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How to draw a virus: spare a thought for the Covid-19 cartoonists

June 9, 2020 in Comment, General

Written by Guy Venables originally for The Spectator (with a smattering of bonus content cartoons):

While stumbling the 30 yards from bed to work, the freelance gag cartoonist is usually trying to decide which of the hundreds of news stories to draw a hilarious cartoon about that day. It used to be one of the most difficult decisions of the morning. Now, however, that question has been replaced by “are there any new angles to be had from the one, same, monolithically large single news story of the decade?”

My mother, similarly, at the end of the second world war, asked her own mother whether the newspapers would keep going because, obviously, there would be no more news to speak of now the war was over.

Cartoon © Guy Venables

Cartoonists evolve, like finches, on separate islands and rarely meet. That said, in the first week of lockdown each of us imagined we were the only ones to think of the link between the “man on the desert island” visual cliché and social distancing, so much so in fact, that the Private Eye cartoon editor asked us all politely to go back to bed and try to think of something else. So we all switched our attentions to loo rolls and stockpiling.

Then Easter came around and we all individually sent The Spectator “Jesus being told to roll back the stone and get back in the cave.” Then we all drew Joe Wicks. Then baking. A new type of mental filtering process had to be adopted, and cartoonists aren’t good at “new” (although a strangely large proportion of us have been adopted. Some several times). A proportion of us decided to concentrate on non-topical cartoons.

Cartoon © Guy Venables

But as Pete Dredge asked us all: “Do we draw everybody two metres apart even if it’s nothing to do with Coronavirus?” We didn’t know for sure but decided against it, as it would use up too much paper.

As things progressed and the death count rose there was a shift from looking at the situation to looking at the virus itself. Attack the villain of the story as we always say (We don’t always say that but we COULD). But how do you draw a virus? Somebody drew the virus. It was round with knobbly bits on. Right. We all drew gags about round things and added knobbly bits so you could tell it was biting satire. Then Matt from the Telegraph did it better and we all went back to bed again.

In my own personal sphere, it was a problem of pretence that bothered me. Now that my wife was at home all day the withering truth was slowly dawning on her of just how little work I actually do. I spend the afternoon trying to convince her that a hammock is a legitimate workplace.

I think of an idea but realise Nick Newman has already done it in the Times. Then I realise I’d just read the Times.

Long gone are the cocktail parties and trendy gatherings to which the cartoonist is never invited. Now he must rely on his own wits and hard work. Having never done this before we revert to our standard emergency operation of copying old Punch cartoons and hoping nobody notices.

Cartoon © Guy Venables

Another angle is of course to throw withering scorn at whoever’s in charge. This can limit the people to whom one can send the actual cartoon. Politically it’s a good idea to choose a point right in the middle of politics and shoot outwards. That way, come the revolution you can pin your badge on whoever runs the firing squads.

Cartoon © Guy Venables

I draw a gag about Dominic Cummings that gets lots of likes on Facebook and go back to the hammock, blissfully unaware that an hour beforehand, from some distant garret, Banx had sent a similar but much better Cummings gag to the Financial Times.

With thanks to The Spectator for allowing us to reproduce the piece.

Infectious Laughter

March 31, 2020 in General

Cartoon © Pete Dredge

Naturally many cartoonists have been indulging in some sick humour whilst trying to cope under lockdown. These are from the bunkers of Procartoonists members, including the very funny and worryingly accurate Dredge cartoon above.

© Sarah Boyce

Of course most of us are used to working locked down at home. This is Sarah Boyce’s take on home working.

© Neil Dishington

It has even allowed us to revisit the cartoon cliche, well demonstrated here by Dish.

@ Jeremy Banx

The over-seventies are particularly locked up under lockdown. This from the FT by Banx.

© Guy Venables

And of course we can’t touch each other. This from the ceiling of the household of the great master Guy Venables.

© KJ Lamb

Another art inspired cartoon this from Kathryn Lamb for The Spectator. A bit too much face touching going on there too.

© Dave Brown

Naturally a little bit of politics is inevitable as Boris belatedly tries to hold back the tide. Here the ‘Cnut’ Johnson is rendered by Dave Brown for The Independent.

© Andy Davey

More on Boris’s effort on containment from Andy Davey….with a rather precient final frame.

© Steve Bright

In international news Donald Trump’s every pronouncement is – as usual – going viral, as perfectly illustrated here by Brighty.

© Roz Asquith

Roz Asquith takes a wry look at how some people might work from home.

© Rebecca Hendin

A public information strip by Rebecca Hendin for The New Statesman

© The Surreal McCoy

With people struggling to travel back to their own countries an archive cartoon from the Surreal McCoy seems very apt.

© Glenn Marshall

While you lot all worry about catching Covid 19 I’m in blind panic that I’m down to my last 250 toilet rolls!!!

© Tat Effby

This by Tat Effby shows the toilet roll I missed buying!

 

© Colin Whittock

Colin Whittock also concerns himself with the toilet paper crisis.

© Rupert Besley

Some distance learning from Rupert Besley.

© Wilbur Dawbarn

More spatial awareness. This by Wilbur.

© Andrew Birch

Birch concerns himself with how criminals are having to adapt now we’re all permanently at home and burglary is less of an option.

© James Mellor

On a more positive note this is James Mellor’s tribute to the key workers who are being overwhelmed at the moment.

© Royston Robertson

and here’s a VERY true cartoon by Royston for the Nursing Standard.

© Graeme Bandeira

Graeme Bandeira has been producing some wonderful and moving cartoons for The Yorkshire Post. This one has been shared particularly widely.

© Nick Newman

and finally applause to Nick Newman for this cartoon in The Sunday Times.

Thanks to the PCO members for allowing me to pilfer their work.

Remember folks to clunk, click every trip and always use a condom.