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Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival – The Exhibitions!

October 20, 2020 in Comment, Events, General

Exhibition poster cartoon by festival organiser © Roger Penwill.

Lovely to see a REAL cartoon exhibition on REAL walls! Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival may have been cancelled earlier in the year but the accompanying ’20-20 Vision’ show lives on at the wonderful Bear Steps Gallery in Shrewsbury. It opened this week and features 70 cartoons by 43 cartoonists including Steve Bell, The Surreal McCoy, Pete Dredge, Jonathan Cusick, Tat Effby, Wilbur Dawbarn, Ralph Steadman, Royston Robertson, John Landers, Steve Best, Jeremy Banx, Kathryn Lamb, Sarah Boyce, Tim Harries, Glenn Marshall, Andy Davey, Clive Goddard & Zoom Rockman.

The Bear Steps Gallery, a fifteenth century restored building. Photo © Glenn Marshall.

There is also a bonus exhibition in the upstairs gallery of cartoons responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

Photo of the team hanging the artwork last Sunday © Tony Clarkson.

The PCO blog featured some of the cartoons selected for the ‘Vision’ exhibition earlier in the year and you can see them here.

Another photo of the hang © Tony Clarkson.

Here is a selection from the ‘No One Saw It Coming’ coronavirus cartoons display.

Ralph Steadman did a HUGE painting. A video of him in action as he creates it is displayed next a much smaller print of the work.

Cartoon © Ralph Steadman.

Cartoon © Peter Schrank

Poignant cartoon by Peter Schrank about isolation, particularly for the elderly and vulnerable during lock down.

Cartoon © Steve Bell.

Unsurprisingly Boris featured heavily in the exhibition. This by The Guardian’s Steve Bell…

Cartoon © Andy Davey.

…and another from Andy Davey.

Cartoon © Chris Williams

…and yet another. This by ‘Dink’

Cartoon © Grizelda.

Over-indulgence cartoon from Grizelda…although some of us didn’t drink sensibly even before the pandemic.

Caricature © Jonathan Cusik.

Fine caricature of Chris ‘Now Go Wash Your Hands’ Whitty by Jonathan Cusick.

Cartoon © Pete Dredge.

Back to school with Dredge.

Cartoon © Ken Pyne.

Ken Pyne takes us on holiday….remember those?

Cartoon © Royston Robertston…and Phil.

Pirate material by Rrrrroyston Rrrrrobertson.

Cartoon © Henny Beaumont.

No exhibition on this theme would be complete without a wave to the super-spreader himself. Henny here channeling Hokasai.

Cartoon © The Surreal McCoy.

Finally as we head into the second wave this cartoon by the Surreal McCoy seems perfectly timed.

Through the exhibition run we’ll be publishing more of the ‘No One Saw it Coming’ exhibits across the vast PCO media empire so keep an eye on our Facebook (@UKProfessionalCartoonists), Twitter (@procartoonists) and Instagram (@procartoonists) feeds.

For more Covid ‘fun’ we published a selection of infectious laughter earlier in the year here.

The exhibition at Bear Steps runs until 31st October and the gallery is open 10.00am – 4.0pm daily. (Covid measures at the gallery: hand sanitiser at the door, 6 visitors at a time with an eye kept on flow, in one door out through another. Face coverings to be worn)

Puppet caricature © Jonathan Cusik.

Here’s a fine video of the cartoon-form Mayor of Shrewsbury Philip Gillam introducing the show.

Congrats to all those involved from Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival and Bear Steps Gallery for putting the shows together in tricky times. Fingers tentatively crossed that the festival can return in all its glory next Spring!

  • Thanks to festival committee member Sarah Knap for extra info in this post.

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.