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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.

Budding cartoonists take note

October 2, 2014 in Events, General, News

Young Cartoonists of the Year flyer

Now is the time to get entries in for the annual Young Cartoonists of the Year Competition. See above for details.

The contest is organised by our sister organisation the British Cartoonists’ Association with the Cartoon Art Trust, which runs the Cartoon Museum. The closing date is 10 November — so get drawing, young people!

Quentin Blake cartoon for The Big Draw

In other drawing news: It’s October, which means that the The Big Draw, the world’s largest drawing festival, is now under way. (Cartoon above © Quentin Blake.)

You can get details on events taking place around the country at the Big Draw website and you can see the very latest by following them on Twitter.

This year’s event was launched at the V&A Museum of Childhood in London. The Guardian has is running a drawing competition in association with the festival.

The Campaign for Drawing, which runs The Big Draw is also organising another Battle of the Cartoonists banner competition. Procartoonists.org teams have taken part in this many times in the past (here’s the last one), competing against teams from various newspapers and magazines.

This year’s event is on 23 November at the Electricians Shop gallery in Trinity Buoy Wharf, east London. We’ll have more on that nearer the time.

Young Cartoonist of the Year 2013

October 3, 2013 in Events, General, News

 

Will McPhail cartoon @procartoonists.org

© Will McPhail cartoon @procartoonists.org

We are particularly pleased to say that one of our members has won the annual award although none of our membership were too surprised.

Hearty congratulations go to Will McPhail who secured the under 30 years prize from our friends at the British Cartoonists’ Association and The Cartoon Museum.

Harry McSweeney carried off the under 18 years prize for this natty observation on the human condition.

Cartoon: Harry McSweeney Young cartoonist of the Year 2013 @procartoonists.org

© Harry McSweeney Young cartoonist of the Year 2013 @procartoonists.org

Harry told us:

He was especially chuffed that he had beaten such a lot of entries and the £250 was the icing on the cake. The congratulations letter from Martin Rowson really appealed to Harry’s sense of humour. He was made to feel very special at the awards ceremony and he enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame. He appreciated the advice he received from the professional cartoonists, mostly  to keep on drawing! He especially took on board the advice from Will McPhaill who having made it as an artist/cartoonist which would be Harry’s dream job. They shared a comedy moment on the podium with a mix up with winners certificates (Harry feeling he had the better deal receiving the Under 30 certificate which will last him another 16 years!)

This whole experience has definitely boosted his confidence and encouraged him to keep on drawing.As one former Punch cartoonist told him getting in to bother at school for doodling, never did him any harm! 

It’s good to see our fine old trade being renewed in this way and so we also tip our hats to the Spectator magazine which has also dipped a toe in the murky waters of running cartoon competitions. This undertaking is supported by John Lobb, the bootmaker which may be handy in the event of an online kicking.

If you would like some evidence about the challenges of running a public competition, you can read all about Cartoon Idol of recent years past or some lively public comment about the Spectator’s latest prize offering over at the public forum of the Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain.

The Round-up

September 1, 2013 in Events, General, Links, News

© Stanley Franklin @Procartoonists.org

Cartoons of Margaret Thatcher – including The Pit and The Pendulum by Stanley Franklin, above, has been showing at Leeds Gallery over the summer. Read a review of the exhibition here.

The British Cartoonists’ Association is on the lookout once again for Young Cartoonists of the Year and will now also accept digitally produced artwork (although a hard copy must be submitted). Find out more about how to enter the contest here.

Artwork from Procartoonists.org member Hunt Emerson‘s adaptations of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Frankenstein will be exhibited by The Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, Cumbria, for one month from 4 October. Read more at downthetubes.net.

Procartoonists.org member Steve Bell discusses his depictions of US presidents in this audio interview and transcript.

Those interested in going behind the scenes with cartoonists and illustrators should check out both The Tools Artists Use and 20 Questions With Cartoonists.

The Oldie, one of the most high-profile markets for UK gag cartoonists, has reached 300 issues. Richard Ingrams, founder of the magazine and former editor of Private Eye, looks back on his time with both organs in this piece from The Telegraph. A new Oldie Book of Cartoons is released next month.

Also due to land on bookshelves and coffee tables in September is Private Eye: A Cartoon History. Edited by longtime Eye man Nick Newman, the book will feature more than 1,000 gags from the past 50 years. It certainly looks jam-packed, if these sample pages are anything to go by.

Ed adds: Late entry from Sarah McIntyre, aka @Jabberworks, at the Telegraph: Comic adventures for kids of all ages.

Young Cartoonists of the Year 2012

December 6, 2012 in Events, General, News

The results of the competition are in and Procartoonists sends congratulations to Saffie Patel and Lawrence Lamborn for their awards in the two categories run by The Cartoon Museum and our sister organsation the British Cartoonists’ Association. You can enjoy their winning work below. A cheerful selection of cartoons by the runners-up is now also available at the museum’s own website. This selection includes a particularly splendid  Mule Log, if you enjoy puns.

Saffie_Patel_Young_cartoonist_winner_2012 @ procartoonists.org

© Saffie Patel Young Cartoonist Winner 2012 - Under 18 years category @ procartoonists.org

You can also read the background to the event and get a dash of the controversy surrounding the criteria for entry here.

Lawrence_Lamborn_Young_Cartoonist_winner_2012

© Lawrence Lamborn Young Cartoonist winner 2012 - Under 30 years category

Opinion: The Young Cartoonists of the Year 2012

October 25, 2012 in Comment, Events, General

Alison_Sampson_@_Procartoonists.org

We recently published details of the annual Young Cartoonists of the Year awards, run by our sister organisation the British Cartoonists’ Association. We received a large reaction from readers which included this piece of opinion from cartoonist Alison Sampson.

You should know that fairly recently I picked up a pen again, not least because of the work of the Professional Cartoonists Organisation – and thankfully, the internet.

We publish her reaction to the competition below:

I am 12. I am just leaving the old hen hut where we keep and read the tattered, second-hand comics our mum buys from jumble sales. We have 2000AD, Valiant, Victor and Misty. Also in the hut are my felt pens and the printer’s offcuts I have to draw on. I like drawing. I can’t imagine a life without it.

As I’m passing through the door, I wonder how could I do this for the rest of my life and think through the options. All I can think of are jobs as a newspaper cartoonist, or working for Private Eye. All our comics are old and it doesn’t occur to me anyone draws them. I dismiss the option. All those jobs are full, with the people who are doing them. A couple of years later I see Posy Simmonds’ work in the newspaper and my heart breaks. I wish I could have a job like that.

Later I will work as a perspective artist for a local construction company and go to university to read architecture. I will not draw for myself again, or look at a comic, for twenty-plus years. Fast forwarding to now, imagine my disappointment on seeing that the apogee of cartooning, as represented by the judges list for the BCA Young Cartoonists prize, is still entirely composed of newspaper cartoonists.

I now know that there were are other forms of cartooning: comic books, web comics, posters and so on. Not everybody knows this. The competition is an important way of reaching out to those outside the circle. The judges list should represent the profession, not just one exclusive segment, no matter how skilled. This would help in informing other young cartoonists that their work is worth persevering with, and that it has a future.

She added:

 I also do not want to cast aspersions on any of the work of the judges or the BCA. However, not everyone has been, or will be so lucky as to know about the possibilities for cartooning, and my getting back into it was only by accident. When I saw the competition, I had to remind myself I was too old, despite thinking of myself as the youngest of the young cartoonists, I am just starting at the age of 42.

You can find Alison’s own work here and read some in the collection – Solipsistic Pop.

Editor adds: We’d like to thank Alison for taking the time to write about this and we welcome your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Young Cartoonists of the Year 2012

October 17, 2012 in Events, General, News

Our colleagues at the British Cartoonists’ Association have launched their annual Young Cartoonists of the Year competition. Details as below and applications to the UK’s Cartoon Museum by 7 November. Hop to it!

UK_ Young_Cartoonist_of_the_Year_2012 @ procartoonists.org

Young Cartoonist of the Year competition for 2012 @ Procartoonists.org

And have a look back at one of last year’s winners.

Profile photo of Royston

by Royston

Young cartoonists: get drawing

November 1, 2010 in General, News

Young Cartoonist cartoon by MacBudding cartoonists take note: the Cartoon Art Trust, which runs the Cartoon Museum in London, is looking for entries for this year’s Young Cartoonists of the Year competition.

Cartoons are required for the under-30 and under-18 categories, and the closing date is looming: November 15, 2010. The winners will receive their awards at the 16th Cartoon Art Trust Awards at The Mall Galleries on December 2. The competition is run by the CAT in association with the British Cartoonists’ Association, sister organisation of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation which runs the Bloghorn.

PCO chairman Andy Davey will be a judge, alongside Martin Rowson, chairman of the BCA, Oliver Preston, chairman of the CAT, and the cartoonists Banx, Steve Bell, Peter Brookes, Dave Brown, Bill Caldwell, Mac (cartoon above), Matt, Nick Newman and Paul Thomas.

Only one cartoon per entrant is permitted, in colour or black and white, drawn freehand to a maximum size of A4. Original artwork only.

Please send your entries to: Young Cartoonists of the Year Award, Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London WC1A 2HH. For more, visit the Cartoon Museum website.

Cuts campaign has its Arts about face

September 13, 2010 in News

Bloghorn Opinion logo
Bloghorn was greatly amused by the recent launch of a campaign to save the arts from the forthcoming cuts in UK public spending.

But we find it deeply ironic that Arts Council England – which has organised the Save the Arts campaign via its Turning Point Network – is choosing to launch it with a piece of cartoon animation.

If the Arts Council hadn’t spent years refusing to help the activities of organisations representing the business of cartooning, we might even take the campaign seriously.

But it has consistently refused to help fund the national Cartoon Museum and many other events and activities run by professional organisations representing our trade and its artform.

If the Arts Council finds that it is now looking at doing its work with minimal funds we can only say this: Welcome to our world.

Bloghorn’s sponsor, The Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation and our sister group, The British Cartoonists’ Association, represent the best living practitioners of the vulgar commerce of drawing.

We both, more than most, appreciate the irony of the elite national arts organisation stooping to the healthy filth of the cartoon when it needs a spot of urgent, eye-catching communication.

We just wish its present interest in cartoons wasn’t so blatantly short-term and desperate.

We might even have been able to help with the campaign – if only the Arts Council had deigned to help us.

It wouldn’t be before time.

Bloghorn says if you have views on this issue please add them in our comments section below. We do moderate comments.

Profile photo of Royston

by Royston

Cartoonists' Club celebrates 50 years

March 22, 2010 in News


The Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain is 50 years old next week.

Members will be celebrating this weekend in a pub which stands on the site of The Feathers, just off London’s Fleet Street. This is where the CCGB was launched at 2pm on April Fool’s Day – appropriately enough for cartoonists! – in 1960.

The CCGB, like the British Cartoonists’ Association, is a social club for cartoonists and their families. Many members of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation, which runs Bloghorn, are also members of the CCGB and/or the BCA.

Bloghorn wishes the Cartoonists’ Club a very happy birthday.

Link: The Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain