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Can cartoons be both funny – and diverse?

September 16, 2021 in Comment, General

Cartoon © Nick Newman

By Nick Newman and courtesy of The Spectator. 

Of the many challenges facing cartoonists – rejection, money, drink or lack of – one of the trickiest is the growing pressure to depict diversity. Readers increasingly write to publications complaining about the lack of ethnic minorities in drawings and demand that cartoons be more inclusive.

We’re trapped in a bad political cartoon, walking a tightrope above a minefield. The problems are manifold. A quick survey of my colleagues in the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation highlighted the following: cartoons involve laughing at someone – if that person is black, you risk appearing racist; including a BAME character in the background smacks of tokenism – ‘background box-tickers’ ; including any minority in a cartoon can confuse the reader – implying the cartoon is about race; including ethnic minorities can inadvertently politicise the cartoon; at the end of the day, it’s safer to have make the butt of the joke pale, male and stale.

Gag cartooning is about speed and recognition. Stereotypes are a form of visual shorthand designed to get an idea across quickly. The French? Man in stripey shirt. Teacher? Mortar board. German? Fat man with sausage. Cartoons amplify for comic effect – which runs the real risk of promoting race hate when depicting BAME characters. PCO Chairman Clive Goddard says, ‘I draw a lot of idiots saying daft things and don’t want any accidental inference that it is because of their race.  Better to stick to white idiots than be misunderstood.’ UK cartoonists themselves are predominantly white, which makes any joke about ethnicity feel awkward, or patronising. Cartoonists may be cowards, but they are not afraid to admit to their cowardice in avoiding the issue.

Cartoonists’ drawing styles present another problem. Many feature characters with big noses – leading to accusations of anti-semitism. One political cartoonist has been told to reduce the size of all middle eastern noses. Attempts to make cartoon characters more diverse can be tricky .Kathryn Lamb likens ‘inking in’ her normal cartoon faces to ‘blacking up’.

For caricaturists whose stock-in-trade is exaggeration, the problem is, ironically, more exaggerated. Morten Morland says that whenever he draws Dianne Abbott or Priti Patel someone invariably complains. ‘But it’s usually because they disagree with the cartoon itself,’ says Morland, ‘and need something to hit back with. So by hinting that the caricature is racist they aim to discredit the whole cartoon.’

In 2018, a caricature of Serena Williams by Australian cartoonist Mark Knight of the Herald Sun was reported to the Australian Press Council for depicting her with ‘large lips, a broad flat nose… and [being] positioned in an ape-like pose’ while throwing a tantrum on court. The National Association of Black Journalists said the caricature was “unnecessarily Sambo like” and even JK Rowling weighed in on social media, tweeting, ‘Well done on reducing one of the greatest sportswomen alive to racist and sexist tropes’. In February 2019 it was cleared of racism by the press watchdog, but it divided opinion among cartoonists themselves. Black cartoonist Mengitsu Etim told the BBC, ‘ At the root of this is the harmful, and downright outrageous way that blacks were sketched. It was a centuries-long smear campaign to dehumanise blacks.’ Others, such as the Metro’s Guy Venables argue ‘it is merely an accurate caricature because she does, in fact, have lovely full lips.’ Says Venables, ‘We’re not here to change the world. We’re here to hold a mirror up to it.’

Accusations of racism in cartoons stretch back to Gillray and beyond. The Georgian cartoonists depicted Africans as threatening and comical, with grotesque features and appetites. Cruikshank’s ‘The New Union Club’ (1818) is one of the most racist prints of the 19th century, depicting a debauched dinner held at the African Institution and attacking abolitionists such as Wilberforce.  Two hundred years later Hergé was censured for his depiction of black characters in Tintin Au Congo, in which Africans are portrayed as simple, childlike and uncivilised. It prompted the Commision for Racial Equality to call for it to be withdrawn from sale in 2007. Meanwhile the New York Public Library locked its copy away. Says the FT’s Jeremy Banx, ‘Tintin in the Congo is a racist book. But Hergé was on a long journey, from King Leopold II to the Beatles, in which he ended up in a very different place to where he started.’ Hergé himself referred to his flawed early books as ‘youthful sins.’

Asterix too is guilty of stereotyping. In 2018 the Pickering Public library in Durham – along with several schools boards – was asked to withdraw Asterix books featuring what one parent called ‘a blackface from a minstrel show’. The Library kept the books in its collection to defend intellectual freedom and offer diversity of opinion.
There are lessons to be learned from history. In 1925 a glib cartoon by David Low portrayed England cricket’s run machine Jack Hobbs as a colossus compared with figures from history, including Caesar, Charlie Chaplin and a caricatured Mohamet. It led to rioting in Calcutta. Today, a cartoon of the Prophet is likely to get you cancelled – permanently.

Now, we live in an age of snowflake sensitivities. As cartoonist Ken Pyne says, ‘The  problem anyone making a living out of humour has these days  is dealing with people who take offence on other people’s behalf – which often takes the form  of loony online abuse from people who have an insincere , self-serving opinion to get themselves  on breakfast television.’ Freelancer Royston Robertson avers ‘Maybe us white blokes should leave jokes about black people and women to cartoonists who are black or female. Cartooning is a notoriously white and male profession so a change in the diversity of those drawing the cartoons would be real progress.”

Until then, cartoonists agree on the need to promote diversity. Says cartoonist Giles Pilbrow, ‘If cartoons are going to stay relevant they must reflect the diversity of modern Britain, so it’s really important that all cartoonists include ethnic minorities in their drawings wherever the jokes are not open to misinterpretation.’ Grizelda points out that cartoonists ARE more inclusive when drawing inclusive worlds – such as the NHS or education . But the complications are endless. Diversity itself is becoming a dirty word, suggesting ‘diverging from the white mean’. Meanwhile ‘inclusive’ is said to imply whites doing the including. For ‘black’ we should now apparently say ‘global majority.’

Faced with such complexities, cartoonists have a dilemma. As the Sun’s Steve Bright says, ‘ You’re  damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If you don’t, you’re racist on the grounds of exclusion. If you do, unless there’s a perfect balance, you’re accused of tokenism, which is also racist. And if you achieve that mythical perfect balance – you’d have to draw 100 people in every cartoon, and colour them according to percentages of population – you’re obsessive, and quite possibly insane.’

Unfortunately, deconstructing cartoons sucks all the fun out of them. As the great Barry Cryer says, ‘Analysing comedy is like dissecting a frog. Nobody laughs and the frog dies.’ But it’s clear that cartoonists are caught between a rock and a hard place. The fact is, the issue just isn’t black and white.

This article first appeared in the 11 Sept 2021 issue of The Spectator

You can see Nick interviewed about this piece on  The Spectator’s Youtube channel. Bonus points to Nick for sporting a PCO badge.

A Peer at Herne Bay Cartoon Festival 2021

September 8, 2021 in Comment, Events, General

A carousel of cartoonists. Photo by © Ray Covey

Apologies for the late running of our usual photo gallery of the Herne Bay Cartoon Festival but pictures were delayed by the HGV lorry driver shortage…so blame Brexit/Covid.

Join me now as we take a not-so virtual tour up the pier…

Photo by © Jason Hollingsworth

The start of the traditional cartoonists’ parade, pencil led by Zoom and Ace Rockman who are also carrying the Steve Coombes Memorial Trilby. It was festival co-organiser Steve who instigated the annual musical ‘March of the Cartoonists’. Steve sadly passed away earlier in the year.

Board by © Zoom Rockman. Photo by © Jason Hollingsworth

Zoom’s was the first board you were greeted by on the pier. A splendid rendition of Boris Johnson’s bottom that you were invited to speak out of.

Board by © Zoom Rockman,

Martin Rowson demonstrating where Boris generally talks from.

Board by © Royston Robertson

I’ve often wondered how Royston constantly produces such a large volume of great gags…here’s your answer, he’s cloned himself!

Board by © Des Buckley. Photo by © Jason Hollingsworth

We had plenty of Covid at the festival this year, thankfully in the cartoons rather than in the cartoonists.

Here’s Des Buckley’s ‘JABS’ movie poster. Next year we’ll be expecting ‘JABS II – THE BOOSTER’.

Board by © James Mellor. Photo by © Karol Steele

A flotilla of topical cartoons from James Mellor.

Board by © The Surreal McCoy. Photo by © Karol Steele

I’m a huge fan of the absurdist humour of The Surreal McCoy.

Board by © Guy Veneables. Photo by © Karol Steele

Guy Venables – a man preparing himself for post big-board beer ownership.

Beachwear collection by © Glenn Marshall

Andy & Karol Steele before entering the ‘m a r s h a l l interactive plastic wave machine’.

Board by © Clive Goddard. Photo by © Karol Steele

Clive Goddard with his chief colourist Amy Amani.

Board by © Clive Goddard. Photo by © Karol Steele

Procartoonist Chairhuman Clive on the exulted PCO podium.

Board by © Rob Murray, Photo by © Ray Covey

Rob Murray about to launch his dating app for shingles.

Finished board by © Rob Murray

Board by © Chris Burke. Photo by © Ray Covey

A second wave of Boris cartoons. This one brushed up by Chris Burke.

Board by © Jeremy Banx. Photo by © Karol Steele

Banx draws a blank.

Board by © Jeremy Banx. Photo by © Karol Steele

Jeremy’s board with filling.

Board by © Martin Rowson. Photo by © Ray Covey

More Boris, this time from the venerable Martin Rowson. He’s left the best bit to last.

Board by © Kathryn Lamb. Photo by © Karol Steele

Finally at the end of the pier K J lamb has yet another Boris stranded out at sea in a ‘Lie Boat’. Surely a typo?

Photo by © Karol Steele

Alex Hughes manning (or should that be personing?) caricature corner.

There is also a great film record of the event by Dave Painter of HUTC productions. You can enjoy it here.

Plaudits to Sue Austen and the team for getting the festival together this year under such trying circumstances.

Thanks to festival regulars Karol Steele and Ray Covey plus festival coordinator Jason Hollingsworth for the photos in the absence of usual PCO snapper Kasia Kowalska.

Herne Bay Cartoon Festival Sets Sail Again

July 3, 2021 in Comment, Events, General, News

Herne Bay Cartoon Festival is back this year. We weren’t able to gather in 2020 for obvious reasons, and when we meet again this summer we will sadly be missing some friends including festival co-organiser Steve Coombes who passed away last December. His tireless enthusiasm and joi de vivre will be missed so much at the festival. Here is a wonderful tribute to Steve that appeared in The Guardian by his partner Sue Austen. Sue ran the festival with Steve since it started in 2013 and she is at the helm this year.

Caricature of Steve Coombes on the Herne Bay Pier carousel by © Dave Brown

This year’s title and theme is Herne Bay Cartoon Festival Takes to the Waves. We are expecting a flood of cartoons about the oceans with the kind of jokes we have come to expect from our cartoonist contributors. (See Royston Robertson‘s fabulous poster for examples)  Our exhibition of new work and old jokes will be open at Beach Creative, Beach Street, Herne Bay, CT6 5PT from 23 July until 19 August.

Des Buckley mid hang at Beach Creative. Photo by Yagmur Coombes.

Cartooning Live will once again be on Herne Bay Pier on Sunday 1 August from 12 noon. Amongst those involved are PCO members Martin Rowson, Rob Murray, Clive Goddard, The Surreal McCoy, Jeremy Banx, Chris Burke, Kathryn Lamb, Alex Hughes, James Mellor, Des Buckley, Guy Venables, poster boy Royston Robertson plus last and least Glenn Marshall.

And there will be an exhibition of the popular Daily Express cartoonist Giles at The Seaside Museum, 12 William Street, Herne Bay, CT6 5EJ open from 10 July to 7 August. In 2020 the Giles Family celebrated its 75thanniversary. We had planned an exhibition last year in collaboration with the The British Cartoon Archive at the University of Kent. So, a year later, we are presenting The Giles Family Holiday at Home. From the start the family enjoyed many holidays together and days out. So, in a year when we are all encouraged to take a ‘staycation’ our exhibition explores some of the joys of the British seaside holiday, whatever the weather!

On Saturday 31 July 2.00pm at Beach Creative there will be ‘Raise Three Fingers for Myanmar’. It’ll be a workshop run by The Surreal McCoy for all the family to create a wall of three finger salutes in support of the people of Myanmar.

#threefingers for Myanmar campaign

March 21, 2021 in Comment, General, News

The Surreal McCoy writes:

In collaboration with artists and creatives in Myanmar (formerly Burma), PCO are running #threefingers a social campaign in support of local cartoonists and artists, and in recognition of the deteriorating situation there. A landslide election for the National League for Democracy party was overthrown by a brutal military coup on February 1, 2021, sparking a national Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM). 

Cartoon © Steve Bright

PCO members have been drawing a selfie giving the three fingered salute in solidarity with the movement. The three-fingered salute has become a symbol of resistance in protest and in art. Across the milk tea nations, from Myanmar to Thailand to Hong Kong, the gesture represents a global solidarity for democracy, defiance against tyranny, and the fight for freedom.

Cartoon © Dave Brown

The Tatmadaw (Burmese Army) has cracked down hard on protestors, as they have in previous civil uprisings. They have reigned with terror in Myanmar’s border states for generations, leading a vicious campaign to remove the Rohingya minority from the country, in 2017.

Cartoonists protest in Yangon.

Myanmar artists have used their art to project the nation’s voice and call upon artists and allies from all nations to raise three fingers for human rights, freedom and democracy.

Cartoon © Zunar

We are partnering with the Burma Campaign UK and Three Fingers.org, to bring the campaign to a global audience. The artwork will be displayed on the site with a view to selling (with the creator’s permission). All proceeds will be directed to Mutual Aid Myanmar, an organisation assisting civil society in Myanmar.

Cartoon © Kerina Stevens

Please retweet/repost whenever you can with the hashtag #threefingers and these social media handles:

https://twitter.com/Raise3Fingers

https://www.instagram.com/raise3fingers/

https://www.tiktok.com/@raise3fingers

Cartoon © Jeremy Banx

Cartoon © Rupert Besley

Cartoon © Steve Jones

Cartoon © Des Buckley

Cartoon © Martin Rowson

The PCO Cartoon Review of the Year 2020

December 28, 2020 in General, Links, News

Cartoon by © Andy Davey.

Glenn Marshall wrote:

Once more my friends it’s time for the PCO Cartoon Review of the Year, featuring work from members of the PCO (speech) bubble. It’s been a difficult year to find humour in, although it would be a nightmare for cartoonists if any year was filled with just love, joy and kittens! I ended last year’s review with “So what fresh horrors will 2020 have in store?” – how little did we know!

As we chase off 2020 (envisioned above by Andy Davey for The Telegraph) one story seems to have dominated this year’s review over all others. Just for fun, see if by the end you can spot which one it is?

Cartoon by © Dean Patterson

To start us off the this cartoon by Dean Patterson sums up the year in one image.

Cartoon by © Andrew Fraser

Some family entertainment by Drew in Private Eye.

Cartoon by © The Surreal McCoy

This cartoon by Ms McCoy was from Lockdown 1.0 but works equally well now for Lockdown 2.5 (and counting)

Cartoon by © Matt Percival

…and from check-in let’s move on to the baggage area with a Percival cartoon reclaimed from The Spectator.

Cartoon by © Nick Newman

Nick Newman in the The Sunday Times on the looooong running Dom Com. In a questionnaire in The Sunday Times Nick recently cited this cartoon as a favourite he’d done this year.

Cartoon by © Glenn Marshall 

Some testing times for Cummings back in May.

Cartoon by © Rebecca Hendin

Rebecca Hendin’s very own lockdown guidelines appeared in the New Statesman.

Cartoon by © Jeremy Banx

Masker vs Anti-masker featuring Batman and Superspreader from Banx in the Financial Times. Jeremy was recently voted ‘Pocket Cartoonist of the Year’. You can see a report on the awards by PCO Chair-human Clive Goddard on the PCO YouTube Channel.

Cartoon by © Clive Goddard

…and talking of Clive Goddard.- in other news (was there any other news I hear you ask?) here’s Harry and Meghan doing some extreme social distancing from the family by Clive.

Cartoon by © Steve Bell

Can’t a have a cartoon review of the year without some Donald – hopefully not so much in next year’s! This splendid reworking of the Delacroix painting  ‘Liberty Leading the People’ (more like ‘Liability Bleeding the People’) is by Steve Bell in The Guardian. Steve was voted ‘Political Cartoonist of the Year’ in the afore-mentioned awards.

Cartoon by © Andy Davey

…and in The Daily Telegraph Andy Davey poured ‘Scorn’ (other bleaches are available) on Donald Trump.

Cartoon by © Sarah Boyce

The Black Lives Matter movement started after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Here is a creative twist on the phrase from Sarah Boyce published in PE.

Cartoon by © Rupert Besley

INTERLUDE: As a diversion from relentless bad news stories here’s a lovely, soothing cartoon and drawing from Rupert Besley.

Cartoon by © Chris Williams

School days are supposed to be the haPPEiest of our lives! Here’s Dink on the return to school in September.

Cartoon by © Tat Effby

The taking down of public statues also led on from the birth of Black Lives Matter. Later in the year there was a furore about the Mary Wollstonecraft memorial sculpture by artist Maggi Hambling. Tat Effby successfully clashes the two stories with a nude Clive of India.

Cartoon by © Steve Jones

In lack of live Entertainment News: Jonesy reports for Private Eye on the new rules for theatre goers…

Cartoon by © Kipper Williams

…and Kipper Williams took us to the cinema in The Spectator.

Cartoon by © Royston Robertson

Excellent cartoon from our technology correspondent Royston Robertson. I think we’re all suffering from a bit of this, indeed I’m sure I have ‘Long Zoom Fatigue’

Cartoon by © Martin Rowson

Didn’t have to have my arm twisted to use this pretty bullying cartoon by Martin Rowson for Kevin Maguire’s The Mirror column.

Cartoon by © Graeme Bandeira

In sports news Graeme Bandeira puts his hand to a caricature of Maradona for The Yorkshire Post. For some bonus content you can see Graeme’s cartoon that won ‘Political Cartoon of the Year’ in the awards report mentioned earlier,

Cartoon by © James Mellor 

In more sports news James Mellor takes to the fairways. Like many I took up indoor grouse shooting.

Cartoon by © Guy Venables

Back to Trump who, at time of going to press, STILL hasn’t lost the election. This by Guy Venables in his regular slot for The Metro.

Cartoon by © Ed Nay

Clever drawing by Nay. Can you see what is yet?

Cartoon by © Steve Bright

A contender for Man(iac) of the Year, the dyed-hair Trumpublican attorney Rudy Giuliani. I loved this caricature by Brighty.

Cartoon by © Pete Dredge

A substantially funny cartoon from Pete Dredge served up in The Spectator.

Cartoon by © Pete Songi

A fabulous homage to Hogarth’s ‘Gin Lane’ by Pete Songi culled from Martin Rowson’s twittersphere #Draw2020challenge.

Cartoon by © Dave Brown

Talk about Johnson being out of his depth with everything from PPE, Cumming’s eye tests, track and disgrace etc etc etc, You feel Boris just hasn’t got it….well he did get it, but you know what I mean. This from The Independent by Dave Brown really sums up Boris’ year.

Cartoon by © Roger Penwill

Roger Penwill takes to the road for ‘Roadway’ (the magazine from the Road Haulage Association). It’s about the Kent lorry parks post Brexit, but became even more relevant with the closed border before Christmas.

Cartoon by © Wilbur Dawbarn

This BBC balanced offering from Wilbur plucked from The Spectator…

Cartoon by © Zoom Rockmann

…and more Christmas fun. This taking the Santa knee from Zoom Rockman in the Private Eye Christmas special..

Cartoon by © Chris Burke

Let’s end the year with this lovely festive offering from Chris Burke, it’s what we all wanted in our stockings this year.

So a Happy? New Year from all at PCO megacorp.

Now, I wonder what fresh horrors 2021 will have in store?

Cartoon by © Martin Rowson for The Mirror Kevin Maguire column.

 

Cartoonists Rally Round Birthday Boy Carson

August 5, 2020 in General

Cartoon by © Martin Rowson

Dean Patterson writes:

Recently a lot of the best cartoonists in the UK, including many PCO members, went out of their way to draw a birthday wish for Carson, who is a very sick little boy with a brain tumour and had to spend his birthday in hospital getting chemotherapy…

Cartoon by © KJ Lamb

The boy’s family really wanted to send their thanks and let the cartoonists know what it meant to them. (They felt the cartoonists went beyond what could have been hoped for!)

Cartoon by © Andrew Fraser

I know everyone who contributed is very busy and their time important and it meant a lot, really, that so many still contributed. When I sent them over to his Dad he was utterly gobsmacked, with tears in eyes. His Grandfather also got in touch to ask me to convey his thanks to all concerned.

Cartoon by © Russel Herneman

So thank you! Not just from me but especially from the boy’s family for helping them celebrate the little lad’s birthday.

Cartoon by © Jeremy Banks

Cartoon by © Steve Jones

Cartoon by © Graeme Keyes

Cartoon by © Mike Stokoe

Cartoon by © Harry Burton

Cartoon by © Mumph

Cartoon by © Dean Patterson

Cartoon by © Ron McGeary

Cartoon by © James Mellor

Cartoon by © Glenn Marshall

Why does no one want to be a cartoonist any more? The lack of new blood doesn’t bode well for the industry’s future

July 25, 2020 in Comment, General

Written by Nick Newman for (and courtesy of) The Spectator with bonus cartoon content.

‘Nightmare!’ is how The Spectator’s cartoon editor Michael Heath has been describing cartooning for at least 30 years, but it’s truer now than ever. Eighty years ago, cartoonists were so celebrated that waxworks of Low, Strube and Poy were displayed in Madame Tussauds. Today, all that remains of Low is a pair of waxy hands in Kent University’s British Cartoon Archive. We are a vanishing species.

A © K.J. Lamb cartoon from Cherwell Magazine done during the time Kathryn was still at college.

There is a lack of new blood in the industry that doesn’t bode well for the future. When I was a student, getting published in Punch and Private Eyewas seen as the pinnacle of a career in humour. Many tried —and succeeded — from an early age. K.J. Lamb was selling gags to the Eyewhile still at Oxford. Ken Pyne was published in Punch when just 16 — as was Grizelda in Private Eye. The FT’s Banx was also a Punch stalwart by the time he was 20. That was then. Now we are all middle-aged and there are few youngsters snapping at our heels. The last time six cartoonists met at a Spectator party we had a combined age of over 350. In a recent photo of Eye cartoonists, featuring 45 of the top names, only one was under 30.

Punch cartoon from 1983 by a youthful © Jeremy Banks

Yet there’s every indication that cartoons are as loved by the public as ever. They are tweeted, shared, posted on Instagram; they go viral and get printed out and stuck on fridges. Pocket cartoons, pioneered by Sir Osbert Lancaster in the 1930s, are a particularly British art form and one that is still prized. Editors place topical gags on the front pages of newspapers, a practice rarely seen in France, Germany or America.

So why the dearth of new cartooning talent? The simple answer is that the opportunities have narrowed. Since the death of Punch, the main outlets for freelancers are Private Eye, The Spectator and the Oldie — and competition is fierce. Private Eye receives more than 500 submissions per issue and publishes up to 50. Every newspaper used to have regular pocket cartoonists — now only a handful survive. In straitened times for print media, the cartoons are often the first to go. Many of us lost work when lockdown was announced.

Another problem is financial. Some publications haven’t raised their rates since before the fall of the Berlin Wall, while others pay as little as £50 per cartoon. Compare that with the New Yorker, which is reported to pay between $700 and $1,400 per gag, depending on the artist’s ‘seniority’. One British publisher once asked me: ‘If we pay more, will the jokes be any funnier?’ I wish now I had said yes.

It isn’t just the lack of money that’s deterring new talent. There is also fear of failure. Rejection is a way of life for even seasoned cartoonists and today’s snowflakes can’t cope with it. I recently encouraged a promising young cartoonist to try The Spectator, which he did with immediate success. I still warned him: ‘You will get rejected. Everyone gets rejected.’ After two issues of ‘no thanks’ he has abandoned cartooning.

We veteran cartoonists do try to encourage the next generation, although it’s akin to committing professional suicide. The Cartoon Art Trust’s Young Cartoonist competition — judged by Fleet Street cartoonists — receives 1,000 entries a year. We joke that the objective is to identify the talent and then break their little fingers, but we stupidly don’t, and instead celebrate new stars and extra competition. Former winner Will McPhail is now a New Yorker regular; Rob Murray draws for Private Eye and the Sunday Times; Ella Baron for the TLS. All were in their twenties when they won, which suggests the talent is out there.

© Rob Murray’s first cartoon in Private Eye.

Oliver Preston, chairman of the Cartoon Art Trust, thinks alternative outlets distract comic artists. Graphic novels such as Kingsman, which was turned into a successful Hollywood movie franchise, are a more enticing means of earning aliving. Also, the ability to self-publish online cuts out editors who say, in the words of Heath: ‘You are not funny, Mr So-Called Funnyman.’ Ruby Elliot is a young illustrator better known as ‘rubyetc’ on Instagram, where she has 277,000 followers. Through her website, she sells merchandise, artwork and subscriptions to her cartoons.

Jon Harvey, the creator of Count Binface (who stood against Boris in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat in the last election), is the sort of sharp-minded political gagster who in another era would have drawn up his ideas and sold them to publications. Instead, he puts his jokes on Twitter to boost his online profile. It’s quicker, the response is immediate and, as he quips: ‘The editor of my Twitter page is more likely to take it.’ The theory is that getting noticed online may lead to commissions for radio and TV. He describes the internet as a ‘Wild West’ of opportunities for those who know how to self-promote or nurture a following.

For those of us brought up on dead wood who still find magic in newsprint, it may be too late to grasp these opportunities. So we continue to live the ‘nightmare’. How long the nightmare continues remains to be seen.

With many thanks to The Spectator for allowing us to reproduce this piece.

You can see an item featuring Nick on this story from BBC Newsnight (around 37 mins in)

Not the 2020 Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival

April 24, 2020 in Events, General, News

Cancelled poster by © Roger Penwill

Glenn Marshall writes:

This weekend would have seen the main events of the Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival  but sadly, like so much else, it has had to be cancelled. One of the organisers, Roger Penwill, commented a few weeks ago when the postponement was announced “We felt that we had no choice as the nature of the event, encouraging many members of the public to come to an indoor space, ran contrary to the guidance on tackling virus spread. More importantly we did not want to put at risk the health of any member of the cartooning community or their families”

The theme was ‘twenty twenty vision’ so the organising committee should’ve been visionary and seen Covid 19 coming!

In the meantime, here for your edification and delight, is a selection of optical illusionary cartoons selected by Roger that would’ve been part of the the Bear Steps Gallery exhibition. All drawn from/by the PCO fraternity.

In alphabetical order:

Cartoon © Nathan Ariss

Cartoon © Jeremy Banx

Cartoon © Rupet Besley

Cartoon © Andy Davey

Cartoon © Ian Baker

Cartoon © Neil Dishington

Cartoon © Pete Dredge

Cartoon © Tat Effby

Cartoon © Clive Goddard

Cartoon © James Griffiths

Cartoon © Jonesy

Cartoon © Kathryn Lamb

Cartoon © Chris Madden

Cartoon © Roger Penwill

Cartoon © Glenn Marshall

Cartoon © Ken Pyne

Cartoon © Royston Robertson

Cartoon © The Surreal McCoy

Cartoon © Wilbur Dawbarn

Cartoon © Kipper Williams

Cartoon © Noel Ford

This final cartoon is by the great Noel Ford (who I should really rechristen Noel Zord to keep alphabetic consistency) Sadly Noel died last year. He had been very involved with the festival since its inception and part of this year’s events was to be a retrospective exhibition of his wonderful work.

Thanks to Roger and all the others who’d put a lot of effort into preparation for this year’s jamboree, including Sarah Knapp, Tim King, Tat Effby, Jonathan Cusick and Jill Wild. Hopefully the Shrewsbury cartoon spectacle will be able to be rescheduled in the near future.

On Saturday I’ll be off to do my self-isolated vision themed big board in the garden….

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.

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.