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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 Now, however, that question has been replaced by “are there any new angles to be had from the one, same, monolithically large single news story of the decade?”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.

The Round-up

August 19, 2012 in General, Links, News

© DC Thomson

The Dandy has received a huge amount of media interest since our post earlier this week about the comic’s struggle for survival, and sadly it has now been announced the last print edition will be published in December.

Judge Dredd co-creator John Wagner has paid tribute to the comic, and the Dandy cartoonists Jamie Smart, Lew Stringer and Procartoonists.org member Alexander Matthews have all said their piece in support of the comic, which will continue online. In a report for the BBC, Anita O’Brien, curator at The Cartoon Museum in London, points out that this does not signal the demise of comics as a format.

In happier Dandy-related news, publisher DC Thomson has teamed up with the University of Dundee to launch a competition asking cartoonists to revamp one of the comic’s old characters. Read more here.

Cartoonist Joe Sacco talks about the inevitable impact of subjectivity and morality on his war reportage, while a thought-provoking article considers the importance of truth and honesty in autobiographical comics.

Finally, Matt Pritchett, the celebrated pocket cartoonist for The Telegraph, tells the paper about how his experience of the housing market has inspired some of his pithiest cartoons.

Round-up:What the Bloghorn saw

June 3, 2011 in News

Rob Murray writes:

The Telegraph‘s Hay Festival coverage includes an interview with the paper’s own longstanding pocket cartoonist, Matt Pritchett, in which he talks about how he got started, his typical work process and the challenges of producing a daily cartoon. You can read the entire piece here.

Elsewhere, New Yorker cartoonist Bruce Eric Kaplan (BEK) has shared an excerpt from his illustrated story about a man trying to come up with the perfect graduation speech. The picture book – like most BEK cartoons – combines concise, dark writing with sparse line drawings, and can be sampled on the Huffington Post blog.

Another New Yorker contributor, the self-effacing cartoonist and illustrator Ivan Brunetti, is profiled by the Chicago Tribune here.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports on an embarassing situation for German newspaper Die Zeit that should serve as a reminder to all topical and political cartoonists – namely, keep track of who’s in charge.

 

The gifts of the cartoonist

December 1, 2010 in General, News

Telegraph cartoonist Matt Pritchett appears at a Question Time event this evening.

© Matt the cartoonist and Matt Pritchett and Telegraph Media Group

© Matt Pritchett and Telegraph Media Group

The long-time pocket cartoonist at the Telegraph will be appearing at the Chris Beetles Gallery in St James’s in London from 6pm-8pm to promote a new book.

The gallery tell us a large selection of Matt’s original artwork will be displayed and he will be available to dedicate pictures for  friends and loved ones for a memorable gift.

Bloghorn says you can reach many cartoonists from UK and international publications using the contact details at our membership portfolios

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.

Cartoon Pick of the Week

October 9, 2009 in Links, News

Bloghorn spotted this great work during this week ending the 9th October 2009.

One: Matt in the Daily Telegraph on the Conservatives becoming more frank

Two: Dave Brown in the Independent on being in it together

Three: Robert Leighton in the New Yorker on driving and texting

Bonus Video: The Guardian‘s Steve Bell explains why he draws David Cameron as a jellyfish

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent
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Cartoon Pick of the Week

June 5, 2009 in Links, News

Bloghorn spotted this great work during this week ending the 5th June 2009.

One: Matt from the Daily Telegraph on Gordon in isolation.

Two: Mick Stevens in the New Yorker on modern publishing.

Three: and finally, Mac in the Daily Mail on picking the new cabinet– “Mrs Perkins. How would you like to be Home Secretary?”

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent
Subscribe to The Foghorn – our print cartoon magazine

Matt Pritchett wins print Cartoonist of the Year

March 31, 2009 in General

Victory to The Daily Telegraph’s pocket cartoonist at the British Press Awards. Via. The full list of nominees this year is here.

Morning glory: Matt on April 1st 2009 in the Daily Telegraph.

Cartoon Pick of the Week

August 22, 2008 in Links, News


Bloghorn spotted this great work this week…

One: Holland in the Oldie on Playing Health and Safety

Two:
Matt of the Telegraph on the GCSE results

Three:
Peter Schrank of The Independent on Russian bears

British cartoon talent

by Royston

Pocket cartoonists: Endangered but vital

June 30, 2008 in General


The newspaper “pocket” cartoonist is a rare but hardy breed, says PCO Chairman Andy Davey.

Spare a thought for the humble pocket cartoonist, guv? Be warned – you’ll need your field glasses to catch them. The Guardian has not replaced David Austin who died in in 2005. But even though they are a diminishing species due to this loss of habitat, there are several individuals in the field still visible. Pugh (The Times), Banx (Financial Times) and the untouchable Matt (Daily Telegraph) are all still going strong.

Pocket cartoons are still a pretty stout mainstay of British broadsheet front pages. And Matt is the only cartoonist to routinely get a name check during the newspaper round-up on Radio Four’s Today programme.

An Independent Line, a collection of cartoons from The Independent from the last fifteen years, now on show at the Political Cartoon Gallery, shows the work of one of the finest of the current dwindling crop – Tim Sanders.

Purely in terms of wall space and press coverage, Tim is drowned by his brothers-in-ink, Dave Brown and Peter Schrank. But as an observer of current social trends, he’s up there with the best.

Osbert Lancaster is often credited with establishing the format in UK newspapers, and a rich array of talent in the form of Mark Boxer and Mel Calman (whose work can still be seen on greetings cards) and others emerged in his wake.

Pocket gags are a slice of social history; you can gauge the feel of any era by looking at the pocket cartoons. To set the scene, define the characters and make a gag about current social or political trends is no mean feat in a single newspaper column, so hats off all round, please laydeezangennemen.

An Independent Line is at London’s Political Cartoon Gallery until October 18.

The PCO: British cartoon talent