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Exhibition is animal magic

July 22, 2012 in Events, News

Animal crackers cartoon by Royston

Animal Crackers cartoon by Royston Robertson @

The exhibition Animal Crackers: A Cartoon and Comic Bestiary is at the Cartoon Museum in London from this Wednesday (July 25).

It looks at how animals have inspired all kinds of cartoonists across the ages, whether they are working in comics, political cartooning, magazine gag cartoons, newspaper strips or animation.

The show promises something for everyone with more than 140 cartoons, caricatures, comics and graphic novel pages by more than 60 artists. From political images, such as the Russian bear and the City fat cat, to Wallace and Gromit and The Bunny Suicides, all anthropomorphic animal life is here.

Some cartoons suggest how much animals are just like us, such as King Louie of The Jungle Book, or Fred Basset. Others, such as Simon Tofield’s Simon’s Cat and Norman Thelwell’s lovable ponies, highlight our pets’ irritating or endearing habits.

Animal Crackers cartoon by Nick Newman

Animal Crackers cartoon by Nick Newman

Animal Crackers includes works by major names from past and present, including Leo Baxendale, Simon Bond, Peter Brookes, Dave Brown, David Low, Mac, Matt, Chris Riddell, Ronald Searle, John Tenniel, Trog, Dudley D. Watkins and Gahan Wilson.

There’s a healthy showing of members, with Nathan Ariss, Ian Baker, Steve Bell, Andrew Birch, Andy Davey, Hunt Emerson, Jacky Fleming, Martin Honeysett, John Jensen, Nick Newman, right, Ken Pyne, Royston Robertson, above, Martin Rowson, Ralph Steadman, the Surreal McCoy, Colin Whittock, Kipper Williams and Mike Williams.

The exhibition runs until October 21. The Cartoon Museum is in Little Russell Street, near the British Museum. For further details, visit

Car-toons and situationist satire

April 24, 2012 in Events, News

French protest cartoons
As the French presidential election rumbles on, here are two example of cartoons of protest. A car is plastered with cartoons during a 20,000-strong rally in Paris, and feelings about Nicolas Sarkozy are made clear in a piece of situationist satire.

Pictures courtesy of Andrew Nickolds, co-writer of Radio 4’s Ed Reardon’s Week, via Nick Newman, Private Eye cartoonist and member.

by Royston

Private Eye: Looking good at 50

September 13, 2011 in Events, News

Private Eye at 50

Private Eye celebrates its 50th birthday next month and appears to be in rude health, bucking the downward trend for magazine circulation in the digital age.

The anniversary is October 25 but the celebrations start on Tuesday (September 20) with the release of a new book Private Eye: The First 50 Years, a history of the magazine written by the Eye journalist Adam Macqueen that charts its rise from 300 copies of the first edition in 1961, below, to a fortnightly circulation of more than 200,000.

First issue of Private Eye

The book features interviews with key players in the Private Eye story, rare archive material and unseen photos. (There are some “seen” ones too.) And, of course, there is an abundance of the cartoons that are so central to appeal of the magazine.

You can see more of those, including many by members of the PCO, which runs The Bloghorn, when the famously anti-establishment magazine puts on a First 50 Years exhibition at the very establishment Victoria and Albert Museum [Shurely shome mishtake? – Ed]. It opens at the V&A on October 18 and runs until January 8.

Cartoons will be shown in themed sections, on politics, royalty and social observation, and there will be gags, long-running strips and caricatures. The Bloghorn will have more on the exhibition nearer the time.

Ian Hislop, Editor of the magazine, has said of the 50th anniversary: “I do not want anyone to think that this is all just a huge celebration of ourselves. Our 50th year is a chance to look back and take a dispassionate view of how marvellous we are.”

You can read more on how marvellous they are in a Media Guardian article this week and even Vanity Fair is on the case with a piece by Christopher Hitchens. Updates on the 50th anniversary celebrations will appear on the Private Eye at 50 blog.

The Bloghorn is made on behalf of the UK’s Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation

by Royston

Powerful stuff goes on display

September 1, 2011 in Events

Has Bambi got teeth? by Peter Brookes

Artwork from the political cartoon collection of Jeffrey Archer is to go on show for the first time, at the Monnow Valley Arts Centre, Herefordshire, from Saturday (September 3).

Image of Power will feature 100 cartoons owned by the writer and former Tory MP who has been collecting cartoons for 25 years. They include this early image of Tony Blair, Has Bambi got teeth?, by Peter Brookes of The Times.

The exhibition, which spans three centuries from Gillray to Scarfe, is being curated by the art collector Chris Beetles. It features images of Churchill, Macmillan, Kennedy, Reagan, Nixon, Thatcher and more.

Lord Archer says on his website: “I continue collecting, as there are still gaps to be filled, but it’s my long-term intention to produce an illustrated book on the collection, and to leave the works to the nation. Mind you, finding a home for them may not prove easy. “

The exhibition will be opened by Lord Archer on Saturday at 3pm and runs until October 30.

Cartoons of the News of the World

July 12, 2011 in News

Rebecca Brooks cartoon by Dave Brown

Cartoon © Dave Brown of The Independent

The many strands of the the News of the World hacking scandal has meant that the story has been a gift for cartoonists from across the world’s media.

Some, such as Dave Brown of the Independent, above, concentrated on the Medusa-like qualities of Rebecca Brooks, but there were also many ruthless Ruperts and lots of rolling in the gutter. Here is the Bloghorn’s round up of the hacking humour you may have missed.

At the Guardian Steve Bell held the front page, while Martin Rowson took a metaphorical trip to Mordor. Meanwhile, Mac of the Daily Mail took a grave view of the situation.

Matt looked at the public’s moralising in the Telegraph, while Christian Adams suggested that David Cameron cannot easily wash his hands of the matter. On the website, Tobias Grubbe had plenty to say ‘pon the story.

At the Times Peter Brookes ponders on what bears do in the woods and Morten Morland looks at politicians on their high horse. (Subscription required.)

Back at the Indie, Peter Schrank depicted the leading players drinking in the Last Chance Saloon, while Tim Sanders got down and dirty. Alex Hughes at Tribune has the News of the Screwed while Andrew Birch wonders if Murdoch will make a deep cut.

There are lots of great foreign takes on the subject over at, including a funeral scene by Martin Sutovec of Slovakia, Dave Granlund of the US on yesterday’s fish’n’chip paper, and a reptilian Rupert by Luojie of China.

With the story set to run and run, readers can expect lots more.

by Royston

Mocking the twits of the 19th century

June 21, 2011 in News

Prince Regent by George CruikshankTwitter is a thorn in the side of the courts today, with the superinjunctions row, but in the early 19th century the publisher William Hone used the communications technology of his day — pamphlets and cartoons — to keep one step ahead of the law.

Jonathan Freedland looks at these seditious cartoons, and takes a trip to the Cartoon Museum to view the work of George Cruikshank, in the first in a new series of Radio 4’s The Long View.

This 1819 caricature of the Prince Regent by Cruikshank, right, is from Hone’s The Political House that Jack Built. Freedland finds that as with Twitter today, information spread through the populace far ahead of the law’s ability to keep up with it, via the collaboration between Hone and Cruikshank.

The Long View is on BBC Radio 4 at 9.30pm tonight, and is available on the BBC iPlayer now. It is also available as a podcast for 30 days.

by Royston

Political cartoonist has it covered

May 24, 2011 in News

IMF cartoon by Gary Barker
Everyone needs a break from time to time, and when regular cartoonists on national papers take time off it’s an opportunity for others to cover for them and show what they can do.

This week Gary Barker, a member of the PCO which runs the Bloghorn, is covering for Steve Bell at the Guardian. His Monday editorial cartoon is above, he will also do the Thursday and Saturday drawings.

Gary told the Bloghorn that he had covered at various national papers, and had been hoping to have a go at the Guardian. “My last cover was for the Trevor Kavanagh column in the Sun and I know he is an influential character Westminster. So I emailed the Guardian art director and mentioned Trevor’s name. It was either that or my timing was lucky, because I was offered a couple of days almost straight away.”

Covering is a tricky business though. By moving from paper to paper the cartoonist may have to adapt to different stances on political issues.

“All newspapers have different approaches, from almost ‘Hands-off and do as you like’, right through to ‘Can we have A standing in such a way, and B saying this and carrying a cabbage and a gramophone’. I’ll leave you all to make your minds up as to which political slant is likely to be the more prescriptive,” said Gary.

Covering for others is a rite of passage for political cartoonists. Other PCO members who have taken that route include Patrick Blower, Andy Bunday, Alex Hughes, Morten Morland, Martin Rowson, and Bloghorn’s own Matt Buck.

Matt said: “Me and my cartoon shadow is a hard game to play. It takes time to build a personal relationship with an audience of readers so stepping into someone’s ‘spot’ can feel like mission impossible.”

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.

Cartooning looks to the future

April 6, 2011 in Comment

Matt Bors comic strip excerpt
There’s no doubt that the news media is undergoing something of a traumatic transitional phase, as the move towards digital continues.

But the people who make the cartoons that go with the news appear to have it even worse, particularly in America. As The Economist has noted, those at the forefront of news and comment on the internet, such as The Huffington Post, and Rupert Murdoch’s new venture The Daily, do not appear to believe that cartoons are part of the package.

The magazine has spoken to the cartoonist Matt Bors – see his excerpt from a graphic travelogue covering a trip to Afghanistan, above – to discuss different ways that editorial cartoons can evolve, in an article on the future of cartooning.

Cartooning on the Frontline

February 4, 2011 in News

Photograph: Antje Bormann

PCO member Martin Rowson delivered a talk on Caricatures and Commentary to the Frontline Club in London this week.

In discussion with Radio 4’s Laurie Taylor Martin spoke about subjects ranging from his caricatures of patrons at the Gay Hussar restaurant to the abolition of the Licensing Act in 1695 and taking in influences from William Hogarth, James Gillray and David Low on the way.

This was followed by a lively question and answer session where he fielded enquiries about how he deals with new political figures and the Danish Muhammed cartoons.

The talk can be seen in full (all one and a half hours of it) at the Frontline Club’s website.