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Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival 2019 preview

April 13, 2019 in Comment, Events, General

It’s only two weeks until Shrewsbury International Cartoons Festival. This years theme is ‘Animals’ and has a very full programme. This year all the speakers happen to be Procartoonists members.

 

Friday 26th, 7.30pm

Fist up on the Friday night The Guardian’s Steve Bell will share his lifelong close-up study of ‘Political Animals’, from Tarzan Hesletine to Leopard May on Friday 26th April. Tickets are £10 and can be booked online via this link. A donation will be made from the event to Guide Dogs UK.

Saturday 27th April, 10.30am

On Saturday Beano and Private Eye regular Zoom Rockman will be hosting a strip cartoon workshop. Zoom first started drawing his strip ‘Skanky Pigeon’ for the Beano when when he was just 12 years old!

Saturday 27th April, 11.00am

An exploration of the world of cartooning with ‘Fintan Fedora’ author, cartoonist and PCO Chair-human Clive Goddard.

Saturday 27th April, 1.30pm

After his earlier session Clive will be back again with more Fintan fun at new venue.

Saturday 27th April, 11.00am

The Surreal McCoy presents a preview of her audio-visual graphic memoir based on her Iraqi-Jewish family’s memories of their lost homeland.
The Wolf of Baghdad explores themes of displacement, refugees, identity and belonging.
After presenting an excerpt of the work, Carol will give an illustrated talk on the making of it and take questions from the audience in a Q and A.
Tickets can be booked online via this link.

Saturday 27th April, 12.00pm

An animal cartoon masterclass with Radio Times caricaturist Jonathan Cusick. Jonathan is also one of the festival organisers. You’ll be drawing using exhibits from the gallery, as Jonathan says ‘The great thing is the animals will not be moving’.

Team Goddard creating a big board at last years festival. 

On Saturday a menagerie of cartoonists will be be going animalistic drawing on big boards and caricaturing in the town square.

Throughout the weekend various exhibitions will be running including ‘Drawn To Be Wild’ at The Bear Steps Gallery and ‘The Lizards of Oz and Other Creatures’ an exhibition animal related cartoons by Australian cartoonist. More details on the festival website.

Eaten Fish talked

April 10, 2019 in Events, General, News

Eaten Fish with broadcaster Libby Purves

The Surreal McCoy writes:

With great emotion and delight PCO welcomed Ali Dorani (Iranian cartoonist aka Eaten Fish) to Westminster Reference Library last Friday. Our patron, the wonderful Libby Purves, was there to host the event.  She later remarked on her Twitter feed “He is astonishing. Fragile but warm, an original thinker, self aware and witty.”

Artwork © Eaten Fish

In front of a full and captivated house Ali told his story, illustrated with the cartoons he drew whilst in the refugee camp and afterwards. He described how it felt to see the #addafish shoal drawn by cartoonists he had idolised as a child – they gave him heart that the world hadn’t forgotten about his plight – and thanked the PCO for spearheading the campaign.

Artwork © Eaten Fish

Ali also talked about how Edvard Munch’s ‘Scream’ had always resonated with him, especially in the worst times of his ordeal on Manus. Ali commented that little did he know he’d end up in the country of Munch’s birth.

Ali was brought over for the event by International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) who were key in getting him out of Manus Refugee Internment camp. He is currently an artist in residence in Stavanger. He’s really interested in film making and it’s something he’d like to explore in future. Ali told about his obsession with the film of ‘Lord of The Rings’ when he was young; he watched it over and over again. When he was interviewed by Australian immigration he said one reason he wanted to come to Australia was he hoped to meet Peter Jackson. The officer said ‘that’s New Zealand not Australia’, Ali responded ‘yes but he does have a big office in Melbourne’.

The PCO is looking forward to working with Ali on other campaigns in the future, we’ll keep you posted!

You can follow Ali on facebook

 

Freedom of Expression Awards 2019

April 8, 2019 in Events, General, News

Congratulations to our friends at Cartoonists Rights Network International for winning the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award for CAMPAIGNING.

The impressive awards ceremony was held in London last Thursday evening and hosted by comedian Nish Kumar.

Index on Censorship described CRNI as “a small organisation with a big impact: monitoring threats and abuses against editorial cartoonists worldwide. It is a lifeline for cartoonists in danger across the world.”

CRNI Deputy Executive Director Terry Anderson after accepting the award.

In his speech Terry Anderson said: “Like virtually no other profession the cartoonist makes it their business to remind the citizenry that the emperor is naked.”

Terry kindly mentioned the support they have had from Procartoonists. Many of our members have contributed to campaigns for the likes of Zunar, Ramón Nsé Esono Ebalé, Free Turkey Media and of course drawn fish for Eaten Fish.

Terry also praised International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) who offer refuge to writers, journalists and artists at risk of persecution. They’d been instrumental in the release of Eaten Fish.

The full speech can be seen here.

Ali Dorani (Eaten Fish) with Terry Anderson

Two cartoonists who benefited from CRNI backing had flown in specially to attend the awards. Zunar, a cartoonist who faced 43 years in prison for criticising the Malaysian government and Ali Dorani, AKA Eaten Fish, the Iranian cartoonist who spent four years interned in Australian-run Manus Island refugee internment camp.

Painting by © Zehra Doğan

All the award winners were incredible as indeed were all the nominees. I was particularly taken with the story of Kurdish artist and journalist  Zehra Doğan. She has only recently been released from a Turkish prison after being jailed for painting the destruction of a town in Turkey’s Kurdish region. When in prison she wasn’t allowed to have artists’ materials so drew on newspapers or old milk cartons using crushed fruit, herbs and even blood as paint with bird feathers to draw. Zehra won the award in the ARTS category.

One of the wonderful award cartoons by © Doaa el-Adl.

Winners were presented with cartoons especially drawn by Egyptian cartoonist Doaa el-Adl.

All the winners (L to R) Carolina Botero Cabrera, executive director of ‘Fundación Karisma’, DIGITAL ACTIVISM winner; JOURNALISM winner Mimi Mefo; Terry Anderson of CAMPAIGNING winner CRNI and ARTS winner Zehra Doğan. Photo © Elina Kansikas for Index on Censorship

Details of all the winners can be seen here.

For anyone interested in supporting Index on Censorship their CEO Jodie Ginsberg launched ‘The 1972 Club’ a membership scheme that funds their work as well as giving you great benefits.

Photo via © Rachael Jolley

Terry doing some painting and decorating on the wall at the new Index on Censorship office earlier in the day.

How to illustrate your point…

March 12, 2019 in Comment, General

Tim Ruscoe writes:

“At simply-communicate we know that cartoons are magnets to draw our readers’ attention so we can land messages with impact. And Tim’s work is both funny and memorable – whenever an article is illustrated with one of his jokes it gets twice the attention.”

Marc Wright, Publisher, simply-communicate.com

A phrase originally used by the well-known actor Roy Scheider in the 1975 blockbuster ‘Jaws’. He utters the line when he gets a good look at the size of the shark that is circling the small fishing boat he is on. Used in day to day life when a situation seems insurmountable. The film crew when making Jaws use this line all the time to indicate any problem that popped-up, a short cut to a description as to what is required to sort a job out but in a humorous way.

We use humour in so many ways, to emphasize a point, to change a relationship or a way of seeing the truth. Like irony! They say Americans don’t get it, ‘We’re going to need a bigger metaphor’

Getting your story told by communicating in words can have its problems with holding the attention of the reader, in film there is always something going on visually to hold the viewer until the interest returns, reading a dull section can switch you off and that is why illustrated text came in to being.

What do you get from this Six Nations Rugby blog banner with its French Title?

The blog described the way England play to the way the French move the ball around, making for an interesting battle, so the differences depicted are intriguing in many way to the reader. The idea of actually eating a snail is hilarious!

I illustrate with cartoons for Internal Communications, helping to tell a story, engage and entertain, by challenging the reader to interact with the writer as to what they have seen.

A piece on booking the right venue for a meeting-

Feedback-

‘’You think that’s funny I had that experience at…’’

‘’Is that the Matterhorn mountain in the background?’’

Being sympathetic to someone’s lot show your understanding of a situation, helping to keep morale up. Let the team’s feelings about the difficulties and changes that are going on be recognised, to say ‘’Hard luck but move on” won’t help these feelings and only result in employees becoming disengaged.

Pitching for a contract and not winning can be devastating, yet you must bounce back and do it all again and better! May be it wasn’t your entire fault…

Celebrate victories and examples of excellence both formally and informally. During times of difficulty, it is especially important for employees to feel like winners.

For some situations you have to be in the know to get the joke, it may be you have to be an employees to ‘get it’ this is a good thing as it shows your all united you all understand what’s been going on in the company, just made for Internal Comms with their finger on the pulse.

How the author’s brief develops into the cartoon, it can be a list of facts and fiction to combined in to one drawing, current goings-on’s, maybe you have a joke that needs illustrating. I start with a rough first draft, we talk, we change or add stuff, when you’re happy I make the artwork in black ink, I can colour it up if required, I can animate it to a sound track, this is a great way to bring a process or tutorial to life keeping the viewers attention.

A private joke that only one department will truly understand creating interest from everyone, prompting interaction and engagement from others.

Private joke – See what I mean?

Many different seasonal reasons to make people smile, linked to work so sharing a common ground, a reminder to what’s on in a witty or just silly cartoon to send you on the way home.

A writer can engage and inspiring people through compelling stories and analogies.

A cartoonist can illuminate, embellish, adorn, enhance, highlight.

I don’t think there is any subject that can’t be made into a cartoon?

Tim Ruscoe

t.ruscoe@btconnect.com

All cartoons © Tim Ruscoe

What’s your favourite cartoon book?

March 2, 2019 in Comment, General

We’ve been talking in the inner sanctums of the PCO forum about favourite books on cartoons/cartoonists. Here I share some of our choices:

Steve Jones (Jonesy)

I could easily have gone with Sempe, Stauber or Ungerer – Steadman, in particular, was a really close call – but Matt Jones’ mighty labour of love blew me away. Ronald Searle should be worshipped as a god.

 Pete Dredge

Apologies for blatant trumpet blowing and self promotion. It was a long time ago (1982). It won’t happen again. When my cartoon career first took off in 1976 I had quite a purple patch (now a long distant memory!) where everything I touched seemed to turn to gold (plate)! Today I’m scratching around (does the Weekly News still take gags??) but I can look back at those early successes with a nostalgic eye and be somewhat grateful that there was a thriving market where a half decent cartoonist could get his/her foot on the ladder.

To be included in that list of Hitler’s favourite (mainly US) cartoonists still gives me a thrill. Whatever happened to those other guys?

Here’s a sample page from that tome:

Rupert Besley

No question which for me. It’s the book I grew up with and where I first discovered the joy of cartoons. Four books actually (Down With Skool!, How to be Topp, Whizz for Atomms & Back in the Jug Agane). My father was a headteacher and a new volume arrived each Christmas, to be fought over by the rest of the family for the rest of the year. The cover below is from a later omnibus edition.

The Willans/Searle collaboration was that rare thing in books, a perfect meeting of brilliant minds, with text and illustrations equally superb, each enhancing the other. And just as funny 60 years on.

Wilbur Dawbarn

A Searle book was the first thing to come to my mind, too. We could probably do a blog post purely on Searle books!

To throw in something different, then, here’s a collection of the also brilliant but considerably underrated Rowland Emett. What I love about Emett is the way he caricatured not just people, but trains and other vehicles, buildings, trees… everything! An absolute master of composition and chaos. Richard Ingrams once told me he didn’t like Emett’s stuff, it was ‘too spidery’, I think he said. The utter heathen.

Cathy Simpson

The Complete Molesworth is a strong contender, but perhaps ‘Bert Fegg’s Nasty Book for Boys & Girls’ does it for me. A friend gave me a copy of it when I was 16, and it was the first time I’d come across the work of the sorely-missed Martin Honeysett.

Roger Penwill

Russell Brockbank was a very early influence. He had a cartoon in the back of the weekly The Motor in the 50’s and 60’s. I read that mag every week as I was keen on cars (Dad worked for Ford’s) and loved the weekly dose of Brockbank humour. Over The Line is a typical collection, published in 1955.

Matthew Buck

Always enjoyed Philip Thompson and Mel Calman’s work together over many years.

Guy Venables

This was bought for me on Christmas 1981 and the foreword is by Tom Wolfe. It is a definitive collection of the finest satirical cartoonists from all over the world covering from the 60s to the 80s. Bletchman, Booth, Descloozeaux, Feiffer, Francois, Flora, Gorey, Koren, Bill Lee, Le-Tin, Levine, Mihaesco, Myers, Osbourn, Rauch, Roth, Searle, Steadman, Sempe, Sorel, Ungerer and Wilson. The young cartoonists brain couldn’t want a better introduction to satirical cartooning than this book which explained to me the sheer width of styles and scale of ambition ideas and narratives could have. If you haven’t got it, you should get it. Without it I probably wouldn’t have become a cartoonist.

Glenn Marshall

I could quite easily have plumped for the wonderful ‘Ronald Searle’s America’ book already chosen by Jonesy but instead I’ll pick this one on Timothy Birdsall (who Searle was a fan of) given to me by a friend. Shamefully I didn’t know his work at all, which appeared in Private Eye, The Spectator and The Sunday Times. He was more widely known for his regular appearances drawing live on the BBC show ‘That Was The Week That Was’. Here he is explaining how political cartoons are made.

I love his smudgy and yet detailed style. Sadly he died tragically young aged just 27 in 1963.

There should be a few suggestions here to send you scurrying to eBay but what are your favourites? Let us know in the comments section below.

‘Women In History’ Cartoon Exhibition

February 22, 2019 in Events, General, News

Poster cartoon by © The Surreal MCoy

The PCO is putting on an exhibition in collaboration with Idea Store at Canary Wharf to tie in with Women’s History Month. ‘Women In History’ is an exhibition of cartoons and caricatures based loosely around the theme and also looking more widely at issues affecting women.

Our patron Sandi Toksvig writes:

“Cave paintings were really the first cartoons. The latest analysis of them suggest they were done by women. Perfect! Let’s celebrate Women’s History month with cartoons done by female artists following in the footsteps of the very first art.”

Cartoon by © Sarah Boyce

The show has been curated by PCO committee members The Surreal McCoy and Sarah Boyce (office admin by Glenda Marshall).

Sarah writes:

“We are delighted that Idea Store has given us this space to showcase the work of women cartoonists. It’s been a tough job narrowing down the long list to those that will be on display. We wanted to get a broad range of voices and styles in the exhibition and make sure as many women cartoonists as possible got a chance to participate. Hopefully visitors will enjoy the talent, diversity and humour on display.”

‘Victoria Victorious’ by © Cathy Simpson

Women’s History Month started in schools in California in 1978 to enhance understanding of all women’s contributions to history and society. It centres around International Women’s Day, originally celebrated in 1911 and now a fixture on 8th March. Women’s History Month is now an annual declared month in the UK, USA, Australia and Canada.

Illustration by © Kate Charlesworth

The show has contributions from 20 cartoonists including international submissions from Egypt, Greece and New Zealand.

Isadora Duncan by Athens based cartoonist © Maria Tzaboura 

Those taking part are:

Afraa Alyousef, Sally Artz, Ros Asquith, Sarah Boyce, Kate Charlesworth, Maddie Dai, Tat Effby, Jacky Fleming, Grizelda, Rebecca Hendin, KJ Lamb, Rasha Mahdi, Lorna Miller, Lou McKeever, Danny Noble, Chichi Parish, Martha Richler, Cathy Simpson, The Surreal McCoy and Maria Tzaboura.

Malala Yousafzai with her father by © Rebecca Hendin

The exhibition runs throughout March at:

Idea Store Canary Wharf, Churchill Place, London, E14 5RB.

We’ll be showing many more of the cartoons and drawings from the show on our social media platforms over the next few weeks.

All artwork on display will be available for purchase with 10% of the sales going to Solace Women’s Aid

Cartoon by © Maddie Dai

We’re hoping to put on more exhibitions and events in partnership with Idea Store later in the year.

Tomi Ungerer – ‘Expect the unexpected’

February 13, 2019 in Comment, General, News

Glenn Marshall writes:

I’m easily influenced by all sorts of things around me, as Tomi Ungerer said ‘I’ve always been a sponge, just absorbing whatever I see, whether it’s in daily life or in art’, and Ungerer, who sadly died last week, was particularly inspiring and influencial to me. I love his varied, playful and boundary-pushing work. He was often subversive and outspoken, and he saw himself very much as a satirist. This is a great quote taken from the Tomi Ungerer official website:

‘Satire is the outlet for my revulsion towards a society turned into a pigsty by materialism, consumerism, greed and arrogance. I have particularly aimed my pen at the bourgeoisie and its hypocrisy. I am a satirist to this day though more so in the medium of writing, collage and sculpture. I have been reproached for being obscene in my depictions, but what can I do, society is obscene and my drawings reflect this. And without mercy!’

I also love how he could turn his hand to many disciplines, including painting, collage, print-making, cartoons, graphic design and sculpture, often with a skewed and rebellious humour.

Cover and internal illustration ‘The Party’ 1966 © Tomi Ungerer

Over the years he produced over 140 books. The Tomi Ungerer Museum which opened in 2007 in Strasbourg, his town of birth, has around 11,000 pieces of his work (I’m not even up to treble figures yet!)

‘Business’ brush painting © Tomi Ungerer

I particularly liked the brisk drawings he did with huge paintbrushes and with very limited strokes; you can see him in action in the fantastic 2007 biographical documentary ‘Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story’. The title is lifted from his 1983 illustrated book about his years in Canada. Many of his drawings are wonderfully animated into life in the film too. It’s well worth seeking out. Trailer here

POTTED BIO:

He was born in 1931 in Strasbourg, growing up under the German occupation of Alsace during World War II which greatly affected him. In a very recent interview with The Comics Journal he is quoted as saying: “I was brought up and educated with hate, hatred of the neighbours, hatred of the Germans, hatred of the Catholics. It was nothing but hate, hate, hate.”

Cover for one of his most popular early children’s books ‘TheThree Robbers’ 1961, © Tomi Ungerer

After traveling around Europe he moved to New York with just $60 in his pocket and a case crammed with artwork and manuscripts. He’d always been inspired by Saul Steinberg and other artists in The New Yorker so it seemed natural for hm to move there. He soon picked up illustration and advertising work for publications including the New York Times, Life magazine, The Village Voice and Harper’s Bazaar and started getting his children’s books published.

‘Eat’ poster, 1967.                                                ‘Black Power/White Power’ poster, 1967
 © Tomi Ungerer.                                                © Tomi Ungerer

In the late ’60s he became more political, making posters against the Vietnam War and racial segregation. He believed he was being watched by the FBI for his political views and indeed was taken away and interrogated after a trip to China.

It was at this time he started publishing (very) adult illustrations in his books such as ‘Fornicon’ (don’t look them up on a work computer!). This lead to a backlash particularly as he was mostly known for his writing of children’s books.

For these reasons much of his work became blacklisted with many of his books removed from libraries. In 1970 he escaped to Nova Scotia before moving to Co.Cork in Ireland with his third wife Yvonne Wright in 1976 where he settled until he died aged 87.

The above three drawings are from the book ‘The Underground Sketchbook’ 1964, © Tomi Ungerer

There are two big exhibitions opening in Paris this spring that he’d been working towards. I certainly plan doing a Eurostar mini-pilgrimage to those. I will add the exhibition details when they are available.

To end here’s a clip of Ungerer that was posted on the Tomi Unger website which includes his thoughts on death (Video by Brad Bernstein & Rick Cikowski)

Our commiserations to Tomi’s family and friends.

NB: I’m indebted to the fine obituaries in The Irish Times and The New York Times that I mined for biographical detail. There is also a good interview with Ungerer on Design Boom

 

Hats off to JR

February 10, 2019 in Comment, General

Caricature by © Rupert Besley

Rupert Besley writes:

…John Ruskin, that is. It’s his 200th birthday in February and there are events lined up to mark the occasion. One such is Chris Beetles’ forthcoming exhibition ‘Ruskin’s Artists’  (13 Feb-2 Mar), celebrating the work of those he cherished.

Helen Allingham ‘A Devonshire Cottage’ (from © Chris Beetles Gallery catalogue)

A shame for me I don’t have a spare £6.5k kicking around (so far, searches of jacket linings and sofa backs have brought in only one parking ticket and two licorice imps). With that kind of money, I’d be straight on to Beetles to buy up one of those Helen Allingham watercolours.

Ruskin was a polymath of the first order. It would take more than a page to do justice to the full range of his accomplishments. No mean artist himself, he achieved a great deal more as art critic than any since. He was hugely important in championing the genius of Turner and he played a big part in the 20,000 artworks of the Turner Bequest being saved for the nation. He greatly influenced the Pre-Raphaelites and was the inspiration behind the Arts & Crafts Movement that followed on (Wm Morris, CR Ashbee, Walter Crane etc, whose fine creations currently star in the BBC series on Fri nights).

Wasn’t it Brian Sewell who was given to making disparaging remarks about ‘mere cartoons’? This, certainly, is a BS quote: ‘there has never been a first-rank woman artist. Only men are capable of aesthetic greatness.’Refreshing, then, to see (as the Beetles Gallery blurb points out) that, well over a century back, Ruskin was equally supportive of female and male contemporary artists and that he considered Tenniel cartoons to contain ‘as high qualities as it is possible to find in modern art.’

Ruskin was much mocked in his time and repeatedly since. Leaving aside as less important his poor form in the marital bed, Ruskin the thinker and writer was way ahead of his time. Gandhi claimed Ruskin as a major influence, as had Tolstoy and the founders of the Labour Party. Outraged by the downsides of industrialisation, capitalism and urbanisation in full swing around him (ugliness, pollution, disconnect from nature and, above all, exploitation of and deterioration in quality of life for the working classes), Ruskin positively exploded with solutions, all of them still attractive today. Much of what he proposed had to await the arrival of the welfare state, but institutions that owed much to his thinking, such as the National Trust and the National Parks movement, came about in his lifetime or soon after. Other concepts that he worked on, like the greenhouse-effect and fractal geometry in nature, had to wait their time, some century and a half later.

Visionary, conservationist and social revolutionary, Ruskin put his ideas into practice where he could. Believing in the power of art and natural beauty to transform lives and restore human dignity, Ruskin taught a generation to see things differently. And he took on establishment snobberies that allowed intellectuals to look down on manual work. As Oxford’s first Professor of Fine Art, in 1874-5 he got undergraduates – including the young Oscar Wilde – to work on road-mending in N Oxford as a way to teach them the virtues of physical labour.

Ruskin’s high-minded aims in art rather outshine the me-me-me, self-publicising commercialism of so many artists fêted today. JR is one to remember, I reckon.

 

Laughter as a Political Tool

January 31, 2019 in Events, General

The excellent and courageous Malaysian cartoonist Zunar (Zulkiflee Ulhaque) recently gave a talk entitled ‘Laughter as a Political Tool’ at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London. There was also an accompanying exhibition of his campaigning cartoon work.

Zunar speaking at the event (pictures of him in handcuffs featured heavily as he’s frequently been arrested)

Back in his home country he has faced continued harassment and censorship for standing up against government corruption. His books have been banned and the printers harangued for publishing them. His Kuala Lumpur studio has been raided and thousands of his books confiscated. He’s been arrested on numerous occasions and some of his exhibitions have even been physically attacked. He was charged under the Sedition Act and faced the prospect of 43 years in prison. He was also banned from international travel up until last year.

The discussion was focused on how humour can be used to challenge existing political structures and was part of the IAS Laughter programme of events.

Cartoon by © Zunar

Zunar told the story of how the Head of Police ordered his arrest via Twitter – since then he has playfully tucked a drawing of the police chief using a mobile into many of his drawings (see above cartoon)

Zunar with CRNI’s Terrry Anderson (and a drawing I did of him during the talk)

He also spoke passionately about the need to stand up against political injustice and corruption. He said ‘How can I be neutral? Even my pen has a stand’.

Zunar was presented with the Cartoonists Rights Network International Courage Award in 2011.

Thankfully things have eased up for him since the regime he pilloried has been removed from office (although he joked that he will really miss drawing former Prime Minister Razak and his wife Rosmah who gave him so much material)

Zunar with The Guardian political cartoonist Martin Rowson at the exhibition after the talk. Martin described Zunar as one of the bravest people he’s ever met.

Cartoon by © Zunar

More can be read about Zunar’s long fight in this Guardian article.

He is planning a book about his experiences and will hopefully be visiting the UK again later in the year to talk about it.

Hector Breeze RIP

January 6, 2019 in General

Cartoon from Private Eye – A Cartoon History

Rupert Besley writes:

The sad news of the passing of Hector Breeze not long after celebrating his 90th birthday, has, unsurprisingly, brought in a flood of tributes from fellow cartoonists, all recognising the greatness of the man along with the warmth, charm and wit of his cartoons. Hero, wonderful, great, favourite, brilliant, classic, prolific… are words piling up on the PCO forum from the pens of Pete Dredge, Noel Ford, Roger Penwill, Mike Turner, Neil Dishington, Andrew Birch, Glenn Marshall – and expect more to come as the news spreads.

Hector Breeze

Hector Breeze developed what was surely the perfect cartooning style for the kind of pocket-sized gags he churned out so prolifically and successfully over so many years (since the late 50s). With their robust lines, economy of detail and strong use of solid blacks, HB cartoons were instantly recognisable as his and stood out a mile off as funny. Central to them were his stock characters, ever charming, ever bewildered. Tramps, army chaplains, oddballs, kings. You had to warm to them.

‘Gentle humour’ is a damning phrase, usually coded for ‘not funny’. Hector Breeze cartoons were never savage or angry, but they were funny. Damned funny.

Private Eye cartoon

He sold his first cartoon to Melody Maker in 1957 and over the following five decades and more, Hector Breeze cartoons brought sheer enjoyment to national publications that included Private Eye, Punch, the Evening Standard, the Mirror, Sketch, Guardian and Express. Having begun in a government drawing office, he later worked in advertising. Among his other skills (no surprise from the clarity of his signature) was letter-carving in stone.

A collection of Hector’s work produced by Private Eye in 1973

As with Sprod, it took me some while to discover that Hector Breeze was his real name and not something dreamt up as pen-name (he couldn’t have hit on better if he had tried).

In 2011 the PCO Blog team put together a piece on the Top Ten of Cartoonists’ Favourite Cartoonists. Pete Dredge’s choice was Hector Breeze, illustrated with a perfect gag and summed up exactly right:

‘Out of the mouths of his mundane, benign, chunkily drawn characters comes the sharpest of captions.’

In 1996 Ralph Steadman wrote that Breeze’s “clumsy bewildered characters restore my faith in the seriously daft.”*

Cartoon from the Hector Breeze Private Eye Cartoon Library

From Pick of Punch, 1973

Our thoughts are with Hector’s family.

*Quote and photo courtesy of  The British Cartoon Archive