You are browsing the archive for The Times.

How to draw a virus: spare a thought for the Covid-19 cartoonists

June 9, 2020 in Comment, General

Written by Guy Venables originally for The Spectator (with a smattering of bonus content cartoons):

While stumbling the 30 yards from bed to work, the freelance gag cartoonist is usually trying to decide which of the hundreds of news stories to draw a hilarious cartoon about that day. It used to be one of the most difficult decisions of the morning. Now, however, that question has been replaced by “are there any new angles to be had from the one, same, monolithically large single news story of the decade?”

My mother, similarly, at the end of the second world war, asked her own mother whether the newspapers would keep going because, obviously, there would be no more news to speak of now the war was over.

Cartoon © Guy Venables

Cartoonists evolve, like finches, on separate islands and rarely meet. That said, in the first week of lockdown each of us imagined we were the only ones to think of the link between the “man on the desert island” visual cliché and social distancing, so much so in fact, that the Private Eye cartoon editor asked us all politely to go back to bed and try to think of something else. So we all switched our attentions to loo rolls and stockpiling.

Then Easter came around and we all individually sent The Spectator “Jesus being told to roll back the stone and get back in the cave.” Then we all drew Joe Wicks. Then baking. A new type of mental filtering process had to be adopted, and cartoonists aren’t good at “new” (although a strangely large proportion of us have been adopted. Some several times). A proportion of us decided to concentrate on non-topical cartoons.

Cartoon © Guy Venables

But as Pete Dredge asked us all: “Do we draw everybody two metres apart even if it’s nothing to do with Coronavirus?” We didn’t know for sure but decided against it, as it would use up too much paper.

As things progressed and the death count rose there was a shift from looking at the situation to looking at the virus itself. Attack the villain of the story as we always say (We don’t always say that but we COULD). But how do you draw a virus? Somebody drew the virus. It was round with knobbly bits on. Right. We all drew gags about round things and added knobbly bits so you could tell it was biting satire. Then Matt from the Telegraph did it better and we all went back to bed again.

In my own personal sphere, it was a problem of pretence that bothered me. Now that my wife was at home all day the withering truth was slowly dawning on her of just how little work I actually do. I spend the afternoon trying to convince her that a hammock is a legitimate workplace.

I think of an idea but realise Nick Newman has already done it in the Times. Then I realise I’d just read the Times.

Long gone are the cocktail parties and trendy gatherings to which the cartoonist is never invited. Now he must rely on his own wits and hard work. Having never done this before we revert to our standard emergency operation of copying old Punch cartoons and hoping nobody notices.

Cartoon © Guy Venables

Another angle is of course to throw withering scorn at whoever’s in charge. This can limit the people to whom one can send the actual cartoon. Politically it’s a good idea to choose a point right in the middle of politics and shoot outwards. That way, come the revolution you can pin your badge on whoever runs the firing squads.

Cartoon © Guy Venables

I draw a gag about Dominic Cummings that gets lots of likes on Facebook and go back to the hammock, blissfully unaware that an hour beforehand, from some distant garret, Banx had sent a similar but much better Cummings gag to the Financial Times.

With thanks to The Spectator for allowing us to reproduce the piece.

A meeting of minds

February 13, 2014 in Events, News

Kasia Kowalska reports from the opening of Calman Meets Freud at the Freud Museum in Hampstead, London

"I hope I'm not boring you."  © Mel Calman @Procartoonists.org

“I hope I’m not boring you.” © Mel Calman @Procartoonists.org

The first thing you notice as you join the small gathering of family, friends and colleagues of Mel Calman at the Freud Museum is the unreserved warmth with which they talk about him.

It soon becomes apparent that he must have been a generous and engaging man and that he inspired love and loyalty in those who got to know him.

His daughter Claire Calman, who co-curated the exhibition with her sister Stephanie Calman, called it a “real labour of love” and remarked that it coincides with the 20th anniversary of Mel Calman’s death.

“Everything about Mel is still in sharp focus after 20 years” said the Times political cartoonist Peter Brookes, who worked with Calman in the 1990s. “His gruff bonhomie, his decency and kindness.”

Sir Peter Stothard, former Times editor with Peter Brookes, editorial cartoonist at the paper © Kasia Kowalska @ Procartoonists.org

Sir Peter Stothard, former Times editor with Peter Brookes, editorial
cartoonist at the newsaper © Kasia Kowalska @ Procartoonists.org

The theme of psychology is explored in the exhibition and it reflects on both therapy and mental health, but the cartoons also explore the nature of relationships and intricacies of our private lives. Lisa Appignanesi, chair of trustees at the Freud Museum, said that it was “particularly wonderful to have Calman at the museum as Freud loved jokes“.

If you knew nothing about Mel Calman except for his cartoons, you would already know that he was funny, thoughtful and deeply interested in people and their inner lives. Peter Brookes called Calman’s cartoons “deceptively simple”.

Calman’s cartoons snap what one may be thinking or feeling into a surprisingly crisp form and clinch it with a witty, singular statement. They say that it’s OK not to be OK.

His “little man” who sometimes feels unloved and often put upon, unfit to tackle all of life’s problems, is prone to melancholy and depression. This was also true of Calman himself.

"Are you suffering from too much life again?" © Mel Calman @ Procartoonists.org

“Are you suffering from too much life again?”
© Mel Calman @ Procartoonists.org

Sir Peter Stothard, who was his editor at The Times, said: “Mel was a cynical realist, a laughing pessimist — a perfect fit for the Freud Museum.”

Among the cartoons and publications on display is a large collection of objects from the family’s private collection including personal letters, notes and the famous B5 pencils that became Calman’s medium of choice.

Cartooning permeated Calman’s life and he used it as a means of communication that stretched beyond his professional career. One object from the collection is a drawing on an envelope addressed to his young daughters at an imaginary address. It features a cartoon stamp and, in the top left corner, the word “AirMel”.

Calman Meets Freud runs until 16 March

by Royston

Hard Times at Chris Beetles Gallery

October 11, 2011 in Events

Peter Brookes Hard Times

"Tell me about your Big Society ..."

Hard Times, a new exhibition by the Times cartoonist Peter Brookes, opens at the Chris Beetles Gallery in St James’s, London, today and runs until November 5.

The selling show features more than 120 of Brookes’ most recent editorial cartoons from The Times, and ties in with the launch of his new book, also called Hard Times.

To see the exhibition online, go to www.chrisbeetles.com

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

by Royston

Husband's charity cartoon show

October 7, 2011 in Events

Tony Husband with exhibition poster

Another Pair of Underpants, an exhibition of cartoons by Tony Husband, is at Tom’s Chophouse, Cross St, Manchester, until November 10.

It features around 350 pieces — strips, topical gags and sports cartoons — along with a series of large photos of Tony at work by the photographer Wolfgang Webster.

Everything in the exhibition is for sale and the final day will see a charity dinner. Half of the proceeds will go to the Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Appeal. Prints and originals are for sale, along with books and cartoon placemats.
Tony Husband Olympics cartoon
Tony has been a regular contributor to Private Eye since 1985. He also draws sports cartoons for The Times and the Sunday Express and his cartoons have appeared in many magazines including The Spectator, The Oldie and Playboy.

The exhibition moves to Sam’s Chophouse, 8 South Parade, Leeds, on November 14, where it will run until Christmas. Tony plans to exhibit his cartoons again next year and tells The Bloghorn that the Groucho Club in London has expressed an interest in showing them.

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

Cartooning in real-time

July 21, 2011 in Events, News

Response to printed and digital cartoons is now pretty much instant as this tweet about a drawing by Peter Brookes of The Times shows.

View Status

Peter’s colleague Morten Morland (a PCO member) had a swift response below

View Status

The standard response of editorial cartoonists to feedback like this is

View Status

Or complete silence, but when the controversy crosses the oceans in seconds to other influential commentators…

View Status

This speed of interaction between opinion, response and offence  pose, in Bloghorn’s view both a challenge and an opportunity to makers of drawings. What do you think cartoonists should do in the social media era?Answers welcome in the comments.

Updated: 2pm

View Status

Further response from the internet

Updated: Wednesday 27th JulyThe Guardian is reporting a letter from seven UK academics complaining about the publication of this cartoon. Read the story here and please comment below if you would like.

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.

Top spot for cartoons

September 3, 2010 in News

Blair cartoon from The Times by PCOer Morten Morland

The advent of statistics recording visits to web sites has allowed web publishers to see exactly which pages readers head for. Unsurprisingly, many have embraced this technology to show you – the reader – which pages are most popular.

So, I ask you to go to The Times website. Scroll down. No, you don’t have to get past the Great Pay Wall of Murdoch to do this – no small denomination payments are required. Look at the “Most Read” list of sections which are – as you might guess – the paper’s most popular click-through reads.

Of course, I don’t know when you’re reading this but I bet you that coming in the top three with a bullet will be “Cartoons”. I have checked assiduously for the past several weeks. “Cartoons” has been at or near the top spot for almost all of my visits (many times at Number One).

As I write, I am not chastened by the fact that nestling at number 2 is “Top Ten Chinos”.Well, a chap’s got to look the part while perusing the best of cartoon art online. Standards, you know. (Of course, if you want to actually look at the cartoons, you WILL have to pay at this point).

It’s a subject close to the hearts of us cartoonists. The popularity of The Times’ cartoons is, of course, not unrelated to the fact that they boast two fine cartoonists in Peter Brookes and Morten Morland, together with legend-inna-lifetime Gerald Scarfe at the Sunday title.

But it’s not just that. Readers love cartoons. We know that. It’s such a pity that this simple fact doesn’t prevent culls of cartoonists to cut costs at newspapers facing hard times. It seems counter-intuitive to us. For example the loss of almost all cartoon content from The Observer recently was mourned widely. So Bloghorn says hats off to the wildly good taste of Times readers.

Political Cartooning Made Easy

June 5, 2010 in General, News

Peter Brookes, political cartoonist for The Times, makes the art of political cartooning look easy. Watch a master at work in this short film. Absorb and weep, dear reader.

Bloghorn notes: As The Times have recently started charging to view its website, to view the above link you will have to register – prices are £2 for a weekly subscription or £1 for a day’s access. However, they are offering a free preview for a limited time – you can sign up here.

2010 Election cartoon round-up

May 12, 2010 in General

Keep Calm and Cameron cartoon ©Nathan Ariss Find his portfolio at http://www.procartoonists.org UK Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation

Alex Hughes reports.

You may have not noticed, but there’s been a general election in Britian recently. And a general election means it’s open season for the political cartoonists, so here Bloghorn presents a brief summary of the events of the last month or so in cartoon form, starting at the beginning of the election with Dave Brown of the Independent on the runners and riders and the Guardian‘s Martin Rowson on the approaching media obsession.
During the campaign The Guardian‘s Steve Bell talks about drawing at the manifesto launches, the Sky debate, and drawing Nick Clegg, Peter Mandelson and David Cameron (and the cartoon that came from this).

The TV debates may have changed the direction of the election, but they were seen differently by Tim Sanders in the Independent, Dave Brown, Peter Brookes of the Times, Steve Bell and Paul Thomas of the Daily Expesss,whilst Morten Morland of the Times produced a series of short animated responses to each of the debates (ITV, Sky, BBC).

The debates lead to widespread Cleggmania as seen by Stephen Collins in Prospect, Matt in the Daily Telegraph, Martin Rowson and Paul Thomas, and the inevitable media backlash as satirised by Peter Brookes and Dave Brown.

Gordon Brown made what was probably the biggest political gaffe of the campaign by calling a member of the public a “bigoted woman”; Peter Brookes, and Dave BrownMac of the Daily MailPaul Thomas provided their own takes on Bigotgate.

The election night itself inspired Tim Sanders and Matt, but as we now know it resulted in a hung parliament, as shown variously the Sun‘s Andy DaveyDave Brown, Matt, Peter Brookes, Paul Thomas and Mac (and even a hung parliament themed game), Gordon Brown’s departure as seen by Nick Garland and eventually the Con-Lib coalition Christian AdamsTim SandersMorten Morland and Martin Rowson.

Looking forward to the challenges for the new Government were Harry Venning’s Clare in the Community and Kal in the Economist, and looking back, Bloghorn‘s very own Matt Buck produced a series of  weekly despatches for the Guardian from the 1710 campaign as seen by Tobias Grubbe (2, 3, 4, 5).  The Times produced a 9 page comic summary of the election campaign available for download here (PDF, 7Mb).

(“Keep Calm and Cameron” cartoon by Nathan Ariss).

The Editor adds: We are bound to have missed many other great examples of cartooning so please do feel free to add things you have seen in the comments. Thanks.

The Beauty of Maps

April 29, 2010 in General, News

The Beauty of Maps: Cartoon Maps – Politics and Satire is part of a season of map-themed documentaries currently running on BBC4, and features Frederick Rose’s famous octopus map of Europe and an interview with Times cartoonist Peter Brookes. Hurry though, the programme is only available on the BBC iPlayer until tomorrow…