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Special report: 50 years of cartoons in Private Eye

September 27, 2013 in Events, General, News

Left to right: Nick Newman, Ian Hislop and Richard Ingrams

Fans of Private Eye cartoons were in for a treat this week, as editor Ian Hislop and cartoonist Nick Newman took to the stage for two separate events looking back over 50 years of visual humour in the magazine – where they picked out a few favourite gags and discussed the challenge of selecting the cartoons that make it into the magazine.

Monday night saw the pair speak to a packed auditorium at the National Theatre on London’s South Bank. On Thursday, they were joined for their appearance at the Soho Literary Festival by Richard Ingrams, Hislop’s predecessor at the Eye and now editor of The Oldie.

The talks were scheduled to coincide with the launch of Private Eye: A Cartoon History, a handsome new hardback book edited by Newman and containing more than 1000 of the best cartoons published by the magazine over the last five decades. Ingrams was promoting his latest collection of Oldie cartoons, also published this month.

© Ed McLachlan @Procartoonists.org

Hislop and Newman began their National Theatre talk by looking back at some of the Eye cartoons that have gone on to become classics, including drawings by Willie Rushton, Martin Honeysett, Michael Heath, John Kent and Ed McLachlan (above). They observed that cartoons became increasingly surreal and absurd during the 1970s – with the giant hedgehog being a case in point – and Newman noted that many of the best political cartoons have not made it into his book because their impact has been lost over time.

Libby Purves, the journalist, broadcaster and Procartoonists.org patron, was on hand to steer the conversation. She pointed out that there still seems to be life in cartoonist cliches such as the desert island and the suicidal man-on-ledge. Hislop agreed, observing that “Private Eye is nothing if not repeated jokes with slight twists.” He referred to two recent psychiatrist’s couch gags, both by Procartoonists.org member Royston Robertson, which played with the formula and made it into the magazine.

More generally, Hislop praised gag cartoonists for their ability to distil their observations of the world around them into pithy and memorable scenes. “They’ve observed it, frozen it, and made it more or less permanent,” he said.

© Alexander Matthews @Procartoonists.org

The issue of ‘bad taste’ was raised when a cartoon by PCOer Alexander Matthews (above) was met by explosive laughter – and some gasps. Purves asked where Hislop draws the line when it comes to offending his readership.

“I always have to be able to justify it – to myself, if to no one else,” said Hislop. “And sometimes there are things that might offend people, but that you think just have to be said. We got a lot of complaints about this cartoon, but I just thought it was incredibly funny.”

Newman explained to the crowd that a cartoonist’s life can be defined by whether he or she is able to cope with having most of their work rejected on a regular basis. He also agreed with Purves’ observation that there are fewer high-profile markets for cartoons these days, following the demise of Punch and with newspapers not currently running standalone gags.

Hislop said that “without Matt, The Telegraph would be in real trouble”, and argued that readers would welcome non-topical joke cartoons in the newspapers. “Editors are missing a trick; cartoons are not expensive,” he said, turning to Newman with a threatening grin before adding: “and they’re getting cheaper next week!”. We hope he was joking.

***

“I’ve got a much smaller book, but it’s also a lot cheaper,” said a deadpan Ingrams of his Oldie paperback collection, when he joined the others on stage at the Soho Theatre on Thursday. “Nick’s book is terribly good, but you can’t take it into the toilet – my book you can.”

The presence of Ingrams at this second talk meant more anecdotes about the 1960s satire boom – for example that it was Willie Rushton who persuaded Gerald Scarfe to stop drawing desert island gags and have a go at caricature.

But Ingrams was also keen to talk about the current crop of cartoonists, and his slideshow of gags from the Oldie book included one or two from younger talents, among them the cartoon below by Procartoonists.org member Huw Aaron.

© Huw Aaron @Procartoonists.org

Hislop explained that the sheer number of cartoons flooding in to the Eye means he is required to make quick decisions over what to publish.

“When I choose cartoons, I think ‘is that funny?’, rather than ‘is it beautifully drawn?’,” said Hislop. Ingrams agreed, but added that the drawing itself should be amusing, not simply the idea behind it.

“Cartoonists don’t realise that they’re probably the most important part of a magazine,” said Ingrams, citing a recent readership survey in which roughly 80% said that cartoons were their favourite part of The Oldie.

Both talks were packed and the audiences were extremely appreciative, filling the room with laughter at pretty much every cartoon shown – and with several jokes even eliciting a round of applause.

***

Also this week, Private Eye launched Newman’s book with a party at Kettner’s in Soho attended by Eye staff and dozens of the magazine’s cartoonists. A great night was had by all and it was an excellent opportunity for the cartoonists to mingle and swap stories.

Private Eye cartoonists at the book launch party © Philippa Gedge

More images from the party, by photographer Philippa Gedge, can be seen here. Head over to the BBC for a slideshow of selected cartoons from the new book.

On behalf of its members, Procartoonists.org would like to thank Private Eye and offer a toast to the next 50 years.

 

The Iron Lady vs the Cartoonists

June 11, 2013 in General, News

Margaret Thatcher © Jonathan Cusick @ Procartoonists.org

© Jonathan Cusick @ Procartoonists.org

An exhibition of Margaret Thatcher cartoons, The Eyes of Caligula and the Lips of Marilyn Monroe, opens at the Chris Beetles Gallery in London today (11 June).

The gallery is promoting the event with the caricature above by Procartoonists.org member  Jonathan Cusick. The exhibition features cartoonists including Jak, John Jensen, Larry, Ed McLachlan, Matt and Peter Brookes.

Running alongside it is a retrospective exhibition called Daggers Drawn: 35 Years of Kal Cartoons in The Economist. Both exhibitions run until 22 June. More details at the Chris Beetles website.

The Round-up

April 11, 2012 in Links, News

Former Punch cartoonists Bill HewisonEd McLachlan (above) and Mike Williams are the stars of a new show opening later this month at the Chris Beetles Gallery in London. The selling exhibition features work from Punch itself, alongside cartoons published in Private Eye, The Spectator and elsewhere. See the Chris Beetles site for more details.

Annie Tempest, the cartoonist behind the longrunning ‘Tottering-by-Gently’ cartoon stip in Country Living magazine, has told The Mail on Sunday about branching out into sculpture following the death of her teenage son. You can read the interview here, and information about her upcoming sculpture show can be found here.

The Montreal Gazette considers the personal risks taken by political cartoonists, pointing out that some of the risks do not only apply to those living under dictatorships. Read more here.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette looks back at the work of Adalbert Volck, a lesser-known contemporary of Thomas Nast, and how their respective cartoons reflected their differing political views during the American Civil War. Read more here.

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by Royston

Cartoons kick over the statues at V&A

October 19, 2011 in Events

Private Eye: The First 50 Years

After much media hoopla, Private Eye: The First 50 Years opened at the Victoria & Albert museum in South Kensington, London, yesterday. The exhibition will run until January 8.

The free exhibition explores the wealth of artistic talent that the magazine has showcased since 1961 and features original artwork for some of the funniest Private Eye cartoons.

Cartoonist Nathan Ariss attended the private view. He writes:

“According to one insider it was ‘the most fun’ the reverent halls had witnessed in decades. Yes, the PE PV at the V&A was AOK, and deemed a rather fine night indeed.

“A [insert collective noun here] of cartoonists were interspersed with some serious marble statues and seriously well-off people and then somewhat embarrassed by a warm and gracious speech from the Editor, [Is this guy after an OBN? – Ed], Ian Hislop, who paid full tribute to the importance that cartoons have played in the magazine’s success.

“I imagine the exhibition will be equally as enjoyable as all the sparkling repartee and champagne on the night itself, but I’m afraid I became somewhat tired and emoticon as the night wore on. Thankfully the exhibition is still on until the new year.”

National Association of Builders Convention by Ken Pyne

National Association of Builders Convention by Ken Pyne

Many cartoonists started their careers at the magazine, and they can be seen in this show, including Gerald Scarfe, Ralph Steadman, Willie Rushton, Barry Fantoni, Nick Newman and Michael Heath

There are lots of cartoons in the show by members of the PCO, which runs the Bloghorn, such as Andrew Birch, Wilbur Dawbarn, Neil Dishington, Pete Dredge, Len Hawkins, Martin Honeysett, Tony Husband, Ed McLachlan, Alexander Matthews, Ken Pyne, above, Royston Robertson, Mike Turner, and the PCO patron Bill Tidy.
Private Eye editor's office

The cartoons are in themed sections, on politics, royalty and social observation. There are single-panel cartoons, long-running strips and caricatures.

Hislop has chosen 50 of the best front covers, one from every year the magazine has been published. The exhibition also evokes the atmosphere of the magazine’s Soho office, with a recreation of the Editor’s desk, right, and a messy production table.

Here’s a round-up of some of the many Private Eye: The First 50 Years features you can currently see on the net:

A behind the scenes look at the production of the Eye, including a video of how a Ken Pyne cartoon progresses from idea to page, can be seen on the V&A site.

The Private Eye blog has a piece on putting the exhibition together.

Fifty years of Private Eye as seen by The Wall Street Journal

… and by Creative Review.

Ian Hislop takes the BBC’s Will Gompertz on a tour of the exhibition. The site also has political leaders and pundits giving their views of Private Eye

And finally, to coincide with the 50th celebrations, the Chris Beetles Gallery has an online exhibition selling artwork by Private Eye cartoonists.

Gallery takes cartoon show north

April 11, 2011 in News

Cartoon by Thelwell
The Chris Beetles Gallery of St James’s, London, is taking its collection of cartoons up the A1 to Nunnington Hall, near York, for a selling exhibition entitled Three Centuries of Cartoon Art which opens tomorrow (April 12).

Cartoon art spanning the ages will be on view, starting with Thomas Rowlandson from the 18th century, through 19th century greats such as Tenniel and on to the 20th century, with such big names as Searle, Thelwell, above, and Larry.

Contemporary newspaper cartoonists will also feature, including Peter Brookes, Matt, Christian Adams, Martin Rowson and Mac.
Tony Husband cartoon

Members of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation, which runs the Bloghorn, feature in the show, including Andy Davey, Martin Honeysett, Tony Husband, above, Ed McLachlan, Royston Robertson, Kipper Williams and Mike Williams.

Tony Husband will open the event, talking about his life in cartooning while illustrating this with spontaneous cartoons. For more details, and to see the full exhibition online, visit the Chris Beetles website

'Tis the season to buy cartoons

December 13, 2010 in News

Private Eye Christmas cartoonsNever mind final Christmas posting dates*, the main thing the discerning cartoon lover needs to bear in mind at this festive time of year is when will the Private Eye Christmas cards run out?

The magazine’s website shop has been carrying a “sold out” notice for some days now – proof, if it were needed, of the enduring popularity of cartoons as a way of spreading cheer.

Every year the magazine sells packs of 12 Christmas cards, featuring colour cartoons by 12 different artists. This year four of those were by members of the PCO, which runs The Bloghorn: Noel Ford,
Ed McLachlan, Royston Robertson, and Mike Turner.

*December 21 for First Class, December 18 for Second, since you ask.

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by Royston

Gallery's winter exhibition opens

November 19, 2010 in Events

Mike Williams cartoon from Illustrators 2010
The annual Illustrators show opens at the Chris Beetles Gallery in St James’s, London, this weekend, and runs until January 8.

The Illustrators 2010 showcases many of Britain’s best loved and most respected illustrators and cartoonists from the past two centuries.

Contemporary cartooning is represented by Mike Williams, above, Jonathan Cusick, below, and Ed McLachlan, all members of the PCO, which runs the Bloghorn, alongside Peter Brookes of The Times and Matt of the Daily Telegraph.
Jonathan Cusick caricature from Illustrators 2010
The Grand Weekend Opening is November 20 and 21, 10am-5pm.

Other highlights include work by John Tenniel, old and new drawings by Ronald Searle, plus Quentin Blake, H. M. Bateman, David Levine, Arthur Rackham, William Heath Robinson, E. H. Shepard and Norman Thelwell, among many others. There are more than 60 cartoonists and illustrators in total.

A 288-page catalogue with more than 500 full-colour images and accompanying essays is available from the gallery for £20 + p&p (£4 UK, £7 Europe, £14 rest of the world).

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by Royston

New cartoon show opening

April 12, 2010 in General

Larry's Van Gogh Collection at Chris Beetles Gallery
A new exhibition devoted to cartoons opens at the Chris Beetles Gallery tomorrow (April 13) and runs until May 1.

The 4th Annual Cartoon Show, at the the gallery in St James’s, London, is a selling exhibition which features more than 20 top artists from the past 100 years of cartooning, plus the following three highlights:

In Memoriam. David Levine’s Caricatures: A celebration of the work of the American caricaturist who died last December. The show features more than 40 pieces, including John Updike, Ezra Pound, and Hemingway.

Larry’s Van Gogh Collection: Cartoons about Vincent Van Gogh and his work by Terence Parkes, aka Larry, above, to coincide with the hit show currently at the Royal Academy. A group of ceramic sculptures by Larry will also be on display.

A Year with Matt: A selection of the best works by Matt Pritchett of the Daily Telegraph from the past year, as well as the latest Matt cartoons from the days leading up to and throughout the show.

Other artists on display include contemporary cartoonists such as Peter Brookes, Tony Husband, John Jensen, Ed McLachlan, Nick Newman, Martin Rowson, Mike Williams and Kipper Williams, alongside artists from the past including H.M. Bateman, Giles and Thelwell.

For more details, visit the Chris Beetles Website.

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by Royston

Cartoon bargains on sale at gallery

January 21, 2010 in General


Cartoons by the likes of Ed McLachlan, above, Matt, Nick Newman, Mac, and Tony Husband, can be acquired at a bargain price in the Chris Beetles Gallery’s Sale 2010 which opens in London this weekend.

For more details on the Sale, which also includes illustration work and watercolours, visit the Chris Beetles Gallery website.