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How to draw a virus: spare a thought for the Covid-19 cartoonists

June 9, 2020 in Comment, General

Written by Guy Venables originally for The Spectator (with a smattering of bonus content cartoons):

While stumbling the 30 yards from bed to work, the freelance gag cartoonist is usually trying to decide which of the hundreds of news stories to draw a hilarious cartoon about that day. It used to be one of the most difficult decisions of the morning. Now, however, that question has been replaced by “are there any new angles to be had from the one, same, monolithically large single news story of the decade?”

My mother, similarly, at the end of the second world war, asked her own mother whether the newspapers would keep going because, obviously, there would be no more news to speak of now the war was over.

Cartoon © Guy Venables

Cartoonists evolve, like finches, on separate islands and rarely meet. That said, in the first week of lockdown each of us imagined we were the only ones to think of the link between the “man on the desert island” visual cliché and social distancing, so much so in fact, that the Private Eye cartoon editor asked us all politely to go back to bed and try to think of something else. So we all switched our attentions to loo rolls and stockpiling.

Then Easter came around and we all individually sent The Spectator “Jesus being told to roll back the stone and get back in the cave.” Then we all drew Joe Wicks. Then baking. A new type of mental filtering process had to be adopted, and cartoonists aren’t good at “new” (although a strangely large proportion of us have been adopted. Some several times). A proportion of us decided to concentrate on non-topical cartoons.

Cartoon © Guy Venables

But as Pete Dredge asked us all: “Do we draw everybody two metres apart even if it’s nothing to do with Coronavirus?” We didn’t know for sure but decided against it, as it would use up too much paper.

As things progressed and the death count rose there was a shift from looking at the situation to looking at the virus itself. Attack the villain of the story as we always say (We don’t always say that but we COULD). But how do you draw a virus? Somebody drew the virus. It was round with knobbly bits on. Right. We all drew gags about round things and added knobbly bits so you could tell it was biting satire. Then Matt from the Telegraph did it better and we all went back to bed again.

In my own personal sphere, it was a problem of pretence that bothered me. Now that my wife was at home all day the withering truth was slowly dawning on her of just how little work I actually do. I spend the afternoon trying to convince her that a hammock is a legitimate workplace.

I think of an idea but realise Nick Newman has already done it in the Times. Then I realise I’d just read the Times.

Long gone are the cocktail parties and trendy gatherings to which the cartoonist is never invited. Now he must rely on his own wits and hard work. Having never done this before we revert to our standard emergency operation of copying old Punch cartoons and hoping nobody notices.

Cartoon © Guy Venables

Another angle is of course to throw withering scorn at whoever’s in charge. This can limit the people to whom one can send the actual cartoon. Politically it’s a good idea to choose a point right in the middle of politics and shoot outwards. That way, come the revolution you can pin your badge on whoever runs the firing squads.

Cartoon © Guy Venables

I draw a gag about Dominic Cummings that gets lots of likes on Facebook and go back to the hammock, blissfully unaware that an hour beforehand, from some distant garret, Banx had sent a similar but much better Cummings gag to the Financial Times.

With thanks to The Spectator for allowing us to reproduce the piece.

Not the 2020 Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival

April 24, 2020 in Events, General, News

Cancelled poster by © Roger Penwill

Glenn Marshall writes:

This weekend would have seen the main events of the Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival  but sadly, like so much else, it has had to be cancelled. One of the organisers, Roger Penwill, commented a few weeks ago when the postponement was announced “We felt that we had no choice as the nature of the event, encouraging many members of the public to come to an indoor space, ran contrary to the guidance on tackling virus spread. More importantly we did not want to put at risk the health of any member of the cartooning community or their families”

The theme was ‘twenty twenty vision’ so the organising committee should’ve been visionary and seen Covid 19 coming!

In the meantime, here for your edification and delight, is a selection of optical illusionary cartoons selected by Roger that would’ve been part of the the Bear Steps Gallery exhibition. All drawn from/by the PCO fraternity.

In alphabetical order:

Cartoon © Nathan Ariss

Cartoon © Jeremy Banx

Cartoon © Rupet Besley

Cartoon © Andy Davey

Cartoon © Ian Baker

Cartoon © Neil Dishington

Cartoon © Pete Dredge

Cartoon © Tat Effby

Cartoon © Clive Goddard

Cartoon © James Griffiths

Cartoon © Jonesy

Cartoon © Kathryn Lamb

Cartoon © Chris Madden

Cartoon © Roger Penwill

Cartoon © Glenn Marshall

Cartoon © Ken Pyne

Cartoon © Royston Robertson

Cartoon © The Surreal McCoy

Cartoon © Wilbur Dawbarn

Cartoon © Kipper Williams

Cartoon © Noel Ford

This final cartoon is by the great Noel Ford (who I should really rechristen Noel Zord to keep alphabetic consistency) Sadly Noel died last year. He had been very involved with the festival since its inception and part of this year’s events was to be a retrospective exhibition of his wonderful work.

Thanks to Roger and all the others who’d put a lot of effort into preparation for this year’s jamboree, including Sarah Knapp, Tim King, Tat Effby, Jonathan Cusick and Jill Wild. Hopefully the Shrewsbury cartoon spectacle will be able to be rescheduled in the near future.

On Saturday I’ll be off to do my self-isolated vision themed big board in the garden….

Political Cartoon Awards 2019 – The Results

December 17, 2019 in Events, General, News

The winners! Peter Schrank standing in for Peter Brookes, Photo © Kasia Kowalska


Clive Goddard writes:

Another year of backslapping and mingling with strangers has been and gone at the glitzy Poltical Cartoon Awards. This time the whole event was forced to decamp from its usual palatial venue due to ‘the impending election’ causing everyone to cram into the offices of the sponsor over the road. The body heat generated by the assembled humans made the free, cold beer even more essential.

Veteran MPs, Kate Hoey and Ken Clarke had been dragged away from their respective sofas and selflessly agreed to miss Emmerdale in order to hand out the gongs, almost all of which went to the younger end of the cartooning spectrum. The winners, featuring a good showing from PCO members, were as follows:

Political Cartoon of the Year, 
Rebecca Hendin, The Guardian.

Runner up Politcal Cartoon of the Year, Ben Jennings, 
The Guardian.

Political Cartoonist of the Year
, Dave Brown, The Independent.

Runner-up
 Political Cartoonist of the Year, Peter Brookes, The Times.

Pocket Cartoon of the YearZoom Rockman, Private Eye.

Pocket Cartoonist of the Year
, Jeremy Banx, Financial Times.

Jeremy Banx says a few words, Photo © Ellwood Atfield

Cartoon Glenn Marshall meets Ken Clarke, Photo © Lord Lucan

Zoom Rockman meets Ken Clarke, Photo © Ellwood Atfield

Rebecca Hendin meets Ken Clarke, Photo © Ellwood Atfield

Brian Adcock meets Ken Clarke Photo © Donna Payne


The London Cartoon Show

August 10, 2019 in Events, General

Poster illustration by © Christopher Burke

Clive Goddard writes:

Coming very shortly to a library near you (if you live in, work in or are visiting that London): A free exhibition of cartoons on the theme of London, past and present, drawn by members of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation (PCO). Be it kings and queens, public executions, urban foxes, hideous modern architecture, even more hideous politicians, gin lane, homelessness, tourists, Sweeny Todd, Jack the Ripper, knife crime, Eastenders, Dick Whittington, Sherlock Holmes or any of the other sights, sounds, and smells related to England’s teeming capital you’ll find them here.

Cartoon by © Dave Brown for The Independent

The show features work by over 30 of the UK’s finest, funniest and most insightful cartoonists including Dave Brown of the Independent, Kipper Williams, creator of the Evening Standard’s London Calling cartoon strip, Martin Rowson of the Guardian and many regular contributors to Private Eye and the rest of the British press. 

Cartoon by © Martin Rowson

Signed originals and prints will be on sale at very reasonable prices.

10% of the proceeds from sales will be donated to the Mayors Fund for London.

The exhibition will include two ticketed events: 

London Calling.

A free talk with cartoonist Kipper Williams.

Thursday 22nd August 6-8 pm

Cartooning Workshop.

A free drawing workshop on the theme of travel by cartoonist Rob Duncan. 

Saturday 31st August 11.30 am – 1 pm. Ages 6 to adults.

Both events are free but spaces are limited so please book via charingcrosslibrary@westminster.gov.uk

Cartoon by © Pete Dredge

For a full list of exhibitors & price list for the works please email:

chair@procartoonists.org

Cartoon by © Ger Whyman

More details on Charing Cross Library websites.

Cartoon by © Jeremy Banx

NB Other parts of the UK are also available.

Herne Bay Cartoon Festival 2019 – Bumper bonus photo album!

August 9, 2019 in Events, General, News

The traditional festival team photo at the start of the day.

Last Sunday saw the annual live drawing event on the Herne Bay pier as part of the Cartoon Festival which this year was themed around the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Our chief PCO paparazzo Kasia Kowalska was dispatched to record that one small step for cartooning kind.

We open with some seaside postcard humour as The Independent’s Dave Brown displays his Boris (ooh err missus)

An effigy of him would be set upon by angry crowds later in the afternoon (Boris, NOT Dave Brown)

Cheeky painting by Martin Rowson.

Christopher Burke resurfaces the moon.

Kathryn Lamb’s big board lift off.

Sarah Boyce embarks on her premier Herne Bay space mission.

James Mellor, another big board debutant, tackles Earthexit.

Guy Venables also dipped his toenails into the Herne Bay Cartoon Festival for the first time.

Festival veteran – but still VERY young – Zoom Rockman drawing Skanky Seagulls.

My only criticism of the festival this year was that some of the boards had HUGE holes in them! I’m impressed by the way Des Buckley got round this by incorporating them into his drawing.

Royston Robertson showing that two heads are better than one in solving a nation divided (Photo trickery by Royston)

Nathan Ariss and Sarah Mann on the moon selfie. Ideally there should’ve been another hole for people to put their camera arms through.

Tim Harries questions the theory of spatial dimensions and relativistic physics.

The Surreal McCoy cunningly saves the moon theme for the final frame..

The FT pocket cartoonist Jeremy Banx doing a VERY large pocket.

PCO Treasurer Amy Amani and our Chair-moon (gerrit?) Clive Goddard proving their business acumen – get your board done and flog stuff.

Steve Way was quick off the launch pad in an attempt to be ready for kick off in the Charity Shield cup final.

Pete Dredge and Alex Hughes filling in their festival expenses forms while pretending to do some caricaturing.

Andrew ‘Dancing’ Shoes’ Birch, about to launch.

The man couldn’t stop dancing. Here he is on set at the fake moon landing location shoot pictured with dance partner local artist Gill Wilson.

Cecil B DeMarshall directing his movie epic (you can tell I haven’t got much real work on at the moment) aided by clapper board intern Ace Rockman and in the background festival organiser and soundtrack penny whistle foley artist Sue Austen.

Martin Rowson summoning the gulls to eat chips out of his balloon filled Boris…the lack of takers proving the seagulls of Herne Bay have their limits.

In scenes resembling Zombie Apocalypse members of the public then set about tearing apart the defenceless Mr Johnson!

In cahoots with festival honcho Steve ‘The Dry Iceman Cometh’ Coombs, Rowson then tried to entice the gulls into eating his Dominic Cummings saveloy.

Cummings was eventually devoured by festival regular Teddy the dog.

The customary end of day cartoonists carousel ride. Dredge, Rockman & Banx (sounds like a local accountancy firm)

Chris Burke, Dave Brown, Alex Hughes and Royston Robertson on their mounts.

That man Birch again plus Steve Coombs and Nathan Ariss in traditional cartoonists stetsons.

An out take from the earlier group shot where we tried to get Señor Birch to stand still for a second.

…not easy.

All photos by and copyright of Kasia Kowalska unless otherwise stated.

 

 

Air Show

July 31, 2019 in General

Back on planet earth, away from the lunar orbiting Herne Bay Cartoon Festival, Helen Wilde & Terry Sole are putting on an environment-flavoured exhibition on the theme of ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’ at  One New Street Gallery. As in previous years the exhibition is a mixture of art, cartoons, illustrations and the odd marshall.

There’s lots of art in the show and here are two pieces by the proprietors:

Dead Pen City by © Helen Wilde

Cartoonists in Herne Bay 2016 by © Terry Sole

There is also a good smattering of PCO members work including:

© Wilbur Dawbarn

© Zoom Rockman’s HUGE canvas of Hornsey Gas Holder.

,

© KJ Lamb

© Royston Roberston 

© Rupert Besley

© The Surreal McCoy

© Steve Jones (Jonesy)

© Des Buckley

…and of course no One New Street Gallery exhibition would be complete without a ©Banx cartoon that includes a penis.

Does your exhibition have its own jam?

‘A Breath of Fresh Air’ runs from 2nd August to 31st August. Open Fridays and Saturdays 11am to 5pm.

Book Marks exhibition

June 5, 2019 in Events, General, News

Poster cartoons by © Sarah Boyce, The Surreal McCoy & Noel Ford.

Clive Goddard writes:

An exhibition of cartoons on the theme of books, literature and libraries drawn by the UK’s finest and funniest cartoonists. Appropriately enough the show will be taking place at Westminster Reference Library from June 3rd to 22nd and is free to enter.

The show features work by over 30 members of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation (PCO) including a host of familiar cartoonists from the pages of The Guardian, The Independent, Private Eye and the rest of the British press, whose signed originals and prints will be on sale. For a list of exhibitors & price list for the works please email:

info@procartoonists.org

Cartoon by © Chris Madden.

Cartoon by © Jeremy Banx.

During the exhibition, on Saturday 15th June 2-4 pm, there will be a free drawing workshop run by cartoonist Zoom Rockman, creator of the Zoom comic and the Beano’s Skanky Pigeon strip as well as work in Private Eye magazine. This event is free and suitable for all ages but spaces are limited so booking is highly recommended via the Westminster Libraries website.

Cartoon by The Independent’s © Dave Brown

Cartoon by © Richard Jolley.

Westminster Reference Library can be found at: 35 St. Martin’s Street, London WC2H 7HP.D

Cartoon by The Guardian cartoonist © Martin Rowson

Private Eye cartoon by © Glenn Marshall

 

 

Rejection dejection

May 23, 2019 in Events, General

Photo ©  Mika Schick

The Surreal McCoy writes:

When you give a talk on rejection the main worry of course is that no one will turn up. Thankfully quite a few people did attend a recent evening entitled The Art Of Rejection hosted by three members of the PCO at Westminster Reference Library in central London.

The Surreal McCoy’s studio with walls papered with rejection slips. ©The Surreal McCoy.

Jeremy Banx, The Surreal McCoy and Glenn Marshall took to the library floor, sharing their rejected work and the ways in which they deal with this inevitable part of a creative person’s life. [Spoiler alert: they just keep drawing more cartoons.]

The Jeremy Banx take on the police line-up butchered chicken trope. ©Banx

 One audience member later quipped “it’s the start of a new way of working. Now I send all my drawings directly to the bin, which reduces anxiety and frees up valuable time.”

Glenn Marshall’s failed desperate attempt to avoid rejection.

Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival photo album

May 6, 2019 in Comment, Events, General, News

The ‘Plan B’ Shrewsbury Square. Photo © Tat Effby.

Glenn Marshall & Jonathan Cusick write:

With Storm Hannah due to roll in threatening rain and high winds the marquee company wouldn’t put up the festival’s gazebo roofing. Fear of airborne ‘para-boarding’ cartoonists made the festival organisers hastily arrange a Plan B for Saturday, which involved us decamping to the local Darwin Shopping Centre (every third business in Shrewsbury seems to contain the word Darwin)

A distant Steve Bell in front of a crowded audience. Photo © Jonathan Cusick.

Before that, on Friday evening Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell returned to the festival and spoke to a packed and enthusiastic crowd at the University Centre. Surveying his use of animals throughout his career, he picked out highlights including the penguin from his ‘If’ strip and ended with a few live drawings including his toilet-headed Trump. After twenty minutes of audience questions he signed copies of his latest book. A real treat for cartoon fans and definitely one of the highlights of the festival.

Saturday morning at John Cusick’s cartoon animal drawing workshop using exhibits from the Shrewsbury Museum collection. Photo © Jonathan Cusick.

Zoom Rockman cartoons stripped bare teaching how to draw his Skanky Pigeon character. Photo © Kate Lennard.

There were also well attended indoor talks by The Surreal McCoy and TWO by Clive Goddard (above) nothing to do with folk wanting to get out of the bad weather. Photo © Alison Patrick.

Meanwhile in the basement level of Darwin Shopping Centre dry and warm cartoonists began creating. Here Shrewsbury based cartoonist Tat Effby took to the big boards like a duck to water. Photo © Clive Goddard.

Luke Crump with one of his incredible ‘doodle style’ creations. Photo © Clive Goddard.

The Surreal McCoy hot-footed over from her ‘Wolf of Baghdad’ talk to fit in a board before hot-footing off again to join the ‘festival music ensemble’. Photo © Clive Goddard.

Jeremy Banx and Noel Ford mid-boards. Photo © Tat Effby.

Tim Harries & Rich Skipworth colouring in. Photos © Tat Effby.

John Landers’ snakes on a plain surface. Photo © Clive Goddard. 

Pete Dredge caricaturing Pa Marshall plus Jonathan Cusick really going with the animal theme. Photo © Tat Effby.

The 30 second rehearsal before the launch of The Shrewsbury Cartoon Players and Puppeteers inaugural performance of ‘The Animals Went In Two By Two’. Photo © Tat Effby. The Noah’s Ark was ironically moved indoors even though it would’ve been perfectly suited to the biblical weather conditions.

Royston Robertson featuring in the festival write-up in the Shropshire Star.

The festival produced a book of the ‘Drawn To Be Wild’ exhibition cartoons which is still available here price £9.95 + postage.

Thanks to all the organisers and sponsors for another successful festival that went down a storm.

Portrait of the Not The National Portrait Gallery exhibition

October 3, 2018 in Events, General

Photo © Glenn Marshall

Clive Goddard writes:

I’m not sure how you measure these things in any meaningful way but I’m going to confidently declare that the PCO’s #NotTheNPG caricature exhibition at Charing Cross library was a complete triumph. For a start, the location was excellent, being in an area of central London visited by art loving tourists and now, thanks to the collective funds and effort of the  membership, kitted out as a proper gallery space with hanging facilities and frames which we can use again.

Poster featuring caricatures by Wilbur Dawbarn, Jonesy, Andy Davey and Simon Ellinas.

We could, I suppose, measure the show’s success in terms of the members’ response to the call for submissions. 47 different people had their work shown which added up to around 130 pieces on the walls (and tables and floor), whittled down in a painfully difficult process from over 300 submissions.


Photo © Jeremy Banx


How else to measure it? Well, people turned up. Not in their thousands, of course because it was a cartoon exhibition not a recording of the X Factor, but in sufficient numbers to make it worth doing and to stop the invigilators from sloping off to the pub. We were plugged in both Private Eye and The Evening Standard which certainly helped raise the show’s profile. And those that visited the show really liked it. The comments book was full of very complimentary things and there were plenty of encouraging words exhanged, too. It was also great to hear a lot of audible laughter coming from the visitors which made a pleasant change in the normally po-faced environment of an art gallery. Tate Modern really frowns upon people chuckling at their exhibits as I once discovered to my cost at a Turner Prize show.

Preview piece in The Evening Standard.

Better still, we sold stuff. Prints and originals on the walls quickly attracted those lovely little red dots which translated into total sales of nearly £3,000. This included a couple of hundred which the invigilators earned by selling more of their own work out of a grubby suitcase beneath the table.

Jeremy Banx, Christopher Burke and Steve Way at the Private View. Photo © Mika Schick.

The events were a great success too. The private view was well attended by many cartoonists, art editors and collectors most of whom behaved impeccably and didn’t get too drunk. Unfortunately Damian Hirst, Jeremy Corbyn, Boris Johnson and the other caricature victims on display, though cordially invited, were unable to attend due to some pathetic reason or other. I don’t know – they didn’t RSVP. 

Helen Pointer workshop. Photo © The Surreal McCoy

Helen Pointer’s caricaturing workshop went down a storm, attracting a full table of happy punters eager to learn and to try their hand/s at the dark art.

The panel discussion. 

The panel discussion featuring PCO heavyweights* Martin Rowson, Andy Davey, Rebecca Hendin, John Roberts and Chris Burke was a sell out**. Different perspectives on working practices and processes were shared and there was a dialogue between people working in slightly differing, yet overlapping, adjacent fields, ie: portraiture through a lens that included everything from event caricature to political cartooning to illustration gave a welcome broad perspective. And, again, most people behaved very well throughout.

The clash of the hairdos. Photo © Glenn Marshall

So now that it’s all over and Uncle Glenn has de-framed everyone’s work and is trying to find the SAEs they came with, we start thinking about the next one. Today Charing Cross, tomorrow the world!

Major thanks to everyone concerned.

Clive Goddard

PCO Chair-human

* In terms of talent not body mass index.
** In terms of numbers not principles.