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The Genius of Giles

January 7, 2020 in Comment

Rupert Besley writes:

Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies are back in the news.

It’s become something of a festive tradition to bemoan the lack of good viewing in the Christmas schedules. ‘Absolutely nothing on telly,’ goes the cry. ‘Last year was bad enough and this year is worse.’ And so it has seemed this last month.

The BBC’s star contribution to the season has been The Trial of Christine Keeler. It has been well received. I’m sure it is well written, well acted and well done, but I only half-watched the first episode before deciding to give it a miss. The main facts are well enough known, with characters too self-indulgent and story too sordid to grab my interest. As Peter Cook put it, ‘I go to the theatre to be entertained. I don’t want to see plays about rape, sodomy and drug addiction. I can get all that at home.’

The Macmillan era was far from Britain’s finest hour. The Tory government was led by a patrician figure hamming it up as quirky and characterful but trustworthy elder statesman straight off the grouse moors, ready to gull the public into believing they had never had it so good (remind you of someone?). On one thing Macmillan was right: the unpredictability of politics, with its potential for everything to be brought crashing down by things unexpected. ‘Events, dear boy.’

The Profumo story unfolded in the summer of 1963. That was the year that ‘sexual intercourse began’ (Philip Larkin). Sex came out from under the covers and dared to speak its name on the front pages of reputable newspapers.

Cartoonists had a field day, few more so than Giles. I was about to turn 13 and had little interest in or understanding of politics at the time. But I well remember the cartoon above appearing in my mother’s Sunday Express and the amusement it gave at breakfast. Then, as now, I marvelled at the genius of Giles and secretly hoped (in vain) that one day I might work out how to do something similar. I can’t, of course, and never will. The talents of Giles are not given to all, but it has been fun to see what magic he brought to the pages of a newspaper.

The cartoon above begins with a strong idea, even if that comes from the common cartoon device of bringing a larger issue down to a personal level that we can relate to. In lesser hands, that idea could still have fallen pretty flat. What makes this cartoon so wonderful is all that Giles brings to the artwork. The composition is masterful. Without need of great detail, he conjures up the comfortable, sunny world of the well-heeled Establishment, about to get one hell of a rocking. Instead of putting the central figures at the centre of the artwork, he has them already racing off to the left; this, together with the papers still in mid-air above the garden lounger, deftly conveys the urgency of impending crisis. Centre-stage is the small dog, yapping at heels and loving every moment. What member of the press or public could not identify with that dog? What puts the cherry on the cake is the expression captured on the face of each of those racing over the grass, especially the wife with long-held suspicions now rampant. Two days later, Giles followed the cartoon up with this (below) in the Daily Express. Genius.

PCO Cartoon Review of the Year 2019

January 1, 2020 in General, News

Cartoon © Brian Adcock, The Independent

Glenn Marshall reporting from behind the paracetamol bottle:

Once more it is time to look back with the traditional (well, third year running) PCO ‘Cartoon Review of the Year’. It was always going to be a very hard task to not just fill it with cartoons about Trump and BORXIT® so in the end I just gave up and ran with it!

So to set the tone here’s a great drawing from © Chris Burke.

Martin Rowson sums up the plight of cartoonists facing a metaphor shortage in 2019.

I’m having to restock my Brex-mageddon bunker as most of my haul is now well past its sell-by date. I should’ve taken © Andrew Fraser’s Valentine’s Day advice in Private Eye and just bought tinned goods rather than Greggs vegan sausage rolls and doughnuts.

This © Colin Dukelow cartoon from Private Eye sums up what many felt about the ‘B’ word by the end of the year…probably by the beginning of the year too.

In March Brexit was taken off the menu for a few more months. Cartoon served up by © Mike Stokoe in The Spectator.

Moving on to April the heavily redacted Mueller report was released. Loved this cartoon by •••• in the •••••••• •••••

Illustration by © Steve Bright

In Sports News: May saw Liverpool ‘pipped’ (GERIT?) at the post for the Premiership title by the WONDROUS Manchester City. Eat that Klopp (the PCO strenuously denies any bias in their reporters) After coming so close I really can’t see Liverpool ever winning the Premiership! (Nosramarshall)

In June ‘stable genius’ Donald Trump visited the UK. © Royston Robertson shared this cartoon to mark the occasion. Really Royston could post this daily, or even hourly, and it would still be applicable.

In more Trump news: In July Trump told four Democrat congresswomen ‘go back to the places they came from’. This was Steve Jones’ lunar take on it tying in with the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. (Private Eye)

I loved this Boris arse-faced Mona in The Guardian by Steve Bell. No idea what the story was, but I’m a Mona Lisa obsessive. I’m writing this review, so I’m putting it in.

A lovely drawing of the Time magazine ‘Person Of The Year’ (cue FUMING Donald) Greta Thunberg by © Andy Davey from The Evening Standard

© Wilbur Dawbarn’s Greta-inspired back to school clothing range, product placed in Private Eye.

Retail News: In October it was announced that, following a spate of high street closures, Debenhams was facing financial difficulty. © Sarah Boyce may have put her finger on why with this Private Eye cartoon.

Back to climate change: © Kathryn Lamb had this seasonally adjusted cartoon published in The Spectator….

… and this inflammable Private Eye cartoon by Clive Goddard. Sadly this could be a current scene from the Australian Met Office.

A cartoon by © The Surreal McCoy from Prospect which could virtually apply to any of 2019’s news stories.

Cartoon by © Nick Newman, The Sunday Times.

In November Prince Andrew pizza expressed his views on the Jeffrey Epstein scandal to Emily Maitlis. I suspect he’s someone else who may shy away from being interviewed by Andrew Neil in the future.

On that subject here was a rather prescient cartoon by © Kipper Williams actually from a June issue of The Spectator!

Also in November Boris visited flood-hit Yorkshire mostly to gargle his campaign message. Illustration by © Rebecca Hendin for The Guardian.

And still on matters aquatic (and to mention someone other than Bojo) here is Dave Brown’s cartoon for The Independent of Jezco and Joswin getting their campaign messages across…or not.

©Zoom Rockman in Private Eye visits the polling station.

As we head into the New Year here’s another excellent cartoon by •••• from the FT showing you can get new life out of a cartoon metaphor Mr Rowson.

© Brian Adcock, bookends the year with this offering from The Independent.

So what fresh horrors will 2020 have in store? I expect A LOT more about him, him, and more him!

Thanks to Procartoonist members for the use of their cartoons.

Happy New Year from the PCO.