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Oh We Did Like To Be Beside The Seaside!

July 31, 2020 in Events, General, News

In the ‘old normal’ this weekend would have seen cartoonists flocking like seagulls to the wonderful Herne Bay Cartoon Festival. With this year’s event c19ncelled here’s a trip down memory lane with the fabulous posters from previous years and links to the festival holiday snaps.

2013 Poster by © Hunt Emerson

The Herne Bay event started as a bolt-on to the Duchamp In Herne Bay centennial festival and featured much Marcel Duchamp toilet humour including cartoons exhibited in the latrines of local pubs.

2014 ‘Cartoonists Beside The Surrealside’ by © Ian Baker

The following year in 2014 the cartoon festival became a thing of its own, but still keeping it surreal.

2015 ‘Cartoonists Beside The Surrealside II’ by © Jeremy ‘Banx’ Banks

The art theme carried on in 2015 with cartoonists manning easels in the bandstand.

2016 by © Dave Brown

In 2016 once more we stuck our toes in the water and drew seaside postcards..

2017 ‘The End of the Pier Show’ by © Chris Burke

In 2017 the live drawing moved over from the bandstand to the pier.

2018 ‘Turning the Tide’ by © The Surreal McCoy

2018 had the seaside theme ‘Turning The Tide’ with an extra focus on female cartoonists in celebration of the centenary of women getting the vote in the UK.

2019 ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ by © Martha ‘Marf’ Richler

Last year’s 2019 spacey theme was the Apollo moon landings. Little did we know it would be the last time cartoonists landed on Herne Bay pier for some time.

Fingers crossed we’ll be heading back with our buckets and spades, cramming the beaches in 2021!

Spectator Article: the future of cartooning

July 30, 2020 in Comment, General

A rare mass-gathering of Private Eye cartoonists in 2013 (Rob Murray standing, 9th from right)

Rob Murray writes in response to Nick Newman’s Spectator piece (see previous post):

Nick Newman, one of the UK’s best and most prolific gag cartoonists, has written an article for this week’s Spectator about the challenges facing our art form. He very kindly gives me a mention.

It makes for sobering reading: the number of open-call outlets for cartoonists has dropped massively in recent years; meanwhile, younger artists seem to be dissuaded by the likelihood of rejection, or simply prefer the perceived glamour and relative accessibility of monetising their work through social media platforms instead.

These are trends I recognise. When I was starting out as a cartoonist in the 2000s, more experienced nib-wielders would often tell me how unlucky I was to have missed out on Punch (which had folded several years earlier) – a magazine that would publish dozens of gags per issue, often phoning cartoonists out of the blue to offer them a double-page spread on which to go crazy.

These days, Private Eye is the undisputed champion of gag cartoons in this country, and I’m delighted to be counted among its regulars. The Spectator and The Oldie also provide a fair few spots – and encouragingly, there are new titles embracing the art form, such as the recently launched Critic magazine.

The issue of young cartoonists coming through is a tricky one to solve – and something of a doubled-edged sword.

One of Rob’s first Spectator cartoons © Rob Murray

I sold my first cartoons to Private Eye and The Spectator when I was 26; I’m now 39 and I’m only aware of two – yes, two – cartoonists younger than me who currently sell to these magazines.

At the risk of falling into fogeyisms, the evidence does seem to suggest that younger artists are dissuaded by the demands of the job: it’s great fun, but can also be hard graft – and it can take many, many rejections before you even sell your first gag. When I started, I was working long hours in a ‘proper’ job – then spending late nights at the drawing board to meet self-imposed deadlines for work that would never be published. But without doing that, I would never have broken through.

At the same time, every cartoonist is fighting for their inch of white space in these magazines – do I really need some young star player rocking up and giving me a run for my money? In a word, yes.

Without new talent coming through and attracting the attention of the editors, even the most cartoon-friendly magazines might eventually run out of decent material, and give up on the gags.

And yet the audience for cartoons remains strong and enthusiastic. They are hugely popular with readers – and people are immediately intrigued when I mention what I do for a living.

A very early © Rob Murray from Private Eye

Like any artist, the cartoonist needs to adapt to the marketplace. It’s true that it can be difficult (if not impossible) to make a living by relying exclusively on the best-known publications. And even with fewer new cartoonists on the scene, competition for space remains fierce.

To some extent, I see these big-name magazines as my shop window – the place I can show off some of my best work, and reach a big audience. I then try and use those credentials to find well-paying jobs elsewhere – often by tempting the editor of a more obscure or niche title to add my work to their pages, when they’ve previously never even thought of using cartoons.

Instead of assuming the art form will become extinct on the printed page, we should all be finding ways to create our own markets and ensure that cartoons are here to stay.

Why does no one want to be a cartoonist any more? The lack of new blood doesn’t bode well for the industry’s future

July 25, 2020 in Comment, General

Written by Nick Newman for (and courtesy of) The Spectator with bonus cartoon content.

‘Nightmare!’ is how The Spectator’s cartoon editor Michael Heath has been describing cartooning for at least 30 years, but it’s truer now than ever. Eighty years ago, cartoonists were so celebrated that waxworks of Low, Strube and Poy were displayed in Madame Tussauds. Today, all that remains of Low is a pair of waxy hands in Kent University’s British Cartoon Archive. We are a vanishing species.

A © K.J. Lamb cartoon from Cherwell Magazine done during the time Kathryn was still at college.

There is a lack of new blood in the industry that doesn’t bode well for the future. When I was a student, getting published in Punch and Private Eyewas seen as the pinnacle of a career in humour. Many tried —and succeeded — from an early age. K.J. Lamb was selling gags to the Eyewhile still at Oxford. Ken Pyne was published in Punch when just 16 — as was Grizelda in Private Eye. The FT’s Banx was also a Punch stalwart by the time he was 20. That was then. Now we are all middle-aged and there are few youngsters snapping at our heels. The last time six cartoonists met at a Spectator party we had a combined age of over 350. In a recent photo of Eye cartoonists, featuring 45 of the top names, only one was under 30.

Punch cartoon from 1983 by a youthful © Jeremy Banks

Yet there’s every indication that cartoons are as loved by the public as ever. They are tweeted, shared, posted on Instagram; they go viral and get printed out and stuck on fridges. Pocket cartoons, pioneered by Sir Osbert Lancaster in the 1930s, are a particularly British art form and one that is still prized. Editors place topical gags on the front pages of newspapers, a practice rarely seen in France, Germany or America.

So why the dearth of new cartooning talent? The simple answer is that the opportunities have narrowed. Since the death of Punch, the main outlets for freelancers are Private Eye, The Spectator and the Oldie — and competition is fierce. Private Eye receives more than 500 submissions per issue and publishes up to 50. Every newspaper used to have regular pocket cartoonists — now only a handful survive. In straitened times for print media, the cartoons are often the first to go. Many of us lost work when lockdown was announced.

Another problem is financial. Some publications haven’t raised their rates since before the fall of the Berlin Wall, while others pay as little as £50 per cartoon. Compare that with the New Yorker, which is reported to pay between $700 and $1,400 per gag, depending on the artist’s ‘seniority’. One British publisher once asked me: ‘If we pay more, will the jokes be any funnier?’ I wish now I had said yes.

It isn’t just the lack of money that’s deterring new talent. There is also fear of failure. Rejection is a way of life for even seasoned cartoonists and today’s snowflakes can’t cope with it. I recently encouraged a promising young cartoonist to try The Spectator, which he did with immediate success. I still warned him: ‘You will get rejected. Everyone gets rejected.’ After two issues of ‘no thanks’ he has abandoned cartooning.

We veteran cartoonists do try to encourage the next generation, although it’s akin to committing professional suicide. The Cartoon Art Trust’s Young Cartoonist competition — judged by Fleet Street cartoonists — receives 1,000 entries a year. We joke that the objective is to identify the talent and then break their little fingers, but we stupidly don’t, and instead celebrate new stars and extra competition. Former winner Will McPhail is now a New Yorker regular; Rob Murray draws for Private Eye and the Sunday Times; Ella Baron for the TLS. All were in their twenties when they won, which suggests the talent is out there.

© Rob Murray’s first cartoon in Private Eye.

Oliver Preston, chairman of the Cartoon Art Trust, thinks alternative outlets distract comic artists. Graphic novels such as Kingsman, which was turned into a successful Hollywood movie franchise, are a more enticing means of earning aliving. Also, the ability to self-publish online cuts out editors who say, in the words of Heath: ‘You are not funny, Mr So-Called Funnyman.’ Ruby Elliot is a young illustrator better known as ‘rubyetc’ on Instagram, where she has 277,000 followers. Through her website, she sells merchandise, artwork and subscriptions to her cartoons.

Jon Harvey, the creator of Count Binface (who stood against Boris in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat in the last election), is the sort of sharp-minded political gagster who in another era would have drawn up his ideas and sold them to publications. Instead, he puts his jokes on Twitter to boost his online profile. It’s quicker, the response is immediate and, as he quips: ‘The editor of my Twitter page is more likely to take it.’ The theory is that getting noticed online may lead to commissions for radio and TV. He describes the internet as a ‘Wild West’ of opportunities for those who know how to self-promote or nurture a following.

For those of us brought up on dead wood who still find magic in newsprint, it may be too late to grasp these opportunities. So we continue to live the ‘nightmare’. How long the nightmare continues remains to be seen.

With many thanks to The Spectator for allowing us to reproduce this piece.

You can see an item featuring Nick on this story from BBC Newsnight (around 37 mins in)

Cartoonists protest summit of the International Labor Organization

July 13, 2020 in General

Cartoon © Steve ‘Jonesy’ Jones

The International Labor Organization (ILO) based in Geneva, Switzerland, is holding its virtual summit this week with the participation of heads of state and government, ministers, representatives of employers and workers. At CARTOONS FOR CHANGE we decided to invite cartoonists and illustrators from all continents to protest for 365 days, starting now during the virtual summit of the ILO, to demand that governments and multinationals stop child labor. It is unacceptable, cruel and illegal that 30 years after the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child there are still almost 300 million working children.
On the occasion of the World Day Against Child Labor, which was commemorated on June 12th, the CARTOONS FOR CHANGE initiative, which I lead, invited cartoonists, illustrators and creatives, from all continents, to contribute their talent and creativity, sharpen their pencils and crayons, in defense of hundreds of millions of girls and boys victims of labor exploitation. Thanks to this first open call, CARTOONS FOR CHANGE received expressions of interest from more than a hundred professional cartoonists from all continents.
Because governments, international organizations, and especially multinational companies have done little, if anything, to eradicate child labor and protect the world’s poorest children, we in CARTOONS FOR CHANGE call cartoonists, illustrators, and others graphic artists to carry out a global protest that will not last just 24 hours but #365DaysAgainstChildLabor.

 

Cartoon © Gilmar

The quality of the CARTOONS FOR CHANGE we have received is exceptional, the immense enthusiasm of cartoonists to join the cause is something I did not expect. This gives us the assurance that our global campaign will have a significant impact, despite the fact that those who profit from large-scale child labor, to reduce their cost of labor, are people and companies with criminal behavior. Exploiting a minor is a crime, exploiting tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of girls and boys, like too many multinationals do, is a crime against humanity, this according to international law.

 

Cartoon © Chavo del Toro

The European Union claims to respect human rights and children’s rights, but Europe is today the largest financial beneficiary of misery and child labor in the rural communities that produce coffee, cocoa and many other agricultural products.

Switzerland claims to be an exemplary democracy, but the Swiss Confederation has more children in its coffee, tea and cocoa supply chain than children studying in all Swiss schools.

Most “development aid” programs from the United States, Canada, the European Union, Norway, Switezrland, the United Kingdom, Japan, etc. which claim to help eradicate child labor and reduce misery not only do not reduce them but also serve to hide the cruelty of neo-colonial business models that are the true cause of misery, and therefore of child labor.According to data from the International Labor Organization (ILO), more than 152 million children in child labor situations. In my opinion, ILO child labor figures underestimate the total number of exploited children. In Asia the ILO underestimates them by more than one hundred million children, in Africa more than 30 million children. This means that the total number of children working worldwide today may be very close to 300 million.
It is absolutely unacceptable, cruel and illegal that 70 years after signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 30 years after adopting the Convention on the Rights of the Child, even the coffee, tea and chocolate they consume in the United Nations institutions has child labor. This is true in the ILO and also in UNICEF that claims to protect children around the world, and in all the centers of power and influence of the developed world, where they claim to support and promote the Sustainable Development Goals. It is urgent to stop the exploitation of hundreds of millions of girls and boys. There are too many industries, such as chocolate, coffee, mining and many others in which child labor continues to increase, because it is highly profitable for multinationals.

Cartoon © Antonio Rodríguez

According to figures from the ILO, worldwide, child labor is concentrated primarily in agriculture (71%), which also includes fishing, forestry, livestock and aquaculture, and comprises both subsistence and commercial agriculture; 17% of children in child labor situation work in the service sector; and 12% in the industrial sector, particularly mining.

Cartoon © Mangena

CARTOONS FOR CHANGE cartoons and illustrations will be published in the press and shared on the Twitter and Instagram accounts: @Cartoons4Change and Facebook: @Cartoons4ChangeNow.

If you want more information about CARTOONS FOR CHANGE, or about how you can contribute to eradicate child labor and abolish slavery, please contact us through any of the social networks.

These almost three hundred million extremely poor working girls and boys are largely innocent and helpless victims of the indifference of good people. This cannot go on like this. We have to change it!