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The PCO Cartoon Review of the Year 2021

January 3, 2022 in Comment, General

Cartoon by © Brian Adcock

To quote the great Benny Andersson ‘Mamma mia, here we go again’ with another PCO members ‘Cartoon Review of The Year’.  For the most part it’s been another %¢º€@$ one (Google Translate it) but once more cartoonists injected some humour into it….apart from the odd cartoonist injecting humour refusenik.

The above transitional cartoon by Brian Adcock for The Independent.

Cartoon by © Dean Patterson

Mystic deAn did warn us what was coming in Phoenix Magazine.

Cartoon by © Len Hawkins

This Len cartoon from The Spectator sums up everyone’s coping strategy for 2021

Caricature by © Jonathan Cusick

In January Trump won the US election despite those commie Democrats who tried to rig it by getting more votes! A fine portrait of high-chair hysterics by Jonathan Cusick.

Cartoon by © Pete Dredge

Early in the year Dredge went viral in The Spectator….

Cartoon by © Clive Goddard

…and Clive Goddard addressed one of the vaxxing questions of our times.

Cartoon by © Matt Percival

A Whitty cartoon by Percival for The Spectator.

Cartoon by © Pete Songi

In March the Suez Canal got blocked (cancel culture!). This chuckle raised by Pete Songi.

Cartoon by © Zoom Rockman

Two cultural phenomenons in one in Private Eye from Zoom Rockman, featuring Rishi’s ‘Quids Game’ (see what I did there? I took the ‘s’ off the front of ‘squid’ and put it at the end so it becomes ‘quids’ which is what Rishi is in charge of! I’M A GENIUS!)

Cartoon by © Kathryn Lamb

Guerres de poissons par KJ Lamb pour Détective Privé.

Cartoon by © Ed Naylor

In June GB News launched, riddled with missus takes and on-air coke ups. A Nay cartoon broadcast by Private Eye.

Cartoon by © Henny Beaumont

A cartoon on the closing of schools by Henny Beaumont for the Guardian. In October it was voted a winner in ‘The Political Cartoon of the Year Awards 2021’. You can see Henny’s acceptance speech here.

Cartoon by © Steve Bright

In July Dominic axed his way back into the news headlines. Here’s a Shining example of the caricaturist’s art by Brighty for The Sun.

Cartoon by © Andrew Birch

Our Royal Correspondent Andrew Birch spews forth on a year long media obsession in Private Eye.

Cartoon by © Nick Newman

In travel news we had the very confusing Red, Amber, Green traffic light system…or as us artist types thought of it the Viridian Green, Cadmium Orange, Vermillion Crimson traffic light system. This long haul travel cartoon by Nick Newman was for The Sunday Times.

Cartoon by © Andrew Fraser

More (Gulliver) travel news from Drew in Private Eye.

Cartoon by © Tat Effby

In July football came home but then quickly went away again to Italy. This winner by Tat Effby.

Cartoon by © Tames Mellor

In August the new football season started and VAR was maddening crowds. A jewel from James Mellor in Private Eye.

Cartoon by © Mark Winter/Chicane

In more sports news Mark ‘Chicane’ Winter social distancing at the Olympics . Published on the cover of Il Vernerdi ‘di Repubblica (Italian news magazine, supplement of La Repubblica) to promote Michael R Payne’s Toon In Olympic book.

Cartoon by © Andy Davey

In August we had the orderly allied withdrawal from Afghanistan in scenes reminiscent of the Dad’s Army titles ‘Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Taliban?’. Andy Davey records events for posterity in The Evening Standard.

Cartoon by © Wilbur Dawbarn

Wilbur on the desperate refugee channel crossings published in Private Eye.

Cartoon by © Jonesy cartoons

It seemed this summer that most of the world was aflame or flooded, this take on it by Jonesy taken from Prospect Magazine.

Cartoon by © Royston Robertson

A shortage of HGV drivers was blamed for empty shelves. My local Tesco Metro had completely run out of HGV drivers by the time I tried to buy one. A spikey cartoon by Royston from The Spectator.

Cartoon by © Grizelda

No shortage of shortage cartoons this year. Grizelda emptying shelves in New Statesman.

Cartoon by © Dave Brown

September saw Boris reshuffle his pack of jokers. Dave Brown dealt this up for The Independent.

Cartoon by © Jeremy Banks

Also in September Texas voted in new draconian anti-abortion laws. Banx on the pro-life/anti-life contradiction in his Financial Times slot. Jeremy went on to win Pocket Cartoonist of Year at the aforementioned awards for his FT work. His triumphant speech can be seen here

Cartoon by © Guy Venables

More from September where the UK was doing its bit to fight global warming by making fuel scarce. This twist on the new Bond film release by Venables, Guy Venables in his daily Metro cartoon spot.

Dog drawing by © Glenn Marshall

At the beginning of October I drew my parent’s dog Barney chewing a sock.

Cartoon by © Graeme Bandeira

In other October news we had the sewage crisis as Tory MPs voted against the Waste Prevention Bill. Here’s a very clever rendition of our leader by Graeme Bandeira for The Yorkshire Post.

Cartoon by © Sarah Boyce

At the end of October COP26 started in Glasgow and we all became environmentalists for a fortnight. Here is Sarah Boyce on fast fashion from Private Eye.

Cartoon by © Kipper Williams

In November Boris Johnson peppered his speech with porcine references at the CBI (Cured Bacon Industries?) conference. Here’s Kipper Williams’ take on it for The Spectator.

Cartoon by © The Surreal McCoy

The only bit of snow most of us saw over Christmas was provided by The Surreal McCoy in Fortean Times.

Cartoon by © Martin Rowson

In business cheese and wine news Martin Rowson served up some nibbles in The Guardian…

Cartoon by © Steve Bell

…and Steve Bell released secret footage of the Downing Street Tory parties. Watch it here.

Cartoon by © Jonathan Pugh

Pugh put out the empties in his Daily Mail pocket cartoon.

Cartoon by © Chris Williams

A Christmas card by Dink on the introduction of chimney passports.

Cartoon by © Rebecca Hendin

And finally Rebecca Hendin on Christmas regifting in The Guardian.

I’ve just noticed there are eight cartoons featuring BodgeJo and none turned up of Keir Starmer which may reflect that he didn’t turn up much as leader of the opposition – Peppa Pig has featured in our review more!

See you again next January for the Review of 2022 where no doubt we’ll be talking about the Zeta variant and looking forward to Trump being on the campaign trail for the US election 2024….UGH!

A Happy New Year from all at PCO Global Media.

Tune into PCO TV

December 22, 2021 in General, News

Just a reminder to tune in, subscribe and spread the word about our PCO TV Channel over on that Youtube. There are a couple of fresh videos on there:

Firstly the launch of a series cartoonist Q&A videos that have been stitched together for public display by PCO Chair Personage Clive Goddard starring PCO members Jeremy Banx, KJ Lamb, Tat Effby,, Rebecca Hendin, Guy Venables, Chris Burke, Kipper Williams and Clive himself. Watch out for future instalments.

The second Q&A video is up now too asking cartoonists about their materials.

Secondly a video of the award winners from the recent PCO sponsored Pocket Cartoon Awards featuring the the FT’s ubiquitous Mr Banx and Matt ‘Matt’ Pritchett from The Telegraph.

You can see all the winners videos from of The Political Cartoon of The Year Awards 2021 on the site of sponsors Ellwood Anfield

 

Patron saint

December 10, 2021 in General, News

The Fall, 1979. Photo © Paul Slattery,

Like most people in Manchester Marc was also a member of The Fall. He has said “Joining The Fall was the second best thing that ever happened to me in my working life. The best thing was getting kicked out”

Hand drawn T-shirts by © Steve Bright for ‘Who’s On My T-Shirt Tonight’

Marc has been a big champion of cartoons, most recently using cartoonists to draw T-Shirts of popsters for his Radio 6 ‘What’s On My T-Shirt Tonight’ competition, instigated with his good friend and cartoon maestro Tony Husband.

Strip by © Marc Riley for OINK!

He has even delved into the cartoon world himself, drawing strips for OINK! magazine.

Marc writes:

New Yorker, New Yorker, it’s a wonderful ‘toon

November 27, 2021 in Comment, General

‘I can explain the meaning of life, but not the meaning of New Yorker cartoons.’

Cartoon © Nick Newman

Why do cartoonists struggle to break America?

by Nick Newman and courtesy of The Spectator. 

Cartoons are like gossamer and one doesn’t dissect gossamer.’ So says Mr Elinoff, the fictional cartoon editor of the New Yorkerin an episode of Seinfeld, when trying to explain a cartoon to Elaine. Elaine isn’t satisfied. Mr Elinoff suggests the cartoon is a commentary on contemporary mores, a slice of life or even a pun. ‘You have no idea what this means do you?’ says Elaine. ‘No,’ he concedes.

The scene sums up the problem of understanding the New Yorker’s sometimes oblique sense of humour — and may come as a relief to the many British cartoonists who have tried and failed to break into the Big Apple’s literary bastion. It’s reassuring to think that even Americans as funny as Seinfeld can be baffled by New Yorkerjokes. Yet still the mystique survives, and most British cartoonists have had a stab at getting into the magazine, lured by its great cartoon history (James Thurber, Saul Steinberg, Charles Addams) and the money: it pays more than ten times as much for a cartoon than UK magazines.

Former (real) cartoon editor Bob Mankoff said in a Ted Talk: ‘The New Yorker occupies a very different space. It’s a space that is playful in its own way, and also purposeful, and in that space, the cartoons are different… New Yorker humour is self-reflective.’ Elsewhere, he recalled that when he was finally rewarded with a contract in 1980, the contract referred not to cartoons but to ‘idea drawings’, what Mankoff calls the ‘sine qua non ofNew Yorkercartoons’: a drawing that requires both cartoonist and reader to think. Indeed, there is Sam Gross cartoon of a landscape with a large sign reading ‘STOP AND THINK’ and a man saying: ‘It sort of makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?’

So New Yorker gags are more philosophical than their British counterparts. Here, virtually anything goes — sick jokes, coarse jokes, badly drawn jokes, puns. The New Yorkerhas a metropolitan disdain for crudity and eschews wordplay. We reckon that if bawdy humour and puns were good enough for Shakespeare, they’re good enough for us.

New Yorker cartoons also tend to be more lifestyle-oriented, and inhabit a more whimsical world of middle-class social gatherings, boardrooms, domestic relationships and navel-gazing neuroses. Some recent ones look like architectural drawings, whereas British cartoons tend to inhabit a more traditional cartoon landscape: big noses, goofy expressions, surreal situations.

Humour is, of course, a serious business, and from the outset nobody took it more seriously than the New Yorker. Its legendary founding editor Harold Ross was obsessed with perfection and detail. Thurber recounted how Ross studied a cartoon of a Model T Ford on a dusty road and demanded ‘Better dust!’ He would also scan for hidden phallic symbols and sent a photographer to the UN building to check whether a drawing of its windows was accurate. Cartoons that fell below his standards would receive a ‘Get it out of here!’

Cartoon by © The Surreal McCoy/ New Yorker

Today, aspiring New Yorker cartoonists just have to endure months of silence once their ideas are submitted. Success is greeted with a restrained ‘Okay’ from cartoon editor Emma Allen. Two British cartoonists who have enjoyed such success — following on the heels of a few UK predecessors such as Ronald Searle, H.M. Bateman, and Heath Robinson — are Will McPhail and Carol Isaacs (who draws under the pseudonym The Surreal McCoy). Both are adamant that the work they submit for the New Yorker is essentially no different from that published in British magazines.

‘My approach is more or less the same for both sides of the pond,’ says Isaacs. ‘Maybe tweaking the grammar and spelling for the Americans. I love Seinfeldand the Marx Brothers as much as I love Spike Milligan and Fawlty Towers. As they say over there, go figure.’

Cartoon by © The Surreal McCoy/ New Yorker

McPhail thinks the recent trend towards more absurd and bizarre cartoons in the magazine have helped his cause. ‘Those are the cartoons that genuinely make me laugh, the ones where I don’t know why it’s funny. I’ve always seen a lot of the humour in British cartoons like maths equations. They’re perfectly balanced and everything that is set up at the start of the equation works out correctly by the end. But I like cartoons where you can’t see “the strings”, if that makes sense.’

Is familiarity with New York essential to inhabiting the New Yorker mindset? Isaacs thinks not. ‘After all,’ she says, ‘there are many New Yorker cartoonists who’ve never set foot in New York. Their sense of humour is perhaps more about the absurd than anything else — and that knows no borders.’

McPhail confesses that he used to make pilgrimages to the New Yorker offices just to submit in person to Bob Mankoff. ‘I of course pretended that I just happened to be in New York at the time. So I do think there’s a certain amount of them needing to know you’re serious about it before they publish you, like “Wow, he’s come all the way here to get rejected in person!”’

Each week thousands of submissions are boiled down to some 50 acceptances. The closest I’ve come to making the grade is when I saw a cartoon identical to one I once drew for Private Eye(of a drunk ventriloquist in the gutter whose dummy is vomiting) on the cover of a book entitled The Rejection Collection: Cartoons You Never Saw, and Never Will See, in the New Yorker.

This article first appeared in the 20 November 2021 issue of The Spectator

Dave Brown Busts Out

November 18, 2021 in General

Oliver Preston (Cartoon Museum Chair), Dave Brown and Steve Bell at the Cartoon Museum Gillray bust unveiling. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Dave Brown writes:

‘If Hogarth was the grandfather of the modern cartoon, You were its father…’

(David Low on James Gillray, 1943)

Gillray set the template for the modern political cartoon. His savage humour and supreme draughtsmanship making him the unrivalled visual satirist of the day. In The Plumb-Pudding in Danger he created arguably the greatest, and certainly the most pastiched, example of the form. For many contemporary political cartoonists he is a direct influence, but all cartoonists are indebted to him.

James Gillray ‘Plumb-Pudding in Danger’ 1805

Gillray stood out from his contemporaries due to his outstanding visual inventiveness, but also the sophistication and innovation of his print making technique. His prints were known and admired by Goya and David, both artists borrowing from them in compositions of their own. One German journalist claimed Gillray was ‘the foremost living artist in the whole of Europe’, while Napoleon allegedly remarked that Gillray had contributed more to his defeat than all the armies of Europe. Yet in the first anthology of his work, published three years after his death, the editor wrote, ‘It is a scandal upon all the cold-hearted scribblers in the land to allow such a genius as Gillray to go to the grave unnoticed’.

Self Portrait by James Gillray, c.1800 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Gillray’s antecedent in satirical print making, William Hogarth, is known to us from various self-portraits, a bust ‘from the life’, a statue on the facade of the Victoria and Albert Museum and a more recent life-size bronze in Chiswick High Road. William Blake, another visionary print maker and Gillray’s fellow student at the Royal Academy schools, commands both a small bas relief in St Paul’s and a large bronze bust by Epstein in Westminster Abbey. But of Gillray we have only one verified contemporary likeness, his self-portrait miniature, painted on ivory, measuring 3” x 2 1/2”. There are no statues, no blue plaque, his only memorial is the small gravestone in the churchyard of St James’s Piccadilly, which until its recent replacement was badly worn and cracked.

In the studio with the clay model. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

James Gillray is, in my opinion, not simply one of the greatest satirical cartoonist to have lived, but one of Britain’s greatest artists in any genre. His are the footsteps the rest of us walk in, the shoulders we stand on, the metaphors we still steal. He was, according to contemporary accounts a modest man, but even so a simple gravestone seems scarcely a sufficient memorial. It was for this reason I determined to create a new portrait bust of him.

My piece is closely modelled on his self-portrait. That portrait demonstrates that Gillray was a skilful and adept miniaturist, detailing the short fringe brushed forward to conceal a receding hairline, and the heavy brow and prominent lower lip noted in contemporary descriptions. So although the miniature also exhibits some stylistic traits common in neoclassical portraiture, we may assume that it is a reasonably true and honest likeness.

At the unveiling at the Cartoon Museum with the finished bronze. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

As well as following the likeness of the miniature, I also researched neoclassical portrait sculpture (particularly the work of Houdon, whose pieces often employed modern dress rather than pseudo-classical attire, and Nollekens, whose subjects included two of Gillray’s famous ‘victims’ Pitt and Fox), and have attempted to reference this, while still producing a contemporary artwork.

Cartoon by © Dave Brown for the Independent after Gillray’s ‘Plumb-Pudding in Danger’

Political satire is an essential correlative to a functioning democracy, so personally I should like to see a Gillray statue in Parliament Square (we could pull down a politician or two to make room for him!). From there he could cast a critical eye over the Lords and Commons, his etching needle poised to prick their pomposity. If someone would care to petition Parliament and raise the funds I’m certainly available to make it, but until then I offer this portrait bust…the father of political cartooning by one of its bastard offspring.

You can read a longer version of this piece in The Independent

 

Quarantoons: Cartoons From the New Normal

November 18, 2021 in General

 

PCO member James Mellor introduces his new book:

The coronavirus pandemic has caused the biggest changes to our society in my lifetime.  The changes have been extreme and have affected all aspects of how we live and work.  Importantly, the new way of living has also proved to be very funny, on occasion.  Has anyone ever experienced a seamless zoom meeting?

Cartoon published in Private Eye © James Mellor

Some of these changes to our lives may remain with us, but many will pass into memory.  Creating a compendium of my favourite cartoons documenting this time seemed like a valuable endeavour.  It’s also true that nothing better reflects my work for the past two years.  Covid-19 has dominated the news and therefore my cartoons.

I have cartooned the pandemic in a variety of different arenas.  My topical, satirical cartoons on appeared in Private Eye Magazine throughout the period.  I was also commissioned by various sectors to help them communicate with cartoons.  Amongst the projects were cartoons introducing new safety measures on public transport and a successful illustrated pitch to manufacture vaccines.  Most importantly however, were all the silly, surreal, and sometimes downright strange cartoons created to make people laugh and keep them entertained during a downright strange time.

Cartoon © James Mellor

Everyone has been through a traumatic event, whether they realise that yet or not.  Human beings are meant to be social animals (yes, even we cartoonists who work alone in studios, bunkers, and crypts).  Even for those who stayed well, the isolation and distancing will have taken its toll.  Without entertainment and light relief, I think a lot of us would have gone mad.  Humour keeps us going through adversity and the cartoons that have raised a smile and raised morale have certainly been the most important.

Cartoon © James Mellor

What’s great about compiling a new book is the opportunity to bring together cartoons from all the different areas I work in.  Hopefully there’s a nice mix of satirical and silly.  Perhaps we’re near the end of the Covid story, or perhaps this is only the end of the beginning.  Either way, this book marks the strange and unexpected ways the world has changed for us and the funny side of the new normal.  Not that the old normal was very normal either.

Cartoon © James Mellor

Quarantoons: Cartoons From A New Normal will be published in softback on 18 November, priced £14.99, and is available at Amazon, Waterstones, Blackwells, etc plus online.

 

Private Eye at 60 – First Cartoons

November 4, 2021 in General

Happy 60th birthday Private Eye! In celebration, cartoonists have been posting their first (or early) cartoons from the mag. Here’s a few of them culled from the twittersphere by PCO members starting with Clive Goddard who set the ball rolling:

© Clive Goddard

© The Surreal McCoy

© Wilbur Dawbarn

© Mike Stokoe

@ Sarah Boyce

© Steve Jones

© Guy Venables

© Royston Robertson

© Zoom Rockman

© Andrew Fraser

© Chris Williams

© Kerina Stevens

© Mark Winter

© Andrew Birch

© Glenn Marshall

© Pete Dredge

The above by Dredge wasn’t mined from social media but too good a first to leave out and from waaaaaaaay back in 1977, Issue 404.

Interesting to see how some of the styles have evolved (the only thing that’s changed with mine is the signature’s got elongated)

Has anyone got any more PE cartoon firsts they want to share with us?

There are some great videos celebrating Private Eye’s 60th Anniversary Celebration on the EyePlayer

See you back here for the 70th birthday by which time most cartoons will be produced by AI as VR holo-toons.

Galway Cartoon Festival report

October 22, 2021 in Events, General

 

Festival poster with drawing by Italian artist © Marinela Nardi

PCO member Dean Patterson (deAn) writes:

I have just about recovered from my trip to the 4th Annual Galway Cartoon Festival that took place from the 1st to 9th of October.

Dean filling some wall space (bonus points to Dean for sporting a PCO badge).

This years theme was ‘At Large’, which asked cartoonists to imagine what life will be like when we emerge from the cocoon of COVID. Also for the second year running they ran the Irish language exhibition, inviting cartoons in the medium of Irish. This exhibition is held on the island of Inis Oirr, the beautiful and smallest island of the Irish speaking Aran Islands. (The sea was calm, the ferry reasonably steady and breakfast thankfully kept down.)

This.has to be one of the most beautiful locations for a cartoon festival. Photo © Dean Patterson.

It is truely an international cartoon festival with cartoons from across the globe. The very talented French illustrator Fabrice Matray came over to do a workshop which gave us a chance to currupt him in a pub by getting him drunk and joining in with our game of turning local, and very talented, artist Margreat Nolan’s rude squiggles into family friendly gags.

photo © Dean Patterson.

There was also a celebration and display of the artist Augustus John complete with a walking tour by Jonathan Hanon to tell more about the man, and Tom Mathews introduced a wonderful exhibition of the very brilliant illustrator Brian O’Tool, whom he knew as a great friend.

We even managed to see some of this when they finally dragged us out of the pub for 20 minutes.

photo © Dean Patterson.

The company Blacknight Solutions very kindly sponsored a prize of 500 euros for the best of each exhibition. Graeme Keyes, who’s work we will all be familiar with, won the prize for the Irish language exhibition and who still hasn’t got round to joining the PCO like he always says he should, despite me nagging him about it.

A cartoon by © Dean Patterson that he has been to modest to mention in his copy, won the prize for ‘Galway Cartoons At Large’.

Anyway a good time was had by all, it really was a terrifically put together festival in times when that is no easy thing. Galway really is one of the greats of the festival calander and goes from strength to strength each year. After sharing a hotel room for 6 days with Tom Mathews I need a year to recover, but already looking forward to thier 5th!!

——————-

Great short trailer for the festival here

Jane Mattimoe’s UK Case for Pencils (4): Jonesy

September 23, 2021 in General

A selfie by © Jonesy

Another of our occasional dives into the pencil case of a UK cartoonist from Jane Mattimoe’s A Case for Pencils series. In this instalment it’s the turn of PCO’s very own committee compadre:

Jonesy (aka Steve Jones)

Bio: So far I’ve been published in Private Eye, New Statesman, Prospect, Harvard Business Review, The Oldie, Reader’s Digest (UK), The American Bystander, The Phoenix, CAM (Cambridge University Alumni Magazine), Resurgence and Ecologist, London Evening Standard and The Spectator.

Cartoon published in Private Eye. © Jonesy

Tools of choice:

Traditional: Pentels, pencils (seldom anything harder than a B), Uni-balls, Sharpies, brush pens and dip pens. Allsorts, really. For instance, you’ll find various other weird and wonderful oddities in my arsenal like Pilot Parallel nib pens and folded brass dip-pens. The Pilots are intended for use by calligraphers but I enjoy drawing with them. As for the dip-pen, a HIRO Leonardt 41 Copperplate is my nib of choice, nib fans.

I use Higgins Black Magic and Daler Rowney FW ink and White Knights (formerly St. Petersburg) watercolour paints plus various makes of brushes. I find a toothbrush comes in handy too. (Not for my teeth, obviously: I’m British.) Oh, and a diffuser.

My favourite paper for ink and watercolour work is Saunders Waterford High White HP 140lb, and Canson Bristol mostly for ink only.

I draft out rough ideas on Daler Rowney layout pads. I also use various sketch and note pads and have been known to scribble ideas on anything to hand including pets, plants and passers by. Anything alliterative, really.

Sometimes when I’m out and about I also recite cartoon ideas into my mobile so I can pick them up off my voicemail when I get home. Saying stuff out loud like “lighthouse with a bowling alley” and giggling can attract strange looks from passers by. Scribbling on them, however, invokes a much stronger reaction.

Digital: I use MacBook Pros (x2), a Wacom Intuos 4 pad and stylus. I started off with Photoshop and Painter Essentials but now use Clip Studio Art and Affinity software. Both are much cheaper and – for my purposes anyway – just as good.

Recently I was considering an iPad but I think my newer Macbook Pro is about to give up the ghost so bang goes that idea for the time being. My 2010 MBP has been hammered day and night without giving me a moment’s complaint: a wonderful workhorse. I wish I could say the same for my 2015 version. In their efforts to make the laptop thinner and lighter, Apple, sadly, seem to have sacrificed build quality and durability. How about u-turning on this skinny/lightweight malarkey and making the upcoming model a bit sturdier, eh, Apple? Go on, you know you want to…

Tools I wish I could use better: All of them.

Tools I wish existed: Scanvision – ie: Just looking at the drawing equals instant scan filed on your computer.

Command z on dip-pens. Failing that, an effective ink eraser.

Tricks: Not so much a trick of the trade as sound advice: join the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation. Only if you’re a cartoonist, like. Or a caricaturist. If you’re a shepherd, say, you probably won’t get too much out of it. Anyway, it’s been an enormous help to me.

Don’t spill coffee on your freshly drawn artwork. All other beverages are fine.

Cartoon published in Prospect. © Jonesy

Never throw away ideas. Sometimes I return to cartoons I initially rejected and get a fresh angle on them. Absence can make the thought grow stronger. (Sorry, that last sentence reads like one of those crap motivational posters…)

I find I get the best results by holding the pointy end of my pen to the paper.

Try to avoid cleaning your brushes in your tea/coffee/whatever cup/mug/glass/beaker/whatever. Or, indeed, drinking from your brush water container. (I’ve done both.)

Try to avoid typing sentences with lots of/too many/an excess of options/alternatives/choices/whatever.

Rejection comes with the cartooning territory, I’m afraid. Easier said than done, I know, but try not to let it get you down: use it as motivation to do better. Or try blackmail.

Miscellaneous: Be as helpful as you can to people starting out. I appreciated the kindness of, and learned a great deal from senior pros who took the time to help me with my first steps. (See “Tricks” section above as proof.)

Websites, etc:

My social media empire, such as it is, comprises the following…

Website (I should update this more often)

Instagram (I should update this more often)

Twitter (I should visit this less often)

Here’s a PCO blog bonus Jonesy:

Cartoon published in Private Eye. © Jonesy

You can see previous UK ‘Case for Pencils’ by PCO members:

Ralph Steadman

The Surreal McCoy

Bill Stott

Plus see many more on the following link Case For Pencils

Can cartoons be both funny – and diverse?

September 16, 2021 in Comment, General

Cartoon © Nick Newman

By Nick Newman and courtesy of The Spectator. 

Of the many challenges cartoonists face — rejection, money, drink, or lack of — one of the trickiest is the growing pressure to depict diversity. Nowadays readers often write to publications complaining about the dearth of ethnic minorities in our drawings and demand for cartoons to be more inclusive.

It’s like being trapped in a bad political cartoon, walking a tightrope above a minefield. A quick survey of my colleagues in the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation highlighted the following:

  1. Cartoons involve laughing at someone. If that person is black, you risk appearing racist; even including a BAME character in the background of drawing can lead to accusations of tokenism (‘background box-tickers’).
  2. Including any minority character in a cartoon can run the risk of implying that the cartoon is about race and so can inadvertently politicise the cartoon.
  3. At the end of the day, it’s safer to make the pale, male and stale the butt of the joke.

Gag cartoons are about speed and recognition. Stereotypes are a form of visual shorthand designed to get an idea across quickly. The French? Man in stripy shirt. Teacher? Mortarboard. German? Fat man with sausage. Cartoons amplify for comic effect, which runs the risk of promoting race hate when depicting BAME characters. ‘I draw a lot of idiots saying daft things and don’t want any accidental inference that it is because of their race,’ says PCO chairman Clive Goddard. ‘Better to stick to white idiots than be misunderstood.’ British newspaper and magazine cartoonists are predominantly white, which can make any joke about ethnicity feel awkward or patronising. Cartoonists may be cowards, but we are not afraid to admit to our cowardice in avoiding the issue.

Cartoonists’ drawing styles present another problem. Characters with big noses can lead to accusations of anti-Semitism. One political cartoonist has been told to reduce the size of all Middle Eastern noses. Attempts to make cartoon characters more diverse can be tricky. Kathryn Lamb likens ‘inking in’ her cartoon faces to ‘blacking up’.

For caricaturists whose stock-in-trade is exaggeration, the problem is, appropriately enough, exaggerated. Morten Morland, The Spectator’s cover artist, says that whenever he draws Diane Abbott or Priti Patel, someone always complains. ‘It’s usually because they disagree with the cartoon itself,’ he says, ‘and need something to hit back with. So by hinting that the caricature is racist they aim to discredit the whole cartoon.’

In 2018, a caricature of Serena Williams by the Australian cartoonist Mark Knight of the Herald Sun was reported to the Australian Press Council for depicting her with ‘large lips, a broad flat nose… and [being] positioned in an ape-like pose’ while throwing a tantrum on court. The National Association of Black Journalists said the caricature was ‘unnecessarily Sambo-like’ and even J.K. Rowling weighed in, tweeting: ‘Well done on reducing one of the greatest sportswomen alive to racist and sexist tropes.’

Accusations of racism in cartoons stretch back to Gillray and beyond. The Georgian cartoonists depicted Africans as threatening and comical, with grotesque features and appetites. Cruikshank’s ‘The New Union Club’ (1818) is one of the most racist prints of the 19th century, depicting a debauched dinner held at the African Institution and attacking abolitionists such as Wilberforce. Two hundred years later the Commission for Racial Equality called for Hergé’s 1931 comic Tintin in the Congo to be withdrawn from sale because of its depiction of black Africans as simple, childlike and uncivilised. The New York Public Library locked its copy away. ‘Tintin in the Congo is a racist book,’ says the FT’s Jeremy Banx, ‘but Hergé was on a long journey, from King Leopold II to the Beatles, in which he ended up in a very different place to where he started.’ In later life Hergé himself referred to his early books as ‘youthful sins’.

There are lessons to be learned from history. In 1925 a glib cartoon by David Low portrayed England cricket’s run machine Jack Hobbs as a colossus compared with figures from history, including Caesar, Charlie Chaplin and a caricatured Muhammad. It led to rioting in Calcutta. As the staff of Charlie Hebdo found out, these days a cartoon of the Prophet is likely to get you cancelled — permanently.

We live in a sensitive age. Cartoonists agree on the need to promote diversity, but the complications are endless. Diversity itself is becoming a dirty word, suggesting ‘diverging from the white mean’. Meanwhile ‘inclusive’ is said to imply whites doing the including.

As the Sun’s Steve Bright says: ‘You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If you don’t, you’re racist on the grounds of exclusion. If you do, unless there’s a perfect balance, you’re accused of tokenism, which is also racist. And if you achieve that mythical perfect balance — you’d have to draw 100 people in every cartoon, and colour them according to percentages of population — you’re obsessive, and quite possibly insane.’

Unfortunately, deconstructing cartoons also sucks all the fun out of them. As the great Barry Cryer says: ‘Analysing comedy is like dissecting a frog. Nobody laughs and the frog dies.’

This article first appeared in the 11 Sept 2021 issue of The Spectator

You can see Nick interviewed about this piece by Spectator TV here. Bonus points to Nick for sporting his PCO badge.