The New Statesman magazine has a proud history of supporting drawing and in using the work of many outstanding cartoonists over the years; names like Vicky, David Low and Marc Boxer. More recently, the work of Steadman, Fleming, Matt, Simonds, ‘Ham’ Khan and Felix Bennett have also graced its pages.
But things changed a few years ago. All joke cartoonists (except for the marvellous Grizelda) were erased from the mag and the cover reduced to the currently ubiquitous Photoshopped montage. The days when Messrs. Simonds, Bennett and Khan would gather in the hot-house atmosphere of the offices and attempt to out-satire each other were gone.
So, this week Bloghorn was most pleased to see a request for entries for a cartoon competition in the magazines’s pages. The tantalising prize for “budding cartoonists” is the possibility of a regular, weekly strip in the magazine. Is there someone at the 97-year-old magazine who is thinking “cartoon” again? We hope so, but we’re puzzled as to why the editors prefer “budding” over “experienced professional” cartoonists, especially given the Statesman’s proud heritage.
The experience of our members tells Bloghorn that cartooning is not a skill that flourishes particularly early in life because it relies on experience to reflect and connect many and varied themes and suck a really good joke out of them. Surely, the magazine’s decision was not influenced by the tawdry business of how much they might get away with paying someone with little experience in business? We’re sure that’s not so, and would like to invite the NS to examine our portfolios and use some more mature talent too.
Perhaps the magazine’s relatively modest circulation of 23,000 simply reflects the current political zeitgeist and the downward spiral of traditional print titles. We would be far too modest to suggest it has anything to do with the deletion of so many fine cartoonists’ work from its pages.