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John Jensen 1930-2018

July 6, 2018 in General, News

John with a ‘selfie’ which he did for an exhibition at the cartoon archive, Kent University. Photo © Pat Jensen

Sadly, it has been reported that John Jensen has passed away at the sprightly age of 88. John was a well respected and fondly thought of member of the cartoon community. He was a supreme and very versatile draughtsman.

 John was born in Sydney in 1930, the son of the cartoonist Jack Gibson (he took his stepfather’s surname in the 40’s)  In 1946 he studied at the Julian Ashton Art School, Sydney. His first cartoon was published in the Sydney Sun in 1946, and he then began contributing cartoons to various Australian publications.

John in Birmingham, 1953, Photo © Pat Jensen

In 1950 John worked his way to England on a cargo ship, and briefly became an actors’ dresser at London’s Piccadilly Theatre, before becoming a cartoonist full-time. From 1951 to 1956 he drew cartoons, caricatures and illustrations for the Birmingham Gazette and then for various publications in Glasgow including Scotnews, The Glasgow Bulletin and daily pocket cartoons for the Glasgow Evening Times.

Illustration of French cellist Paul Tortelier, © John Jensen

John had his first cartoon in Punch magazine in 1953 but became a Punch regular in the 70’s, prolifically drawing cartoons, illustrations and caricatures. He writes here about his memories of Punch.

Caricatures of Samuel Beckett & Joan Collins © John Jensen

He was also the theatre caricaturist for Tatler, and social cartoonist for The Spectator. He drew a strip for the short-lived Now magazine and on top of this he was the political cartoonist for The Sunday Telegraph from 1961-79 (he was one of the very first political cartoonists to work in colour.) Over this long career John has illustrated around 70 books.

From his  ‘Figures of Speech’ collection © John Jensen

John was a founder member and Chairman of the British Cartoonists’ Association, and of the Cartoon Art Trust. In 2002 he was given a ‘Grinny’ Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nottingham Cartoon Festival. During his time as a member of the PCO he regularly wrote for and featured on this blog.

Receiving his ‘Grinny’ award (pictured with Dave Follows), Photo © Pete Dredge

John was a regular at cartoon festivals and on one trip to New York ended up at the celebration dinner where Marylin Monroe sang ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ to JFK. On a visit to Cuba in the 60’s he also endured one of Castro’s extremely long speeches.

Among the many anecdotes circulating about John over the past week I particularly enjoyed this one from the wonderful cartoonist Kevin ‘Kal’ Kallaugher:

‘Back in the 1980’s while I was still living un the UK I had arranged to meet John for a pint one lunchtime. When he arrived to the pub, I noted that he had a brace on one of his wrist which made his hand quite incapacitated. I was immediately concerned that this might be his drawing hand and that the brace might have consequences on his freelance career. When I raised this question with him, he shrugged it off.

“I just draw with the other hand” he said.

When I pursued this further I learned to my astonishment that John used both hands to draw his cartoons. He explained that each hand had a personality. His left hand (as I recall) was the imaginative, loose artistic hand and his right hand was the more technical and exacting hand. He would often do his conceptual sketches with the left and finish off the art with his right. Later he showed me samples of his cartoons that had contrasting styles which he explained was due to the amount of time one hand spent rendering over the other.

Soon afterwards, I wrote an article for a scholarly US cartoon related periodical called Target, where I interviewed John pointed out his amazing bi-manual drafting skills and displayed his work. Throughout the exercise, John was characteristically polite and kind…but still really did not quite see what all the fuss was about. This after all seemed quite ordinary to him.

This may have been ordinary to him, but to me John Jensen and his cartoons will always remain extra-ordinary’.

Mozart cartoon © John Jensen

More of John’s work can be found on his website.

A favourite family memory of John is how he could never resist an ice cream © Pat Jensen

Our sympathies go to John’s wife Pat and his family and friends.

I’m indebted to the British Cartoon Archive for much of the biographical detail.

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by Royston

Herne Bay Cartoon Festival approaches

July 1, 2015 in Events, General, News

Herne Bay Cartoon Festival poster by Jeremy Banx

With the scorching hot weather we’re having, it’s a good time to think about planning a trip to the seaside. And Herne Bay in Kent is just the place to go.

The third Herne Bay Cartoon Festival begins later this month with an exhibition called Lines in the Sand opening at the Beach Creative gallery on 28 July. As you can see from the excellent poster above, by Procartoonists.org member Jeremy Banx, there will also be a live cartooning day in the Bandstand on the sea front once again, with big board cartoons, caricatures, and a few surprises. That takes place on Sunday 2 August.

This year there will also be an exhibition of cartoons from the British Cartoon Archive, on the history of cartoons and people taking offence at them, as well as a show in tribute to the late Martin Honeysett, who exhibited and appeared at the first two Herne Bay cartoon events.

This year’s event builds on the success of the first one, when it was part of a Marcel Duchamp celebration, and last year’s standalone Cartoonists Beside the Surrealside. It sponsored by the PCO and supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

We’ll have more on the festival nearer the time. Meanwhile, you can seen lots more PCO coverage of the previous two events, including great videos by David Good, in the Herne Bay archive.

Tales from Herne Bay

August 9, 2013 in Events, General, News

Cartoonist_Ralph_Steadman_and_Karol_Steele_meet_Duchamp_in_Herne_Bay@_procartoonists.org

Ralph Steadman and Karol Steele finally meet at Duchamp in Herne Bay Photograph: © Andy Steele @ Procartoonists.org

Photographer Kasia Kowalska writes:

It was 30 years ago that Ralph Steadmancame to give a talk on cartoon drawing and political satire at The University of Kent.

At that time the British Cartoon Archive was still a fledgling. After the talk, Ralph gave a practical presentation on political caricatures by drawing members of the audience.

A young student Karol Steele was in the audience that day. She dearly wished to speak to Steadman but in spite of her friends’ encouragement, she hid in the back paralysed by most crippling shyness. She always regretted it bitterly.

And so passed 30 years and the much admired artist was due to pay a visit to Herne Bay during the Duchamp Festival. Karol was determined not to let the opportunity pass her for the second time!

Full of hope and anticipation she came to the Bandstand on 3rd August in search of her hero.

When we spoke she reflected that “most of the truly embarrassing things that can happen to a person already have happened” to her so there was nothing left but to pluck up the courage and make amends for her shyness of her student days.

Having heard this story early in the day and realising we were both alumni of the same university, I was keen to help her and promised to look out for her and let her know when Ralph Steadman would arrive at the Bandstand. And so it came to pass that I was lucky enough to find her in the buzzing crowd and point her in the direction of the artist.

She found him a most generous and obliging man who listened to her story with avid interest and who, without hesitation, agreed to draw a picture for her.

“30 years of regret wiped out in 10 minutes!” said Karol clutching a splendid drawing of herself and her husband. Even the family dog was immortalised and included in the artwork.

Ralph_Steadman_for_Karol_Steele_@_procartoonists_org

Extracted from a drawing by Ralph Steadman for Karol Steele @ Procartoonists.org

I believe Karol got over her shyness. She will be starring in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury in September.

Ed adds: Thanks to Kasia for the news, the photograph and for a heart-warming story to end the week. Good luck to Karol for her upcoming show.

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Cartoonists at the Olympics

June 5, 2012 in Events, News

“]Cartoon by NEB

"It's not that I really mind getting wet – only my glasses get steamed up so." (Cartoon by NEB)

The exhibition Cartoonists at the Olympics, featuring work from the British Cartoon Archive selected by community sporting groups, opens this weekend.

It features Olympics cartoons from years gone by, including this 1948 Daily Mail cartoon about the Games in London that year by Ronald Niebour, who drew as NEB. On the evidence of the Diamond Jubilee weekend this could be a prediction of more “weather events” at this year’s Olympics.

The exhibition can be seen a the Herne Bay Museum and Gallery in Kent. The British Cartoon Archive is based in nearby Canterbury at the University of Kent’s Templeman Library. It opens this Saturday and runs until September 2. Admission, which includes entry to the museum, is £2.

Welcome back to ‘obscene’ postcards

September 23, 2011 in Comment, News

Bob Wilkin postcardBloghorn is pleased to report the recent Margate cartoon postcard exhibition will be back on display in the British Cartoon Archive Gallery, at the University of Kent, from 24 September. This time it will run for six weeks.

The original exhibition ran for only ten days but will get a longer run in nearby Canterbury.

Details here and you can read the original report on Bloghorn here.

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Obscene postcards? You be the judge

July 18, 2011 in Events

Saucy postcard by Bob Wilkin
An exhibition of seaside postcards that were banned by local councils in the 1950s opens in Margate this week.

I Wish I Could See My Little Willy named after a postcard by Bob Wilkin, above, enraged the authorities in the prudish post war years. The show is being held at the Pie Factory gallery, opposite Margate’s old magistrate’s court where the publishers of the day would have been prosecuted.

Across the country the authorities confiscated and destroyed thousands of ‘‘saucy’’ postcards as they feared that that the nation’s morals were in decline after the Second World War.

The free exhibition, which opens on July 23 and runs until August 2, is held in conjunction with the British Cartoon Archive, which has been digitising the postcards and putting them online, along with their associated obscene publications index cards, as seen above.

Nick Hiley of the British Cartoon Archive, which is based at the University of Kent in nearby Canterbury, told Bloghorn:

‘‘We are organising the exhibition with the Dreamland Trust in Margate. I will be giving a talk in the magistrates’ court where the cards were condemned — they have a wonderful witness box on casters that I hope to lecture from.’’

The old court is now the Margate Musuem. The talk is at 2pm on July 30. The organisers are hoping to follow it with an airing of the Radio 4 play Getting The Joke by Neil Brand (BBC permission pending). It tells the story of the trial of Donald McGill, acknowledged master of the saucy postcard, in 1953.

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Cartoon coasts along for 30 years

June 7, 2011 in News

Postcard cartoon by Rupert Besley

Cartoons are inextricably linked to the seaside, so it was no surprise that when the new series of BBC Two’s Coast headed to Margate for a piece on the heyday of seaside landladies, they chose to illustrate that with a cartoon postcard.

Being very well looked after, detail above, by Rupert Besley, a member of the PCO, which runs the Bloghorn, was featured to illustrate the stereotype “battleaxe” and her endless lists of rules.

For Rupert, who has drawn hundreds of postcards, almost all for the holiday trade, national TV exposure was a mixed blessing, as the cartoon they chose was drawn more than 30 years ago. Rupert told the Bloghorn:

“If you’re lucky enough to get a cartoon taken up for use in a television programme, it does seem a bit mealy-mouthed then to start complaining about the one selected, given the choice available. But which would you rather have fill the screen, a recent cartoon that you were secretly quite pleased with or something done more than 30 years back, an early hamfisted attempt at a cartoon? Well, they said they’d pay me, so I won’t go on about it.”

Bloghorn will gloss over Rupert’s comments – the typical insecurity of the cartoonist! – and say it’s a great cartoon, perfectly illustrating the subject matter at hand.

You can see more seaside postcards in Margate in July, when a selection those digitised by the British Cartoon Archive goes on show. Bloghorn will have more on this nearer the time.

Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival 2011

April 14, 2011 in Events, News

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival kicks off tonight with a drop-in cartoon workshop at the Bear Steps Gallery at 4.30pm, and a talk by Dr Nick Hiley from the British Cartoon Archive on the cartoons of Carl Giles at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery at 7pm, tickets £5.

In the meantime, the exhibition Personal Bests opened on Monday (also at the Bear Steps Gallery) and features cartoons on the Festival’s Olympic theme, including these:

Bloghorn Shrewsbury 2011 Olympics cartoon © Pete Dredge

Bloghorn Shrewsbury 2011 Olympics cartoon © Chichi Parish

Bloghorn Shrewsbury 2011 Olympics cartoon © Noel Ford
Bloghorn Shrewsbury 2011 Olympics cartoon © Royston Robertson

 

Come back to Bloghorn for coverage of the festival as it happens, or follow the hashtag #shrews11 on Twitter.

 

Making the Giles cartoon exhibition

November 6, 2008 in General


This cartoon courtesy of the Cartoon Museum, the University of Kent and the trustees of the Giles collection.

Bloghorn interviews Nick Hiley, curator of the exhibition Giles: One of the Family which is now on at the Cartoon Museum in central London.

Who had the original idea for a Giles retrospective?

As soon as the Giles collection arrived at the British Cartoon Archive in 2005 it was clear that we needed to celebrate with a London exhibition, and the Cartoon Museum was the most appropriate place to hold it. We have spent the last eighteen months cataloguing and digitising Giles’ enormous collection of artwork, correspondence, and ephemera. This exhibition puts on display some of the things we have found.

How long has it taken to put the Giles exhibition together?

In a sense it has taken five years, as it was in 2003 that we began looking at the possibility of giving the Giles collection a permanent home in Canterbury, and making it accessible to the public and to researchers. The collection was in storage for ten years after Giles’ death in 1995, and it was always our aim to make the artwork available for exhibition and display once it reached the British Cartoon Archive. The actual exhibition planning and selection, and the writing of the catalogue, took about six months.

How did the University of Kent get involved?

We’ve been interested in the Giles collection for a long time. The University’s cartoon archive was set up in 1973, and after Giles’ death in 1995 the archivist approached the Cartoon Trustees, to whom Giles left his collection, with the suggestion that his artwork should come to Kent. At the time they had hopes that the collection might remain in East Anglia, where Giles lived and worked, but when we approached them again they were happy to donate the collection to us. A second exhibition – “Giles: Drawn to Suffolk” – is opening in Ipswich on November 8, and we do hope that a permanent display of Giles material may one day be established in Ipswich, where he had a studio for many years.

What does promoting the work of a cartoonist who has died achieve?

I hope that it brings the enjoyment of his work to new audiences, and gives existing fans a new insight into how he worked, by displaying his original artwork. Giles’ correspondence does include letters from other cartoonists and illustrators, expressing admiration for the way that he could arrange complex scenes in a simple visual way, so I hope that present-day cartoonists can learn something from seeing his work. He could draw cartoons of the Family where there is action across the whole frame, or on different floors of the house, but the focus is never lost.

What would Giles have seen if he was watching the last-minute preparations for the show?

He would probably have laughed a lot, and grumbled a lot as well. He would laugh because we reconstructed his studio, using all the easels, paints, pencils, etc. which came with the collection, even down to his glasses and his cardigan on the back of his chair. I’m sure he would tell us we had got it all in the wrong place! He would undoubtedly grumble, because he never liked his original artwork, partly because he was a perfectionist and partly because he regarded the printed cartoon as the finished work. His originals were drawn for reduction, and he thought that by comparison with the printed version they looked as if they had been “drawn with an umbrella”! They don’t seem like that to me, but to show that they are part of a reproductive process we have used specially made frames that show the whole artwork, including Giles’ notes and the blockmaker’s scribbles in the margins.

Visit the Cartoon Museum

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

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Cartoon exhibition: Giles – One of the Family

November 5, 2008 in News

Original artwork by Carl Giles. Click to enlarge

The exhibition Giles: One of the Family opens today (November 5) at the Cartoon Museum in London. It showcases the work of Carl Giles (1916-1995), the most famous cartoonist of his generation.

Born in Islington, London, during the First World War, Giles joined the Daily Express in 1943 where he would create his quintessentially British “Giles Family”. For many people his cartoons capture British life in microcosm. Giles was voted Britain’s Favourite Cartoonist of the 20th century in a 2000 poll.

In 2005 – ten years after his death – the complete Giles collection passed to the British Cartoon Archive at the University of Kent. The material in the exhibition is drawn entirely from the 6,000 original drawings (dating from the 1940s to the 1990s), 1,500 prints, tens of thousands of letters, documents, films and ephemera together with the contents of his studio held at the Archive.

For more information on the Giles Collection or the British Cartoon Archive go to: www.cartoons.ac.uk

A catalogue of the exhibition published by the British Cartoon Archive is available for £25.

The Cartoon Museum, Little Russell Street, London, is open: Tues-Sat, 10.30am-5.30pm and Sun 12pm-5.30pm. Admission: Adults £4, Concessions £3, Free to Under 18s and students.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent