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John Jensen on wit and wisdom: Part 3

February 18, 2010 in Comment


In the final part of his series on wit and wisdom (read part one here and part two here) PCOer John Jensen argues that sometimes cartoonists get better results on a smaller canvas

International cartoon exhibitions should be encouraged and they will continue throughout the years. The symbolic stone walls, barbed wire and the dying doves will still be there, awaiting to be transmuted into the pure gold of a beautifully drawn idea.

Continental cartoonists are happy seeking and finding wit. British cartoonists treat wit with suspicion. Fortunately, not all cartoonists are limited to generalising, tut-tutting and philosophising about Life.

Political cartoonists, even though their symbolism is also limited, have an ever-changing world on which to draw. Topicality generates excitement, which is great.

Then there are the niche cartoonists: nerd speaking unto nerd, where words can be used, thus freeing up the ideas, and ideas are more specific. On the downside, many of the ideas, like some wines, would not travel well.

The problem is that broad themes can become boring. Topicality and the occasional use of words can sometimes produce more interesting ideas. Niche stuff, limited though it is, and usually not wanted by Fleet Street, is where the some of the best cartoons are found.

Small may not be beautiful but it is often very, very funny. What’s the problem?

What do you think about John Jensen’s article? Have your say in the comments below.

3 responses to John Jensen on wit and wisdom: Part 3

  1. Well said John. As a regular contributor to “Stationary Engine”, I do so agree about the niche market. The trick of course is to find editors who can stand back from their specialist area and see humour therein. I once got the boot from a wine magazinem from a new, incoming editor. She told me that in her opinion, wine wasn’t a funny subject. Obviously not a lady to get ratted with.

  2. What’s a magazinem ? The result of fat fingers.

  3. I agree with that, Bill (the bit about getting editors to stand back from the specialist area, that is. Can’t comment on the fat fingers…) I also do cartoons for niche publications and the most successful ones are the jokes that don’t get bogged down too much in the nuts and bolts of the subject.

    It’s not always possible, sometimes it has to be “nerd speaking unto nerd”, but cartoons that could be understood by a casual reader to the specialist mag are what I try to aim for. (And they also have re-sell value of course!)

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