Democracy needs cartoonists

July 27, 2010 in General, News

PCOer Steve Bell writes in today’s Guardian newspaper about an usual opportunity for the more unseen cartoonist which he has cooked up with his colleague Martin Rowson.

We are both constantly badgered by young cartoonists waiting for us to die (as indeed Martin himself once urged me to), as well as editors complaining about how difficult it is to find fresh talent. He suggested using our longer than normal holiday period of six weeks to showcase some of the talent we know full well to be out there.

And he offers a short explanation of what the independently-minded artist does. Bloghorn thinks this definition is useful when trying to identify the drawn work of an illustrator or a cartoonist.

It does require a certain arrogance to sit in judgment over the great and good, as well as the not so good and the less great who rule our lives, but I’ve had a political agenda as long as my arm since I was in flared trousers, and have never been expected to express any point of view other than my own.

If you have things to say about what Steve has written please add them in the comments below.

14 responses to Democracy needs cartoonists

  1. If certain editors complain about not being able to find fresh talent, then they’re lazy sods who aren’t interested in looking further than their own noses. I see talented youngsters’ work everywhere – particularly online.

  2. Agree with Andrew. They also need to look outside the M25. I had a cartoon on R4’s Today show website a couple of years ago. They had two sections – professional & amateur. I live outside London, so got put in Amateur. (Despite the fact they knew the cartoon was reprinted with permission from Private Eye.)

  3. So do these said editors never consult their art directors regarding the fresh talent that must contact them several times a day?

  4. This from a commenter on Cif called Phoenixflabskin. Made me laugh more than the cartoon.

    on As Bell mentioned in his piece yesterday, there is too much talent going to waste. So where is it?

    I hate to appear like a world-weary cynic, but imagine if you were an ageing cartoonist about to go off on an extended vacation, and your editor asked you to recommend some ‘new talent’.

    Would you recommend:

    1. People who can draw, and are funny?

    2. People who aren’t funny, and can’t draw?

  5. Joe said on July 29, 2010

    I’d have to agree with some comments that the editors clearly aren’t putting a huge effort into looking for this new talent – the UK small press comics and ‘zine scene is absolutely thriving right now, from short gag strips to people making full length tales, not to mention interesting hybrids. There’s rarely a week goes past without us seeing something interesting coming out of that scene, if we can see it then surely a full time professional editor can too? Maybe they need to read Bloghorn, Down the Tubes, FPI blog etc more often! 🙂

  6. The Editor says thank you for these comments. Imagery only reflects the fortunes of the medium (or context) in which it is presented. I wonder what all this says about the work which is being put into and perhaps onto paper…

  7. Its nice to see the ladys up dear hearts, as its been a bit full of pipe smokeing gents for a very long time, I was put on a par with the likes of the writer of the Bloghorn, and there quite good, re: Alix and Matt B and won the same award as them.
    So I think that yesterdays cartoon I did, wasent that bad.

  8. Good stuff from Messrs Bell and Rowson ! Without wanting to dampen their initiative in any way, it has to be said that this plan will probably focus on Political cartoonists. The UK has some of the best in the world. More general humour though, tends to be the poor relation [see “Joe” above] – certainly in the eyes of many editors who think that if there isn’t a political angle to a gag, its not worth using. But as I say, power to the four Bell – Rowson elbows.

  9. Patrick is definitely a world-weary cynic – although that’s a pretty good definition of a cartoonist. It’s great to see new people in a national paper, whatever comes of it.

  10. andrew is right- that was definitely a moment of intense world-weary cynicism. So, grovel; I’m fully recovered now and ,of course, it’s good to see new faces. I admire their cojones especially with having to put up with some of the vitriol emanating from Cif

  11. I wasn’t criticising you, Patrick! Nothing wrong with world-weary cynicism. You’re right about having to be brave: I remember when first starting out, someone asked me to do a caricature front cover, and I bottled out, recommending someone else. The editor was (nearly) speechless.

  12. Re Patrick’s “can’t draw, aren’t funny” point. These folk seem to attract the attention of another equally baffling group – the people in the printed media who actually employ them. How many times do we see “new” cartoons given space in quite often cartoon – friendly papers, which are singularly unfunny. Some are quite well drawn, but aren’t funny. Some are badly drawn and unfunny. All seem to be appealing to a sort of humour in – crowd who wish to appear cool and edgy by laughing [or smiling knowingly]at drawings which they’d like us to believe only they can understand. The epitome of those smartarse types who say, “If you have to ask the question, you wouldn’t understand the answer”
    There’s maybe a third category – one which doesn’t depend on the normal perception of “good drawing”, but which is funny. Modern Toss is a good example of this. Its dependence on minimal drawing coupled with outrageous gags works well.

  13. There’s always going to be the shock of the new, stylistically.
    Iv enjoyed the work of David Dave Shrigley before but I have met cartoonists who react like you b******d the family pat hamster if you mention it.I also have also enjoyed the likes of http://www.b3ta.com/ where the gags come as fast as photoshop and upload will will alow.Just because its pure photoshop doesn’t make it any less funny, just different.
    One last point , a bit of a quibble, the definition of ‘fresh talent’ would perhaps denotes a cartoonist who is not already defined as a professional cartoonist..

  14. I like David Shrigley’s paintings – not all, but most of those I’ve seen. His work which editorially occupies a “cartoon” slot puzzles me though. Being a simple old person, I like cartoons, traditionally well-drawn or otherwise ,to MAKE me laugh. Mr Shrigley’s cartoon work does not do this. And yes, the shock of the new is a consideration, otherwise there would have been no Salon de Refuses. No Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin et al. The difference, for me, is that when the aforementioned and others came to the fore, I could see the point. Not clearly, but the stuff engaged me. The Shrigley cartoons I have seen do not make me laugh. Nor do they engage.Therefore, for me,entirely personally, they have no point.
    In fact, they remind me of a very strange exhibition the Hayward Gallery put on a couple of years ago – of cartoons by “serious” artists which were, in the main, deeply unfunny.

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