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John Jensen 1930-2018

July 6, 2018 in General, News

John with a ‘selfie’ which he did for an exhibition at the cartoon archive, Kent University. Photo © Pat Jensen

Sadly, it has been reported that John Jensen has passed away at the sprightly age of 88. John was a well respected and fondly thought of member of the cartoon community. He was a supreme and very versatile draughtsman.

 John was born in Sydney in 1930, the son of the cartoonist Jack Gibson (he took his stepfather’s surname in the 40’s)  In 1946 he studied at the Julian Ashton Art School, Sydney. His first cartoon was published in the Sydney Sun in 1946, and he then began contributing cartoons to various Australian publications.

John in Birmingham, 1953, Photo © Pat Jensen

In 1950 John worked his way to England on a cargo ship, and briefly became an actors’ dresser at London’s Piccadilly Theatre, before becoming a cartoonist full-time. From 1951 to 1956 he drew cartoons, caricatures and illustrations for the Birmingham Gazette and then for various publications in Glasgow including Scotnews, The Glasgow Bulletin and daily pocket cartoons for the Glasgow Evening Times.

Illustration of French cellist Paul Tortelier, © John Jensen

John had his first cartoon in Punch magazine in 1953 but became a Punch regular in the 70’s, prolifically drawing cartoons, illustrations and caricatures. He writes here about his memories of Punch.

Caricatures of Samuel Beckett & Joan Collins © John Jensen

He was also the theatre caricaturist for Tatler, and social cartoonist for The Spectator. He drew a strip for the short-lived Now magazine and on top of this he was the political cartoonist for The Sunday Telegraph from 1961-79 (he was one of the very first political cartoonists to work in colour.) Over this long career John has illustrated around 70 books.

From his  ‘Figures of Speech’ collection © John Jensen

John was a founder member and Chairman of the British Cartoonists’ Association, and of the Cartoon Art Trust. In 2002 he was given a ‘Grinny’ Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nottingham Cartoon Festival. During his time as a member of the PCO he regularly wrote for and featured on this blog.

Receiving his ‘Grinny’ award (pictured with Dave Follows), Photo © Pete Dredge

John was a regular at cartoon festivals and on one trip to New York ended up at the celebration dinner where Marylin Monroe sang ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ to JFK. On a visit to Cuba in the 60’s he also endured one of Castro’s extremely long speeches.

Among the many anecdotes circulating about John over the past week I particularly enjoyed this one from the wonderful cartoonist Kevin ‘Kal’ Kallaugher:

‘Back in the 1980’s while I was still living un the UK I had arranged to meet John for a pint one lunchtime. When he arrived to the pub, I noted that he had a brace on one of his wrist which made his hand quite incapacitated. I was immediately concerned that this might be his drawing hand and that the brace might have consequences on his freelance career. When I raised this question with him, he shrugged it off.

“I just draw with the other hand” he said.

When I pursued this further I learned to my astonishment that John used both hands to draw his cartoons. He explained that each hand had a personality. His left hand (as I recall) was the imaginative, loose artistic hand and his right hand was the more technical and exacting hand. He would often do his conceptual sketches with the left and finish off the art with his right. Later he showed me samples of his cartoons that had contrasting styles which he explained was due to the amount of time one hand spent rendering over the other.

Soon afterwards, I wrote an article for a scholarly US cartoon related periodical called Target, where I interviewed John pointed out his amazing bi-manual drafting skills and displayed his work. Throughout the exercise, John was characteristically polite and kind…but still really did not quite see what all the fuss was about. This after all seemed quite ordinary to him.

This may have been ordinary to him, but to me John Jensen and his cartoons will always remain extra-ordinary’.

Mozart cartoon © John Jensen

More of John’s work can be found on his website.

A favourite family memory of John is how he could never resist an ice cream © Pat Jensen

Our sympathies go to John’s wife Pat and his family and friends.

I’m indebted to the British Cartoon Archive for much of the biographical detail.

Opinion: The curse of Management

June 9, 2014 in Comment, General

Bill Stott from Punch magazine: "Be positive! At least  now we know that being able to fly has got noting to do with having a pointy head"

Bill Stott from Punch: “Be positive! At least now we know that being able to fly has got nothing to do with having a pointy head!” Click image to enlarge

In a somewhat acrimonious departure, Richard Ingrams has resigned as editor of The Oldie. In this opinion piece, Bill Stott sees echoes from the latter days of Punch magazine and hopes that cartoonists will not see history repeat itself.

Whilst it might sound uncomfortably like a medical examination, there’s interesting stuff coming out of The Oldie right now. Quite a bit of bile. The departure of the multi-faceted, sometimes contradictory Richard Ingrams will be a huge loss, not only to The Oldie, but to gag cartooning in the UK.

Logically, bearing in mind the fact that his team apparently liked and respected him, the job should go to one of them and a cartoon-friendly status quo will spread a warm glow throughout Humourland. However, given James Pembroke’s apparent management style and his grasp of the purse strings, that may well not happen.

The Oldie’s predicament reminds me of the beginning of the end for Punch, a magazine strong on cartoons and humour but which never made a profit in its 500-year existence, unlike The Oldie which has loads of readers and does make a profit.

The similarity lies with “management”. Alan Coren, probably one of the best Punch editors, fell out with those who bought the mag and got sacked. He was locked out of his office, in fact.

After a few false starts, a new bought-in editor was presented to a restaurant full of cartoonists in thatLondon. He foolishly delayed them from getting at the free food and drink by climbing on to a rostrum to tell all hands about his vision for the new Punch. I seem to remember the sixth-form market being mentioned. Honest!

The new ed was apparently a very good manager. Quite soon after his appointment, which was made despite the existence of excellent candidates already on board, Punch ceased to be.

Could this happen to The Oldie?

Thanks Bill. We hope the answer to your last question is no! We will continue to follow developments at The Oldie, noting for starters that Mr Ingrams appears to have influential friends

The Round-up

September 14, 2012 in General, Links, News

© Mick Stevens/The New Yorker @ Procartoonists.org

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 Procartoonists.org 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.

 

 

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by Royston

More than Pooh and Mr Toad

September 10, 2012 in Events, News

Still More Fraternisation by EH Shepard

"Still more fraternisation" by EH Shepard © Punch 1935

E.H. Shepard is still best known for his illustrations for the Winnie-the-Pooh books and The Wind in the Willows, but a new exhibition aims to show that there was a lot more to his work than those much-loved drawings.

The Other E.H. Shepard, which is at the Chris Beetles Gallery in London from this Wednesday (September 12) until September 29, features 200 published drawings and studies, representing the artist’s working life across six decades (Shepard was 96 when he died in 1976).

Shepard worked at Punch magazine for much of his career. As a staff cartoonist he was called upon to produce everything from gentle social satire to biting political comment. Many of the cartoons featured are from the Second World War. Drawings for other magazines, such as The Illustrated London News, also feature, along with illustrations created for books for adults and children.

For more information visit www.chrisbeetles.com

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by Royston

Remembering Ronald Searle

May 22, 2012 in Events, News

Ronald Searle Punch cover

The Chris Beetles Gallery is hosting the exhibition Ronald Searle Remembered, in memory of the cartoonist who died in December.

The show, which starts today, features more than 400 works by Searle, who is widely regarded as the greatest cartoonist of the 20th century. It runs until June 9.

It includes some of the clandestine drawings he produced as an inmate of Changi Gaol, the notorious Japanese prisoner of war camp,  Punch covers, such as the one above, plus book and magazine illustrations.

St Trinian’s and Molesworth are represented, of course, alongside adverts for Lemon Hart rum and Searle’s reportage on many issues of the day. Also included are unpublished letters that provide new insights into the life of the great man.

Ronald Searle letter

Detail from a letter sent from Singapore, September 21, 1945

The gallery has produced an accompanying 200-page fully illustrated catalogue, featuring newly researched essays and notes. For more details, and to view the exhibition online, visit the Chris Beetles Gallery website.

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by Royston

A Monday Round-up

April 16, 2012 in News

"Is there any news of the Iceberg?" © Bill Tidy

You may have noticed a lack of blog posts last week, this was caused by various changes going on behind the scenes to this website. To make it up to you, we offer an early round-up of cartooning links this week, as later we’ll be concentrating on this week’s Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival (April 19-22).

First up, you may have noticed that it’s 100 years since a certain large boat sank, and if you’ve not had enough of the excessive media coverage, here’s Bob Mankoff of the New Yorker on The world’s largest comedy cliche. We also revisit the definitive cartoon on the subject, above, originally in Punch in 1968, by the Procartoonists.org patron Bill Tidy.

Still on matters New Yorker, Liza Donnelly has transcribed one of her talks so you can read it on her blog: Word and image: The art of cartooning. And Carolita Johnson outlines her somewhat unusual career trajectory for the women’s website The Hairpin inHow to become a cartoonist in about 20 jobs.

Robert Crumb continues to be lauded by the art establishment in France, where he lives, and talks to AP about how odd he still finds it to see his art on walls in galleries. And talking of Art with a capital A, Charles Saatchi has his eye on a cartoonist.

Here’s something of which we were aware, from the AOI’s magazine, Varoom, but we hadn’t realised was now online. It’s a great read too. Martin Colyer, design director at Reader’s Digest, talks to cartoonists John CuneoSteve Way and Tom Gauld aboutThe process of cartoons.

Mark “Andertoons” Anderson does a bit of soul-searching on his blog and tells us Why I’m a cartoonist.

The popular DC Thomson comic strip The Numskulls is 50 years old, so comics artist Lew Stringer looks at how this story of little people in our heads fascinates and considers its many imitators, in Variations on a small theme.

The little people in my head tell me that’s enough links to be going on with. Expect Shrewsburyness tomorrow.

Review of the Year

December 31, 2010 in Comment

As the pencil of 2010 contacts the eraser of 2011, Bloghorn thought it was time to record some of the year’s highs and lows – and to speculate about the new year.

But first, news of a PRIZE competition which will be coming on Bloghorn over the New Year Bank Holiday weekend … so watch this space.

The Clash by Ray Lowry

© Ray Lowry cartoons The Clash

You can explore our full monthly archives of stories from the world of UK cartooning in 2010 at: January – February – MarchAprilMay JuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovember and December.

Team Foghorn Big Draw banner 2010

Team Bloghorn with the banner at the 2010 Battle of the Cartoonists

As you can see it’s been a packed show, featuring a fantastic Ray Lowry retrospective, above, at the Idea Generation Gallery, mixed with the odd rotten moment like losing Les Gibbard. We have had the fantastic highlights of our traditional events such as the Big Draw and Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival and, happily, the late great Alan Coren rose from the grave and provided  a shot of welcome wisdom.

After that we played Draw and Fold Over before reading a freshly minted copy of Foghorn magazine. What? You haven’t yet subscribed to six issues a year for only £20? Kindly do so here, now.

The promised appearance of The House of Illustration in London has long cheered many as this will be a sister organisation to our long-time favourite The Cartoon Museum, which lies close to the proposed new attraction at King’s Cross in London. The £6.5m fundraising target is stiff but site building has started and you can read more about the full plans here. Meanwhile, the crew at The Cartoon Museum excelled themselves with a fine range of shows and events, excelling with a fantastic Ronald Searle display as the man reached his 90th birthday.

What’s the difference between cartooning and illustration Bloghorn hears you ask?

Try these definitions from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, although we thinks Searle shows the interchangeability of the terms about as well as anyone.

Car-toon – noun
From the Italian cartone pasteboard, cartoon, augmentative of carta leaf of paper.

Ill-ust-rat-ion noun
Something that serves to illustrate: an example or instance that helps make something clear : a picture or diagram that helps make something clear or attractive.

Wikipedia has a definition here for print media which references Punch, the magazine which our former patron Alan Coren used to edit.

Happily, the past year has also seen terrific development in the way cartoons are being used in media and the possibilities, and markets will grow in the new year. We’ve got evidence below from The Times and its current TV advertising. You can find a link to the cartoon they are promoting lower down this article …

What the iPad Was Made For

Of course, we work on non-mobile television too, check out the titles to the new BBC adaptation of Just William and bow to the pen of cartoonist Ed McLachlan.

You’ll find a fantastic selection of the UK’s finest cartoonists working in all forms of the art at our UK Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation portfolio site which we will also be updating during 2011.

On the site the new and less-and-less unusual Government can expect its usual share of drawn innovation and horror – try Strictly Coalition for a start. In similar fashion, we wrote disobliging things about some parts of the Arts Council England because they sometimes deserve it.

© Jonathan Pugh of The Daily Mail

You can follow us day-to-day by adding your email address to our mailing list, which you can find on the right hand side of this blog, by following us on Twitter, or reading us inside the strange world of Facebook.

Modern Toss magazine

Forza Cartone!

Bloghorn is written, edited and maintained by Matthew Buck, Royston Robertson and Alex Hughes,  on behalf of the UK Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation. You can contact the team here.

Foghorn magazine – Issue 48

December 16, 2010 in News

Just in time for Christmas, the latest issue of Foghorn, the cartoon magazine of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation has been published. Featuring a festive cover by the PCO’s The Surreal McCoy, the magazine is available to subscribers for the very merry price of £20 for six full colour issues – all delivered down your chimney (or through your door).

What’s inside?

Ian Ellery treats us to a very Stanley Unwin Chrimbletide
A short history of the Christmas card by Chris Madden
Nathan Ariss relates some seasonal thespian tales of Mason Ayres
Mike Williams tells of his first taste of Punch
The partridge gets well stuffed by Neil Dishington
And  you’ll find a full page of Wilbur Dawbarn cartoons!

Plus…

…all the regular features – Buildings in the Fog, The Critic, The Foghorn Guide to…, The Potting Shed, Andy Davey‘s ‘Foggy’ strip and many more random acts of humour crammed in wherever we could find room.

You can read older issues of Foghorn online here, right up to our most recent issue.

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by Royston

Talking about Fougasse

September 6, 2010 in Events

Careless Talk Costs Lives poster by Fougasse
Be careful what you say and where you say it! – one of several wartime “Careless Talk Costs Lives” posters by Kenneth Bird a.k.a Fougasse

The exhibition Fougasse – Careless Talk Costs Lives opens at the Cartoon Musuem in London on Thursday (September 9) and runs until November 24.

Kenneth Bird (1887-1965), who drew under the pen name Fougasse, was the first cartoonist to edit Punch magazine. He popularised the simple joke cartoon, with minimal lines and short captions, moving the magazine’s cartoons away from their Victorian roots. The exhibition features more than 80 works by Fougasse and shows how his style became progressively more direct and economical.

Fougasse is best known today as the creator of the “Careless Talks Costs Lives” propaganda posters which he produced during the Second World War. The “anti-gossip” campaign, which was launched in 1940 by the Ministry of Information, showed Hitler and Goering eavesdropping in the most unlikely places.

They remain some of the most memorable images of the Second World War. Fougasse’s wartime work earned him a CBE in 1946.

The exhibition coincides with the publication of Careless Talk Costs Lives: Fougasse and the Art of Public Information by James Taylor and published by Conway.

The Cartoon Musuem, in Little Russel Street, London, is open Tues-Sat: 10.30am-5.30pm and Sun12pm-5.30pm. Admission: Adults £5, Conc £4, Students £3, Free to Under-18s. Nearest Tube stations: Holborn or Tottenham Court Road.

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by Royston

Review: Ray Lowry – London Calling

June 24, 2010 in Events

Ray Lowry Rock'n' Roll The Corporate Years
“What the hell are you wrecking your room for? We own the hotel chain”

Royston Robertson reviews the exhibition Ray Lowry – London Calling which is at the Idea Generation Gallery in East London until July 4.

This show is being promoted largely with artworks created by well-known names as a tribute to the Clash’s London Calling sleeve – a masterful piece of graphic design by Ray Lowry who was the “official war artist” for the band at the time – but it is the work of Lowry himself that is the real heart of the show.

Ray Lowry London Calling poster
That work can be divided into several sections: his most familiar drawings – cartoons from Punch, Private Eye, NME and the like – often on music and pop culture; a collection of lesser-known artworks, including some abstracts, sketchbook drawings, and even some photography; and reportage drawings of The Clash on tour.

The cartoons are, of course, hilarious. They still work because the absurdities of the rock and roll lifestyle which Lowry pinpoints are still with us today (as indeed are the many of the rockers, though sadly Lowry himself is not). From a cartoonist’s point of view it’s amazing how small so many of them are. With those detailed, inky drawings, I assumed Ray was one of the big canvas guys.

But the standout of the show, for me, were the drawings of the Clash live. They are so coourful, spontaneous and vibrant that you can feel the excitement of the moment in them. They are full of movement, the rapidly moving sticks of drummer Topper Headon, in particular, are brilliantly rendered.

The Clash by Ray Lowry

Some of the London Calling tributes are worth a look: there’s a great collage portrait of Lowry by the artist Ian Wright, and there’s a collage by Paul Simonon of The Clash which features a piece of the bass guitar which is smashed in the Pennie Smith photo on that iconic cover. The others are a mixed bag, some not so successful.

In this show Lowry is really a tribute to himself: the rock and roll cartoonist. Go and see this encore.