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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.

Profile photo of Royston

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

More British cartoon talent

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival – Ralph Steadman on Martin Amis

April 11, 2008 in General


Among the exhibits in the caricature show at this year’s Shrewsbury cartoon festival is this drawing of author Martin Amis by Ralph Steadman.
British cartoon talent

Shrewsbury Festival events – the art of reverse caricature

April 6, 2008 in General


Caricature is the art of exaggerating the features of the face while retaining the identity of the person being drawn. Reverse caricaturing is the art of giving someone the body they may, or may not, desire. Here, one of the PCO’s patrons, Libby Purves, gets reinvented as a bunny girl.
British cartoon talent

PCO Artist of the Month – Dave Gaskill

March 14, 2008 in General


A second offering of cartoon, illustration and caricature from PCO Artist of the Month – Dave Gaskill. Bloghorn says click G for Gaskill
British cartoon talent

PCO Procartoonists – Where creativity comes from – part 1

January 28, 2008 in General

PCOer John Roberts writes;

I was telephoned before Christmas by a very enthusiastic young lady telling me that she worked for a television production company. She told me she thought a caricaturist was something that they were looking for.

A caricature of Nicole Kidman by PCO member John Roberts

Her company had been commissioned to set up a series of programmes to be transmitted on a new BBC reality-TV talent show called Upstaged where participants “should try to entertain the public for up to 8 hours.” Excuse me, I said, did you say “entertain the public for up to 8 hours?” Yes, that’s right” she said “very exciting idea isn’t it? The public will look at the various ‘acts’ day by day and vote on which ones will be put into a head-to-head playoff in two large glass studios in the centre of Bristol at the end of each week. And all to see which act is the more entertaining.”

It is possible I may have turned down a great opportunity but I feel I’ve retained what’s left of my dignity.

Bloghorn says click R for Roberts.

British cartoon talent

Profile photo of Royston

by Royston

Cartoon exhibition: Robert Dighton

January 9, 2008 in General

An exhibition entitled Robert Dighton: Georgian Caricaturist, Actor and Thief is at The Cartoon Museum in London from January 23 to April 20.


Dighton (1751-1814) was a colourful character who for a time combined a career as an actor in the West End with that of artist and printseller, producing caricatures of the London celebrities of the day.

This exhibition of 80 of his original caricatures of celebrities and nonentities, the rich and the poor, provides an insight into the life of Georgian London. They range from Bill Richmond the famous black boxer, sportsman, innkeeper and promoter, to Martha Gunn who supplied bathing machines and prostitutes to the upper classes on their visits to fashionable Brighton. Dighton also drew the tailors, actors, academics and down-at-heel types who could be found on any street.

At the turn of the century he achieved notoriety for stealing and selling prints which he had quietly stolen from the British Museum.

The exhibition will also include some examples by his sons and grandsons who carried on the tradition of caricature.

The museum is at at 35 Little Russell Street, London WC1A 2HH and is open Tue-Sat, 10.30am-5.30pm, Sun 12pm-5.30. Admission £4/ £3. Free to Students and under 18s.

British cartoon talent

BBC man Andrew Marr is new PCO patron

December 18, 2007 in General


News of an early christmas present for the PCO as Bloghorn can report that TV’s Andrew Marr has signed up as one of our patrons. We don’t hand these honours out lightly and as he’s got to follow the late great Alan Coren, perhaps we should be extending sympathy to the poor man too. But, welcome aboard Mr Marr, we and our other patron, Libby Purves, are most pleased to have you.
19th December 2007
British cartoon talent