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Daryl Cagle – a response

October 8, 2010 in Comment, News

Bloghorn Opinion logoBloghorn asked cartoonist Rod McKie for a opinion piece following our recent post about US cartoonist Daryl Cagle’s controversial view of non-new world cartoonists. Our thanks to Rod for agreeing. The following is an edited extract of his full submission and Bloghorn has added the links.

I do a lot of my cartooning work in the US, and have, in the past, described many editorial cartoons as pointless, irrelevant, and even of taking up space where (my, not your) comic strips or gag cartoons should be.

That view is of course a bit of a caricature of what I actually think, and it is caricatures that we are dealing with in terms of this debate; Daryl’s caricature of the “rest of the world’s cartoons”, and a lot of angry editorial cartoonists from the rest of the world’s caricature of Daryl Cagle, and his arrogant assertions about US political humour. As always though, when we are dealing with caricatures, there is a germ of truth in the over-simplified distinctions; some “wit” just does not translate beyond its own borders, and some editorial cartoons in US newspapers are very good, excellent even.

But I’m not going to go along with caricatures of Daryl Cagle himself. The reason I know about the plight of Egyptian cartoonist Essam Hanafy, who was imprisoned for drawing a cartoon that was critical of the Egyptian Agriculture minister, and Iranian cartoonist Nik Ahang-Kowsar, who was imprisoned for making fun of a popular conservative cleric, is because I read about them on Daryl’s site, which fully supports the work of Robert Russell and The Cartoonists Rights Movement.

What does slightly bewilder me, though, is Daryl’s defence of editorial “…cartoons about Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears with no underwear…” as a sign of a superior form of editorial cartooning, and his belief that such drawings, presumably because they are some small part of pop culture, are part of the political debate. It troubles me that Daryl seems to be celebrating a form of dumbed-down, celebrity-obsessed, anodyne, editorial filler cartoon, presumably for the purposes of syndication, as some kind of high-cultural achievement. Perhaps I am mistaken, but it strikes me that the sort of isolationist editorial cartoon Daryl advocates are those Art Spiegelman foresaw coming to a paper near you, with his description, after he resigned from The New Yorker to protest about the “widespread conformism” of the United States media, of the US media as “conservative and timid”.

As for why some cartoonists from overseas communicate their message in wordless cartoons, employing symbolism and metaphor, well that’s simple enough, LANGUAGE DIFFICULTIES. But there is also a deeper, darker secondary reason for this, and it is one that Daryl Cagle should never forget; in his country it is simply the cartoons that get “killed” when the message is too overtly political, not the cartoonist.

Bloghorn cartoon on differences in humour

I will leave it to my colleagues to point out that Daryl’s belief that editorial cartoonists in the UK, and further afield, are amateur hobbyists who get paid in turnips or some similar object in lieu of actual currency, is simply ridiculous. I will leave it to my colleagues because I get annoyed just thinking about how much some editorial cartoonists get paid, in the UK and in the US. I will leave it to my colleagues because you have no idea how much it pains me to have to support editorial cartoonists, many of whom I think are overpaid and overindulged brats at the best of times.

Bloghorn thanks Rod for time taken and invites comments below. All comments are subject to moderation and editing if we think it is needed.

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by Royston

Cartoonist takes issue with cartoon awards

December 10, 2008 in General


Everyone likes an online row, and cartoonist Rod McKie has provoked one on his blog with a blast at the recent Cartoon Art Trust Awards. (We blogged it here.)

Rod is an established professional cartoonist, well known for his forthright opinions. In this article he dismisses the entire genre of caricature (“It’s a fairly tired old medium now, isn’t it?”) and all political cartoonists (“They are all cowards who row-in with the ideology of the press barons they work for”). His particular beef against the CAT awards is that they are an “insular, parochial, London-based affair”, and he doesn’t appear to value many of those who won awards. Cartoonists have pitched in on his blog – including one of the award recipients – some agreeing and others disagreeing.

Bloghorn takes the view that anyone who sets up an award and is prepared to pay for the preparations, gets to choose how to judge it. You may not agree with their choices, but isn’t this always the way with awards ceremonies? Look at the grumblings that surround the Oscars every year.

But we are prepared to defend the Cartoon Museum itself, which is run by the Cartoon Art Trust. The museum, which receives no public funding, is among the most popular small museums in the country. There are some visitor reviews available here. Rod says the CAT has “never appeared on my radar” and adds that he knows nothing about the museum, as if that justifies his dislike.


Cartoon Museum workshops cover cartooning in all its forms. Pic: Cartoon Museum

The London museum may seem irrelevant to a cartoonist based in Scotland, but if he did make a trip, he would find that they do some great work, and it’s not all about joke and political cartoons or caricature. Look at the work that cartoonist Steve Marchant does there, running endless workshops and creative classes for young people. These cover comics, graphic novels and manga … the works.

We also take issue with the notion that cartoons that appear in British newspapers and magazines are somehow “parochial”. Rod seems to be of the view that in a globalised economy all cartoons should appeal to the whole world. We argue cartoons should reflect the real lives and experiences of people and any attempt to homogenise them for a world audience would be bad for cartooning as a whole.

Discuss. All comments welcome. Comment moderation is turned on.

Royston Robertson and Matt Buck

Updated at 3pm 9th December 2008:
The Cartoon Museum has kindly sent details of its visitor numbers since Britain’s first dedicated museum to the art of the cartoon opened in February 2006. Curator Anita O’Brien reports that from the time the museum opened in February 2006 until the end of 2006 it had 17,653 visitors. During 2007 this rose to 24,110 and to date in 2008, 27,410.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent
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by Royston

The British attitude to words and pictures

April 30, 2008 in General

If you perused the Sunday Times this week, you may have come across a couple of sentences that neatly sum up all that is wrong about the British attitude towards drawings that accompany words.

Cosmo Landesman opens his review of the film Persepolis, which is based on the graphic novels by Marjane Satrapi, with this paragraph:

“I must confess that I have always thought graphic novels were just comic books with literary pretensions. I casually dismissed them as a symptom of our culture’s increasing infantilisation; adults read books, children stories with pictures. Well, having seen Persepolis I’m happy to admit I was wrong.”

Perhaps we can take heart from the last sentence – Cosmo has seen the error of his ways! – but it’s a little depressing to think that anyone could have got that far in life with the attitude that words=good, pictures=bad.

Clearly the PCO has a mountain to climb. But, hey, we’re wearing sturdy boots. Thanks to Rod McKie for drawing the article to our attention.

Let these people put pictures alongside your words …