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Contemporary illustration exhibition at Chris Beetles Gallery

December 4, 2017 in General

© Jonathan Cusick

“The Illustrators Today”

To complement their longstanding annual exhibition, ‘The Illustrators’, the Chris Beetles Gallery is showcasing the best in contemporary illustration and cartooning. Leading and much loved practitioners of picture book, literary and magazine illustration, and also of political and pocket cartoons and caricature are represented in this must see exhibition. Being unashamedly biased, we are particularly delighted to see the wonderful work of PCO member Jonathan Cusick featuring strongly, as always.

The exhibition runs until 6th January 2018 and all the artworks featured are available for purchase.

Click here to view the work on the Chris Beetles Gallery website.

© Peter Brookes

© Helen Oxenbury

© John Burningham

Saturday & Sunday opening

Saturday 9 & Sunday 10 December 2017
10am – 5.30pm

Prosecco (and Gin!) Private View

Tuesday 12 December 2017
6pm – 8pm

To be officially opened at 7pm by writer, illustrator and animator, Nick Butterworth

The exhibition will run until 6 January 2018

© Paul Cox

© Matt (Matthew Pritchett)

© Jonathan Cusick

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Bill Stott’s Christmas ad vent

November 27, 2017 in General

© Bill Stott

PCO Chair, Bill Stott, writes:

Less than a month to go to Christmas. Hmm. I have to admit that Christmas doesn’t have me jumping up and down with excitement. If you’ve only got a small family – I have – and what few there are are spread far and wide, all those cosy candlelit television ads showing a dozen or so folk attacking huge Christmas dinners are a bit annoying. “Scrooge!”, I hear you cry. Not really. I quite like buying presents. And I like some Christmas music. A good choir giving “Hark the Herald Angels” the beans certainly lifts the spirits and reminds me of childhood.
But at this time of year, television ads are relentless – from laptops to foot spas, hand-crafted crisps to incontinence knickers – they’re all at it, and so many of them are very shouty too. What the hell is a hand-crafted crisp ? I don’t think any of us actually like television ads. If they’re not banal, they’re shouty – with a few exceptions like Marks and Spencer or Waitrose. Yes, yes, I know that advertising revenue pays for programmes, but so many of the ads are badly made and deeply irritating.
And I’m fed up with Brexit. Just think, if 3% had voted the other way, we wouldn’t be taking this huge step into the unknown. Three percent ! I bet the Leavers are horrified at the mess we’re in.
Cartooning’s taken a very welcome – if temporary – upswing. It always does at this time of year, with companies and individuals needing Christmas card cartoons. But cartoon publishing generally is still very poor. Looking back over a long career in cartooning, I think my generation’s had the best of it.
Meanwhile, thanks to the excellent PCO Committee, PCO continues to make a difference. For example, on Nov 21st, I went to Westminster Reference Library in London for the Private View of a cartoon exhibition called “Gagged” – in support of cartoonists across the world who are persecuted by repressive governments. Getting a London exhibition at a decent venue is very difficult. But thanks again to the PCO Committee, we managed it.

© Bill Stott
London was a very long [17 hours] day so it was midnight when I finally got home to Maggie the Dog who isn’t very well. She has to take lots of pills for heart and breathing problems and is very clever at finding them buried in food – and spitting them out. But I persevere. Maggie’s elderly and on the last lap now. I can’t imagine life without her.
I heard bits of a debate recently about whether animals have feelings or not. What a stupid, ignorant question. Of course they have. And those who are cruel to animals should be shot, or at least taken round the corner and given a good seeing-to. Whilst I know we can’t do that, lifetime bans and longer spells in jail should be the order of the day for those who are cruel to animals – including fox hunters.
End of rant.
And so – back to Christmas card cartoons – and I’m running out of red.

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PCO “Gagged” exhibition workshop

November 27, 2017 in General

© Rich Johnston

The Surreal McCoy writes:
Last Saturday myself and Jeremy Banx led a cartoon workshop at Westminster Reference Library for an eager group of participants. As part of our “Gagged” exhibition (which closes Friday 1 December) the theme was censorship and repression of free speech. As you can see here a very high quality of work was produced. We hope to do more public workshops like this in the future.

© Ingi Jennsen


© Ala Atar

© Andrea Sweeney

© Stephen Harrington

The “Gagged” exhibition runs until 1st December, all proceeds going to CRNI (Cartoonists Rights Network International)

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PCO’s “Gagged” Cartoon Exhibition

November 26, 2017 in General

Photo © Mika Schick

The Surreal McCoy writes:

Last night saw the private view of our Gagged exhibition at Westminster Reference Library in central London. Thanks to the generosity and imagination of PCO members it was an excellent showing of very different takes on the themes of censorship and freedom of speech. Representatives of Index On Censorship and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) attended, and several sales were made with all profits and donations going to CRNI (Cartoonists Rights Network International) who do important work in defending political cartoonists under threat around the world.

The exhibition runs until Friday 1st December 2017.

There was a very successful free cartoon workshop hosted by Banx and The Surreal McCoy on Saturday 25th November. (More about that to follow in another article.)

Furthermore, a free talk with Andy Davey, Martin Rowson and Jodie Ginsberg from Index On Censorship, joined via video link by Zunar, the Malaysian cartoonist, and Robert Russell, director of CRNI will take place on Tuesday 28th (6-8pm).

Book for the free talk here through Eventbrite.

Unlike the cartoonists supported by CRNI who are featured as individual case studies in the exhibition, we hope it will be able to travel to other venues around the country next year.

Many thanks again to all those who contributed.

Artwork © Glenn Marshall (Photo © Banx Cartoons)

Photo © Banx Cartoons

Westminster Reference Library, 35 St. Martin’s Street, London, WC2H 7HP

Open Monday to Friday 10am to 8pm, Saturday 10am to 5pm, closed on Sundays.

More about the work of CRNI here.

Eaten Fish Tanks (Photo © Glenn Marshall)

Photo © The Surreal McCoy

2017 Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning

November 6, 2017 in General


This year the winner of CRNI’s award is cartoonist and activist Ramón Esono Ebalé who is currently in detention in Equatorial Guinea. His work has been very critical of the current regime and he was arrested during a visit back to his home country from Paraguay where he currently lives.

The award was made at the annual convention of AAEC (The American Association of Editorial Cartoonists) in New York. In Ramón’s absence the honour was accepted by his wife Eloisa Vaello Marco.

The presentation by CRNI’s Matt Wuerker to Ramón’s wife and daughter.

CRNI together with EJ Justice and other International organisations are launching a hashtag campaign for Ramón on 6th November. Cartoonists and artists around the world are invited to create artwork in support of Ramón and post it with  . Selected work will be shown on the EG Justice website where you can also find more details.

Submission by PCO’s  © Steve Jones

illustration © Ramón Esono Ebalé

Ramón works under the name Jamón y Queso (Ham & Cheese). Some of his work can be seen here.



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Political Cartoon of the Year Awards 2017

November 1, 2017 in General

© Will McPhail

Ellwood Atfield host the awards again, and they will take place at St. John’s Smith Square, Westminster on Thursday 23rd November.

The guest of honour will be George Osborne, once the victim of and now advocate for political cartooning. (In his new role as editor of The Evening Standard he re-introduced the political cartoon to its pages with the appointment of the brilliant Christian Adams. Yes, that’s right; George Osborne gave us something, as opposed to taking it away…)

Tim Benson, founder of the Political Cartoon Gallery, helped organise the awards again this year, and Heineken have been generous in their support of the event, so both deserve our appreciation.

© Lorna Miller

© Nicola Jennings

© Lou McKeever

We’re happy to see a healthy PCO presence too, with Andy Davey, Dave Brown, Will McPhail and the Steve’s Bright and Bell amongst the runners. Another heartening factor is the very strong female representation, as you can see from the superb artworks shown here by Kate Evans, Lorna Miller, Lou McKeever and Nicola Jennings.

© Kate Evans

© Andy Davey

You can vote for the political cartoon of your choice here on the Ellwood Atfield site.

Political Cartoon of the Year Awards 2017

St. John’s Smith Square


Thursday 23rd November

6.15pm onwards

More information available here

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Zoom Rockman goes live at the Apple Store, London

October 29, 2017 in General

© Zoom Rockman

Our newest (and youngest) member, the precociously talented Zoom Rockman, will be bringing the Regent Street store’s celebration of The Big Draw to a close on Tuesday 31st October, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Cartoonist Zoom will be sharing his passion for innovation in the world of comics and talk about publishing work as a young artist. He will also reveal his process from pencil sketches to finished artwork. Those attending will then be given the chance to create their own mini cartoon strip version of Zoom’s ‘Skanky Pigeon’ using iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and Procreate.

© Zoom Rockman

Live Art: Comic Book Creative with Zoom Rockman

Apple Store

235 Regent Street

London, W1B 2EL

Tuesday 31st October, 6:30 – 8:00pm

You can find a link to directions on the Apple news site

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Speaking up for those who can’t be heard…

October 26, 2017 in General

© Banx Cartoons
PCO Chair Bill Stott writes:

Repressive governments the world over fear cartoonists. Cartoonists get straight to the point. Images remain in the public eye longer than do acres of type. Whilst we in the UK and Europe generally accept often excoriating depictions of our leaders, this is definitely not the case in the rest of the world. Here, politicians actually applaud critical and often insulting drawings of themselves, sometimes even assembling personal collections thereof. Not so elsewhere. In at least one verified instance, a foreign cartoonist was visited by government agents and had his hands broken. Doubtless there are others. Repressive governments, fearful of the truth, regularly imprison cartoonists.

The Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation [UK] works with other agencies – in this instance alongside Cartoonists’ Rights Network International and Index on Censorship – to try to bring the plight of persecuted cartoonists to the fore. This exhibition seeks to do that. Whilst it is not easy to highlight a repressive government’s treatment of any given cartoonist because that government will often react by threatening the cartoonist’s family and friends, any and all proceeds from this exhibition will go towards trying to alleviate the conditions many cartoonists the world over have to live with.’


© Pete Dredge

There will be a selling Private View (invitation only) on Tuesday 21st November from 6-8pm with all proceeds going to charity.

As well as the exhibition itself other events include:
A Workshop With Banx & TheSurreal McCoy

This is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to learn from two consummate cartoonists and will take place on Saturday 25th (2-4pm)

A talk hosted political cartoonist Andy Davey with Jodie Ginsberg from Index on Censorship and Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson. They will also be joined via video link with malaysian cartoonist Zunar and Robert Russell, founder of cartoonists Rights Network International. All are experts in disparate fields whose common aim is to throw light on dark places.

This takes place on Tuesday 28th (6-8pm). Please book your free place for this on Eventbrite:

© Andy Davey

The exhibition runs from 21st November – 1st December 2017 at:

Westminster Reference Library

35 St Martin’s Street

London WC2H 7HP

Tel: 020 7641 6200 (press 2)


Opening hours:

Mon – Fri 10am to 8pm

Sat 10am to 5pm

Sun Closed

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Bill Stott has a bee under his bonnet…

October 24, 2017 in General

© Bill Stott

Another rant from our esteemed Chair, Bill Stott:

It’s difficult to argue against electric cars without sounding like Jeremy Clarkson. Mind you, quite apart from punching the odd producer, he did make some interesting observations about these short- range, expensive vehicles some time ago.

Yes, electric cars in themselves are greener than petrol and certainly diesel cars. They have nice, touchy-feely names like “Leaf” [Nissan]. However, the environmental cost of the mining the essentials – like lithium – for car batteries is huge ,and environmentally very dirty, apparently.

I wonder if the Smuggs at No 37 [they have solar panels too] ever think about that as they set off on a necessarily fairly short journey [range is around 230 miles] No, they probably don’t. But at 199 miles they’ll be desperately trying to find a re-charging point, which are few and far between and take ages. A full charge requires an overnight stay.

I suppose the half and half hybrid cars represent a solution of sorts, but their batteries are dirty to produce as well.

Of course, as technology advances, electric cars will eventually become the norm with increased ranges and, who knows, much speedier recharging points on every street corner. But we’re a long way from that right now and Volvo’s declaration that they will be making only electric cars by 2030 seems very optimistic.

But I’m getting off track here. My Main Rant is against Driverless Cars. What on earth is wrong with people who like the idea ? Don’t they LIKE driving ? Don’t they like the way their car feels and sounds and handles ?

Well maybe not if they’ve got one of those apologetic little things like the Suzuki Wagon R, or God forbid, a Yaris. If you’re ever held up at 30mph in a 60mph area, it’ll be by a Yaris. I know, I know, none of that matters if you’re stuck in an M6 tailback.

One of the alleged advantages of driverless cars is that freed from the business of actually controlling the vehicle, you’d be able to get on with work. Really ? Wouldn’t you have to be on instant stand-by to regain manual control just in case the Artificial Intelligence element threw a wobbler ?

I simply do not understand the attraction of driverless cars. I love driving. I wouldn’t love driving if I had a Leaf or a Wagon R or a Yaris. In fact the way many human drivers behave in those dreadful vehicles, suggests that they should be compulsorily driverless. You often see cars like the Yaris on motorways in the inside lane following lorries. Lorry Followers. I sometimes wonder if they go all the way to the depot behind Bradshaw’s Grommets of Doncaster.

If I had a driverless car, what would I DO ? Gaze out of the window at certain parts of Birkenhead ? Read a book ? Have a nod ? But I don’t want to do any of those things. I want to DRIVE. I want to gauge braking distances, anticipate gaps [in front of a Yaris], press the loud pedal and feel and hear the response.

I can’t do that in a driverless or an electric car, although a certain Mr Musk does offer an electric one at enormous cost which will do 0-60 in three seconds. Then it runs out of juice.

I think I just have to face it. I’m an automotive dinosaur. I’ve got a 17 year old 4litre Jaguar which drinks petrol but goes like stink. Its beautifully made, very well balanced, responsive and a pleasure to drive. If it was driverless, it would still be very nice to sit in, but I’d be bored silly after a few miles.

To be fair though, when I’m driving my 4 litre beast, especially on motorways at 70mph plus [and a bit more in all honesty], I am very aware of what dangerous places motorways are; lumps of metal with very soft bits inside zooming along at approach speeds of 140mph at least, and of how many thoughtless, inadequate and stupid drivers there are out there. BMW drivers have been overtaken by Audi drivers in the arrogance stakes. Then there are the nitwits who don’t know what mirrors are for and blithely change lanes without signalling. Whilst texting.

So logic suggests that taking responsibility out of the human’s hands and passing it to a robot would make driving safer. I have to admit that it probably would. It would also make car travel a whole lot slower. Driverless cars would make Suzuki Wagon R drivers of us all. We’d all become Yarisites. Everything would be safe. Risk would be eliminated and human judgment redundant.

Because I’m a dinosaur, I simply cannot imagine a motoring world where there are no Jaguars, Maseratis, Alfas, Astons, Bentleys etc., etc…..the list goes on. They’d all disappear to be replaced by anonymous wheeled boxes which would be differentiated in price by whether they had an on-board Jacuzzi or not.

What is life without risk? What is life without control? Human control.

Dull. That’s what it would be. Risk helps you feel alive. Risk helps keep your brain active. Having to assess risk certainly does that.

I know I’m on the losing side of this argument though and I’m grateful that I’m old enough never to be part of a world where I’d climb into my driverless car and read War and Peace on the way to Swanage. Or Goole. [Thinks ; Are the residents of Goole called Goolies ?]

Bill Stott.


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Good Guys, Bad Guys

October 24, 2017 in General

© Rupert Besley

Rupert Besley writes:

In cartooning, as with any other line of business, there’s good clients and there’s not so good. It’s not hard to tell them apart.

The good guys – and they do exist – are, of course, those who show appreciation of what you have done and can’t wait to pay you for it. They tend also to be the people who know what they want in the first place and communicate in clear and simple terms. Invariably, these are the same customers who take the trouble to follow-up and close the deal, either, in the case of a publication, by providing full publication details and sending you a copy or, with a presentation maybe, reporting back on how things went.

The bad guys – of these there are plenty, and multiplying – don’t know what they want, but they want it yesterday. And when they get it, all needs changing. But when it comes to payment, they have all the time in the world – usually requiring you first to jump through all manner of hoop and process to get what you are owed. They don’t inform you of acceptance or rejection, but hold things in limbo until they are lost. Some try that ploy of payment on publication, but don’t then inform you of publication – or, where applicable, don’t ever return the artwork. I think just over 9 years was the longest it took me to get payment for a major job – but I got there in the end.

We all know print media is up against it, with magazines going weekly to the wall. But that still gives no excuse for what is both bad manners and bad business practice. But it may explain the number of regulars of a certain age to be found in WH Smith furtively thumbing their way through the magazines in search of not what you might think but the answer to whether or not their cartoon has made it into print.

The PCO is not about moaning. Instead, this organisation hands out PCO Special Awards to good guys, such as editors who are a pleasure to work with. Editors from the same mould as Bill Hewison, who, as Art Editor for Punch 1960-84 (and a great cartoonist in his own right) not only ran things to high standards of efficiency and professionalism but took the trouble also to write helpful notes on the rejection slips. To him and his ilk, let’s raise a glass.

Rupert Besley.