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Quite Interesting Cartoonists

August 25, 2010 in News

PCO member Stevyn Colgan writes:

This year, members of the PCO have once again contributed to the BBC TV series QI and its spin-off book titles. It’s a relationship that has existed ever since the first QI Annual was published in 2008.

The TV show – in which each season follows a letter of the alphabet – was already in its fifth ‘E’ season when it was decided that some sort of annual was in order. True to form, QI inventor John Lloyd (also the man who created The News Quiz, The News Huddlines, Not the Nine O’Clock News, Spitting Image, produced all four series of Blackadder, and co-wrote two episodes of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with his friend Douglas Adams) sought out the funniest contributors he could find, roping in the likes of Rowan Atkinson, Bill Bailey, Jo Brand, Alan Davies and, of course, Stephen Fry. He also needed illustrations and lots of them. And that’s where the relationship with members of the PCO started.

The annuals have featured work by Jonathan Cusick (cover of the ‘G’ Annual), Adrian Teal (who also painted the cover of the ‘F’ annual), and Stevyn Colgan. This Christmas, the brand new ‘H’ Annual will feature more submissions from Adrian and Stevyn. Also, the first three E, F and G Annuals are being bundled into a softback compilation edition in November with a brand new cover by Stevyn. And, for the first time, artwork by Adrian and Stevyn will be seen on the TV show itself gracing the big screens behind the panellists in the episode on ‘Horses’ and ‘Humans’.

The EFG Bumper Book of QI Annuals and the QI ‘H’ Annual are both published by Faber and Faber on November 4th.

The self-analysed cartoonist

March 12, 2009 in Comment

Caricaturist Adrian Teal writes about the paralysis of analysis:

A PhD student phoned me yesterday, wanting to pick my brains. She’s doing research into politicians and how political cartoons are perceived, and emailed me a list of searching questions which she’ll be putting to me in a telephone interview in a day or so.

I’m happy to help, though she tells me she has already spoken to Steve Bell and Martin Rowson, so I’m not sure I’ll have anything more insightful and enlightening to offer than these two giants of the Comment page.

And so to confession time …

The problem is that I tend not to think too deeply about what I do – at least, not that often. Analysing the cartoonist is like taking a butterfly apart to see how it works. I don’t draw because I think I can change the world, or to destabilize governments, though it is highly rewarding to have a pop at a venal politico now and again. I draw because I have to. At 34, I can’t see myself doing anything else. It is as much a part of my life as shaving, or yawning. The actual process can be agonising, although the labour pains are usually forgotten when the artwork turns out well. Sure, I like to be praised when I do a good job, but if I’m honest, I don’t even enjoy cartooning 100 per cent of the time. I suspect most cartoonists are the same.

Correct me if I’m wrong.

Heart-warming Christmas tale

December 8, 2008 in General


PCOer Adrian Teal writes:

I had a phone call from the news desk of my local paper recently asking if I’d mind doing a last-minute cartoon about our gaffe-prone town council.

The council had ditched the idea of suspending Christmas decorations across the town’s main shopping street, because Health and Safety were worried about them plummeting onto the heads of innocent shoppers. As an alternative, they decided to import some hollow, cone-shaped, fake trees which cost £33,000.

When the lorry carrying the new trees arrived at the council depot, two Iraqi, and two Iranian illegal immigrants jumped out of the back. They were rounded up by the cops, and handed over to the UK Border Agency.

Adrian reports the trees themselves were “rubbish”. Bloghorn thinks none of us are six anymore.

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Adrian Teal's Highlight of 2008

November 10, 2008 in News

Cartoonist and PCO member Adrian PCOer Adrian Teal shares one of his highlights of 2008;

As the shadows lengthen, the nights draw in, and Cumbrian fell-walkers are forced to use sheep as rudimentary buoyancy aids, I find myself looking back over the dog-days of 2008 with a sentimental eye, and specifically at the highlight of my year.

I send a lot of sample stuff in the post, on spec, to various people outside the world of newspapers and mags, and more often than not, it ends up in the secretarial bin. However, once in a while, it generates some interest. Back in April, I got a call from the producer of the BBC’s QI, who also produced Not the Nine O’Clock News, Blackadder, and Spitting Image, where I had met him a few times when I was an irritating ten year-old.

He asked me to produce the front/back cover for the new QI Annual (available from all good bookshops, 6th November), and would I mind awfully doing a couple of double-page-spreads for the inside too?

This was a moment of pure, unbridled, cynicism-free joy for me, since the comedy stable from which he and his contemporaries come helped to shape the sense of humour of my generation. They are also very nice people, which makes a huge difference in this trade, believe me, and I was given pretty much a free rein to do what I thought would suit. I couldn’t believe my luck.

And they paid my invoice inside two days. Pinch me, someone.

The QI Annual 2009 by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson is published by Faber and Faber, priced £12.99

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by Royston

Standing up for caricature

April 25, 2008 in General

PCOer Adrian Teal (click to enlarge his Daniel Craig drawing, above) discusses the neglected art of the caricaturist:

If press cartoonists are feeling neglected, press caricaturists are feeling doubly so. The PCO is pursuing an admirable policy of singing the praises of the cartoon to anyone who’ll listen. The highly specialized trade of caricature is even more threatened, however, and I humbly submit that this noble profession should be given equal standing in the campaign.

Perhaps it’s the caricaturists’ fault. The standard (and standing) of British caricature has been in steep decline since the press lost interest in it after Spitting Image’s demise, and really good caricature is hard to find these days. Unless we can show the world how potent the art form can be, we will perish, and deservedly so.

When faced with something humorous and visceral, people often overlook the care and thought which has gone into a drawing. To a large extent – and I know I’m treading on a few corns here – cartoons are the fast-food of journalism; enjoyed briefly, and then discarded. But good caricatures have a staying power, which is lacking in pocket cartoons. They usually do not have the luxury of a caption to help them along. And the sheer amount of work which goes into them can be out of all proportion to the attention (and fees) they are given.

It is this kind of attention to detail, and plain hard slog, which marks the caricaturist out as the sturdy, muscular workhorse of cartooning, and I urge the PCO to help the journalistic world recognize his worth.

Thanks to Adrian Teal. Bloghorn says: Click T for Teal

UPDATED 28th April 2008: Some responses to Adrian’s opinion can be found in the comments section immediately under this edit

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Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival

February 26, 2008 in General


Submitted work for the ‘But is it art?’ exhibition at this year’s Shrewsbury Festival. Caricature of former PM Anthony (Tony) Blair by PCOer Adrian Teal.
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