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The Genius of Giles

January 7, 2020 in Comment

Rupert Besley writes:

Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies are back in the news.

It’s become something of a festive tradition to bemoan the lack of good viewing in the Christmas schedules. ‘Absolutely nothing on telly,’ goes the cry. ‘Last year was bad enough and this year is worse.’ And so it has seemed this last month.

The BBC’s star contribution to the season has been The Trial of Christine Keeler. It has been well received. I’m sure it is well written, well acted and well done, but I only half-watched the first episode before deciding to give it a miss. The main facts are well enough known, with characters too self-indulgent and story too sordid to grab my interest. As Peter Cook put it, ‘I go to the theatre to be entertained. I don’t want to see plays about rape, sodomy and drug addiction. I can get all that at home.’

The Macmillan era was far from Britain’s finest hour. The Tory government was led by a patrician figure hamming it up as quirky and characterful but trustworthy elder statesman straight off the grouse moors, ready to gull the public into believing they had never had it so good (remind you of someone?). On one thing Macmillan was right: the unpredictability of politics, with its potential for everything to be brought crashing down by things unexpected. ‘Events, dear boy.’

The Profumo story unfolded in the summer of 1963. That was the year that ‘sexual intercourse began’ (Philip Larkin). Sex came out from under the covers and dared to speak its name on the front pages of reputable newspapers.

Cartoonists had a field day, few more so than Giles. I was about to turn 13 and had little interest in or understanding of politics at the time. But I well remember the cartoon above appearing in my mother’s Sunday Express and the amusement it gave at breakfast. Then, as now, I marvelled at the genius of Giles and secretly hoped (in vain) that one day I might work out how to do something similar. I can’t, of course, and never will. The talents of Giles are not given to all, but it has been fun to see what magic he brought to the pages of a newspaper.

The cartoon above begins with a strong idea, even if that comes from the common cartoon device of bringing a larger issue down to a personal level that we can relate to. In lesser hands, that idea could still have fallen pretty flat. What makes this cartoon so wonderful is all that Giles brings to the artwork. The composition is masterful. Without need of great detail, he conjures up the comfortable, sunny world of the well-heeled Establishment, about to get one hell of a rocking. Instead of putting the central figures at the centre of the artwork, he has them already racing off to the left; this, together with the papers still in mid-air above the garden lounger, deftly conveys the urgency of impending crisis. Centre-stage is the small dog, yapping at heels and loving every moment. What member of the press or public could not identify with that dog? What puts the cherry on the cake is the expression captured on the face of each of those racing over the grass, especially the wife with long-held suspicions now rampant. Two days later, Giles followed the cartoon up with this (below) in the Daily Express. Genius.

PCO Cartoon Review of the Year 2019

January 1, 2020 in General, News

Cartoon © Brian Adcock, The Independent

Glenn Marshall reporting from behind the paracetamol bottle:

Once more it is time to look back with the traditional (well, third year running) PCO ‘Cartoon Review of the Year’. It was always going to be a very hard task to not just fill it with cartoons about Trump and BORXIT® so in the end I just gave up and ran with it!

So to set the tone here’s a great drawing from © Chris Burke.

Martin Rowson sums up the plight of cartoonists facing a metaphor shortage in 2019.

I’m having to restock my Brex-mageddon bunker as most of my haul is now well past its sell-by date. I should’ve taken © Andrew Fraser’s Valentine’s Day advice in Private Eye and just bought tinned goods rather than Greggs vegan sausage rolls and doughnuts.

This © Colin Dukelow cartoon from Private Eye sums up what many felt about the ‘B’ word by the end of the year…probably by the beginning of the year too.

In March Brexit was taken off the menu for a few more months. Cartoon served up by © Mike Stokoe in The Spectator.

Moving on to April the heavily redacted Mueller report was released. Loved this cartoon by •••• in the •••••••• •••••

Illustration by © Steve Bright

In Sports News: May saw Liverpool ‘pipped’ (GERIT?) at the post for the Premiership title by the WONDROUS Manchester City. Eat that Klopp (the PCO strenuously denies any bias in their reporters) After coming so close I really can’t see Liverpool ever winning the Premiership! (Nosramarshall)

In June ‘stable genius’ Donald Trump visited the UK. © Royston Robertson shared this cartoon to mark the occasion. Really Royston could post this daily, or even hourly, and it would still be applicable.

In more Trump news: In July Trump told four Democrat congresswomen ‘go back to the places they came from’. This was Steve Jones’ lunar take on it tying in with the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. (Private Eye)

I loved this Boris arse-faced Mona in The Guardian by Steve Bell. No idea what the story was, but I’m a Mona Lisa obsessive. I’m writing this review, so I’m putting it in.

A lovely drawing of the Time magazine ‘Person Of The Year’ (cue FUMING Donald) Greta Thunberg by © Andy Davey from The Evening Standard

© Wilbur Dawbarn’s Greta-inspired back to school clothing range, product placed in Private Eye.

Retail News: In October it was announced that, following a spate of high street closures, Debenhams was facing financial difficulty. © Sarah Boyce may have put her finger on why with this Private Eye cartoon.

Back to climate change: © Kathryn Lamb had this seasonally adjusted cartoon published in The Spectator….

… and this inflammable Private Eye cartoon by Clive Goddard. Sadly this could be a current scene from the Australian Met Office.

A cartoon by © The Surreal McCoy from Prospect which could virtually apply to any of 2019’s news stories.

Cartoon by © Nick Newman, The Sunday Times.

In November Prince Andrew pizza expressed his views on the Jeffrey Epstein scandal to Emily Maitlis. I suspect he’s someone else who may shy away from being interviewed by Andrew Neil in the future.

On that subject here was a rather prescient cartoon by © Kipper Williams actually from a June issue of The Spectator!

Also in November Boris visited flood-hit Yorkshire mostly to gargle his campaign message. Illustration by © Rebecca Hendin for The Guardian.

And still on matters aquatic (and to mention someone other than Bojo) here is Dave Brown’s cartoon for The Independent of Jezco and Joswin getting their campaign messages across…or not.

©Zoom Rockman in Private Eye visits the polling station.

As we head into the New Year here’s another excellent cartoon by •••• from the FT showing you can get new life out of a cartoon metaphor Mr Rowson.

© Brian Adcock, bookends the year with this offering from The Independent.

So what fresh horrors will 2020 have in store? I expect A LOT more about him, him, and more him!

Thanks to Procartoonist members for the use of their cartoons.

Happy New Year from the PCO.

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


Send in the Clowns?

December 8, 2019 in Comment, Events

Cartoon by © Rupert Besley

Rupert Besley writes:

[a personal viewpoint, not purporting in any way to represent the opinions of the PCO]

For the first time in my life I’m seriously wondering if humour might not be doing more harm than good. That’s a worrying thought and no conclusion I would ever wish to reach. I get to this point down the following route.

The expert analysis of recognised independent think-tanks all seems to agree that Brexit, hard or soft, will leave the country’s economy worse off than before and that those who will suffer most are those already hardest hit and at the bottom of the pile. And yet the parties pursuing this course (Conservative and Brexit) are those that have been riding high in the polls and especially so in the least well-off areas.

I can think of only one explanation for this and it comes in three parts.

Firstly, television has turned politics into a celebrity contest. The two-second conclusions of grassroots opinion foisted on us each day by television news are by their nature superficial and short. Vox pop verdicts may do people a disservice, but from them it seems that large numbers of voters are deciding not on policy or even party but just on the personality of each leader.

Next, no such Johnson-Corbyn dance-off begins on an even footing. The UK press, predominantly in right-wing hands, has seen to that. Boris Johnson, one of their own, is portrayed as loveable chump, accorded the status of national treasure and first-name recognition. The cameras love him, as he does them. For years the most widely read papers in this country have found space each day to vilify Corbyn (surname only), made out to be some kind of crazed communist blend of racist and terrorist. (The shame, perhaps, is that he himself does not do personal attacks on anyone.)

Finally, in any such competition, the guy-in-the-pub, say-it-straight, got-all-the-answers funster image of a Johnson or a Farage will come across to many (or any who don’t know them) as more appealing than the duller, dour, more complicated and apparently humourless mode of a Corbyn.  What else is there to explain the strong personal lead Johnson enjoys in the polls, regardless of his track record? Baffled by the complexities of the political situation and bored with its repetitiveness, people are looking instead for good cheer and light relief.

I accept that we live in an age when a political leader has to have ‘personality’ and be  good on television. They need that to carry the country with them. Things were different in the world I came into. Attlee was a modest man and self-effacing. Of him it was said, ‘An empty taxi drew up in Downing St and Clement Attlee stepped out.’  Stafford Cripps was not known for his laddishness. But, as Chancellor, he is credited with laying the foundations of Britain’s post-war economic prosperity. The Attlee government, which included the likes of Nye Bevan, Hugh Gaitskell and Herbert Morrison, created the NHS and greatly expanded the welfare state. Earnest, high-minded politicians, intent on tackling the ills of the world – but none of them great for a larf.

How might it have been, one wonders, if in those post-war decades the electorate had gone instead for the characters played by the most popular comics of the day? Ken Dodd for Chancellor, perhaps. Or Charlie Drake? Arthur Askey for PM or maybe Bernard Bresslaw. I only arsked.

Bringing Animals to Life cartoon workshop

October 30, 2019 in Events, General

Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery have asked Jonathan Cusick to repeat the animal cartoon workshop he ran during this year’s cartoon festival, during the October half term.
‘Bringing Animals to Life’ is on Halloween, 31st October. It’s one of the activities they’ve ran to tie in with a major exhibition by local comic leg-end Charlie Adlard. (‘Drawn of the Dead’, on show at the museum until 3rd November). Fellow PCO’er Tat Effby ran a family zombie portrait workshop in August.
Jonathan shows various key principles for cartoon drawing, then visitors get to apply these directly in a drawing session working from various exhibits from the museum’s taxidermy archive. In April the selection included squirrels, ducks, owls, badgers, crows and an alligator. It’s fun and for artists of all abilities and ages; a perfect half term activity for the family.

Places are limited, the April workshop sold out.
Tickets are £8 and can be booked via https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/shrewsburymuseum and include all-day entry to the museum.

Press One to Continue Nightmare

October 28, 2019 in Comment

Rupert Besley writes (mainly because he couldn’t get through on the PCO helpline):

I’m sure I’m not alone in my dislike of having other people’s words being put into my

Choose from one of the following options, then click on Next to continue:

– orifice

– earplug

– lexicon

– exhaust pipe

– rear end

– mouth

You know the kind of thing. Urgently needing to put right some wrong, you get trapped in the maze of a website, caught up in an endless loop of FAQs, FUQs (Frequently Unanswered Questions) and irrelevant options, none of them remotely applicable to your own particular circumstance.

In desperation you reach instead for the phone.

We are experiencing an unusually high level of calls and all our advisers are busy…cue cheering Funeral March music… Did you know that by logging on to our website you can find the answer to this and many other interesting questions?

35 mins and several bruises to the forehead later, it’s

Press 1 for Sales.

Yes, always they press one for sales. But listening to what you might have to say is the last thing they wish for. Instead, more options of zero relevance.

Customer Service? Disservice, more like. Contact Us, my

Select from one of the following:

– posterior

– kneecap

– eyebrow

– elbow

– elephant

– arse

I’m writing this from the cosy interior of a padded room, with spume-flecked fingers and froth still running down my chin. I am currently in a state of hostilities with my bank (which has robbed me of access to my online banking), BT (with whom my online account has now gone missing), the supplier of our solar panels (one small part of which is now not working as it should) and my doctor’s surgery and my pharmacy (at odds over my prescription). With each of these it is nigh on impossible to get through to the person who can put things right, thanks to the barrage of obstacles and blocking mechanisms put in one’s way.

BT (slogan, Helping You Communicate) are a case in point. My ongoing complaint, unresolved for more than 2 weeks, has now been escalated to Serious Stuff. I have been verified and validated by more voices in distant places than I care to list, have repeated my tale to each, but none has yet been able to find the account that we’ve had for years. Other telecom companies are available, all no doubt equally guilty of the same kind of practices. So, what has any of this got to do with cartoons? Not a lot, maybe, except that…

The digital age was meant to democratise, empowering individuals and giving them voice. Instead, the dark forces of commercialism and political interest, the rich and the powerful, are making use of digital media to skew information, manipulate minds, control thinking and stifle free expression. Cartoonists stand up to this. They (along with stand-up comics and other satirists) are crap detectors supreme. Cartooning in all its forms (gags, strips, caricature, leader page editorials) has the job of spotlighting (with brevity and humour) inconsistencies and deceit, hypocrisy, abuse and fraud. Cartoons fight back. Cartoons continue to be edged out of traditional forms of media, but they remain an essential part of any free Press and a necessary tool for highlighting things in need of correction. Cartoons get straight to the point.

We need them more than

– hedgehogs

– biscuits

– chainsaws

– custard

– sometimes

– ever.

All cartoons by © Rupert Besley

Ye Olde Whynge

October 16, 2019 in Events

Ben Jennings, Dave Simmonds, Dave Brown & George Leigh. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Kasia Kowalska writes:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, if was the age of foolishness, if was the epoch of belief, if was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, if was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted of its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Charles Dickens “A Tale of Two Cities”

It is widely acknowledged that the collective noun for cartoonists is a whinge.

At the beginning of the year, I had asked a whinge of cartoonists to make good on their bellyaching about not seeing one another often enough. They complained that they were sick of solitary sobbing over their paint pots and drawing boards and were vexed with venting into the void about the state of the world. And so, Ye Olde Whynge was born. Seemingly, out of frustration.

Jeremy Banx & Tim Sanders in compulsory berets. photo © Kasia Kowalska

The Whynge is an informal and unaffiliated cartoonist gathering in a small, friendly pub in central London. Topics of conversation have historically included: the B-words, the T-word, the state of the nation and the state of the world, not to mention the occasional heated debate about gouache and appropriate sharpness of pencils.

 Marten Minkema interviews Ros Asquith. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

The September Whynge played host to a special guest from the Netherlands, Marten Minkema, who was gathering material for a radio programme commissioned by the Dutch National Radio, NPO 1.

The subject of the report was Brexit from the view point of British cartoonists, as a means to elucidate the current situation in the UK and explain it to those living across the Channel, with a prevailing motto of ‘show me your cartoons and I’ll show you your country.’

Marten Minkema attempts to interview Steve Way while Rob Murray savages the microphone. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Marten wanted to find out whether the dynamics of Brexit provide inspiration, or whether it is difficult for cartoonists to surpass reality. The voices of Steve Way, Ros Asquith, Martin Rowson, Bob Moran, Martin Newman, Mac (Stanley McMurtry) and Dave Brown provide some of the answers.

Many raised eyebrows when Marten said he’d brought over a substance for us all to try…turns out it was a fine Dutch cheese.

‘Brexit: De Spotprent Voorbij’ (‘Brexit: Beyond the Cartoon’) is available on NPO1 (the Whynge section begins at 06:57)

Cartoonists are welcome to come along to the next Whynge and have a good whinge.

 

Additional cheese photography by Glenn Marshall.

PCO’s Gagged at St-Just-Le-Martel 2019

October 8, 2019 in Events, General, News

The Surreal McCoy writes:

Our exhibition had two outings this year: one at the high-profile Defend Media Conference in London during the summer and then again at the St-Just-Le-Martel Salon d’Humor in France over September/October.

58 cartoons by 25 members were displayed at the Centre Permanent’s exhibition space that saw many visitors over the two weeks of the festival. Very positive feedback was received from the educators who guided around 50 groups of schoolchildren around our exhibition. Yes, the art of cartooning is taken very seriously in France!

‘Steve Bell: 40 Years of Political Cartoons’ exhibition

There was a major exhibition featuring the PCO’s very own Steve Bell, plus cartoons from the Scottish Art Studio. Also on show was an exhibition that included some PCO members on the theme of Brexit.

Brexit exhibition curated by Terry Anderson, poster image by Steve Bright. All photos from Glenn Marshall

 

 

The London Cartoon Show review

September 7, 2019 in Events, General

The private view at Charing Cross Library. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Clive Goddard writes:

Imagine the excitement which rippled through the UK-wide, nay, global membership of the PCO when we announced we would be holding another exhibition down London way. And not only was it in London but was alsoabout London! Palpable joy ensued.

I’m very pleased to say that this latest exhibition, the third in Charing Cross Library, was wonderful. Just under fifty cartoonists submitted work themed around London past, present, and imaginary, and we managed to hang 130 pieces, quite a few of which were sold to grateful visitors (10% of the proceeds from sales are going to the Mayor’s Fund for London). Other prints, books, merchandise and indulgences were flogged by our volunteer invigilators.

On the eve of the show media mover and shaker, Glenn Marshall managed to get us some very nice coverage on ITV London News which, despite starting with a link to knife crime and getting our name wrong, was an excellent ad for the event and brought in most of the punters. You can see a video of the report, starring Carol, Sarah and Jeremy here.

Chichi Parish, Dave Brown & Tim Sanders. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Steve Way, Martin Rowson & Clive Goddard. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Mike Stokoe & Zoom Rockman. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Thanks to all those listed above and to the others who sent their cartoons, gave their time and energy collating, framing, hanging, invigilating, advertising and de-hanging. Special thanks to Kipper Williams for his talk and to Rob Duncan for his cartooning workshop, both of which were well attended and enjoyed by Joe & Joanna Public. Further thanks to Kasia for capturing the action (above) on camera.

Kipper Williams’ talk. Photo © Mika Schick

Robert Duncan’s workshop. Photo © Jeremy Banx

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.

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