Cartoon contest is no laughing matter

January 25, 2011 in Comment

PCO cartoonist John Jensen takes a look at a Turkish cartoon competition:

Cartoon by Ahmet Ozturklevent

Turkey recently staged its 27th Aydin Dogan International Cartoon Competition and a 255-page catalogue was released, beautifully printed throughout in colour, with text in Turkish and English.

There’s a long list of successful exhibitors – 44 countries are represented – and a much longer list of entrants who did not get past the judges.

There are 127 Turkish cartoonists and a random count reveals that Serbia is represented by 35 entrants, China by 53 and Iran by 122. Four UK cartoonists participated but only Ross Thomson has survived, to exhibit two drawings.

The three UK cartoonists, who did not make it are Houmayon Mahmoudi, Stephen Mumberson and Alexei Talimonov. Maybe they didn’t draw enough brick walls and prison bars, of which there were plenty.

The first-prize winner, by Turkish cartoonist Ahmet Ozturklevent, is pictured above.

There is an overall sense of stifling bureaucracy while the threat of violence, usually implicit, is a common theme. There are few, if any, English-style jokes. Even Ross Thomson succumbed to drawing a couple of tanks, but at least they are not avoiding daisies.

In the exhibition there are messages galore for mankind – which mankind will almost certainly ignore.

The quality of much of the draughtsmanship is undeniable. The contestants can think, they can draw and they can be very witty indeed, but English-style humour, they would claim, is not part of their job description.

8 responses to Cartoon contest is no laughing matter

  1. I would love to know where I could get a copy of the catalogue.. I never knew about this competition before.

  2. So, we are unable to change the world through our work. I think it’s easy to be a tad cynical about these competitions and their lack of “English(?)-style humour”, and to berate them as such becomes almost as clichéd as some of the elements employed by the entrants. But having looked through winners and runners-up over the years,there are some extremely powerful images among them, utilising exquisite techniques and styles. I would have preferred to have seen a more generous review for what it is, rather than a rather negative report about what it isn’t.

    This year’s winner is excellent, bricks and all.

  3. Chris – Europe and the rest of the world have lots of similar competitions. The UK and the US do not. One reason for the UK not running cartoon competitions/exhibitions anywhere near as often as happens in Europe is that UK publishing generally does not value cartooning as much as European publishing appears to.
    In a country of 60 million, there is only ONE annual international cartoon festival – at Shrewsbury [17th-20th March this year]. The UK Arts Council does not recognise UK cartooning as an art form. So yes, as John Jensen says, there’s a difference between much European cartooning and UK cartooning, the latter being more concerned [very capably]with political and social issues perhaps, whilst the latter, at its best, is much sillier. Which is possibly why Milligan wasn’t a Belgian.

    EDITED: Oops, Bill – I think you meant to say that Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival will be held on 14th-17th April this year!

  4. Erm… would that be Spike Milligan, Bill? Indian turned Irishman?

  5. But not Belgian. Besides, I was referring to Keith Milligan, locally revered trampolinist and swannee whistle virtuoso.

  6. Ah – now, he’s funny!

  7. In an English kind of way.

  8. Thanks Royston. We have our own calendar up here on the northern tundra.

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