The Wolf of Baghdad – a memoir of a lost homeland

November 16, 2018 in Events, General

Illustration © The Surreal McCoy

The Wolf Of Baghdad, an audio-visual project created by PCO member The Surreal McCoy, is based on her Iraqi-Jewish family’s memories of their lost homeland. A short preview can be seen here. 

Illustration © The Surreal McCoy

Drawn digitally the memoir will be presented as a motion comic – a semi-animated slideshow on a big screen. Essentially wordless it will have musical accompaniment by new Judeo-Arabic ensemble 3yin and will be performed over two nights at London’s JW3 venue on 21st and 22nd November 2018. Booking link here.

3yin are Daniel Jonas, multi-instrumentalist and vocals; Keith Clouston, oud; Sass Hoory, percussion; Carol Isaacs, accordion; Shirley Smart, cello. Repertoire is taken from the music the Jews of Iraq would have been familiar with, both secular and sacred. 

Illustration © The Surreal McCoy

Read more about the project and hear an interview with the creator here

Illustration © The Surreal McCoy

The Surreal McCoy’s blog about the project can be found here

 

Profile photo of Jonesy

by Jonesy

Happy Birthday, Somewhen*

October 29, 2018 in General

© Rupert Besley

Rupert Besley writes:

(*That’s an Isle of Wight word, ‘somewhen’, and generally means ‘mañana’ or when the plumber says he’ll be back. It’s not a nice word, but has its uses.)

At some point last autumn, or maybe the one before, the PCO passed its 10th birthday. An occasion for celebration and festivities around the globe. If these were muted, that may have been down to the fact that no one knew for sure what date that was to mark. So, even if belatedly, here’s a reminder of some of the things that have been achieved over this decade.

The PCO came of mixed parentage, love child of the  Cartoonists’ Guild (now defunct) and of the UK wing of FECO (now in separation). Thanks to huge efforts put in by founding members (all still active in the Organisation) and the tireless work of its successive Chairlegs (Andy Davey, Nathan Ariss, Bill Stott, Clive Goddard), the PCO has survived a noisy childhood and an occasionally difficult adolescence to be standing sturdy still on its own two feet.

The PCO was set up to wave the flag for professional cartooning and to help navigate the profession through the increasingly choppy waters that lay ahead. Not a lot has changed. It’s the situation we have still and know all too well today. As a previous generation would have put it, SNAFU. Even so, without paid support (except on website) and all through the voluntary efforts of active members (alongside their own business and personal interests), the PCO has managed as follows:

Festivals:
almost 20 – all credit and thanks to individual organisers, committees and a great many volunteer helpers, annual cartoon festivals have been established and continued to run in Shrewsbury and Herne Bay (carrying on the spirit of Nottingham & Ayr), all of which the PCO has been very happy to support and play a full part in (along with occasional other festivals, as at Hastings & Southport).

Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival

Exhibitions:
the regular festivals each involve exhibitions, often 3-4 (or more) together. Beyond these, PCO exhibitions on particular themes have taken place in different locations eg Henley/rowing, Finchley/cinema, Beetles/art, Westminster Library/Gagged, Charing Cross Library/Not the National Portrait Gallery… along with regular invitations to participate in shows organised by, for example, the Cartoon Museum, Euro Kartonale and St Just.

Events:
for a number of years the annual Battle of the Cartoonists run by The Big Draw was a popular event in the capital, especially when held in a prize venue like the V&A. With that no longer taking place, the PCO continues to do its bit for public outreach, with workshops, talks and caricaturing marathons made part of exhibitions and festivals.

Publications:
the PCO’s much-loved showpiece publication, Foghorn, ran to more than 50 issues over several years. With publication and distribution costs putting paid to its continuation, the PCO has had to rely in recent years on blog (1,695 posts on latest website) and Twitter (56.7k tweets) for getting its cartoon take on life out into the wider world. In 2015, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo atrocity, the PCO worked with English Pen & Crowdshed to bring out the cartoon book Draw the Line Here.

Website:
since its inception, the PCO has relied on its website (re-vamped in 2015) for contact and communication. With more than 8k posts on 600-plus topics on its current Members’ Forum (along with access to 23,912 posts on 1,569 topics on its predecessor, the old forum), there is no shortage of information and comment to be had here on anything to do with cartooning.

Campaigning:
repression of cartoonists, along with fellow journalists, continues around the world. The PCO has actively supported the efforts of CRNI to highlight the plight and work for the release of (and dropping of charges against) the likes of Eaten Fish on Manus Island, Musa Kart in Turkey and Zunar in Malaysia.

Closer to home, the PCO is engaged in the continual battle for space in the media for cartooning to survive and flourish. A good many letters have been posted on the subject and emails sent – along with the occasional award.

Links Abroad:
the PCO separated from FECO in 2017, but since then has still as much as (maybe more than) ever kept up active links with colleagues and associations overseas, such as France Cartoons, the Greek Cartoonists’ Association and NCS in America. Contact, collaboration and exchanges of the kind enjoyed here can only be to the benefit of the art-form. Bring them on, we say. And here’s to the next decade.

PS Please feel free, any PCO member, to put right any errors and omissions above.

Profile photo of Jonesy

by Jonesy

Joking of course

October 17, 2018 in General

© Rupert Besley

Rupert Besley writes:

Occasionally, maybe once a century, I have a twinge of sympathy for politicians for the care they must take in the choice of every word they use.

Cartoonists have it easier perhaps, as they are allowed to joke, scaremonger, exaggerate and tease. It’s what is expected of them and is their job. But, along the way, they can also make important points. Some of the most serious opposition to the manoeuvres of politicians in recent years has come from the pens of cartoonists.

Politicians, however, (with one notable exception, made prominent for entertainment value alone) are there to be taken seriously. All that they say can be taken down and used against them, each word scrutinised for self-contradiction or deviation from the party line. Like Gerald Ratner, those that dare to joke can pay for that a heavy price.

© Rupert Besley

When, in 2010, outgoing Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne left his successor in the next government a note saying, ‘I’m afraid there is no money’, it was meant as a light-hearted touch in an old tradition. In 1964 Reggie Maudling told Jim Callaghan, ‘Sorry to leave it in such a mess, old cock.’ Byrne, who had halved the country’s deficit in just four years, was blamed for everything. His joke misfired and was one he regretted ever after.

When, around 1790, Boyle Roche in the Irish Parliament declared, ‘I smell a rat; I see him floating in the air… I will nip him in the bud,’ most people appreciated the mix of metaphors and enjoyed the joke. When Owen Paterson said badgers had moved the goalposts, people took him literally and thought him a fool. I’m no Tory or fan of badger extermination, but I thought him hard done by for the scorn heaped on him.

© Rupert Besley

When John Piper chose to highlight Windsor Castle in his painting by the addition of a lowering, dark sky, George VI famously remarked to the artist that it was a shame he had not had better weather. The comment is used as evidence of House of Windsor philistinism. Maybe justified, but I like to allow for the possibility that the words were tongue-in-cheek.

I don’t care for emojis, but they do have a use in the absence of other signals of humour at work. Happily, cartoons make clear their purpose from first glance, and especially so when they come in a neat little box. It was Piper’s sidekick Osbert Lancaster (the two connected on stage design and worked together on the Festival of Britain) who in 1938 introduced to the UK from France the format of the pocket cartoon. He went on to produce 10,000 more over the next 40-odd years.

© Rupert Besley

An Osbert Lancaster original, encased in plastic is the trophy to be awarded next month to the Pocket Cartoonist of the Year at the annual Political Cartoon of the Year Awards. That, along with Pocket Cartoon of the Year, is a new category added to this year’s event in its 18th year. Voting for that is a nice chance to show support for and appreciation of an art-form that brings regular delight.

PS: For illustrations here, I had meant to use some Osbert Lancaster classics, but ran out of time for checking any permissions necessary. Or I could have begged current gems of pocket cartoons from colleagues, but didn’t want to pre-judge nominations and voting soon to come. So, I’ve gone instead with my own stuff (as nothing from me is going to be entered for any award).

Rupert Besley

© Rupert Besley

Portrait of the Not The National Portrait Gallery exhibition

October 3, 2018 in Events, General

Photo © Glenn Marshall

Clive Goddard writes:

I’m not sure how you measure these things in any meaningful way but I’m going to confidently declare that the PCO’s #NotTheNPG caricature exhibition at Charing Cross library was a complete triumph. For a start, the location was excellent, being in an area of central London visited by art loving tourists and now, thanks to the collective funds and effort of the  membership, kitted out as a proper gallery space with hanging facilities and frames which we can use again.

Poster featuring caricatures by Wilbur Dawbarn, Jonesy, Andy Davey and Simon Ellinas.

We could, I suppose, measure the show’s success in terms of the members’ response to the call for submissions. 47 different people had their work shown which added up to around 130 pieces on the walls (and tables and floor), whittled down in a painfully difficult process from over 300 submissions.


Photo © Jeremy Banx


How else to measure it? Well, people turned up. Not in their thousands, of course because it was a cartoon exhibition not a recording of the X Factor, but in sufficient numbers to make it worth doing and to stop the invigilators from sloping off to the pub. We were plugged in both Private Eye and The Evening Standard which certainly helped raise the show’s profile. And those that visited the show really liked it. The comments book was full of very complimentary things and there were plenty of encouraging words exhanged, too. It was also great to hear a lot of audible laughter coming from the visitors which made a pleasant change in the normally po-faced environment of an art gallery. Tate Modern really frowns upon people chuckling at their exhibits as I once discovered to my cost at a Turner Prize show.

Preview piece in The Evening Standard.

Better still, we sold stuff. Prints and originals on the walls quickly attracted those lovely little red dots which translated into total sales of nearly £3,000. This included a couple of hundred which the invigilators earned by selling more of their own work out of a grubby suitcase beneath the table.

Jeremy Banx, Christopher Burke and Steve Way at the Private View. Photo © Mika Schick.

The events were a great success too. The private view was well attended by many cartoonists, art editors and collectors most of whom behaved impeccably and didn’t get too drunk. Unfortunately Damian Hirst, Jeremy Corbyn, Boris Johnson and the other caricature victims on display, though cordially invited, were unable to attend due to some pathetic reason or other. I don’t know – they didn’t RSVP. 

Helen Pointer workshop. Photo © The Surreal McCoy

Helen Pointer’s caricaturing workshop went down a storm, attracting a full table of happy punters eager to learn and to try their hand/s at the dark art.

The panel discussion. 

The panel discussion featuring PCO heavyweights* Martin Rowson, Andy Davey, Rebecca Hendin, John Roberts and Chris Burke was a sell out**. Different perspectives on working practices and processes were shared and there was a dialogue between people working in slightly differing, yet overlapping, adjacent fields, ie: portraiture through a lens that included everything from event caricature to political cartooning to illustration gave a welcome broad perspective. And, again, most people behaved very well throughout.

The clash of the hairdos. Photo © Glenn Marshall

So now that it’s all over and Uncle Glenn has de-framed everyone’s work and is trying to find the SAEs they came with, we start thinking about the next one. Today Charing Cross, tomorrow the world!

Major thanks to everyone concerned.

Clive Goddard

PCO Chair-human

* In terms of talent not body mass index.
** In terms of numbers not principles.

NOT the National Portrait Gallery

August 21, 2018 in Events, General, News

Poster cartoon by kind permission of © Richard Jolley/ Private Eye magazine.

PCO Chair human Clive Goddard writes:

“No, its ‘Not the National Portrait Gallery’ but it is right on its doorstep in a brand new gallery space at Charing Cross Library. It is an exhibition full of irreverent, funny and, in some cases, downright disrespectful caricatures and cartoons, all poking fun at the singularly human business of having a likeness made.

The show features work by just under 50 members of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation (PCO) including a host of familiar cartoonists from the pages of The Guardian, The Independent, Private Eye and the rest of the British press, whose signed originals and prints will be on sale”

‘The exhibition is on from 10th-23rd September, details of location and opening times here. During the run we have two associated events:

Martin Rowson with hands on a naked Boris. Photo © Zoom Rockman

Panel Talk

Monday 17th September 6-8pm

Discussion hosted by The Guardian cartoonist and author Martin Rowson with Chris Burke (The Times), Andy Davey (The Sun, Evening Standard, The Telegraph), Rebecca Hendin (BBC, Buzzfeed and more) and John Roberts (live event caricaturist) who all work across different fields as cartoonists, caricaturists and illustrators.

Angela Merkel by © Chris Burke

Samuel Beckett by © Andy Davey

Theresa May by © Rebecca Hendin

Amy Winehouse by © John Roberts

The talk is free but we recommend you book one of the limited places on the Westminster Libraries website.

 

Helen Pointer with presenter and comedian Sue Perkins. Photo © Helen Pointer

Caricature Workshop

Sunday 16th September 2-4pm

An ‘Introduction to Caricature’ with Helen Pointer. Helen is a highly experienced and much in-demand caricaturist.

This is suitable for all ages.

Again the event is free but you should book one of the limited spaces via the Westminster Libraries website.

 

with apologies to the real National Portrait GalleryWhy not combine a visit to both!

Contains Male Nudity – The Privates View

August 14, 2018 in Events, General, News

Away from the Herne Bay Cartoon Festival proper was the exhibition improper ‘Contains Male Nudity’ which is still running at One New Street Gallery. PCO’s intrepid senior staff photographer Kasia Kowalska was at the ‘Privates View’ to cover events as they unfolded.

Readers are warned that some of the following content may be of an adult nature.

Cartoonists ‘low five’ outside the gallery. Left to right Royston Robertson, Dave Brown, The Surreal McCoy, Alex Hallet, Alex Hughes and Pete Dredge.

Martin Rowson in the gallery studio creating a late entry to be inserted into the exhibition.

Cartoonists Kathy Lamb & Chris Burke plus Rob Murray with Andrew Birch. All caught visiting the show.

The ‘Room of Filth’ mostly so named because of the Jeremy Banx contributions.

Cathy Simpson pointing at a genuine ancient Greek artefact.

Royston Roberston’s ‘buff envelope’ gag proved very popular (actually framed in a window envelope). Royston priced the cartoon in first class stamps (some tax avoidance scam no doubt)

Zoom Rockman with one of his life drawings. Photo © Zoom Rockman

And some more ‘art’ from the walls:

One of the Danny Noble strips featuring nude Ollie Reed and Alan Bates spending their lives together after their naked wrestling scene in Ken Russell’s ‘Women in Love’.

‘Agent Dale Cooper’ from the mind of Dr Julian Gravy aka Tony Horseradish.

Drawing by illustrator Ian Pollock.

‘Peter’s Penis’ strip by Andrew Birch…naturally in the ‘Room of Filth’

All photos by © Kasia Kowalska unless otherwise stated.

Thanks to Torin Brown and  The Bouncing Barrel for providing the lovely cask of ale.

The exhibition continues to run at One New Street Gallery until 1st September (open Friday and Saturday or by appointment)

Profile photo of Royston

by Royston

Feeling the heat at yet another sunny Herne Bay Cartoon Festival

August 9, 2018 in General

You might argue that in this record summer the sun was always going to shine on the 2018 Herne Bay Cartoon Festival. But at the time of writing it is chucking it down with rain, so the festival still seems to be somewhat blessed. Perhaps the gods of weather are all fans of funny and clever live cartooning.

Photos © Kasia Kowalska unless otherwise stated

We've arrived: The Herne Bay town crier announces this year's cartoonists

We’ve arrived: The Herne Bay town crier announces this year’s cartoonists

The cartoonists who took part on Sunday (5 August) were: Nathan Ariss, Andrew Birch, Dave Brown, Des Buckley, Chris Burke, Pete Dredge, Clive Goddard, Alex Hallatt, Tim Harries, Alex Hughes, Kathryn Lamb, Glenn Marshall, Lou McKeever, Rob Murray, Royston Robertson, Martin Rowson, Cathy Simpson, Rich Skipworth, The Surreal McCoy and Steve Way.

Watch this space: Alex Hallatt begins work. The cartoonists battled the heat to produce 6ft tall big board and peep board cartoons

Watch this space: Alex Hallatt, visiting from New Zealand, begins. Cartoonists battled the heat to produce 6ft big board and peep board cartoons

Nice day for it: Nathan Ariss at work in his board, left. Martin Rowson seems to be done

Nice day for it: Nathan Ariss at work in his board, left. Martin Rowson’s Brexit board appears to be finished. Photo © Fiona Hayes

Clive and Amy Goddard produced on the #MeToo theme that paid tribute Donald McGill, king of the seaside postcard

Saucy stuff: Clive Goddard and Amy Amani-Goddard paint a board that pays tribute to Donald McGill, king of the seaside postcard

Caricatures are always hugely popular. Alex Hughes and the team worked tirelessly for five hours

Here’s looking at you: Caricatures are always popular, with neverending queues. Alex Hughes and the team worked tirelessly. Photo © Gerard Whyman

Stars of the stage: Cathy Simpson and Pete Dredge caricaturing

Cathy Simpson and Pete Dredge caricaturing on the stage. It was a little cooler there, which may explain the expression on the face of shorts-wearing Pete

Karol Steele and family, who attend every year, are happy customers once more

Karol Steele and family, who attend every year, are happy customers once more

Strike a pose: Cartoonists Alex Hallatt, Kathryn Lamb, Cathy Simpson, The Surreal McCoy and Lou "Bluelou" McKeever

Strike a pose: Cartoonists Alex Hallatt, Kathryn Lamb, Cathy Simpson, The Surreal McCoy and Lou “Bluelou” McKeever

Rich Skipworth's take on plastic in the oceans. Kathryn Lamb drew a compilation of gag cartoons on #MeToo and #TimesUp

Different strokes: Rich Skipworth tackles plastic in the oceans while Kathryn Lamb draws a compilation of gag cartoons on #MeToo and #TimesUp

Andrew Birch adds detail to his Perseus and Medusa big board

Snakes on a pier: Andrew Birch adds detail to his Perseus and Medusa peep board. Photo © Gerard Whyman

Cover up: Tim Harries found the weather a bit much. He's from Wales

Cover up: Tim Harries finds the weather a bit much. He is from South Wales

A different picture: Steve Way produced a peep board on the controversial Video Assistant Referee

A different picture: Steve Way presents his landscape peep board on the controversial World Cup video assistant referee. Photo © Fiona Hayes

The public board, for kids young and old, is also a key part of the event. This year it was run by Lou McKeever

Big draw: The public board, for kids young and old, is also a key part of the festival. This year it was run by Lou McKeever. Photo © Gerard Whyman

Lou brought along her remote control Trump hair, which was a big hit

Lou brought along her remote control Trump hair, which was a big hit

As usual Glenn Marshall painted a backdrop for his own art happening before a swift costume change ...

As usual Glenn Marshall painted a backdrop for his own unique art happening. Photo © Gerard Whyman. Then there was a swift costume change …

... to become Mystic Marshall, reader of minds and fortunes. Possibly.

… to become Mystic Marshall, reader of minds and fortunes. Possibly

Surreal McCoy took a look at some endangered species with her big board

Animal magic: The Surreal McCoy takes a look at some endangered species. Photo © Karol Steele

Royston Robertson'a Judy declared #TimesUp. Des Buckley wilts in the heat.

We two: Royston Robertson’s Judy tells Mr Punch that #TimesUp, while Des Buckley wilts in the heat. Photo right © Gerard Whyman

Chris Burke's King Canute David Attenborough attempts to hold back the wave of plastic

Canute’s you: Chris Burke’s Sir David Attenborough attempts to hold back the wave of plastic in the oceans

... Rob Murray took a collage approach to the same theme

 Rob Murray took a collage approach to the same topical theme, sticking plastic bottles to his cartoon. Photo © Gerard Whyman

Finished board by the Guardian political cartoonist Martin Rowson

Pointed satire: Finished board by Guardian political cartoonist Martin Rowson

It wouldn't be Herne Bay without a big board from the Independent's Dave Brown

Bigly board: It wouldn’t be Herne Bay Cartoon Festival without a cartoon from the Independent’s Dave Brown

As has become traditional, the cartoonists rounded off the day with a carousel ride. Left to right: Nathan Ariss, Steve Way and Des Buckley

What goes round: As has become traditional, the day ended with a carousel ride. Left to right, big kids Nathan Ariss, Steve Way and Des Buckley

You can see more by visiting @HBCartoonFest on Twitter or Facebook.com/ HBCartoonFest.

Herne Bay Cartoon Festival is sponsored by the Professional Cartoonists Organisation and supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

Contains Male Nudity

July 29, 2018 in Events, General, News

 

An exhibition where the nudes splayed on the gallery walls are male for a change!

Cartoon by © Jeremy Banx

The show is made up of art and cartoons. For the most part it’s figure painting, sculpture and drawings, but as in previous years’ exhibitions there will be a room given over to theme-related cartoons.

Cartoon by © The Surreal MCoy

Artists and gallery owners Helen Wilde and Terry Sole curate the exhibition with cartoons gathered from PCO members (or cartoon members gathered from the PCO) by Glenn Marshall.

Painting by © Helen Wilde

One New Street is a small, independent  gallery and studio space in Herne Bay.

Cartoon by © Steve Bright

Leonardo cartoon by © Rob Murray

If you have a Leonardo you have to have a Michelangelo. This by © Clive Goddard

The exhibition runs until 1st September. There will be a ‘Privates View’ on the opening weekend.

 

Profile photo of Royston

by Royston

Sixth Herne Bay Cartoon Festival begins

July 27, 2018 in Events, General, News

Herne Bay Cartoon Festival 2018

[Poster by The Surreal McCoy]

Exhibitions are now open at the sixth Herne Bay Cartoon Festival and more than 20 of the UK’s top cartoonists will descend on the Kent seaside town next weekend for three days of talks, workshops and live drawing.

The first event is a discussion featuring The Surreal McCoy and Rachael Ball. They will talk about their work-in-progress graphic novels The Wolf of Baghdad and Wolf Man. The event is hosted by Alex Fitch, journalist and critic behind the Panel Borders radio show. It takes place on Friday 3 August at 5.30pm.

Surreal McCoy and Rachael Ball talk
On Saturday 4 August, Alex Hallatt will run a workshop for kids at Beach Creative from 11.30am-1pm. Creator of the syndicated comic strip Arctic Circle, she is British but lives in New Zealand and is visiting the festival while on a trip to the UK.

Arctic Circle by Alex Hallatt
Roger Todd will run a puppet caricature workshop at the same venue from 1.30pm. Political cartoonist and PCO member Martin Rowson will host a caricature workshop at Pettman House from 2.30pm.

The main festival day is the Sunday 5 August. The cartoonists will gather on Herne Bay Pier from midday to draw big-board cartoons, seaside peep boards, caricatures and more. As ever, there will be a chance for the public to get involved with drawing on big boards, plus they can play drawing games with the Guardian cartoonist Ros Asquith.

Cartoon from the Turning then Tide exhibition by Tat Effby

Cartoon from the Turning the Tide exhibition by Tat Effby

The festival exhibition Turning the Tide is now open at Beach Creative and runs until Sunday 12 August. The theme, which is always linked to the seaside location, acknowledges that the past year has been eventful for women. It is 100 years since the first women won the vote, we’ve seen the birth of #MeToo and #TimesUp, the protests over the gender pay gap … and even the first woman Doctor Who.

Of course, the festival always lets cartoonists interpret the theme however they want, so the choppy waters of Brexit are visited once more and there are also Turning the Tide cartoons about plastic in the oceans.

There will be a private view of Turning the Tide on Saturday 4 August, 6.30pm-8.30pm.

Tim Sanders cartoon from Turning the Tide

Tim Sanders cartoon from Turning the Tide

Also open now is Funny Women, an exhibition held jointly at the Seaside Museum and Bay Art Gallery, both on William Street. The show runs until Sunday 19 August.

Funny Women cartoon exhibition

It looks at women cartoonists and illustrators from the past 100 years and includes Mary Tourtel, creator of Rupert the Bear, and Tove Jansson of Moomins fame, alongside contemporary cartoonists such as Riana Duncan, Posy Simmonds, Nicola JenningsGrizelda, Martha Richler (Marf) and many more. The exhibition is held in conjunction with the British Cartoon Archive in nearby Canterbury.

There will be a private view of Funny Women on Friday 3 August at the Seaside Museum, then the Bay Art Gallery, 7pm-8.30pm.

Also this year, a group of US women cartoonists were invited to give their perspective on the festival theme, and the work of Isabella Bannerman, Maddie Dai, and Liza Donnelly will feature in both the Turning the Tide and Funny Women exhibitions.

Cartoon by Maddie Dai

Cartoon by Maddie Dai

Alongside the main show at Beach Creative, the festival also hosts the PCO’s Gagged exhibition in the Rossetti Room. It ran at the Westminster Reference Library last year. The Herne Bay version runs until Sunday 12 August.

Gagged cartoon exhibition in Herne Bay

The full list of cartoonists scheduled to attend the festival is as follows: Nathan Ariss, Ros Asquith, Rachael Ball, Andrew Birch, Dave Brown, Des Buckley, Chris Burke, Pete Dredge, Clive Goddard, Grizelda, Alex Hallatt, Tim Harries, Alex Hughes, Kathryn Lamb, Glenn Marshall, Lou McKeever, Rob Murray, Helen Pointer, Royston Robertson, Martin Rowson, Cathy Simpson, Rich Skipworth, The Surreal McCoy and Steve Way.

For updates on the Herne Bay Cartoon Festival, follow @HBCartoonFest on Twitter or go to Facebook.com/HBCartoonFest.

The Independent cartoonist Dave Brown at last year's festival

The Independent cartoonist Dave Brown will return this year

Herne Bay Cartoon Festival is sponsored by the Professional Cartoonists Organisation and supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

John Jensen 1930-2018

July 6, 2018 in General, News

John with a ‘selfie’ which he did for an exhibition at the cartoon archive, Kent University. Photo © Pat Jensen

Sadly, it has been reported that John Jensen has passed away at the sprightly age of 88. John was a well respected and fondly thought of member of the cartoon community. He was a supreme and very versatile draughtsman.

 John was born in Sydney in 1930, the son of the cartoonist Jack Gibson (he took his stepfather’s surname in the 40’s)  In 1946 he studied at the Julian Ashton Art School, Sydney. His first cartoon was published in the Sydney Sun in 1946, and he then began contributing cartoons to various Australian publications.

John in Birmingham, 1953, Photo © Pat Jensen

In 1950 John worked his way to England on a cargo ship, and briefly became an actors’ dresser at London’s Piccadilly Theatre, before becoming a cartoonist full-time. From 1951 to 1956 he drew cartoons, caricatures and illustrations for the Birmingham Gazette and then for various publications in Glasgow including Scotnews, The Glasgow Bulletin and daily pocket cartoons for the Glasgow Evening Times.

Illustration of French cellist Paul Tortelier, © John Jensen

John had his first cartoon in Punch magazine in 1953 but became a Punch regular in the 70’s, prolifically drawing cartoons, illustrations and caricatures. He writes here about his memories of Punch.

Caricatures of Samuel Beckett & Joan Collins © John Jensen

He was also the theatre caricaturist for Tatler, and social cartoonist for The Spectator. He drew a strip for the short-lived Now magazine and on top of this he was the political cartoonist for The Sunday Telegraph from 1961-79 (he was one of the very first political cartoonists to work in colour.) Over this long career John has illustrated around 70 books.

From his  ‘Figures of Speech’ collection © John Jensen

John was a founder member and Chairman of the British Cartoonists’ Association, and of the Cartoon Art Trust. In 2002 he was given a ‘Grinny’ Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nottingham Cartoon Festival. During his time as a member of the PCO he regularly wrote for and featured on this blog.

Receiving his ‘Grinny’ award (pictured with Dave Follows), Photo © Pete Dredge

John was a regular at cartoon festivals and on one trip to New York ended up at the celebration dinner where Marylin Monroe sang ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ to JFK. On a visit to Cuba in the 60’s he also endured one of Castro’s extremely long speeches.

Among the many anecdotes circulating about John over the past week I particularly enjoyed this one from the wonderful cartoonist Kevin ‘Kal’ Kallaugher:

‘Back in the 1980’s while I was still living un the UK I had arranged to meet John for a pint one lunchtime. When he arrived to the pub, I noted that he had a brace on one of his wrist which made his hand quite incapacitated. I was immediately concerned that this might be his drawing hand and that the brace might have consequences on his freelance career. When I raised this question with him, he shrugged it off.

“I just draw with the other hand” he said.

When I pursued this further I learned to my astonishment that John used both hands to draw his cartoons. He explained that each hand had a personality. His left hand (as I recall) was the imaginative, loose artistic hand and his right hand was the more technical and exacting hand. He would often do his conceptual sketches with the left and finish off the art with his right. Later he showed me samples of his cartoons that had contrasting styles which he explained was due to the amount of time one hand spent rendering over the other.

Soon afterwards, I wrote an article for a scholarly US cartoon related periodical called Target, where I interviewed John pointed out his amazing bi-manual drafting skills and displayed his work. Throughout the exercise, John was characteristically polite and kind…but still really did not quite see what all the fuss was about. This after all seemed quite ordinary to him.

This may have been ordinary to him, but to me John Jensen and his cartoons will always remain extra-ordinary’.

Mozart cartoon © John Jensen

More of John’s work can be found on his website.

A favourite family memory of John is how he could never resist an ice cream © Pat Jensen

Our sympathies go to John’s wife Pat and his family and friends.

I’m indebted to the British Cartoon Archive for much of the biographical detail.