You are browsing the archive for 2017 February.

by Jonesy

It’s only a cartoon: part two

February 26, 2017 in General

© Rupert Besley

Rupert Besley writes:

Perhaps it’s because most cartoons get viewed for no more than a second or two that people seem to imagine that is also all the time it takes to complete one (thanks, Rolf). Despite a fine tradition over two centuries of world-class cartooning, this country does not value cartoons as others do. Too often these get chucked about as lightweight ephemera, with no understanding of the work and skill that goes into them. Too many instances exist of high-quality originals (pre-digital hard copy) being dumped, sold for peanuts or simply not returned from publication or exhibition to rightful owners (we call it theft).

Of course, not everyone behaves in this way. There are wonderful people around (gallery owners and editors, academics and punters) who understand the value of cartooning and who work all hours to promote the art-form and help its development. The PCO does what it can in gratitude to recognise their efforts by presenting special awards.

Cartooning comes in many forms, whether just to give amusement and brighten the day or to give comment and analysis of the issues of the moment. Amid present crises, does anyone provide better insight – or opposition – to developments than the likes of Steve Bell, Martin Rowson and Dave Brown (all of whom we are proud to count as PCO members)? There will always be need for top political cartoonists, but, if the nursery slopes for practising the craft are gone, how will high-level cartooning survive? It is no longer a profession that any young person could be well advised into or that more than a handful or two can make a living from. Cartoonist gatherings are inevitably of the predominantly elderly, white, male, bearded variety and woefully short on diversity of gender, age or ethnicity. None of this will change till greater value is put on cartoons and the role of the cartoonist.

Everything is relative. This country may not rate cartooning as do other countries, like France. But cartoonists here can still spotlight double-standards and ridicule governments without fear of torture, imprisonment or exile, as faced by colleagues in so many other places. Never before has there been such need for organisations like CRNI to defend the human rights of cartoonists. That still gives no excuse for conduct in this country that falls short of courtesy, ethics or professional practice. In other words, kicking about. It remains the case that cartoons in this country are not taken seriously. They’re just a joke. That’s why we’re losing them.



by Jonesy

Freedom of speech under threat in South Africa

February 22, 2017 in General

Cape Town, legislative capital of South Africa

We have received a message from CRNI Executive Director Dr. Robert Russell alerting us to a growing crisis in South Africa that will directly impact all of the nation’s cartoonists.

“What is going on under the Jacob Zuma government in South Africa is especially dangerous because leaders of other failing governments in southern Africa will be carefully watching to see if they might foist this kind of attack on free speech on their own people,” says Dr. Russell.

The problems stem from the proposed Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, widely criticised as far too broad and heavy-handed, exacerbated by concerns that the South African government should be considering such laws at all.

You can read more about this worrying development in this article on the ‘media update’ website.

Terry Anderson, CRNI board member & PCO member, compares the South African situation with what’s happening in Turkey via this CRNI article and, conversely, in Australia, where the right continue to campaign for repeal of clause 18c of The Racial Discrimination Act and the cartoons of Bill Leak are a test case for freedom of speech.


by Jonesy

More cartoonists #addafish for #EatenFish as the virtual shoal continues to grow

February 22, 2017 in General

© Steve Bright

Here are more marvellous contributions from PCO members, swelling an ever increasing catch that includes fish illustrations from all around the world, all in support of the imprisoned cartoonist Eaten Fish.

Hopefully these will inspire you to #addafish of your own, regardless of drawing capability, and help a human being in need.

© Sarah Boyce

© Guy Venables


© Terry Anderson

© Matt Buck

© John Roberts

© Nathan Ariss

© Royston Robertson

© Tim Ruscoe

© Colin Whittock

© Cathy Simpson

Please #addafish for #EatenFish. Thank you.



by Jonesy

A call to support imprisoned cartoonist ‘Eaten Fish’

February 21, 2017 in General

© Martin Rowson

#addafish to our virtual shoal and help the fight to free fellow cartoonist #EatenFish from misery and degradation.

Iranian cartoonist ‘Eaten Fish’, until recently on hunger strike, has been protesting his imprisonment since 2013 in the notorious Australian-run detention facility at Manus Island. (See Blog passim.)

Now, thanks to an inspired idea from PCO committee member Glenn Marshall, cartoonists from all around the world are using social media to highlight the award-winning artist’s plight, contributing cartoons at #addafish to create a virtual shoal. You’ll see a few of the submissions from fellow PCO members here but there is still plenty of room in the shoal for more, especially from waters closer to home.

© Bill Stott


© Roger Penwill

The imprisoned cartoonist has given himself the pen name ‘Eaten Fish’ in reference to his detention on the island: ‘I’m like a fish bone… Gotten from the sea. Eaten and thrown away for so long.’

Eaten Fish continues to protest over ongoing maltreatment and the failure of the authorities to deal with his case, along with the threat of deportation in the near future.

© Andrew Birch

© Mike Turner

© Glenn Marshall

Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has offered his support to the cartoonist, calling the process around Eaten Fish’s refugee application a ‘joke’ and calling for his immediate release. He says:

“Eaten Fish is petrified of being moved from his supported accommodation back into the general area, and petrified of being returned to Iran and executed.”

© The Surreal McCoy


© Jeremy Banx

“His refugee determination status process was an absolute joke. During the determination he was so unwell that he was unable to present his case. All of this has been documented. It’s taken Eaten Fish a year to talk about his experience, but now he wants people to know what’s going on.”

Thanks to efforts globally, this is now happening. Leading professional cartoonists in the UK and around the world (France, US and Australia) along with concerned amateurs, are filling the internet with cartoon fish of every kind.

© Rupert Besley


© Wilbur Dawbarn

© Noel Ford

Eaten Fish thanked those who have contributed thus far with this poignant message:

‘Thank you for being my voice to the world.’

Please #addafish to the shoal and help make that voice louder. Thank you.




by Jonesy

It’s only a cartoon: part one

February 21, 2017 in General

@ Rupert Besley

Rupert Besley writes:

Nobody likes to be kicked about. Or just hurled in the bin. But that’s what cartoonists have to get used to much of the time. Rejection is a major part of the business and always has been. Even the top professionals in established posts have long been required to come up with multiple offerings before one is accepted (by then under pressure and with little time to complete).

What is new is the kicking about. Much of this is in the scramble for life-rafts as the print publication industry drops below the waves. Together, the digital revolution along with the internet should mean a bright new future for cartooning. Cartoons look great onscreen and their quick gags and nutshell analyses are ready-made for social media. But nobody has worked out yet how to make them pay.

In the slow death of newsprint, cartoons are among the first things to go. First marginalised and then kicked out, all too often in ways that offend. The PCO has a growing list of top cartoonists who, having given sterling service in providing ace cartoons without fail over lengthy time-spans (15, 30, even 50 years), have then been shown the door. Not on grounds of quality, simply budget. And the irony is that use of cartoons in publications has been shown to boost sales.

What we’ve seen happen next, more than once, is indefensible. The long-running cartoon disappears from the paper, readers ask why and the editor gives out that the cartoonist has retired. A lie. These are highly skilled pros now seeking new avenues for work.

Cartooning suffers maybe from never quite being accepted on equal terms by Art or Journalism. These are the Ugly Sisters, grabbing all attention at the expense of Cartoons, the scrubber down below. There has always been rivalry for space. Now it’s getting nastier, as the space reduces. Magazines are closing down. Others, that once took many cartoons, now take none. Among those few left in the market are ones that struggle to keep up with the pressure of supply. Submissions pile up for months unanswered, long beyond the shelf-life of the gag. The PCO continues to push (without great success) for dialogue with – and answers from – editors.

Editors tend to keep cartoonists at arms length. That makes it easier to dismiss them, having first characterised them as anti-social oddities who rarely emerge from their holes. The cartoon festivals that flourish (with PCO backing & involvement) at Shrewsbury and Herne Bay (along with Hastings last year) give the lie to this suggestion. Those who come (never editors, not counting PCO patrons) will find cartoonists to be a mixed bunch of ordinary people. Extremely normal (if that’s possible) but with added gifts for crap-detection and humour, observation and graphic ability.

Part two of this article will follow soon. In the meantime you can take a look at Rupert’s PCO portfolio here.

by Jonesy

A message to the Australian High Commissioner re: Iranian cartoonist’s hunger strike

February 11, 2017 in General

The PCO Chair, Bill Stott, writes:

Bill's image



by Jonesy

Detained cartoonist ‘Eaten Fish’ on hunger stike

February 6, 2017 in General


© David Rowe

The PCO are sorry to report that the situation on Manus Island has taken a dramatic turn for the worse since our last article on the notorious refugee camp, with news of the beleaguered and desperate artist going on a hunger strike in protest at his treatment.

We received a letter a short while ago from CRNI Executive Director, Dr. Robert Russell, an edited version of which is shown below:

Dear Friends,

It is with quite a bit of urgency that I plead with all of you to send out our story on Eaten Fish to all of your members.

I am also including as an attachment a press release put out by Janet Galbraith who is leading the strategy on helping a number of Manus island inmates. If you have any further questions of course contact her at the email address or phone number in the press release.

Our friend Eaten Fish has gone on a hunger strike, he has given up hope, he has no reserves of energy left to fight back, and unless something is done quickly he will probably expire in the next few days.  We had great hopes at the agreement that President Obama was arranging with the Prime Minister Mr. Turnbull, but this has come to a grinding halt under President Trump.

We look forward to any of your communications with your groups that have to do with the human rights and protection of cartoonists in danger.

Thank you all so much,

Dr. Robert Russell

The press release is also reproduced in its entirety below:


5th February 2017

Failure to transfer Eaten Fish to Australia will lead to another death on Manus Island

Eaten Fish has been on a hunger strike for 6 days now and weighs 48 kilos.  It has been well documented in the press that Eaten Fish suffers from debilitating mental health issues. He has also been the victim of sexual assault, chronic sexual harassment and abuse within Australia’s immigration prison camp on Manus Island for the past 3 and a half years.

Due to his extremely fragile mental health and ongoing sexual harassment, Eaten fish has been held in the Special Supported Accommodation compound [also referred to as VSRA] for the past 8 months.

In a document from PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority dated 29th of January 2017, it is stated that ABF have spoken to Eaten Fish and told him that his allegations of sexual assault and abuse have not been substantiated and that he will be returned to the compound and that PNG ICSA. Worryingly it also states that they will not negotiate with Eaten Fish on any grounds.  It is this that has forced Mr Fish’s actions.

In an urgent letter to Australian Border Force Chief Medical Officer Dr John Brayley dated 2nd February 2017, Dr Sue Ditchfield writes: ‘Bizarelly he [Eaten Fish] was expected to prove the assaults to the satisfaction of PNG authorities.  He was unwilling to identify his assailants because of his fear of retribution and of course any assaults take place well away from the compound guards’.  Further those authorities Eaten Fish was to prove the assaults to were the same authorities who had assaulted him late in 2016.

In a letter to CMO Brayley Janet Galbraith writes: ‘ At the beginning of the hunger strike he [Eaten Fish] only weighed 53 kilos and he has already lost a substantial amount of weight. He reports to me today that he is shaky, weak, has a lot of body pain, no longer feels hunger, is losing his memory and his heart is beating fast.  He says he can no longer shower.’

‘I cannot suffer anymore.  I know now that I will have to die because I cannot suffer anymore’, Mr Fish told Ms Galbraith.

When asked by authorities within the prison camp what he wished to accomplish through his hunger strike Mr Fish said: ‘Something happens with hunger strike and I think you know what that is.  I will die and this will all finish’.

Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) write: ‘It is with profound alarm and sadness that [we] learn that our friend and colleague, cartoonist Mr. Eaten Fish, currently held in an Australian refugee rendition camp in Papua New Guinea has decided to undertake a hunger strike… He is a man who has given up hope, cannot struggle any longer, cannot face the future that is being forced on him, and he would rather die than submit to the indignities of further inhuman treatment.’

The Australian government has been petitioned many times both from within Australia and internationally asking that Eaten Fish be brought to Australia for medical treatment.

Dr Ditchfield says, ‘I urge you to be pro-active in transferring this critically ill young man to Australia.  I have no doubt that failure to do this will lead to yet another death of an Asylum Seeker on Manus Island’.

Contact Janet Galbraith

+61 448 370 918 /

The PCO urges the powers that be to ensure that humanity prevails and a senseless loss of life is avoided.


by Jonesy

Separated by an ocean, united in common purpose

February 6, 2017 in General

Schrank Course72

© Peter Schrank

Cartooning in the current political climate is certainly never dull as the views of two cartoonists, both of them brilliant, will testify.

Peter Schrank and David Sipress ply their trade on opposite sides of the Atlantic but share a common aim: holding politicians to account. Whilst Peter is an experienced, award winning political cartoonist, David is better known for his wonderful gag cartoons in The New Yorker and this possibly goes some way to explaining their different takes on the job.

Swiss born Peter Schrank concentrates on the creative stimuli the likes of Trump, Putin et al can provide, and the sheer fun to be had drawing these political figures. At the same time as acknowledging the joys of the job, the award winning political cartoonist feels a moral obligation is required in this line of work too.

Read Peter Schrank’s article, “The Cartoonist’s Dilemma”, on the E!Sharp website.


© David Sipress / The New Yorker

New Yorker cartoonist David Sipress takes a darker view, the result of a “tour of duty” in the esteemed publication’s topical slot, the Daily Cartoon. He is more concerned about the mental toll political cartooning can inflict upon the artist.

His views can be read in this article on The New Yorker website.


by Jonesy

PCO cartoonists’ Heath Robinson Museum fundraising endeavours prove surprisingly uncomplicated

February 3, 2017 in General



© Chris Madden

Our members donated their cartoons for the museum to sell via the world renowned auction house, Sotheby’s.


And, as far as we know, no weird contraptions involving pulleys and levers were used in the raising of said funds. The only stipulation was that the cartoons had to follow the theme “If Heath Robinson was alive today” and, from the bleak to the fantastical, some of the interpretations are shown here.


© Ken Pyne

heath rob (lose this)139 copy

© Jonesy Cartoons

These words, taken from the Heath Robinson Museum website, best describe its purpose:

“The Heath Robinson Museum is for students of illustration, lovers of landscape paintings, advertising enthusiasts and academics, dads building contraptions in sheds, believers in fairies, children with time to dream, couples stuck in tiny flats, people who put holes in cheese, artificial teeth testers and anyone who’s ever held something together with a bit of string.”


© Rupert Besley


© Chris Madden


The Heath Robinson Museum

heath rob (brexit)135 copy

© Jonesy Cartoons


© Dave Walker

You can learn more about this wonderfully inventive artist and view original artwork with books, photographs, film and digital media, all now permanently housed in a venue befitting of such a talent, by visiting the museum in Pinner, Middlesex. The full address is:

Heath Robinson Museum
Pinner Memorial Park
50 West End Lane
Pinner HA5 1AE

The website can be viewed here.

The Heath Robinson Museum auction has been taken down from the Sotheby’s website but you can still pay a visit here to check the progress of that “must have” Ming vase…

by Jonesy

Video reveals post US election plight of Manus Island refugees

February 3, 2017 in General


Image shown not from video

The Blog has visited the Manus Island story before, focussing on the cartoonist “Eaten Fish” (see below), hence our appreciation to Malie Russell, a director of First Book*, for drawing the PCO’s attention to a video on The New York Times’ website which can be viewed via this link.

Although it only runs for just under two and a half minutes in length, this film by Megan Specia and Yara Bishara conveys the increasing distress of refugees in the Australian run detention camp caused by the uncertainty of their situation following the election of Donald Trump.

Australia had an agreement with the previous Barack Obama led administration that would have seen many of the refugees – most of whom are from Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq – relocated to the United States. A phone call between Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, however, has resulted in doubts being cast as to whether this resettlement deal will be honoured by the new President. Trump allegedly cut the conversation short and later tweeted that he would “study this dumb deal”.

You can read more about Manus Island and the trying circumstances of cartoonist Eaten Fish’s internment in a previous Blog article here

*First Book is a non-profit social enterprise providing education essentials to children in need. Visit their website here.