shows watched by generations, so the exhibition is sure to appeal to children of all ages (that means you too, grown-ups). The exhibition will provide insights into the creative process of animation including scripts, storyboards, preparatory drawings, animators’ notes and “animatics” (rough, early versions) as well as clips from the various programmes. A highlight is sure to be a complete set from Postgate and Firmin’s much-loved The Clangers.

The Cartoon Museum is at 35 Little Russell Street, London, close to the British Museum. It is open Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am-5.30pm and Sunday 12pm-5.30pm (closed Mondays including Bank Holidays).

Visit the Cartoon Museum website