Sunday, September 30, 2007

PCO Procartoonists - The art business

PCO cartoonist Bill Stott writes;

ONE of TV’s most irritating programmes is “Click”. It usually crops up when you expect news and concerns itself with the geekier end of things computerish, or the needs of those whey-faced wannabes who claim not to be able to live without their Blackberrys. More than once in the hearing of your correspondent, Click’s cutting edge presenters have referred to events “way back in the 90s”. I wonder how old are Click’s younger viewers? Seven?

It might have been our patron, Libby Purves, or perhaps Bill Tidy, who suggested that cartoons demand a certain level of knowledge, historical or otherwise, for them to raise a smile.

If you didn’t know about the Titanic, Bill’s famous “No news of the iceberg ?” gag would fall flat. PCO member Mike Williams tells of a young person not understanding a fine joke about Vikings – “I’m a Viking. I’m SUPPOSED to leave rings on the table!” Said young person remarked, “Vikings wore lots of rings, did they?”

Cartoonists aren’t just history buffs. Cartoonists are interested in everything. They have to be. That’s what the job’s about. Everything. Very little is beyond humour’s scope. Maybe that’s why cartoonists come from all sorts of other lives – education, science, banking, road mending, string manufacture – and why many are tolerably able in fields other than drawing folk with big hooters.

So when the freelance cartoonist is commissioned to produce twelve sure-fire gags for a double glazing company – and companies are very keen on “product placement“ – then that freelancer had better be up to speed on all things transparent and still be able to make it funny.


Noel Ford said...

Yes, I've learned more as a cartoonist than I ever did at school. I discovered early on, as a Punch contributor, that a classical education was a great asset (essential if you want to draw gags involving Cerberus, the only dog that needs three food bowls). As I didn't actually have a classical education, I rapidly acquired one.

I have learned many things since then, including how to draw a lemming's bum and insights into prosthetics (I drew a range of cartoons for BLESMA, The British Limbless Ex-Servicemen's Association).

I have also learned, from my large body of work for the financial and investments sector, to leave my savings in the Building Society.