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John Jensen on wit and wisdom: Part 1

February 11, 2010 in Comment

In the first of a three-part series on wit and wisdom, PCOer John Jensen looks at the international language of cartoon competitions

I have just received through the post a beautifully printed catalogue of cartoons. It contains the results of the annual Turkish Aydin Dogan International Competition, with seven Brits vigorously waving the Union Jack, among them PCOer Ross Thomson who picked up a ‘Success Award’. Iran contributed 162 cartoonists.

The catalogue lists the judges and shows their work. It lists the competitors and shows their work, spread throughout 220 glossily printed pages. The quality of the draughtsmanship is, as always, varied but there is a mass of genuine talent there too.

Where once I would have been delighted by the catalogue, however, today the elation is just not there. Grumpy old man? Of course. Complaining about the new, fresh talents? Not at all. Draughtsmanship is not the problem. Ideas are.

Bloghorn cartoon - The End of Ideas © John Jensen

Back to square one for just for a moment – don’t run away now, this is important. When Freud, way back when, revealed the workings of the unconscious mind there was a feeling that a new world of endless vistas had been opened up: sex, horror, fantasy, cans of worms (lots of those). Surrealism was born, but before long it died, because it became boring. There was only so much the unconscious mind can offer up. This seems to hold with some forms of cartooning.

If you are young and fresh to the game there is a thrill and great pleasure in discovering what’s going on in the rest of the cartoon world, of submitting your work to great international exhibitions.

But if you have followed the exhibitions for more than four or five decades, you realise that there are limits to the cartoon imagination too, particularly in international exhibitions.

What do you think about what John is saying? Please jump into the comments below. There will be more thinking about the end of ideas from Jensen on Bloghorn next week.

1 response to John Jensen on wit and wisdom: Part 1

  1. I’m tempted to suggest that whilst there may well be a limitation of ideas, there isn’t in terms of the interpretation of those ideas. Maybe cartooning – art generally even – can be likened to the countless different ways one melody can be interpreted by a jazz musician. But I won’t say any of that. I’ll wait for Part Two.

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