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The Round-up

February 8, 2013 in General, Links, News

© Kevin Siers for The Charlotte Observer

Kevin Siers, editorial cartoonist for The Charlotte Observer, has found his name on a list of hostiles kept by the National Rifle Association. Read Siers’ response here.

Mike Lynch tells an amusing story – through the medium of cartoons, naturally – about his early attempts to sell gags to that most notoriously esoteric of markets, The New Yorker. Read The Petty Indignities That Ruin My Life here.

Elsewhere, New Yorker cartoonists have been trying out an Etch A Sketch app – with decidedly mixed results. The experiment was so disastrous for Mick Stevens that it resulted in him speaking out against all forms of digital drawing. Read more, and see their attempts, here.

Lafayette, Louisiana newspaper The Advertiser provides a full and comprehensive answer to a reader’s question about how political cartoons are selected (be sure to click through to page 2 for the full response).

And finally, for those with an interest in animation, has compiled a list of 25 cartoons that aren’t for children.

The Round-up

September 14, 2012 in General, Links, News

© Mick Stevens/The New Yorker @

A recent New Yorker cartoon by Mick Stevens, above, led to a temporary ban on the magazine’s Facebook page this week, because it apparently broke the social network’s decency rules. Bob Mankoff, the New Yorker’s cartoon editor, looks in detail at the supposed offence on his blog.

The latest collection of Punch artwork focuses on the full-colour, and often full-page, cartoons, illustrations and caricatures that graced the magazine’s pages throughout the 20th century. The Best of Punch Cartoons in Colour also features a large number of cover illustrations and artist biographies, and includes work by FougasseE H Shepard, Trog, Quentin Blake, Norman Thelwell and member Mike Williams, among many others.  See more here.

Kevin Kallaugher, political cartoonist for The Economist under his pen name KAL, provides an interesting overview of how his depictions of US leaders have changed as they have been weathered by their time in office (for similar insights from other cartoonists, see last week’s Round-up).

And finally, Forbidden Planet responds to a BBC report about the decline in reading among children, by calling on adults to help create new comic readers.



by Royston

Remember the first time?

March 6, 2012 in General, News

Bob Mankoff illustration

Bob Mankoff, cartoon editor at The New Yorker, has invited several established cartoonists to talk about their first gags that hit the mark at the magazine.

First up was Mick Stevens, followed by Jack Ziegler. Both are now considered to be part of the “old or at least oldish guard now”, says Mankoff on his New Yorker blog, but they were new once. First-time memories from the cartoonists Roz Chast and Michael Maslin will follow.

Mankoff himself told the story of how he broke through as a cartoonist at the magazine in three parts here, here, and here in 2010. 

Cartoon by Bob Mankoff

Osama jokes: The laughter of being alive

May 3, 2011 in Comment

Cartoon by Mick Stevens © The New Yorker

Cartoon by Mick Stevens © The New Yorker

Over at the New Yorker blog, cartoon editor Bob Mankoff notes that Osama bin Laden had disappeared off their humour radar for a while, the 2007 cartoon above being his last appearance.

He takes a look at Bin Laden cartoons down the years and notes that in the age of terrorism – and this is no doubt acutely true in the city that suffered the worst al-Qaida attack – “the unspoken point was that laughter was part of being alive”. Read the article here.

Meanwhile, the PCO’s own Bill Stott looks here at how caricaturists can deflate the fear of tyrants and terrorists, even if their shadowy nature can make it difficult:

As “the world’s most wanted man”, Osama bin Laden had also been among the most caricatured. His very distinctive features were a gift to satirical artists, as was his dress code, alternating as it did between Arabic tradition and military camouflage.

I wonder if our doughty band of caricaturists has already perfected their versions of his successor. Who he? Well, he is an Egyptian academic, a surgeon no less, called Ayman al-Zawahiri.

He will now, in Western eyes at least, don the leader’s mantle. But al-Zawahiri, at first glance, does not have the strong facial characteristics of Bin Laden. He looks like a bespectacled 60-something scholar.

How things have changed. Despite leaps in communication technology, we don’t really know what al-Qaida’s movers and shakers look like. During the Second World War, our caricaturists had all the Nazi hierarchy off to a tee. From Hitler himself down through Goering, Himmler, Ribbentrop and Goebbels, caricaturists had a field day. Humour proved to be a very effective deflater.

The difference now is that al-Qaida supremos are mostly very secretive, and are visual mysteries. They don’t strut about the place like the Nazis did. So it’s harder for our caricaturists to diminish them through humour as effectively.

Fear of terrorism, of this facelessness, gives it the weapon of sinister mystery. And I’m not talking about religious differences here and the questionable decisions of Danish publishers, but wondering, just wondering, if the al-Qaida bogeyman couldn’t be cut down to size – just a little – by our excellent caricaturists.

Got any thoughts on the humour used to attack tyrants and terrorists? Comments welcome below, as ever.

by Royston

Copyright concerns as cartoons go West

August 5, 2010 in Comment

New Yorker cartoon with Kanye West tweet caption
“Hangover’s ain’t good man… hangover’s ain’t good”

The re-captioning of existing New Yorker cartoons, using verbatim ramblings from the Twitter feed of Kanye West, have been raising laughs on various websites.

The trend was started by a pair of US comedians and has been taken up by others. From a cartoonist’s point of view there are clearly issues with copyright, but the New Yorker appears fairly relaxed about it.

This may be because the results, despite West’s dodgy grammar and spelling, are surprisingly effective. The Mick Stevens cartoon above has a certain bizarre charm to it, and this writer’s particular favourite is the Alex Gregory cartoon of two Viking invaders on a beach where one is now saying, “This is gonna be a dope ass day.”

But you wonder what the reaction will be if the trend continues and quality dips. And, of course, it’s unlikely the cartoonists will be seeing further remuneration as their cartoons fly around the world.

The Huffington Post has more on the copyright implications and you can see the cartoons here.

by Royston

The Cartoonists' Olympics

August 13, 2008 in General

Bored with the Beijing Olympics already? Don’t worry, there’s always the Cartoonists’ Olympics.

At least there is in the mind of the New Yorker cartoonist Mick Stevens. He imagines what the 2008 Magazine Cartoonists’ Olympic Games would be like on his aptly named blog I really should be drawing.

Events include: The Reject-Toss (see above) in which contestants toss crumpled-up balls of paper containing unsuccessful ideas across a large room, attempting to hit a small wastebasket on the other side; and Drawing-Table Tennis, which involves two cartoonists batting ideas back and forth across a drawing table until the ideas become completely unrecognizable and devoid of humour.

Any cartoonists wishing to take part in these Olympics, please note: caffeine is a banned substance.

The PCO: British cartoon talent