You are browsing the archive for cartoonists.

Herne Bay Cartoon Festival Sets Sail Again

July 3, 2021 in Comment, Events, General, News

Herne Bay Cartoon Festival is back this year. We weren’t able to gather in 2020 for obvious reasons, and when we meet again this summer we will sadly be missing some friends including festival co-organiser Steve Coombes who passed away last December. His tireless enthusiasm and joi de vivre will be missed so much at the festival. Here is a wonderful tribute to Steve that appeared in The Guardian by his partner Sue Austen. Sue ran the festival with Steve since it started in 2013 and she is at the helm this year.

Caricature of Steve Coombes on the Herne Bay Pier carousel by © Dave Brown

This year’s title and theme is Herne Bay Cartoon Festival Takes to the Waves. We are expecting a flood of cartoons about the oceans with the kind of jokes we have come to expect from our cartoonist contributors. (See Royston Robertson‘s fabulous poster for examples)  Our exhibition of new work and old jokes will be open at Beach Creative, Beach Street, Herne Bay, CT6 5PT from 23 July until 19 August.

Cartooning Live will once again be on Herne Bay Pier on Sunday 1 August from 12 noon. Amongst those involved are PCO members Martin Rowson, Rob Murray, Clive Goddard, The Surreal McCoy, Jeremy Banx, Chris Burke, Kathryn Lamb, Alex Hughes, James Mellor, Des Buckley, Guy Venables, poster boy Royston Robertson plus last and least Glenn Marshall.

And there will be an exhibition of the popular Daily Express cartoonist Giles at The Seaside Museum, 12 William Street, Herne Bay, CT6 5EJ open from 10 July to 7 August. In 2020 the Giles Family celebrated its 75thanniversary. We had planned an exhibition last year in collaboration with the The British Cartoon Archive at the University of Kent. So, a year later, we are presenting The Giles Family Holiday at Home. From the start the family enjoyed many holidays together and days out. So, in a year when we are all encouraged to take a ‘staycation’ our exhibition explores some of the joys of the British seaside holiday, whatever the weather!

On Saturday 31 July 2.00pm at Beach Creative there will be ‘Raise Three Fingers for Myanmar’. It’ll be a workshop run by The Surreal McCoy for all the family to create a wall of three finger salutes in support of the people of Myanmar.

Interview with Myanmar cartoonists

July 1, 2021 in General

A military coup on February 1st of this year has returned the southeast Asian country of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) back to full military rule. After the election in November 2020 was won by the National League For Democracy in a landslide victory, the military, known as the Tatmadaw, refused to accept the result citing voter fraud. Peaceful protest against the coup quickly turned deadly as people were killed and wounded by security forces. Anyone in opposition to the government quickly found themselves vulnerable to arrest, detention and torture. 

This is an interview conducted by Carol (The Surreal McCoy) on behalf of the PCO with two prominent members of the Myanmar Cartoonists Association who have had to flee their country for their own safety: Waiyan Taunggyi and Lagoon Eain (their pen names).

PCO members provided the questions and a fuller version of this interview will be available soon as a video on the PCO Youtube channel.

Waiyan Taunggyi

Lagoon Eain

PCO: Please tell us a bit about yourselves.

WT

Mingalarba (‘hello’ in Burmese). I am cartoonist Waiyan Taunggyi. I am from Myanmar and have been a cartoonist for over twenty years. I have been drawing cartoons for local media, NGOs, INGOs the United Nations and I also do commercial cartoons for businesses. Sometimes I teach basic drawing lessons for kids and adults. I especially do political cartoons and illustrations.

LE

Really, I’m an artist. I do painting, animating, sculpting and music. But I draw cartoons, especially political cartoons as a duty of citizenship. So I [have] created a lot of cartoons since 2010. I criticised governments, candidates and military groups. Since 2012, President U Then Sein wanted to arrest me because of [my] cartoons and now the dictator Min Aung Hlaing wants to arrest me in this military coup. So, our family is running from them.

Cartoon by © Waiyan Taunggyi

PCO: Before the coup were you able to draw your thoughts and opinions as freely as you liked or did you have to censor yourself? Were any subjects off-limits?

WT

I got what I deserved. However, there have been cases where the Burmese military has filed lawsuits under Article 66D.* The Burmese military has previously banned freedom of expression. So even if we make fun of the military, we have to [do so] indirectly with pictures of ancient Burmese Commanders.

[*’The Telecommunications Law was introduced in 2013 and since then it has been used repeatedly to restrict freedom of speech and expression. Defamation charges under Section 66 (d) of the law have been brought against reporters, politicians and social media users. Many people have been arrested for criticising the military, the government or merely posting on Facebook.’- The Burma Campaign UK.]

LE

I publish my cartoons on social media such as Facebook, some media websites and some  printed journals. Sometimes, other media are afraid to use my cartoons because of [lack of] freedom of expression. So, I published all of my cartoons on my own Facebook page. I always consider about justice. So, I don’t think about other opinions and censorship.

Cartoon by © Lagoon Eain

PCO: What role do cartoons have in the Myanmar Spring Revolution?

WT

Cartoons played a very important role in the Spring Revolution. My cartoons gave motivation to the people. I comforted sad people with my cartoons. When in the February revolution most protesters used my cartoons as a sign board. When protesting in front of Chinese Embassy, they printed my cartoon and used it. I was so glad when I saw them I even took a photo with them. Editorial cartoons against the Burmese Military Terrorists bothered them a lot. It was effective and they even threatened my life. I’m so proud to draw effectively and I believe editorial cartoons played an important role in Spring Revolution.

LE

I think that cartoons can entertain the civilians who are tired of this coup, can give motivation for fighting this military group. And then can show what is important during this time with a single picture. So I have a duty to draw.

Cartoon by © Waiyan Taunggyi

PCO: How have your cartoons been regarded by the military?

WT

The dictatorship might have thought I was loathsome monster and they use imposters online to criticise my work. I am certain that these coordinated attacks were an attempt to drag me down.  They really are afraid the power of pencils. They thought that cartoons were a propaganda machine used to make people hate them. Also, the military terrorists didn’t have a cartoonist who can draw high quality cartoons in response to our political activism.

LE

How military regard is not my business but I think they really hurt. Because they want to arrest and search me. 

Protesters in Yangon

PCO: Because there is so little free press and internet access is limited, how are artists getting their work out to the public? Is there an underground movement? 

WT

I was in Myanmar until the first week of April. I first hid in my brother’s house. However, after the dictatorship used the military to target and kill civilians who protested peacefully and even targeted people suspected of being against the regime, I thought if I stayed in Myanmar my life was no longer safe. I knew I would have to leave Myanmar to create my art freely. When I began to flee, I was in constant fear of being caught by the police and military and that they would discover my external hard disks /the tablet I draw because there’s a lot of anti-coup pictures.

I can sigh with relief when I arrived in the safe zone. I think I arrived in April second week to the safe zone with cartoonist Lagoon Eain. Then I send my cartoons to the media from the safe zone. Most Cartoonist in Myanmar would not dare to create cartoons anymore because their life is in danger. I feel it is my responsibility to draw anti-coup cartoons on behalf of my partner cartoonists. Now that I am in safety, I can send my cartoons to the journal who will print out weekly and spread it secretly to the people. Some protesters print out my cartoons as a stickers and they quietly stick to the army walls at night.

LE

About February first week, they closed [the] internet. I tried [to get] my cartoons published on fliers. And then I can publish again on social media with [the] help of VPN apps.

Cartoon by © Lagoon Eain

PCO: What materials do you use in your art? Digital or pen and ink?

WT

I draw [in] all mediums, but mostly create digital works. Previously, I used a Huion Tablet with a Windows Platform. However, when I fled from Myanmar, I took only an iPad. I currently draw with my iPad now.

LE

With my iPad and laptop.

PCO: How are you managing at the moment with the practicalities – money, food, shelter?

WT

Currently I’m ok for now, but I am not sure what to do when my savings run out.

LE

For practicalities, I get support from my friends.

Cartoon by © Waiyan Taunggyi

PCO: What is next for you? Do you think you will return to Myanmar?

WT

I want to live a place where I can create my art freely and safely and have human rights. Hopefully, when the revolution is over I can go back to Myanmar.

LE

We are in second county and we have the only choice to go to [a] third county. Really, I want to return [to] my country again. I love Myanmar. I want to live in this country, but now I can’t live in Myanmar. The military group want to kill me.

#threefingers for Myanmar campaign

March 21, 2021 in Comment, General, News

The Surreal McCoy writes:

In collaboration with artists and creatives in Myanmar (formerly Burma), PCO are running #threefingers a social campaign in support of local cartoonists and artists, and in recognition of the deteriorating situation there. A landslide election for the National League for Democracy party was overthrown by a brutal military coup on February 1, 2021, sparking a national Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM). 

Cartoon © Steve Bright

PCO members have been drawing a selfie giving the three fingered salute in solidarity with the movement. The three-fingered salute has become a symbol of resistance in protest and in art. Across the milk tea nations, from Myanmar to Thailand to Hong Kong, the gesture represents a global solidarity for democracy, defiance against tyranny, and the fight for freedom.

Cartoon © Dave Brown

The Tatmadaw (Burmese Army) has cracked down hard on protestors, as they have in previous civil uprisings. They have reigned with terror in Myanmar’s border states for generations, leading a vicious campaign to remove the Rohingya minority from the country, in 2017.

Cartoonists protest in Yangon.

Myanmar artists have used their art to project the nation’s voice and call upon artists and allies from all nations to raise three fingers for human rights, freedom and democracy.

Cartoon © Zunar

We are partnering with the Burma Campaign UK and Three Fingers.org, to bring the campaign to a global audience. The artwork will be displayed on the site with a view to selling (with the creator’s permission). All proceeds will be directed to Mutual Aid Myanmar, an organisation assisting civil society in Myanmar.

Cartoon © Kerina Stevens

Please retweet/repost whenever you can with the hashtag #threefingers and these social media handles:

https://twitter.com/Raise3Fingers

https://www.instagram.com/raise3fingers/

https://www.tiktok.com/@raise3fingers

Cartoon © Jeremy Banx

Cartoon © Rupert Besley

Cartoon © Steve Jones

Cartoon © Des Buckley

Cartoon © Martin Rowson

Draw The Coronavirus – The eBook!

December 17, 2020 in Comment, Events, General, News

The ‘Great’ Glenn Marshall (WINNER of Draw The Coronavirus competition) writes:

Many cartoonists, illustrators, artists and fly-by-nights have been taking refuge from the cruel world by joining in Martin Rowson’s regular cartoon challenges. He sets a subject and we all vent spleen (most of us were in lock down and online twiddling our thumbs-up emojis anyway so it gave us something to fill time between Joe Wicks and hitting the cooking sherry)

Cartoon by © Steve Bell

At the end of April, the Museums Association and the BBC launched ‘Museums From Home Day’. Martin, in collaboration with The Cartoon Museum, set the challenge of #DrawTheCoronavirus. The Musuem has now launched a fabulous ebook of the entries, featuring around 200 cartoons by 71 different artistes including Ralph Steadman, Glenn Marshall, Steve Bell, Ben Jennings, Glenn Marshall, Nick Newman, Jeremy Banx, Glenn Marshall, Steve Bright, Zoom Rockman, Grizelda, oh and Glenn Marshall.

Cartoon by © Rob Murray

ALL proceeds from the book are going towards the Cartoon Museum’s fundraising appeal to secure their long-term future after a difficult year with the pandemic. The eBook will be available to buy for a modest £10 from their online store,

Cartoon by © Grizelda

Here are couple of quotes from the press release:

Joe Sullivan, Cartoon Museum Director:

“It has been fantastic to see the creativity and humour of these artists in the face of coronavirus, reflecting issues everyone has been struggling with through lockdown, and using it as fuel to make us laugh. It is a pleasure to work with them all and share their amazing, work with everyone in this e-book. All proceeds from sales of the e-book go directly to helping the museum to secure our future, and we are very thankful to all the artists involved for donating their work to the e-book. Thank you too all our supporters for helping us to survive through the pandemic, and we hope this book brings you as much fun reading it as we had making it!”

Martin Rowson:

“Faced with an invisible enemy, a question should be nagging away at the back of each of our minds: what’s this virusy bastard LOOK like? And, as it’s our job to reimagine our leaders the better to enable us to laugh at them, who’s more qualified to define Corona in all its Pandemic Covidness than cartoonists? Forget electron microscopes – here you’ll find the truest & most accurate depictions of our Common Foe!”

.….and another quote from Martin Rowson:

“Challenge won by the Great @marshallcartoon

Here’s Martin talking about ‘Draw The Coronavirus’ on BBC Radio 4 Today programme back in April:

 

Cartoon by © Steve Bright

Cartoon by © Nick Newman

For anyone wanting to join in with Mr Rowson’s caricature challenges they’re frequently set on his twitter feed @MartinRowson

Cartoon by © Zoom Rockman

By the way, did I mention who won it?

 

Cartoons For Change child labour initiative

December 10, 2020 in Comment, General

Fernando Morales-de la Cruz of Cartoons For Change writes:

On the 72nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Cartoons for Change denounces violation of the human rights of 300 million child workers

The Cartoons for Change initiative brings together hundreds of cartoonists, illustrators and artists from all continents committed to the eradication of child labor and the strictest respect of human rights. 2021 is the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor.

The truth about Fairtrade & Ben and Jerry´s by Chavo del Toro from Mexico

Berlin, Germany – December 10, 2020. On the seventy-second anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Guatemalan journalist and activist, Fernando Morales-de la Cruz, founder and editor-in-chief of Cartoons for Change, denounces the continuing violation of the human rights of almost 300 million children. That is the number of boys and girls around the world who still today have to work in order to survive, deprived of the basic rights and freedoms supposedly guaranteed by the Declaration and numerous laws and treaties that followed it.

Although developed nations are bound by international and national laws to respect human rights and the rights of children, the European Union is today the largest financial beneficiary of child labor and misery in the rural communities that produce coffee, cocoa and many other agricultural products.

Fernando Morales-de la Cruz in front of the Euro sign in Frankfurt, Germany. Photo by Ferhat Bouda/AgenceVU

Switzerland claims to be an exemplary democracy, but Swiss-registered companies have more children in their supply chain of coffee, tea and cocoa than there are boys and girls studying in Swiss schools. Around the world, there are more than four million children working in the Swiss supply chain. This belies the assurances from Professor Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum and main promoter of the Swiss business model, that his organization, the most powerful business lobby in the world, is “Committed to Improving the State of the World”.

Industrialized countries such as the United States, Canada, Japan and South Korea also profit by acquiring products and raw materials that exploit tens of millions of poor children. All of this happens despite the fact that all States have officially committed to respecting human rights and supporting Sustainable Development Goals. Even Norway, which claims to respect the human rights of all, has a huge sovereign pension fund which still invests in companies that profit from the sweat of hundreds of thousands of children.

Cartoon by © Glenn Marshall

The Republic of Germany benefits fiscally by charging very high taxes on products harvested with child labor and modern slavery. Germany collects a tax of € 2.19 for each kg of roasted coffee and € 4.79 for each kg of instant coffee. The German coffee tax is equivalent to almost 100% of what the globally-powerful German coffee industry pays to the increasingly poor coffee growers in Latin America, Africa and Asia. In 2019 the coffee industry paid up to 75% less than the inflation-adjusted price established in the 1983 International Coffee Agreement. Germany has collected more than 54,000 million euros in coffee tax since 1950, while the coffee regions that supply Germany suffer the increase of misery, hunger, malnutrition, child labor and forced migration for economic reasons. In contrast to the German coffee tax, in most of the coffee regions that supply the German coffee industry there is an almost total lack of schools, hospitals, nurseries, decent housing, living wages, pensions or social security.

“It is urgent to stop the exploitation of hundreds of millions of defenseless girls and boys. All industries, corporations and countries that profit from child labor must stop it even if it helps them generate billions of dollars yearly in additional profits and taxes. Today, December 10, 72 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 31 years after the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, there are still too many industries, such as chocolate, coffee, mining, clothing and many others in which child labor continues to increase, because it is highly profitable for multinationals and developed nations, ”says  Morales-de la Cruz, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Cartoons for Change.

To denounce this cruel reality and defend 300 million child workers, Cartoons for Change has successfully convened cartoonists, illustrators, artists, teachers and students from across the world to participate in the global protest #365DaysAgainstChildLabor and in the event #BerlinWall2021.

Concept of Cartoons for Change protest at #BerlinWall2021

“Our unique worldwide protest and exhibitions will also use the Berlin Wall, a symbol of freedom in Germany’s capital, and other walls in other continents. Our objective is to pressure governments and multinationals to take urgent and concrete actions to stop the cruel, illegal but highly lucrative business models based on child labor and slavery” says Morales-de la Cruz.

Cartoons and illustrations should be sent to the email cartoons@itima.org with the highest possible resolution for printing, as some of them will be printed to be placed on the Berlin wall in sizes up to 1.6 by 2.40 meters. The Cartoons for Change are also being published in the press and shared on the Twitter and Instagram accounts @cartoons4change and @BerlinWall2021 and via Facebook @Cartoons4ChangeNow.

Cartoon by © Steve Jones

If you want more information about Cartoons for Change or would like to know how you can contribute to eradicate child labor and abolish slavery, please contact Cartoons for Change through any of the social networks, by email at info@cartoonsforchange.org or through the page www.cartoonsforchange.org

The Olden Phrase

September 30, 2020 in General, News

Tat Effby writes:

So, the idea for my cartoon series In The Olden Phrase came to me a while ago. But it seems in these Unprecedented Times™ of mixed messages, sneezing into elbows and talking out of arses, there’s never been a better time to share my guide to contemporary buzz-speak.

Language is ever-evolving and I’m not complaining, I love words and I’m no grammar fascist; less po-tay-toes, fewer po-tah-toes… whatevs.

But when did ‘getting in contact’ become Reaching Out, ‘in the future’ turn into Going Forward, and ‘household hints’ equate to Life Hacks? And when did Platform get ideas above its station?

As the buzz-phrases kept coming, and kept grating, so did the opportunities to take the mick, so I started to compile a phrase book guide to the new vocabulary, the idea growing out of my previous series, Back in My Day, that appeared in Private Eye, back in the day.

The series is launching on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @oldenphrase where you can follow my easy-to-use guide to help sort your Big Dick Energy from your Big Dick Emery or your Pansexuals from your Pan’s Peoples.

Yes, In The Olden Phrase is a means to poke fun at topical verbal guffery, but, if I’m being completely honest with myself, it’s also a Safe Space for me to understand the screaming insanity of the modern world. I hope it may help others too.

You’re welcs.

(So also… when did sentences have to start with So?)

Still Splitting Fog

September 23, 2020 in Comment, General

Pandemic cartoon from Nebelspalter (1918) by Fritz Boscovitz. (The crowd is gathered round a sign saying, Flu – no assembly…’)

Rupert Besley writes:

As a student I had the good fortune several times to work abroad on holiday jobs in the north-east of Switzerland. Happy days. Swiss newspapers then were hard work to get through – great slabs of dense print, well beyond my linguistic skills and I’m pretty sure even those with German as first language found much the same. This was 50 years back and more, but I don’t think much has changed since (or not when I last tried reading a copy of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and collapsed under its weight).

From Nebelspalter 2012: cover page, cartoon by Oliver Ottitsch (to accompany a feature on mis-measurement). The boy on the right is saying, ‘you’ve got that ruler the wrong way round.’

But there was one publication that stood out on the news-stands and that was Nebelspalter, a satirical magazine with an eye-catching cartoon on its cover. The name means Fog-splitter, preferably with a heavy cleaver or axe. (All of which brings to mind Foghorn, the PCO’s own subversive publication for several years.) Inside were fine cartoons, including ones by the likes of Bosc, whose work needed no language skills to be able to enjoy.

Nebelspalter 2012: Mark Zuckerberg caricature by Michael Streuen.

Nebelspalter was founded in 1875, as ‘an illustrated humorous political weekly’, heavily modelled on Punch. Its finest hour was through the 1930s and 40s, when it took on Nazism in Germany and followers in Switzerland. Since then the publication has had its ups and downs. By 1998 its circulation (70,000 in the 1970s) had dropped to 8,000. But a last-minute rescue plan enabled the magazine to continue, appearing more or less monthly. In 2017 it had a print run of 21,000 and according to a market research study had 160,000 readers per issue (all such details taken from the entry on Wikipedia). These days it is into online subscribers. Nebelspalter reckons to be the oldest illustrated humour/satire publication still in circulation.

From Simplicissimus: 1903 caricature by Gulbransson of composer and Bayreuth Festival director Siegfried Wagner.

Another tribute act to Punch was Germany’s Simplicissimus, named after the hero of a raunchy 17th cent novel recounting the tales of one surviving the Thirty Years War. Simplicissimusfirst appeared in 1896 and was published weekly till 1944, suspended for 10 years and then revived, coming out bi-weekly in its last three years to 1967. For its first issue, 480,000 copies were printed – and 10,000 sold. Munich based, the magazine found easy targets for humour in Prussian military types and entrenched class snobberies. There were top names among the contributors – writers like Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, Frank Wedekind, Hugo von Hoffmansthal and the illustrators included such stars as George Grosz, Käthe Kollwitz, Ernst Barlach, John Heartfield and Olaf Gulbransson.

Simplicissimus, 1908: characteristically dark but powerful study by Käthe Kollwitz. In 1898 the work of Kollwitz was nominated for a gold medal in Berlin’s Great German Art Exhibition, but was denied it after Kaiser Wilhelm II was said to have opined, ‘I beg you gentlemen, a medal for a woman, that would really be going too far… orders and medals of honour belong on the breasts of worthy men.’

Both magazines owed a bit, too, perhaps to their counterparts in France with its strong tradition of satirical magazines. The German and Swiss publications are generally reckoned to have been always somewhat tamer and more restrained than the no-holds-barred swipes of their French equivalents.

I’ve not got to see a full copy of Nebelspalter for many years and am in no position to give any kind of review. But I’m cheered to see it is still going and long may that continue.

Copyright: illustrations 1-3 reproduced by kind permission of Nebelspalter.ch. The magazine has also most kindly provided the following link to its archive, enabling lovers of fine cartoon and caricature to enjoy its superb collection of work published in past issues from 1875 to 2010. Our thanks.

Cartoonists Rally Round Birthday Boy Carson

August 5, 2020 in General

Cartoon by © Martin Rowson

Dean Patterson writes:

Recently a lot of the best cartoonists in the UK, including many PCO members, went out of their way to draw a birthday wish for Carson, who is a very sick little boy with a brain tumour and had to spend his birthday in hospital getting chemotherapy…

Cartoon by © KJ Lamb

The boy’s family really wanted to send their thanks and let the cartoonists know what it meant to them. (They felt the cartoonists went beyond what could have been hoped for!)

Cartoon by © Andrew Fraser

I know everyone who contributed is very busy and their time important and it meant a lot, really, that so many still contributed. When I sent them over to his Dad he was utterly gobsmacked, with tears in eyes. His Grandfather also got in touch to ask me to convey his thanks to all concerned.

Cartoon by © Russel Herneman

So thank you! Not just from me but especially from the boy’s family for helping them celebrate the little lad’s birthday.

Cartoon by © Jeremy Banks

Cartoon by © Steve Jones

Cartoon by © Graeme Keyes

Cartoon by © Mike Stokoe

Cartoon by © Harry Burton

Cartoon by © Mumph

Cartoon by © Dean Patterson

Cartoon by © Ron McGeary

Cartoon by © James Mellor

Cartoon by © Glenn Marshall

Oh We Did Like To Be Beside The Seaside!

July 31, 2020 in Events, General, News

In the ‘old normal’ this weekend would have seen cartoonists flocking like seagulls to the wonderful Herne Bay Cartoon Festival. With this year’s event c19ncelled here’s a trip down memory lane with the fabulous posters from previous years and links to the festival holiday snaps.

2013 Poster by © Hunt Emerson

The Herne Bay event started as a bolt-on to the Duchamp In Herne Bay centennial festival and featured much Marcel Duchamp toilet humour including cartoons exhibited in the latrines of local pubs.

2014 ‘Cartoonists Beside The Surrealside’ by © Ian Baker

The following year in 2014 the cartoon festival became a thing of its own, but still keeping it surreal.

2015 ‘Cartoonists Beside The Surrealside II’ by © Jeremy ‘Banx’ Banks

The art theme carried on in 2015 with cartoonists manning easels in the bandstand.

2016 by © Dave Brown

In 2016 once more we stuck our toes in the water and drew seaside postcards..

2017 ‘The End of the Pier Show’ by © Chris Burke

In 2017 the live drawing moved over from the bandstand to the pier.

2018 ‘Turning the Tide’ by © The Surreal McCoy

2018 had the seaside theme ‘Turning The Tide’ with an extra focus on female cartoonists in celebration of the centenary of women getting the vote in the UK.

2019 ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ by © Martha ‘Marf’ Richler

Last year’s 2019 spacey theme was the Apollo moon landings. Little did we know it would be the last time cartoonists landed on Herne Bay pier for some time.

Fingers crossed we’ll be heading back with our buckets and spades, cramming the beaches in 2021!

Spectator Article: the future of cartooning

July 30, 2020 in Comment, General

A rare mass-gathering of Private Eye cartoonists in 2013 (Rob Murray standing, 9th from right)

Rob Murray writes in response to Nick Newman’s Spectator piece (see previous post):

Nick Newman, one of the UK’s best and most prolific gag cartoonists, has written an article for this week’s Spectator about the challenges facing our art form. He very kindly gives me a mention.

It makes for sobering reading: the number of open-call outlets for cartoonists has dropped massively in recent years; meanwhile, younger artists seem to be dissuaded by the likelihood of rejection, or simply prefer the perceived glamour and relative accessibility of monetising their work through social media platforms instead.

These are trends I recognise. When I was starting out as a cartoonist in the 2000s, more experienced nib-wielders would often tell me how unlucky I was to have missed out on Punch (which had folded several years earlier) – a magazine that would publish dozens of gags per issue, often phoning cartoonists out of the blue to offer them a double-page spread on which to go crazy.

These days, Private Eye is the undisputed champion of gag cartoons in this country, and I’m delighted to be counted among its regulars. The Spectator and The Oldie also provide a fair few spots – and encouragingly, there are new titles embracing the art form, such as the recently launched Critic magazine.

The issue of young cartoonists coming through is a tricky one to solve – and something of a doubled-edged sword.

One of Rob’s first Spectator cartoons © Rob Murray

I sold my first cartoons to Private Eye and The Spectator when I was 26; I’m now 39 and I’m only aware of two – yes, two – cartoonists younger than me who currently sell to these magazines.

At the risk of falling into fogeyisms, the evidence does seem to suggest that younger artists are dissuaded by the demands of the job: it’s great fun, but can also be hard graft – and it can take many, many rejections before you even sell your first gag. When I started, I was working long hours in a ‘proper’ job – then spending late nights at the drawing board to meet self-imposed deadlines for work that would never be published. But without doing that, I would never have broken through.

At the same time, every cartoonist is fighting for their inch of white space in these magazines – do I really need some young star player rocking up and giving me a run for my money? In a word, yes.

Without new talent coming through and attracting the attention of the editors, even the most cartoon-friendly magazines might eventually run out of decent material, and give up on the gags.

And yet the audience for cartoons remains strong and enthusiastic. They are hugely popular with readers – and people are immediately intrigued when I mention what I do for a living.

A very early © Rob Murray from Private Eye

Like any artist, the cartoonist needs to adapt to the marketplace. It’s true that it can be difficult (if not impossible) to make a living by relying exclusively on the best-known publications. And even with fewer new cartoonists on the scene, competition for space remains fierce.

To some extent, I see these big-name magazines as my shop window – the place I can show off some of my best work, and reach a big audience. I then try and use those credentials to find well-paying jobs elsewhere – often by tempting the editor of a more obscure or niche title to add my work to their pages, when they’ve previously never even thought of using cartoons.

Instead of assuming the art form will become extinct on the printed page, we should all be finding ways to create our own markets and ensure that cartoons are here to stay.