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Round-up: What the Bloghorn saw

June 24, 2011 in Comment, News

Rob Murray writes:

Over at the New Yorker blogs, cartoon editor Bob Mankoff has been looking at what makes a good caption for a gag cartoon – and argues, contrary to popular opinion, that  novelty is overrated.

Following up, he considers whether it is possible to generate a universal caption that would work with all the cartoons featured in the magazine’s long-running caption contest, and asks readers to suggest their own. Mankoff  analysed some of these in a subsequent blog.

Five postcards by prolific cartoonist and master of the double entendre, Donald McGill, have gone on sale for the first time since being banned on obscenity grounds 56 years ago. The cards have been reprinted and sold by the  Donald McGill Postcard Museum on the Isle of Wight, and the Daily Mail has the full story  here.

Two months on from the royal wedding, Pippa Middleton is still making headlines – this time in cartoon form. The Duchess of Cambridge’s sister stars in a tongue-in-cheek comic strip, one of several released as part of the marketing campaign for video game Infamous 2.

A New York Times blog entry by historian Adam Goodheart deconstructs a cartoon that ran in Harper’s Weekly at the start of the American Civil War, and which later proved prophetic. It should make interesting reading for enthusiasts of both history and cartoons.

Meanwhile, in Russia, a new cartoon strip depicting prime minister Vladimir Putin and president Dmitry Medvedev as superheroes foiling a Speed-style bomb plot has become an internet hit. Creator Sergei Kalenik says he created the Superputin strip to change people’s depressing views of Russia’s political scene. You can read the strip in English translation here.

Bloghorn adds if you see something we should know, please tell us.

 

Saucy McGill continues to amuse

August 12, 2010 in News

Copyright Greaves & Thomas/McGill Archive

That saucy old salt Donald McGill continues to cause a stir, nearly 50 years after his death. For the first time, the full collection of 21 postcards which were banned after an Obscene Publications Act witch-hunt in 1953, have gone on display.

They can be seen in the perfectly appropriate seaside surroundings of the recently opened Donald McGill Museum and Archive in Ryde on the Isle of Wight.

There is little option for the modern mind but to see them as cliché-ridden, pre-feminist, pre-60s snapshots of the suppressed British libido. But the sexual innuendo still has resonance. Despite the 60s and beyond, many of us Brits still have a “policeman inside all our heads” and the simple rudeness is appealing. Why do we still laugh at them? Well, because they’re funny.

Even George Orwell was a fan. A short essay of his (“The Art of Donald McGill”) in 1941, written at the height of Britain’s isolation, flattered McGill’s egregious talent and his essential Britishness, but Orwell the Old Etonian couldn’t help but warn readers that the “first impression is of overpowering vulgarity”.

Orwell points out that the viewpoint in McGill’s postcards is essentially safe and conservative – that of the aspirational working class. “They express only one tendency in the human mind, but a tendency which is always there and will find its own outlet, like water. On the whole, human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.”

Where the cartoonist’s view might differ from Orwell’s is that they are not “ill-drawn” – they are rather well drawn cartoon art of a certain period. Certainly better than the dozens of imitators he spawned.