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by Royston

Cartoonists prepare to do battle

November 17, 2014 in Events, General, News


A team from the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation will once again take part in the Battle of the Cartoonists. (Cartoon above by Bill Stott)

The event is organised by the Campaign for Drawing, the people behind The Big Draw, and will take place at the Electrician’s Shop gallery, Trinity Buoy Wharf, in east London this Sunday (23 November) from 12pm-5pm. Admission is free.

Four teams, from Procartoonists, The Guardian, The Independent and Private Eye will each create huge banners on the theme of “Recording Britain Now” (click here for the full list of events on that theme).

The winner will be chosen by popular vote i.e. the team that gets the most cheers and applause. Banners from previous Battles over the past decade will be on display. Free cartoon workshops for all ages will also take place.

PCO members at work on Battle of the Cartoonists banners at Somerset House in 2006 ...

PCO members in the Battle of the Cartoonists at Somerset House 2006 …

... Covent Garden in 2007 ...

… Covent Garden 2007 …

... St Pancras Station in 2008 ...

… St Pancras Station 2008 …

... the Idea Generation gallery 2009 ...

… the Idea Generation gallery 2009 …

... Hay's Galleria 2010 ...

… Hay’s Galleria 2010 …

... and the V&A, 2012.

… and the V&A 2012.

Sir John Sorrell, a cartoon and drawing aficionado who was was publisher of The Cartoonist, the “cartoon newspaper”, will launch the event and will give a talk about the importance of visual satire.

The team line-ups are as follows (all teams feature Procartoonists members): Andy Davey, Jeremy Banx, Neil Dishington, Steve Way

Private Eye Henry Davies, Kathryn Lamb, Simon Pearsall, David Ziggy Greene

The Guardian Ros Asquith, Steve Bell, Ben Jennings, Kipper Williams

The Independent Dave Brown, Peter Schrank, David Simonds, Matt Buck

We wish all the teams the very best of luck!

Procartoonists play it again

December 5, 2013 in News

The Cartoonists Team - Alex Hughes, Royston Robertson, Robert Duncan, Graham Fowell and Martin Rowson
The Cartoonists (Alex Hughes, Royston Robertson, Robert Duncan, Graham Fowell and Martin Rowson)

Procartoonists members can be seen on TV tomorrow (Friday 6 December) as BBC Two repeats the show in which our team took on the Eggheads.

The show was originally broadcast in 2009. We ran a report on it at the time but if you’d like to watch the show tomorrow without knowing the outcome, be aware that this contains spoilers!

Eggheads is on BBC Two at 6pm. Scheduling details correct at time of going to, er, WordPress.

Opinion: Tearing a strip off automated online cartoons

October 30, 2013 in Comment, General

Bitstrips @

Bitstrips @

The blog notes with interest the rise of Bitstrips, an app that allows anyone to make clip-art style cartoons featuring themselves.

Billed as “instant comics and cards starring you and your friends”, they are popular for Facebook e-cards and status updates.

We have seen this kind of automation of cartooning skills before. And now, as then, we believe it is a poor substitute for bespoke cartoons created by a professional cartoonist. The software may be clever but it does not produce hand-drawn, unique cartoons.

On the plus side, perhaps it is of little threat to professional cartooning, because as with previous fads the novelty appears to be wearing off quickly.

If you are interested in commissioning real cartoons by real cartoonists, take a look at the portfolios.

Clive’s gig is a walk in the park

September 11, 2013 in Events, News

© Clive Goddard draws for Radio 2 at Hyde Park @

© Clive Goddard draws for Radio 2 at Hyde Park @ member Clive Goddard tells us about a star-studded event

I’ve been drawing a regular cartoon for the website of Radio 2’s Alex Lester for four years now, a connection that meant I got asked along to the BBC station’s Hyde Park gig on Sunday.

The brief was to draw live caricatures of all the artists appearing – around 30 people – as well as the radio presenters who were taking part, in one large image.

As I’m not a natural “on-the-spot” caricaturist, I took the precaution of preparing roughs before the event, then inking them up on the day, but leaving out the hairstyles just in case something radical had happened to them (i.e. Jessie J).

They provided me with a space in the production area, which turned out to be a pair of teepees and far more palatial than the damp Portakabin I’d been expecting. As well as housing the console that Terry Wogan, Jo Whiley and Ken Bruce etc sat behind to do their shows, there was a comfy sofa for celeb interviews, a bar, table football, smoke machine, mirrorball – not a dump in the slightest.

Assorted famous faces drifted in and out during the day, occasionally commenting on their likenesses or perceived lack thereof.

Simon Mayo looks for a chance to say "Hello to Jason Isaacs" @

Simon Mayo wonders if Clive Goddard's drawing features a chance to say "Hello to Jason Isaacs" @

At some points it was all a bit overwhelming: Johnny Walker sitting on my stool so I could get his hair right; the singers Jack Johnson and Josh Groban and Radio 2’s legendary Sally Traffic stopping for a chat; and Elaine Paige saying I’d made her boss-eyed (I had).

Whispering Bob Harris turned up unexpectedly and had to be pencilled in in the corner – while the Manic Street Preachers played an acoustic set behind me. It was enough to keep me in name-dropping anecdotes for years to come.

The Ed adds: Thanks, Clive. Keep an eye out for Clive’s cartoon as it may be auctioned for this autumn’s Children in Need.

A Surreal view of the Reubens

June 29, 2013 in Events, General, News

Reubens Cartoon Awards first timer badge @


The Surreal McCoy reports from the US of A:

To the city of steel, Pittsburgh, for the National Cartoonists Society’s Reubens awards ceremony.

Local artist Rob Rogers of the Pittsburgh Post stoked things up with a seminar on the art of the editorial cartoonist. He was followed by a session on the opportunities for e-publishing and Terri Lieberman who spoke about her Pyjama Diaries comic strip.

Then it was out to the Toonseum for a look at originals from every Reubens awards winner from the last 67 years. The show featuring artists Gary Larson, Sergio Aragones, Charles Schulz, Ronald Searle, Will Eisner and many more. It was amazing to see the original inked pages of all your cartooning heroes in one place. The evening continued next door in a wonderfully seedy bar with the traditional karaoke session and, thanks to the luridly-coloured range of cocktails on offer, there were many takers.

There were more than a few sore heads at breakfast the following day. Our lodgings were at an old hotel (old being nearly 100 years for the Americans but it’s not a patch on Shrewsbury’s Lion which hosts the eponymous annual Cartoon Festival).

The remarkably efficient annual NCS business meeting barely ruffled any braincells but the presentation of our Procartoonists tablecloth, from this year’s Shrewsbury changed all that. Many thanks to Chairleg Nathan Ariss for the idea and to all those who drew on it. It received a great deal of interest and admiring glances, and not the puzzled or bemused looks that I had anticipated, with the Dalek and a caricature of a ghoulish Maggie Thatcher providing the most comments.


There were more seminars featuring Mo Willems (Sesame Street animation) and Drew Friedman (MAD magazine illustrator). Marmaduke’s creator Brad Anderson also stood up to remininisce about his long and illustrious career.

Tom Richmond (NCS President and MAD magazine editor) decided that the tablecloth must be reciprocated. So several sharpies were sourced and a linen cloth, purloined (we would say, “nicked”) from the hotel, was signed by almost all the attendees.

The linen cloth has clearly upped the ante – our tabelcloth was paper. Will we have to send silver candelabras and matching cutlery next year?

After its exhibition at next year’s Reubens weekend the Procartoonists tablecloth will be sent to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Musem in Cleveland where all NCS history and valuables are archived. (This store is the match of our own archive held at the University of Kent).


By Tom Richmond of Mad Magazine on NCS Tablecloth for

The actual awards evening itself was more like the Oscars than our traditional Saturday night Shrewsbury Festival knees-up. There were cartoonists in black tie and dinner jackets, cartoonists in evening gowns, a proper sit-down dinner and a live band. A revelation was Australian cartoonist  Jason Chatfield, (he’s also attended Shrewsbury), who was hosting/singing/dancing, often doing all three at the same time. Here is the list of awards given on the night and the winners. The night continued with an after party and then an after-after party which involved some interesting ghost-busting action down disused hotel corridors.

The next day was the Pittsburgh Cartoon Arts Festival where the public could meet the cartoonists and have things signed or drawn upon. A street downtown was closed off and Betty Boop, Olive Oyl and Popeye roamed free, charming the children. A seminar on Women In Cartooning was hosted by the delightful Hilary Price (Rhymes With Orange), featuring Cathy Guisewhite (Cathy), Lynn Johnston (For Better Or For Worse) and Terri Liebenson.

Best quote of the weekend was from Hilary about how to tell the difference between male and female cartoonists – by the boob to nose ratio. Women cartoonists tend to draw big noses and small boobs.

(Opinions on male cartoonists and noses welcome in the comments – Ed).

The Sunday night’s party is by tradition themed and this year it was the Roaring Twenties. Flappers and gangsters milled in the Speakeasy bar with fake cigarette holders and boas, and the floor was soon awash with feathers and sequins. These guys certainly know how to party. Got to meet a bunch of wonderfully talented people and hang out with some of my heroes. What a great weekend. Two countries separated by a common language? Well here’s looking at making closer ties with our North American cartooning cousins. Cheers y’all!

– – –

The NCS, formed in 1946, represents over 400 professional cartoonists in North America. The Reubens, held in a different US city each year, are named after Rube Goldberg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and sculptor, famed for his marvellous “inventions“. Next year’s Reubens will be held in San Diego, California.

Thanks to Surreal for her report.

The Round-up

November 17, 2012 in General, Links, News

Self-portrait © Quentin Blake

BBC Radio 4’s arts programme Front Row spoke to Quentin Blake ahead of the publication of his second volume of illustrated memoirs this week. Listen to the interview here.

Alex Scarfe, the son of the renowned satirical cartoonist Gerald, is one of the three minds behind Full English, the new animated sitcom currently running on Channel 4. The Guardian ran this interview ahead of the show’s debut.

A selection of redesigned film posters by illustrator Olly Moss are being exhibited at the White Cloth Gallery in Leeds. You can see a selection on the BBC website, and The Yorkshire Post interviews Moss here.

Following last year’s 50th birthday celebrations at Private Eye, a selection of cartoons from the exhibition have made their way north of the border to Scotland. Read about the gallery show at Kirremuir with the

Finally, member Adrian Teal has launched The Gin Lane Gazette, which has been published by Unbound and is crowd-funded. Adrian describes the book as “a compendium of true stories, scandal and oddities from the 18th century; a kind of Georgian Heat magazine, if you like.” See more, and buy the book, here.

The Round-up

October 28, 2012 in General, Links, News

MAD Magazine Alfred Champagne 300x411 Happy 56th Birthday, Alfred E. Neuman!

MAD's Alfred E. Neuman looks back at the 60-year history of MAD, the subversive comic magazine, in this in-depth article and slideshow. For even more on the subject, MAD’s editors have put together an exhaustive new book.

In a short video, BBC News talks to the US cartoonists Pat Bagley and Nick Anderson about lampooning Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Watch it here.

Martin Rowson draws our attention to the announcement that a former Daily Mirror showbiz reporter, 93-year-old Donald Zec, has won The Oldie’s first art award. See Donald’s winning portrait, and the other shortlisted pictures, here.

Is it a bird? A plane? Or yet more evidence of the decline of the newspaper industry? Clark Kent has quit his job at the Daily Planet (thanks to Pete Dredge for spotting the report).

The Round-up

October 12, 2012 in General, Links, News

Ralph Steadman – the acclaimed cartoonist, Hunter S. Thompson collaborator and member of – is the subject of a new documentary film, which premieres at the BFI London Film Festival this evening. Watch the trailer of For No Good Reason, above, and read more about the film courtesy of Empire magazine.

Sticking with cinema, Charles Schulz‘s Peanuts characters are set to celebrate their 65th anniversary in 2015 by appearing in a new feature film.

Christian Adams of The Telegraph writes about the challenges that can arise for a topical cartoonist tackling daily newspaper deadlines, and reveals a cartoon that didn’t make it into print this week. Read the blog post here.

And finally, some entertaining pieces by New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff. In one, he looks at the importance of writing to the gag cartooning process, and Peter Steiner pitches in with his thoughts on making the transition from cartoonist to novelist. In another post, Mankoff offers some statistical advice to help you win the magazine’s caption contest.

The Round-up

October 7, 2012 in General, Links, News

Above: the US editorial cartoonist Jeff Danziger talks about his work (thanks to Mike Lynch for the video).

Alexander Matthews, the member whose work appears in The Dandy, Private Eye and The Phoenix among others, writes on his blog about what he sees as the key ingredients for writing a funny kids’ comic strip. Read the post here.

A new exhibition at the Jewish Military Museum in Hendon features political cartoons by Jewish cartoonists dating back to the 17th Century. Read more about Cartoons At War here. (Thanks to The Surreal McCoy for the link.)

Finally, the Syrian cartoonist Juan Zero tells Al Jazeera his work has become bolder since the conflict began in his country, and discusses the power of cartoons as protest.

The Round-up

September 28, 2012 in General, Links, News


© Tony Husband @

Tony Husband, cartoonist for Private Eye, The Spectator and many others – and a member of – has produced two new book collections. I Nearly Died Laughing was released last month and showcases some of Tony’s darker cartoons, while It’s Only A Game features a selection of sporting gags and will be released on October 15.

Tony will be signing copies of both books on October 5 at 2022NQ in Manchester. Fifty of his cartoons will be on display and he will also be drawing cartoons by request, with proceeds going to Moodswings.

Steven Appleby also has a new book out, collecting his Guardian comic strip about everyday life and family relationships, Loomus. A launch party and exhibition are being held on the evening of October 12 at Gosh! Comics in Soho. Read more here.

Also in London, the Chris Beetles Gallery is currently holding an exhibition of work by that quintessentially English cartoonist, Norman Thelwell. The show runs until October 13 and you can find more information – and plenty of pictures – on the website.

Finally, with this year’s Big Draw about to get underway on Sunday, Design Week has a run-down of some of the events taking place at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London – including the Battle of the Cartoonists. Read the article here. (Thanks to Chichi Parish for spotting it.)