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The Olden Phrase

September 30, 2020 in General, News

Tat Effby writes:

So, the idea for my cartoon series In The Olden Phrase came to me a while ago. But it seems in these Unprecedented Times™ of mixed messages, sneezing into elbows and talking out of arses, there’s never been a better time to share my guide to contemporary buzz-speak.

Language is ever-evolving and I’m not complaining, I love words and I’m no grammar fascist; less po-tay-toes, fewer po-tah-toes… whatevs.

But when did ‘getting in contact’ become Reaching Out, ‘in the future’ turn into Going Forward, and ‘household hints’ equate to Life Hacks? And when did Platform get ideas above its station?

As the buzz-phrases kept coming, and kept grating, so did the opportunities to take the mick, so I started to compile a phrase book guide to the new vocabulary, the idea growing out of my previous series, Back in My Day, that appeared in Private Eye, back in the day.

The series is launching on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @oldenphrase where you can follow my easy-to-use guide to help sort your Big Dick Energy from your Big Dick Emery or your Pansexuals from your Pan’s Peoples.

Yes, In The Olden Phrase is a means to poke fun at topical verbal guffery, but, if I’m being completely honest with myself, it’s also a Safe Space for me to understand the screaming insanity of the modern world. I hope it may help others too.

You’re welcs.

(So also… when did sentences have to start with So?)

Spectator Article: the future of cartooning

July 30, 2020 in Comment, General

A rare mass-gathering of Private Eye cartoonists in 2013 (Rob Murray standing, 9th from right)

Rob Murray writes in response to Nick Newman’s Spectator piece (see previous post):

Nick Newman, one of the UK’s best and most prolific gag cartoonists, has written an article for this week’s Spectator about the challenges facing our art form. He very kindly gives me a mention.

It makes for sobering reading: the number of open-call outlets for cartoonists has dropped massively in recent years; meanwhile, younger artists seem to be dissuaded by the likelihood of rejection, or simply prefer the perceived glamour and relative accessibility of monetising their work through social media platforms instead.

These are trends I recognise. When I was starting out as a cartoonist in the 2000s, more experienced nib-wielders would often tell me how unlucky I was to have missed out on Punch (which had folded several years earlier) – a magazine that would publish dozens of gags per issue, often phoning cartoonists out of the blue to offer them a double-page spread on which to go crazy.

These days, Private Eye is the undisputed champion of gag cartoons in this country, and I’m delighted to be counted among its regulars. The Spectator and The Oldie also provide a fair few spots – and encouragingly, there are new titles embracing the art form, such as the recently launched Critic magazine.

The issue of young cartoonists coming through is a tricky one to solve – and something of a doubled-edged sword.

One of Rob’s first Spectator cartoons © Rob Murray

I sold my first cartoons to Private Eye and The Spectator when I was 26; I’m now 39 and I’m only aware of two – yes, two – cartoonists younger than me who currently sell to these magazines.

At the risk of falling into fogeyisms, the evidence does seem to suggest that younger artists are dissuaded by the demands of the job: it’s great fun, but can also be hard graft – and it can take many, many rejections before you even sell your first gag. When I started, I was working long hours in a ‘proper’ job – then spending late nights at the drawing board to meet self-imposed deadlines for work that would never be published. But without doing that, I would never have broken through.

At the same time, every cartoonist is fighting for their inch of white space in these magazines – do I really need some young star player rocking up and giving me a run for my money? In a word, yes.

Without new talent coming through and attracting the attention of the editors, even the most cartoon-friendly magazines might eventually run out of decent material, and give up on the gags.

And yet the audience for cartoons remains strong and enthusiastic. They are hugely popular with readers – and people are immediately intrigued when I mention what I do for a living.

A very early © Rob Murray from Private Eye

Like any artist, the cartoonist needs to adapt to the marketplace. It’s true that it can be difficult (if not impossible) to make a living by relying exclusively on the best-known publications. And even with fewer new cartoonists on the scene, competition for space remains fierce.

To some extent, I see these big-name magazines as my shop window – the place I can show off some of my best work, and reach a big audience. I then try and use those credentials to find well-paying jobs elsewhere – often by tempting the editor of a more obscure or niche title to add my work to their pages, when they’ve previously never even thought of using cartoons.

Instead of assuming the art form will become extinct on the printed page, we should all be finding ways to create our own markets and ensure that cartoons are here to stay.

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)

Mike Turner 1942 – 2020

March 17, 2020 in News

Mike and Anita O’Brien at Ayr Cartoon Festival

Pete Dredge writes:

Like many cartoonists of a certain age, I first met Mike in the late 1970’s through membership of the Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain. In those days the Club would meet monthly in The Cartoonist Pub in London’s Shoe Lane, as well as regularly arranging various “out of town” weekend, brewery-sponsored jaunts and an annual 5 day convention at Butlins. Mike, being one of the most sociable of chaps you’d ever wish to meet, was in his element. Nothing cliquey about Mike, he would find the time to talk to anyone and everyone in the room. This of course was no mean feat and Mike would usually sustain this time-consuming endeavour with a pint of best bitter and pin-sharp wit to hand.

Mike was a slightly built Mancunian but had the constitution of an ox and would often be found propping up the bar into the wee small hours as others fell pathetically by the wayside. I have only twice gone 24 hours without sleep and both times were in Mike’s wonderful, mischievous company. The first was on the CCGB’s 1979 trip to New York and, more recently, at the Ayr Cartoon Festival in 2001.

Sadly Mike contracted prostate cancer about 7 years ago and this put paid to his legendary imbibing and although his treatment appeared to be successful the cancer returned a few months ago with devastating effect . I last saw Mike about 3 years ago but spoke to him regularly on the phone over the years. Latterly the usual ‘mock bewilderment ‘ conversations about the machinations of cartoon editors was gradually replaced by more serious discussions of a medical nature.

Mike was a great gag cartoonist (Private Eye, The Spectator, The Oldie etc) who should have graced the pages of magazines much more frequently than he did. He served the CCGB well, not only as a lifelong member but as a distinguished chairman and put great store on the importance of the newsletter as a means of keeping distant, more remote members in touch with what was going on. As well as being a member of the PCO, Mike was also a member and regular attendee of BCA dinners.

Mike and joyous laughter (seasoned with a hint of cynicism) were synonymous and I, and all his colleagues will miss him greatly.

 

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.

Herne Bay Cartoon Festival 2019 launch countdown

July 29, 2019 in Events, General, News

This year’s poster was created for the festival by © Marf.

Sue Austen (Festival Organiser) writes:

The Herne Bay Cartoon Festival has landed for another year. This is the seventh consecutive festival in the lovely Kent seaside town. The theme for this year is Fly Me to the Moon referencing the fiftieth anniversary of the first manned mission to the moon in 1969.

The Fly Me to the Moon exhibition is now open at Beach Creative featuring new work by PCO members including Dave Brown, Martin Rowson, Kathryn Lamb, Andrew Birch, Noel Ford, Tim Harries, Roger Penwill, Royston Robertson, Des Buckley, Kipper Williams, Jeremy Banx, Gerard Whyman, The Surreal McCoy, Rob Murray, Sarah Boyce, Glenn Marshall, Chris Burke, Neil Dishington, Jonesy and others.

Poster cartoon by © Steve (Jonesy) Jones.

Also open now is Book Marks at the Bay Art Gallery in William Street. Book Marks is a PCO exhibition on the theme of literature and books which has come to Herne Bay from Westminster Reference Library as the first small step on a planned tour of the solar system. The show features work by over 30 members of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation (PCO) including a host of familiar cartoonists from the pages of The Guardian, The Independent, Private Eye and the rest of the British press.

The festival’s third exhibition is One Giant Leap which will be open from Friday 2nd  August at The Seaside Museum, 12 William Street, CT6 5NR. This show features work on loan from the British Cartoon Archive held at the University of Kent. The exhibition includes original cartoons and artwork from the time of the moon landing in 1969, other Apollo missions and moon related stories.  Artists represented in the show include Giles, Trog, Garland, Jensen, Homer, Emmwood, Langdon, Gary Barker, Rowson and Dave Brown.More than 20 cartoonists and caricaturists will descend on Herne Bay for the weekend of 2nd- 4th August.  On Saturday 3rd Zoom Rockman hosts a cartoon workshop at Beach Creative and later the same day Roger Todd will run a puppet caricature workshop there.

On Sunday 4th the weekend culminates with the annual Cartooning Live event on Herne Bay Pier where the visiting artists create giant cartoons, aunt sallies and peep boards. We are promised a balloon Boris will be attacked by seagulls whilst astronaut ‘John’ Glenn (Marshall) will be attempting Herne Bay’s first moon landing on the town’s iconic pier.

For updates on the Herne Bay Cartoon Festival, follow @HBCartoonFest on Twitter or go to Facebook.com/HBCartoonFest.

With thanks to all our sponsors and supporters including Arts Council England, Canterbury City Council, British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent and the PCO.

Book Marks exhibition

June 5, 2019 in Events, General, News

Poster cartoons by © Sarah Boyce, The Surreal McCoy & Noel Ford.

Clive Goddard writes:

An exhibition of cartoons on the theme of books, literature and libraries drawn by the UK’s finest and funniest cartoonists. Appropriately enough the show will be taking place at Westminster Reference Library from June 3rd to 22nd and is free to enter.

The show features work by over 30 members of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation (PCO) including a host of familiar cartoonists from the pages of The Guardian, The Independent, Private Eye and the rest of the British press, whose signed originals and prints will be on sale. For a list of exhibitors & price list for the works please email:

info@procartoonists.org

Cartoon by © Chris Madden.

Cartoon by © Jeremy Banx.

During the exhibition, on Saturday 15th June 2-4 pm, there will be a free drawing workshop run by cartoonist Zoom Rockman, creator of the Zoom comic and the Beano’s Skanky Pigeon strip as well as work in Private Eye magazine. This event is free and suitable for all ages but spaces are limited so booking is highly recommended via the Westminster Libraries website.

Cartoon by The Independent’s © Dave Brown

Cartoon by © Richard Jolley.

Westminster Reference Library can be found at: 35 St. Martin’s Street, London WC2H 7HP.D

Cartoon by The Guardian cartoonist © Martin Rowson

Private Eye cartoon by © Glenn Marshall

 

 

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival 2019 preview

April 13, 2019 in Comment, Events, General

It’s only two weeks until Shrewsbury International Cartoons Festival. This years theme is ‘Animals’ and has a very full programme. This year all the speakers happen to be Procartoonists members.

 

Friday 26th, 7.30pm

Fist up on the Friday night The Guardian’s Steve Bell will share his lifelong close-up study of ‘Political Animals’, from Tarzan Hesletine to Leopard May on Friday 26th April. Tickets are £10 and can be booked online via this link. A donation will be made from the event to Guide Dogs UK.

Saturday 27th April, 10.30am

On Saturday Beano and Private Eye regular Zoom Rockman will be hosting a strip cartoon workshop. Zoom first started drawing his strip ‘Skanky Pigeon’ for the Beano when when he was just 12 years old!

Saturday 27th April, 11.00am

An exploration of the world of cartooning with ‘Fintan Fedora’ author, cartoonist and PCO Chair-human Clive Goddard.

Saturday 27th April, 1.30pm

After his earlier session Clive will be back again with more Fintan fun at new venue.

Saturday 27th April, 11.00am

The Surreal McCoy presents a preview of her audio-visual graphic memoir based on her Iraqi-Jewish family’s memories of their lost homeland.
The Wolf of Baghdad explores themes of displacement, refugees, identity and belonging.
After presenting an excerpt of the work, Carol will give an illustrated talk on the making of it and take questions from the audience in a Q and A.
Tickets can be booked online via this link.

Saturday 27th April, 12.00pm

An animal cartoon masterclass with Radio Times caricaturist Jonathan Cusick. Jonathan is also one of the festival organisers. You’ll be drawing using exhibits from the gallery, as Jonathan says ‘The great thing is the animals will not be moving’.

Team Goddard creating a big board at last years festival. 

On Saturday a menagerie of cartoonists will be be going animalistic drawing on big boards and caricaturing in the town square.

Throughout the weekend various exhibitions will be running including ‘Drawn To Be Wild’ at The Bear Steps Gallery and ‘The Lizards of Oz and Other Creatures’ an exhibition animal related cartoons by Australian cartoonist. More details on the festival website.

What’s your favourite cartoon book?

March 2, 2019 in Comment, General

We’ve been talking in the inner sanctums of the PCO forum about favourite books on cartoons/cartoonists. Here I share some of our choices:

Steve Jones (Jonesy)

I could easily have gone with Sempe, Stauber or Ungerer – Steadman, in particular, was a really close call – but Matt Jones’ mighty labour of love blew me away. Ronald Searle should be worshipped as a god.

 Pete Dredge

Apologies for blatant trumpet blowing and self promotion. It was a long time ago (1982). It won’t happen again. When my cartoon career first took off in 1976 I had quite a purple patch (now a long distant memory!) where everything I touched seemed to turn to gold (plate)! Today I’m scratching around (does the Weekly News still take gags??) but I can look back at those early successes with a nostalgic eye and be somewhat grateful that there was a thriving market where a half decent cartoonist could get his/her foot on the ladder.

To be included in that list of Hitler’s favourite (mainly US) cartoonists still gives me a thrill. Whatever happened to those other guys?

Here’s a sample page from that tome:

Rupert Besley

No question which for me. It’s the book I grew up with and where I first discovered the joy of cartoons. Four books actually (Down With Skool!, How to be Topp, Whizz for Atomms & Back in the Jug Agane). My father was a headteacher and a new volume arrived each Christmas, to be fought over by the rest of the family for the rest of the year. The cover below is from a later omnibus edition.

The Willans/Searle collaboration was that rare thing in books, a perfect meeting of brilliant minds, with text and illustrations equally superb, each enhancing the other. And just as funny 60 years on.

Wilbur Dawbarn

A Searle book was the first thing to come to my mind, too. We could probably do a blog post purely on Searle books!

To throw in something different, then, here’s a collection of the also brilliant but considerably underrated Rowland Emett. What I love about Emett is the way he caricatured not just people, but trains and other vehicles, buildings, trees… everything! An absolute master of composition and chaos. Richard Ingrams once told me he didn’t like Emett’s stuff, it was ‘too spidery’, I think he said. The utter heathen.

Cathy Simpson

The Complete Molesworth is a strong contender, but perhaps ‘Bert Fegg’s Nasty Book for Boys & Girls’ does it for me. A friend gave me a copy of it when I was 16, and it was the first time I’d come across the work of the sorely-missed Martin Honeysett.

Roger Penwill

Russell Brockbank was a very early influence. He had a cartoon in the back of the weekly The Motor in the 50’s and 60’s. I read that mag every week as I was keen on cars (Dad worked for Ford’s) and loved the weekly dose of Brockbank humour. Over The Line is a typical collection, published in 1955.

Matthew Buck

Always enjoyed Philip Thompson and Mel Calman’s work together over many years.

Guy Venables

This was bought for me on Christmas 1981 and the foreword is by Tom Wolfe. It is a definitive collection of the finest satirical cartoonists from all over the world covering from the 60s to the 80s. Bletchman, Booth, Descloozeaux, Feiffer, Francois, Flora, Gorey, Koren, Bill Lee, Le-Tin, Levine, Mihaesco, Myers, Osbourn, Rauch, Roth, Searle, Steadman, Sempe, Sorel, Ungerer and Wilson. The young cartoonists brain couldn’t want a better introduction to satirical cartooning than this book which explained to me the sheer width of styles and scale of ambition ideas and narratives could have. If you haven’t got it, you should get it. Without it I probably wouldn’t have become a cartoonist.

Glenn Marshall

I could quite easily have plumped for the wonderful ‘Ronald Searle’s America’ book already chosen by Jonesy but instead I’ll pick this one on Timothy Birdsall (who Searle was a fan of) given to me by a friend. Shamefully I didn’t know his work at all, which appeared in Private Eye, The Spectator and The Sunday Times. He was more widely known for his regular appearances drawing live on the BBC show ‘That Was The Week That Was’. Here he is explaining how political cartoons are made.

I love his smudgy and yet detailed style. Sadly he died tragically young aged just 27 in 1963.

There should be a few suggestions here to send you scurrying to eBay but what are your favourites? Let us know in the comments section below.

Hector Breeze RIP

January 6, 2019 in General

Cartoon from Private Eye – A Cartoon History

Rupert Besley writes:

The sad news of the passing of Hector Breeze not long after celebrating his 90th birthday, has, unsurprisingly, brought in a flood of tributes from fellow cartoonists, all recognising the greatness of the man along with the warmth, charm and wit of his cartoons. Hero, wonderful, great, favourite, brilliant, classic, prolific… are words piling up on the PCO forum from the pens of Pete Dredge, Noel Ford, Roger Penwill, Mike Turner, Neil Dishington, Andrew Birch, Glenn Marshall – and expect more to come as the news spreads.

Hector Breeze

Hector Breeze developed what was surely the perfect cartooning style for the kind of pocket-sized gags he churned out so prolifically and successfully over so many years (since the late 50s). With their robust lines, economy of detail and strong use of solid blacks, HB cartoons were instantly recognisable as his and stood out a mile off as funny. Central to them were his stock characters, ever charming, ever bewildered. Tramps, army chaplains, oddballs, kings. You had to warm to them.

‘Gentle humour’ is a damning phrase, usually coded for ‘not funny’. Hector Breeze cartoons were never savage or angry, but they were funny. Damned funny.

Private Eye cartoon

He sold his first cartoon to Melody Maker in 1957 and over the following five decades and more, Hector Breeze cartoons brought sheer enjoyment to national publications that included Private Eye, Punch, the Evening Standard, the Mirror, Sketch, Guardian and Express. Having begun in a government drawing office, he later worked in advertising. Among his other skills (no surprise from the clarity of his signature) was letter-carving in stone.

A collection of Hector’s work produced by Private Eye in 1973

As with Sprod, it took me some while to discover that Hector Breeze was his real name and not something dreamt up as pen-name (he couldn’t have hit on better if he had tried).

In 2011 the PCO Blog team put together a piece on the Top Ten of Cartoonists’ Favourite Cartoonists. Pete Dredge’s choice was Hector Breeze, illustrated with a perfect gag and summed up exactly right:

‘Out of the mouths of his mundane, benign, chunkily drawn characters comes the sharpest of captions.’

In 1996 Ralph Steadman wrote that Breeze’s “clumsy bewildered characters restore my faith in the seriously daft.”*

Cartoon from the Hector Breeze Private Eye Cartoon Library

From Pick of Punch, 1973

Our thoughts are with Hector’s family.

*Quote and photo courtesy of  The British Cartoon Archive