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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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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.

The ghost editor and the cartoonists

April 30, 2010 in Comment

Alan Coren, ex-Punch editor and PCO patron (Art: John Roberts)

Bill Stott is a cartoonist. A rather good one, actually. Even the great Alan Coren thought so. But then he loved cartoonists generally.

Like many cartoonists, Bill doesn’t change his trousers with unseemly regularity. It’s a working-at-home thing. Why bother when the ones you’re wearing have a perfectly serviceable extra few weeks in them … and probably a healthy supply of mints and pocket fluff? However, the recent change of season occasioned a re-trousering, whereupon one of the pockets yielded a piece of gold dust.

It was a short note from Mr Coren, penned a short while before he died, which Bill had rammed into the pocket for filing; a paean to cartoonists intended as an introduction to the website of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation, of which he had just accepted the title of inaugural patron. Bill hadn’t the heart to publish the piece because Coren died shortly after sending it.

In it, having left Punch, Coren mulls over what he misses. The limos, the yachts, the voluptuous assistants? No, he says, “None of these. What I miss most is those Tuesday mornings with the sadly late and very great Bill Hewison, my brilliant Art Editor, when we would sit at a huge leather-topped desk overlooking the complete absence of central heating, pull off our generously lent company mittens, and sift through the hundreds and hundreds of roughs submitted by the extraordinary numbers of extraordinary cartoonists which – and, remember, I speak as a writer – made Punch the brilliant and, most important of all, hilarious magazine it was.

“I miss the six hours of those golden-era Tuesdays when Bill and I would struggle – handicapped by constant helpless laughter – to choose, from 20 times as many, the 50-odd cartoons we needed to lift the readers’ spirits and break their ribs in next week’s magazine.”

He continues:

“Cartooning is the toughest art of all. A freelance cartoonist lives and works alone, staring out of the window in the fervent daily hope that something will begin to draw itself on the sky, then murmur its caption in his ear. He needs this to happen several times a day, every day, because he has not the faintest idea whether the editors who pay his rent will laugh at the same thing he laughs at, and therefore has to send them lots and lots of things, praying that they will laugh at at least one of them, and the cartoonist can get his shoes mended.”

Coren concludes that his greatest struggle was that “we couldn’t put a thousand gags in the paper, so how to select the best when ten are equally funny?” Enough, enough already. We cartoonists couldn’t possibly be so immodest about our talents. But … thank you, Mr Coren.

Declaration of Interest: Andy Davey is chairleg of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation which runs The Bloghorn (Editor: Matt Buck) and the print magazine Foghorn (Editor: Bill Stott).

He and the organisation welcome your comments, and your contact with us at our artist portfolio websites, through our social-media services, or via direct contact with our media team led by Pete Dredge.

Bloghorn on TwitterBloghorn at Facebook
(Editor’s note: these are subscriber services and require a sign up from the service providers to use them.)

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Wit versus humour, by John Jensen

February 8, 2010 in Comment


Coming soon: John Jensen writes for Bloghorn about ideas, wit versus humour, and the international language of cartoon competitions. Watch this space.

John Jensen rugby illustration © Punch Ltd

Daily Mail cartoonist retires

December 24, 2009 in General

article-1238107-07B10E52000005DC-78_306x423The Daily Mail has announced that pocket cartoonist Ken Mahood is retiring. Mahood, who next year will celebrate his 80th birthday, has drawn news and sports cartoons for the Mail since 1982. His first cartoon was published in Punch in 1948, a magazine for whom he was later Assistant Art Editor, and in 1966 became the first political cartoonist on The Times.

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Thelwell show rides into town

May 11, 2009 in General

thelwell
The Chris Beetles Gallery in London is hosting The Definitive Thelwell from this Wednesday (May 13) until June 6, the first selling show of work by Norman Thelwell in 20 years.

Thelwell is best remembered for his fat ponies and their long-suffering young riders, but he was a wide-ranging artist, who tackled many subjects for many papers and magazines, including Punch, with which he developed a close relationship over 25 years.

He had a strong understanding of the British character, and may be considered the post-war heir to Pont of Punch. From estate agents to battery farmers, hunt protesters to harassed motorists, Thelwell chronicled the minutiae of our lives.

An accomplished landscape painter, Thelwell produced detailed, naturalistic settings for lively, comic figures that represent what he called, “the endearing lunacy of human behaviour”. The Definitive Thelwell provides a comprehensive cross-section of this work, with more than 150 drawings and watercolours. The show includes landscapes and seascapes as well as cartoons.

The Chris Beetles Gallery, at 8 and 10 Ryder Street, St James’s, London (nearest Tube Green Park or Piccadilly Circus) is open Monday to Saturday, 10am – 5.30pm.

For more details visit the website: chrisbeetles.com

John Donegan 1926-2009

May 1, 2009 in General

We are sad to report the death of the cartoonist ‘‘Donegan.’’ John was born in London in 1926 and after many years in the advertising industry he became a freelance cartoonist in the early 1970s. By the time he retired in 1991 he had become one of Britain’s favourite cartoonists, featuring regularly in Punch magazine. Although he never actually owned a dog, some of his most recognised works were his books “Dog Help us” and “Dog Almighty”. He retired to France in 1991 and died in April after a battle with cancer, aged 83. He is survived by his wife, two children and three grandchildren.

UPDATED: 14th May 2009. Roy Greenslade notes the affectionate obituary published in The Independent

Cartoon books coming out

October 27, 2008 in General

The clocks have fallen back, and subsequently the nights are drawing in, so as we race towards Christmas publishers are putting out books on cartooning. Here’s a selection of recent example that may be filling stockings come December.

First up is The History of the Beano: The Story so Far, a comprehensive round-up of the iconic DC Thompson comic from the last 70 years, here reviewed by the Daily Record and by Danny Baker in The Times. This book also ties in with the recent exhibitions in Dundee and the Cartoon Museum in London.

The History Of The Beano – The Story So Far is published by D.C. Thomson and Waverley Books, priced £25. The Beano and Dandy Birthday Bash continues at the The Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London WC1A 2HH until 2nd November 2008.

Next is Cartoons and Coronets: The Genius of Osbert Lancaster on the life and times of the late Daily Express pocket cartoonist Osbert Lancaster, which is reviewed in the New Statesman, the Spectator and by cartoonist Nicholas Garland in the Telegraph. This book also ties into an exhibition at the Wallace Collection (reviewed in the Telegraph, the Guardian, and the Independent) .

Cartoons and Coronets: The Genius of Osbert Lancaster, edited by James Knox, is published by Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd, priced £25. The exhibition continues at The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1U 3BN until 11th January 2009.

And finally we come to The Best of Punch Cartoon, a collection of cartoons from the legendary satirical magazine spanning over 150 years of humour, the launch of which was attended by the PCO’s own Pete Dredge. Reviewed here by cartoonist Peter Brookes of the Times, by Michael Heath, cartoon editor of the Spectator, and in the Independent.

The Best of Punch Cartoons, by Helen Walasek, is published by Prion Books, priced £30.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

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Cartoonist Les Barton dies

October 22, 2008 in General

Les Barton, a fine cartoonist who worked in both the gag cartoons and the comics markets, has died. He was as well known for cartoons in magazines such as Punch as for his comic work, including the much-loved “I Spy” in Sparky.

Born in 1923, he began selling cartoons in the 1940s and was a long-standing member of the Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain, attending its inaugural meeting in 1960.

Cartoonist and blogger Lew Stringer has more on the comics work of Les Barton.
UPDATED: 26th November 2008. Full obituary written by Dr Mark Bryant from The Independent newspaper.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

A cartoonist’s memories of Punch magazine

October 3, 2008 in News

PCO cartoonist Martin Honeysett writes:

I was a Punch man. I started in the 1970s when Bill Davis was editor and continued until its final demise. It took a year of weekly submissions before I got accepted and once that happened I felt I’d arrived. For a freelance gag cartoonist Punch was the business, and a great shop window for our craft. Its closure marked the beginning of a decline for this particular avenue of cartooning.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent