Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bloghorn's cartoon reviews of 2008 – and looking forward to 2009

Tayo Fatunla for the BBC World Service (Also, including Zapiro from South Africa).
Kipper Williams at the Guardian. The paper also offers a wide selection of art for the new year including Martin Rowson and Steve Bell.
Political cartoonist of the Year Morten Morland at the Times.
Pat Blower draws for The Daily Telegraph.
Matt Buck Hack cartoons for Channel 4.
And, Christian Adams of the Telegraph revisits the classic old and new year image.

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2008 - a look back at St Just

PCOer Alex Noel-Watson reports on last year's version of one of the drawing things we have to look forward to in 2009:

Deep in the heart of the French countryside of the Limousin, in the department of Haute Vienne where characteristic tan-coloured cattle roam the lush meadows, nestles the village of Saint-Just-Le-Martel, near Limoges.

Saint-Just-Le-Martel could be described as the unofficial world capital of cartoons, thanks to the vision and energy of its mayor, Gérard Vandenbroucke, who 26 years ago started the annual Salon International de la Caricature, du Dessin de Presse et d'Humour.

St Just cartoonists @ The BloghornThe Salon runs for ten days at the end of September and beginning of October, and approximately 200 cartoonists converge upon the village from all over the world, 100 for the first weekend and the remainder for the second. A small number of cartoonists stays for the whole ten days. All the cartoonists who attend the Salon are happily billeted with local families.

The Salon is the biggest exhibition of cartoons in Europe, probably the world. The vast main exhibition, displaying cartoons from every imaginable country, is supplemented throughout the Salon site and beyond (in Limoges) by numerous others.

This year these included the historic works of Daumier, a presentation revealing the astonishing versatility of the veteran French cartoonist, Roger Mofrey, exhibitions by Brito, Avoine, Tignons, Kerleroux, Cambon, Puig-Rosado and others; caricatures by Nalair, a large display of caricatures by Sterpone, Moine and others in the main area; the Cartooning for Peace exhibition, conceived by Plantu and already shown at the United Nations in New York and around the world, most recently in Jerusalem, Hollon, Bethlehem and Ramallah; cartoons from Québec, Cuba, Turkey, Portugal and Germany.

Saint-Just, however, is not resting on its laurels. For a long time Gérard Vandenbroucke has nursed the ambition to build a permanent world centre of cartoons. This dream is nearing fruition. Two years ago, the first symbolic bricks were laid, and Gérard told me that construction will begin at the end of this year.

"There will be 18 months of building works and the centre will be officially opened in 2010," he said.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Bloghorn Artist of the Month - Denis Dowland

Bloghorn and Denis Dowland cartoon
Reflecting on the future of cartooning in the digital age in our last entry for 2008, PCO Artist of the Month, Denis Dowland, writes:

Technological advances give with one hand and take with the other just like chancellors. I certainly do not miss the good old days of dragging heavy portfolios round studios, at or soon after lunch-time, to baffle brain-addled, red-braced juvenile yuppie editors, I'd better stop now, it's all coming back to me. I simply couldn't wait for the internet.

Now that video has virtually taken over the medium, however, the internet is swamped by infantile trash, taking us back to square one, if not further. This only requires an upgrading of our working methods, like the telephone once did. The threat I see as more insidious is the unstoppable drive toward the cretinisation of society as perhaps its only means of holding together, its naturally enthusiastic adoption by the mediocre and its resigned and guilty acceptance by those who do know better. Grumpy old git, moi? I love it.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Season's greetings from the Bloghorn and the PCO

Bloghorn Christmas card 2008 from the UK Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation
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The spirit of Christmas

PCOer Clive Collins writes:

Some years ago I received a letter from the USA, from a lad of 14, who loved cartoons. He said he admired my cartoons (sic) and that he would dearly love to be a cartoonist, but that seemed an impossible dream, so might I oblige him with a small drawing, or signature, so he could compile a book of his heroes. I duly obliged and despatched a small signed self-caricature.

A couple of years later, and another letter arrived, from this same boy – who had remained miraculously 14 - with the same request. I ignored this one, and thought no more about it until, a while later, a package arrived containing 100 sheets of C5 blank paper, and a note stating that as I was obviously too busy, could I please pass round the sheets among my fellow cartoonists for them to do a drawing and/or signature for the book of cartoon heroes.

At this point I contacted cartoonist Mell Lazarus in the USA and asked him if he had ever heard of this boy. I could almost hear the acid laughter floating upon the water between us, when he replied that the ‘boy’ was well-known to American cartoonists, and in fact was a middle-aged lawyer who made quite a living, buying and selling original sketches and signatures at specialist auctions held all over the States. The Americans had given this guy the bum’s rush, and he guessed that now it was our turn. There was a son but he had grown up.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Santa Claus and the cartoonists

The Bloghorn, digital diary, UK professional CartoonistsPCOer Chris Madden writes:

The exact origins of Father Christmas (as opposed to Santa Claus) are lost in time: he was probably a pagan personification of midwinter, who put in an appearance around the solstice on December 21st. Indeed, he may well have been one and the same person as the old bearded man with the scythe and hour-glass, Father Time, who turns up at New Year, a week or so after Christmas is over (and once he’s slept off the sherry and mince pies). Father Christmas was a central character in Britain’s seasonal festivities long before Santa Claus joined in the celebrations. Santa didn’t really participate in the fun until the nineteenth century. However, once Santa put in an appearance he soon pushed the original Father Christmas into the background. Why? Because Santa was an American. Or, to be more precise, an American descendant of Turkish ancestry.

The original Santa Claus was Nicholas, a 4th century bishop of Myra in Turkey, who reputedly handed out gifts to children. (Very suspicious, if he were around nowadays there’d be a heavy police file and, possibly, an electronic tag around his ankle.) The bishop remained relatively obscure for fifteen hundred years or more until his star suddenly rose in the nineteenth century.

St Nicholas entered popular culture in the United States when, in 1809, the novelist Washington Irving (who wrote Rip Van Winkle) penned a satire on the Dutch culture of New York (a city that had a strong Dutch element in its history – so much so that it was originally called New Amsterdam). In his satire he referred to Saint Nicholas by his Dutch name of Santa Claus and portrayed him somewhat like an elfin Dutch burgher with a clay pipe.

A few years later, 1822, Dr. Clement Clarke Moore, a professor at a theology college in New York and the son of the Bishop of New York and his heiress wife (the family were so rich that the college at which Moore taught was built on their own estate), read Irving’s book and published a poem based on the Santa Claus character: “Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” The poem became a great hit: you may be familiar with it yourself (or at least with its opening lines). It was in this poem that Santa first acquired his reindeer. Before this he had to make do, somewhat bizarrely, with an eight-legged flying horse.

At this point the Santa industry went stratospheric. With the poem as inspiration, the cartoonist Thomas Nast started to draw the first of what would eventually be more than two thousand illustrations for Harper’s Weekly magazine depicting Santa. Nast's early depictions of Santa showed a rotund gent of quite serious demeanor, becoming more jovial over the passing years. This Santa was closer to Washington Irving’s version than the usual stern bishop of previous tradition. Nast also gave Santa his headquarters at the North Pole and his army of toiling elves.
Here's Nast's first depiction of Santa, from Harper's Weekly of 3rd January 1863 (which also included another, much smaller illustration of Santa by Nast).

Thomas Nast draws Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly @ The Bloghorn

Judging by this illustration you may think that Santa's wearing a rather festive outfit, festooned with Christmas stars - however, if you look at the original drawing you'll see that he's sitting beneath a Union flag. The suit - with its starry jacket and striped trousers - represents this flag. If the illustration had been in colour the jacket would have been blue (I bet you assumed that it was red), reflecting the colour of the ground behind the stars on the flag, while the trousers would be red and white stripes. Nast was essentially a political cartoonist - and in political cartoons wrapping a character in a flag to signify their allegiance is quite common.
At the time that Nast created the illustration the American civil war was in progress. Nast was on the Unionist side. The puppet in Santa's hand bears an uncanny resemblance to Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate states of America whom the Unionists, or Federal states, were fighting.

It was essentially Nast’s imagination that gave us the Santa that we know today – except, that is, for his red coat with white trim. Santa reputedly wears a red and white outfit because they are the corporate colours of the Coca Cola Corporation, who enlisted Santa to promote their fizzy drink in the 1930s. The Coke ads were created by an American commercial artist of Swedish ancestry, Haddon Sundblom, who modelled his Santa on his friend Lou Prentice, chosen for his cheerfully rotund features.

So it is that Santa Claus doesn’t actually come from the North Pole but from New York city, and he doesn’t date from the birth of Christianity two thousand years ago but from the early days of capitalism in the mid-nineteenth century.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Cartoon Pick of the Week

The festive season is upon us, so this week Bloghorn has a bulging sack full of Christmas themed cartoons...

One: Simon Bond in Private Eye: 'City Christmas Tree 2008'

Two: From Tony Holland in the Spectator, the credit crunch hits the Twelve Days of Christmas

Three: Christmas tree dressing at Number 10 for Peter Brookes in the Times

Four: Martin Rowson in Tribune shows the Three Wise Men investing poorly

Five: The Guardian asked artists, singers and comedians to "reinvent" Santa Claus, including Gerald Scarfe

Six: Royston Robertson in Reader's Digest on good health at Christmas

Seven: Patrick Blower has a Livedraw animation on media-savvy shepherds

Eight: Will "Wilbur" Dawbarn in Reader's Digest on the season of goodwill in a bad neighbourhood

Nine: Matt "Hack" Buck in Tribune on the non-jingling tills

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Bloghorn Artist of the Month - Denis Dowland

Demis Dowland cartoon @ The Bloghorn for the professional cartoonists' Organisation
PCO Artist of the Month Denis Dowland, tells Bloghorn about some of his cartoon influences: "A good gag's a good gag so I am not so particular about graphic styles. I think the great majority of cartoonists, and I don't even mind being counted as one of them, come up with at most a handful of works that will stand the test of (short to medium) time.

"Bill Tidy, McLachlan and lots of people whose names I cannot even recall have done stuff I wished I had done, never mind Cruikshank. Larson, ubiquitous as he is, comes up with real beauties in my view, and I'm slowly working my way around claiming authorship of one or two of that chap Stott's scribbles as well. I have just seen Scarfe's exhibition and some of his caricature is jaw-dropping. Caricature is a discipline I have never attempted, I couldn't tell you why."

His top tip for aspiring cartoonists is: "Get a job. I am not a good role model for any aspiring artiste (sic). Some young people want to become cartoonists for the same reasons they'd want to be pop stars. It's a pose one can strike without bothering to learn a craft. This is of course a reflection of my own middle-age views and experience. I would try to inspire young people to embrace neurology, astrophysics or history or any scholarly pursuit instead. Boring old prat, I know. I love it."

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Big Draw banners for sale

Back in November we blogged about the PCO's team for Transports of Delight – a cartoon banner competition held at St Pancras rail station in London as part of the The Big Draw.

Well, now you can own a piece of cartooning history as the four banners in the competition (from The Guardian, The Independent, Private Eye and the PCO) are being auctioned off on eBay, with all proceeds going to the Campaign for Drawing, a charity whose purpose is to promote drawing as a tool to support learning, and cultural and social engagement for all ages and abilities.

The Independent cartoonists at the Big Draw 2008The winning banner from The Independent (Dave Brown, Tim Sanders, Chris Burke and Bloghorn Editor Matt Buck)

The Guardian cartoonists at the Big Draw 2008The Guardian (Steve Bell, Martin Rowson, Tim Pond and PCO Chair leg Andy Davey)

The Private Eye cartoonists at The Big Draw 2008 Private Eye (Andrew Birch, Richard Jolley, Simon Pearsall and Ken Pyne)

The Bloghorn cartoonists from the PCO at the Big Draw 2008and last but not least the Professional Cartoonists' Organisation (Pete Dredge, Robert Duncan, Kipper Williams and Bloghorn writer Royston Robertson)

Hurry though, if you do want to make a bid, as the auctions end on the evening of Monday 22nd December!

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Monday, December 15, 2008

John Jensen recalls some beaut, bonzer comics

Following on from his look at the weird and wonderful work of Fletcher Hanks, PCOer John Jensen takes another trip back to the comic books of the 1930s and 1940s with the focus on his native Australia

"The Case of the Haunted Piecrust", "Wocko the Beaut", "Supa-Dupa Man", "Speed Umplestoop" and "Tripalong Hoppity" – all of these and many more funnies fell out of the wonderfully zany mind of cartoonist Emile Mercier.

A panel from "Wocko the Beaut", courtesy of

Mercier was born in New Caledonia in 1901. Twenty years later, in Australia, he began his career as a freelance cartoonist. During the Second World War, the bulk of his work, the comics, appeared in an array of Frank Johnson Publications. Johnson encouraged Australian talents and his publications developed a character and liveliness which set them apart – sometimes for the better, sometimes not – from the many US imports which which were dumped in Australia, usually as ships' ballast, during the war.

Due to wartime paper restrictions, Johnson was forced to reduce the size of some offerings: Star Pocket Comics ran for at least 14 issues, successful in spite of some issues being printed on brown wrapping paper. The same paper shortage brought forth a decree that there would be no new regular runs of comic books.

Johnson resorted to cunning to deal with the situation. His regular characters continued to appear each month but each issue bore a new title: King Comics, Amazing Comics, Gem Comics, Slick Comics, Bonzer Comics, Flash Comics and more. When imagination failed, the word "new" was tacked to an old title and the process began over again. Mercier's work appeared in most of these issues.

Mercier was a people watcher but the people he watched, ordinary everyday Australians, were transformed into creatures of his eccentric universe. Occasionally in the background of a cartoon someone would be walking around with springs on his or her feet, or on stilts or jumping around on pogo sticks. His characters' feet quite often sagged at a ninety-degree angle half way along the sole of the foot. Dogs, cats and boozy types abounded. Mercier's cast list was very Australian.

I met Mercier just after the war, and I asked him for his definition of a good cartoon. "A good cartoon, sonny, is one that is accepted, published and paid for," he said. You might argue with this definition but for me it was heart-lightening.

A few months after our meeting I took my first comic strip, "Mary Mixup, Female Spy Terrific" (by Jon J) to Frank Johnson Publications where, to my amazement it was accepted and published. My mother, who hated comics, wouldn't have them in the house. When I took home my copy of Gem Comics No.27 with "Mary Mixup" within, Mum took it, tore it and threw it away.

John Jensen's "Chester Nutte" was published in Gem Comics, circa 1947

In spite of this, other titles followed, such as "Chester Nutte", a time traveller, above, and "Snooper McDroople, Ace Newspaper Reporter". Mercier's drawing never influenced me but a little of his humour rubbed off. The strips improved a bit over the twelve months I worked on them and there were strips for other comics publishers too, but "Mary Mixup" was an abomination.

Frank Johnson wanted to withhold payment because the drawings were so bad. I remembered what Mercier had told me, and squeaked: "If the drawings are good enough to publish, they are good enough to be paid for." A voice from a neighbouring office said, "Y'can't argue with that, Frank."

Johnson paid up – eventually. I think he was so traumatised by my demand that he continued to use my work, and pay for it ... eventually.

Bloghorn says click J for Jensen.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Goodbye big print (and cheerio President Bush)

PCOer Andy Davey writes:

One thing that all cartoonists are very aware of is that the face of publishing has changed. Much of it has been a little scary for established old-media cartoonists, but one of the undoubted benefits of the new trends has been on-demand printing.

While there’s still a need for hard copy (books for fireside, on train, lining impressive bookshelves, in tent up mountain etc), self-publishing sites provide the bridge between the mature and the new by converting digital files into comforting, heart-warming, cuddly books to be held and cherished.

An example, I hear you ask? Oh, if you insist. You could, for example, check out a short cartoon booklet called Bush Combat by UK cartoonist Andy Davey (see it here). This was published, like fellow PCO cartoonist Ger Whyman’s book on the self-publishing site, Lulu.

The book covers the pugilistic adventures of the boy George Dubya, from early spats with the UN, through the horrors of Iraq, right up to his search for a legacy in the Middle East. The time seemed right; it is meant as a last post to his disastrous tenure in the White house. The editorial cartoons all have brief explanations for those with medium-term memory loss; they were mostly published in The Guardian, The Times and The Independent over the last six years. Some are previously unpublished. It’s long on pictures and short on text, so even Dubya himself could order one and understand it … possibly.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Cartoon Pick of the Week

Bloghorn spotted this great work this week ...

One: Nicholas Garland in the Daily Telegraph on Robert Mugabe

Two: Matt Buck (aka Hack) at Channel 4 News on the ailing Pound

Two: Patrick Blower at Livedraw (note: video file) on Brown saving the world

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Bloghorn Artist of the Month - Denis Dowland

Bloghorn, Denis Dowland cartoon, UK cartoonist, Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation
PCO Artist of the Month, Denis Dowland, reveals to Bloghorn how he goes about producing his cartoons ...

"I have had to learn to resist the Big Creative Rush, especially after a grand meal or closing time, when everything comes out so clear and sharp and you can do, of course, no wrong.

"I have to let most ideas stew for some considerable time, we're talking months here, mostly, before I commit them to paper, or nowadays the computer, lest I look at a page in total bafflement as to what on earth I may have had in mind the night before. I think something similar happens to Gary Larson on occasion.

"Once the idea is fixed it's like painting by numbers. I love having just finished a picture but doing it is a grind; a common enough malaise."
There will be more work from Denis next Friday.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

PCOer Morten Morland wins political cartoonist of the year

PCOer Morten Morland won the Political Cartoon Society's cartoonist of the year yesterday. Bloghorn is publishing one of Morten's Post-it note caricatures of Gordon Brown above.

Bloghorn's alter ego, and the current chair leg of the PCO, Andy Davey said:

It's great that Morten has won this. He's one of the best cartoonists working in the UK. The judges commended his immediately recognisable style and use of unusual perspective - I'd second that. And he does it all with only one real outing in the UK media per week - watch Mondays in The Times newspaper.
Steve Bell, of The Guardian, won best single image of the Year, for something like this and Peter Shrank of The Independent on Sunday was runner-up.

Morten has a word at his blog.

Christian Adams has a report here too.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cartoonist takes issue with cartoon awards

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.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A cartoon obituary and a cartoon award

An obituary for Oliver Postgate creator of many children's television animations and an award for Posy Simmonds for her drawn interpretations of novels. Via

Updated: The Guardian has a fine YouTube tribute to Oliver Postgate's work here. A particular mention for this clip...

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Heart-warming Christmas tale

PCOer Adrian Teal writes:

I had a phone call from the news desk of my local paper recently asking if I’d mind doing a last-minute cartoon about our gaffe-prone town council.

The council had ditched the idea of suspending Christmas decorations across the town’s main shopping street, because Health and Safety were worried about them plummeting onto the heads of innocent shoppers. As an alternative, they decided to import some hollow, cone-shaped, fake trees which cost £33,000.

When the lorry carrying the new trees arrived at the council depot, two Iraqi, and two Iranian illegal immigrants jumped out of the back. They were rounded up by the cops, and handed over to the UK Border Agency.

Adrian reports the trees themselves were "rubbish". Bloghorn thinks none of us are six anymore.

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Cartoon Pick of the Week

Bloghorn spotted this great work this week...

One: Stephen Hutchinson (aka Bernie) in Private Eye on child protection officers

Two: Gerald Scarfe in the Sunday Times on India

Three: A spot of blowing our own Foghorn ... Noel Ford on the cover of the new Christmas issue of the PCO's cartoon magazine. (Below – click image to enlarge). Subscribe to The Foghorn here

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

PCO Artist of the Month - Denis Dowland

The PCO Artist of the Month for December 2008 is Denis Dowland.

Denis's output ranges from traditional gags, or, joke cartoons to "conceptual absurdism" (his description).

He tells Bloghorn that from a young age that he was always drawing;

"As a child I was perceived as a gifted artist, due mostly, I imagine, to my favouring pen and ink which perhaps isn't the most instinctive medium for a young child. My work covered surrealism and assorted weirdness until the late 80s when a sadly short-lived mini boom in new-wave satire, for want of a better term, and an awakening to the possibilities of the graphic novel inspired me to produce a number of faintly surreal and twisted short stories for the more forward-looking magazines of the day.

"It did not turn out to be a living proposition, however, so I started producing gag cartoons, mostly unpublishable due to size and/or subject, for individual buyers, until the frustrations of word of mouth existence made me call it a day. We had to wait 10 years for the digital revolution to re-open the doors and persuade me to have another go."
There will be more from our interview with Denis next Friday.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

The far side of the world of cartoons

King Features syndicated strip cartoon artist (and ex-pat Brit) Alex Hallatt has a write-up of the state of the Australian cartoon world. You can find her report from the recent Stanley Awards here.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cartoonist has a go at cartoonists

Cartoonist Stephan Pastis has used his newspaper comic strip Pearls Before Swine to take a very funny swipe at cartoonists who peddle what he sees as hackneyed and dated gags about subjects such as golf, henpecked husbands and "hot secretaries". Bloghorn says, feel free to voice your objections to either side of the argument in comments, below.

You can see the strip here. Thanks to Mike Lynch.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Monday, December 1, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cartoon Pick of the Week

Bloghorn spotted this great work this week...

One: Dave Brown in the Independent on the Pre-budget Report

Two: Peter Brookes in the Times on the Death of New Labour

Three: Paul Wood in the Spectator: "It's pretty chilly out. Do you want to borrow a scarf?"

The PCO: British cartoon talent

PCO Artist of the Month - Kate Taylor

Kate's last piece of advice to any aspiring cartoonist is to "have endless perseverance, draw from the heart and be a shameless self-publicist".

Kate also feels that the internet has opened up many new ways in which cartoonists can now promote themselves. "The digital age also means a lot more choice for us in the way we decide to present our work."

Bloghorn says T for Taylor
The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The DFC: Now we are six (months)

PCOer Royston Robertson writes:

The Forbidden Planet blog has a nice piece to mark six months of The DFC, the subscription-only kids' comic launched earlier this year. Instead of canvassing the opinions of grown-up comic fans, they've interviewed a member of the target audience: Molly, nine.

This was interesting to me as my son, who is six, reads The DFC. He loves it, but of course he only knows about it because his cartoonist Dad wanted to see it. His friends are largely unaware of The DFC because it has such a low media profile. It really needs to get into the shops permanently (it's currently on a one-week trial at Tesco).

Like Molly in the FP piece, he also goes for the funny ones rather than the more serious, adventure ones. I think I did much the same thing with comics as a child.

Forbidden Planet blog


The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Cartoon exhibition continues

Cartoon by Andy "Gilby" Gilbert. Click to enlarge

Who's Laughing Now?, a cartoon exhibition by PCOer Andy Gilbert, has been a hit at the Derby Museum and Art Gallery and as a result, selected pieces will be exhibited at the Queen's Hospital, Burton upon Trent, until December 13.

After that, the full exhibition can be seen again at the Brewhouse Arts Centre, Burton, from January 17 until February 21. Opening times are Mon-Sat 10am-5pm

Andy Gilbert produces artwork for Rainbow Cards and much of the exhibition highlights the gentle humour that he produces for their range.

The PCO: British cartoon talent

Monday, November 24, 2008

Let us have faith in cartoons ...

PCOer Martin Rowson writes...

One way and another I've had quite an exciting week. At the Cartoon Awards on Wednesday I got slapped, quite hard, by the celebrated lawyer and serially rebellious Labour MP Bob Marshall-Andrews, who seems not to have liked an interview I did with him for The Spectator this August. Surprisingly enough, I've never been hit by a politician before, although Peter Brookes used to whack me every time we met. On the basis that all cartoonists, if they're giving it out, should be able to take it as well, I took this particular assault on the chin (actually, more the whole left side of my head) and decided honour was satisfied. Subsequently Bob has offered to buy me lunch, so maybe it isn't over yet.

The other exciting thing is the extraordinary viral life of a feature I illustrated for New Humanist, devised by the comedian Christina Martin. It's called "God Trumps" and is a series of playing cards depicting representatives of 12 of the World's leading religions, with marks out of ten in six categories whereby they might trump the other religions (Muslims trump everyone, needless to say, because of the impossibility of making jokes about them). As of Thursday evening, it had, apparently, had over 55,000 hits (as compared to just the one I got from Marshall-Andrews), and the atheistical boys and girls at New Humanist are so excited that, at their non-Christmas party on Thursday night, there was a lot of talk of T-shirts and tea towels and another 12 cards to mop up the religions we left out, like Russian Orthodox and Mormons. With luck this one could run even longer than my feud with the member for Medway! Yippee!

UPDATED: Tuesday 25th November. More news on readership from the New Humanist magazine blog

Bloghorn says click R for Rowson

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cartoon Pick of the Week

Bloghorn spotted this great work this week...

One: Peter Brookes in the Times on the BNP list

Two: Tim Sanders in The Independent on "I'm a Celebrity..."

Three: Dave Walker at the Church Times Blog on pubs becoming churches

The PCO: British cartoon talent

PCO Artist of the Month - Kate Taylor

Bloghorn asked our Artist of the Month, Kate Taylor, how she started out in drawing;

Since childhood Kate loved to draw and only ever wanted to be an illustrator. She has always worked as a self-employed freelancer, but, with her output always "veering towards" cartooning.

She always admired the cartoons of the late Mel Calman but tells us she tries not "to look at other people's work too much, because everyone else seems so funny."

Bloghorn says click T for Taylor

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The 14th Cartoon Art Trust Awards

The Cartoon Art Trust Awards were presented last night at The Mall Galleries in London. The trust, which runs the Cartoon Museum in London, has presented the awards annually since 1995. Gag cartoonist Grizelda, left, was among the winners.

PCOer and Private Eye regular Will "Wilbur" Dawbarn was there and sent Bloghorn this personal report:

I was fortunate enough to be invited to join the Private Eye table this year, and what a star-studded occasion it seemed to this small-town boy! I even got my suit out of mothballs for the occasion.

After a brief time spent standing around with no-one to talk to, trying to earwig Ken Clarke's conversation (for cartoon research purposes of course), scoffing as many canapés as I could get my hands on, and examining some marvellous Giles originals, I soon fell in with the coterie of Eye cartoonists, particularly the garrulous Simon Pearsall ("First Drafts"), who chatted non-stop in my left ear (most entertainingly) during the meal, leaving me only dimly aware of cartoons being auctioned off for thousands of pounds and awards being dished out to the worthy.

In my right ear at the table was Mark Warren, the writer of the Celeb strip. It turns out it's only Charles Peattie who does both Alex and Celeb – I'd always assumed it was the same writer-artist combo doing both.

I missed a few more awards whilst outside having a fag with Simon P. and Martin Rowson (who was very charming and gracious to the winner of the Under 18 Young Cartoonist of the Year award, telling her to email him for advice and the like – though he bluntly refused me the same courtesy when I enquired ...)

The Award Winners

Joke cartoon award: Grizelda of the New Statesman and others

Strip cartoon award: Stephen Collins of the Times

Pocket cartoon award: Jeremy Banks aka “Banx” of the FT

Caricature award: Nicola Jennings of the Guardian

Political cartoon award: Nicholas Garland of the Daily Telegraph

Young cartoonists of the year: Emilia Franklin (under 18) and James Hood (under 30).

The Pont prize for drawing the British Character: Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor of the Daily Telegraph for Alex. The Pont Award was set up five years ago in memory of Graham "Pont" Laidler, whose drew the brilliant series The British Character in Punch in the 1930s and 40s.

Lifetime achievement award: Raymond Briggs. The creator of the acclaimed books The Snowman and When the Wind Blows was responsible for some of the earliest British “graphic novels” – long before the term or the form was generally known. Previous winners of the award have included, Ronald Searle, Gerald Scarfe, Fluck and Law, and Trog.

PCOer Morten Morland has a first person report here as does Christian Adams of the Telegraph has his take on the events here too and Down the Tubes also has a round up.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

The Queen's English – in cartoons

PCOer Nathan Ariss reports that the Queen's English Society is launching a book which he has illustrated.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Exhibition: The Illustrators 2008

The Chris Beetles Gallery in London is currently hosting a show entitled The Illustrators 2008 .

The annual show features work by illustrators and cartoonists, such as Quentin Blake, left, from 1800 to the present day. It runs until January 3.

The gallery says that the exhibition, which features more than 1,000 pictures, is the world’s largest selection of original illustrative artwork for sale. Accompanying the exhibition will be a 140-page catalogue which contains biographies, notes and 342 illustrations. It is priced £15. The Chris Beetles Gallery is at 8 & 10 Ryder St, St James's, London. Telephone: 020-7839 7551.

The website can be found at

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Monday, November 17, 2008

Comic Illustrator residencies at the V&A

Following on from our piece about the Comica convention this coming weekend, it has come to Bloghorn's attention that the V&A is offering UK-based comic artists a programme of six-month residencies. Budding graphic novelists have until the the 4th January 2009 to apply for one of the four places, which include bursaries and studio space.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Friday, November 14, 2008

Watch cartoon paint dry with Steve Bell

Prince Charles is 60 years old today - Steve Bell, one of the cartoonists at The Guardian, offers a present.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

PCO Artist of the Month - Kate Taylor

Every cartoonist has a distinctive personal working style and Bloghorn asked Kate what works for her;

"I produce rough ideas with a biro, then the final artwork with an ink pen, scanning that in to the computer, then having a bit of a tinker with it in Photoshop. If I'm working to a very tight deadline, fear helps the creative process along. Otherwise I spend a lot of time eating, hoovering, wandering about the house with no real purpose, and surfing the internet. All this is done under the guise of 'looking for inspiration'."

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Cartoon Pick of the Week

It's a US Elections Comedown Special this week...

One: Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury strip in The Guardian on withdrawal symptoms

Two: Gerald Scarfe in the Sunday Times on sweeping up

Three: Liza Donnelly in the New Yorker on the woe of winning

The PCO: British cartoon talent

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The North-South Divide: Comic festivals this weekend

If you're into comics then you'll be spoiled for choice this weekend. For northerners there's Thoughtbubble, the Leeds Sequential Art Festival, running from 13th to the 16th November, which includes a one-day comic convention at Saviles Hall and Alea Casino, both on Royal Armories Square, Leeds.

And, for those down south there's Comica, the London International Comics Festival, featuring exhibitions along with a symposium on Archetypes v Stereotypes In Comics & Graphic Novels. The symposium is at the Victoria and Albert Museum on 14th November, and there are loads of other exhibitions and events at the Institute of Contemporary Arts from the 14th to the 26th November.

UPDATED: 17th Nov 2008
A report on Thoughtbubble from Shug

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cartoon exhibition: Saul Steinberg – Illuminations

Twenty Americans by Saul Steinberg, from Illuminations

An exhibition entitled Saul Steinberg: Illuminations is at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London from November 26 until February 15.

It features a retrospective collection of more than 100 works by the Romanian-born American cartoonist whose work was a major part of the New Yorker magazine for six decades, a period in which he drew more than 1,200 covers and editorial illustrations.

The exhibition covers the whole range of his work, from high art to low, from murals to magazines and from caricature to cartography.

The Dulwich Picture Gallery

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Monday, November 10, 2008

Adrian Teal's Highlight of 2008

Cartoonist and PCO member Adrian PCOer Adrian Teal shares one of his highlights of 2008;

As the shadows lengthen, the nights draw in, and Cumbrian fell-walkers are forced to use sheep as rudimentary buoyancy aids, I find myself looking back over the dog-days of 2008 with a sentimental eye, and specifically at the highlight of my year.

I send a lot of sample stuff in the post, on spec, to various people outside the world of newspapers and mags, and more often than not, it ends up in the secretarial bin. However, once in a while, it generates some interest. Back in April, I got a call from the producer of the BBC’s QI, who also produced Not the Nine O’Clock News, Blackadder, and Spitting Image, where I had met him a few times when I was an irritating ten year-old.

He asked me to produce the front/back cover for the new QI Annual (available from all good bookshops, 6th November), and would I mind awfully doing a couple of double-page-spreads for the inside too?

This was a moment of pure, unbridled, cynicism-free joy for me, since the comedy stable from which he and his contemporaries come helped to shape the sense of humour of my generation. They are also very nice people, which makes a huge difference in this trade, believe me, and I was given pretty much a free rein to do what I thought would suit. I couldn’t believe my luck.

And they paid my invoice inside two days. Pinch me, someone.

The QI Annual 2009 by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson is published by Faber and Faber, priced £12.99

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Victory for Obama: The cartoonists' view

The time difference between the UK and the USA meant that newspapers here were unable to report the victory of Barack Obama the day after the election. So British cartoonists had another day to gather their thoughts, and we saw the results yesterday.

Two cartoonists noted a certain messianic quality in the President Elect. Peter Brookes in The Times came up with a saintly Obama and Matt in the Daily Telegraph wondered if he could work miracles.

Andy Davey in The Sun saw the election as a new dawn and Paul Thomas in the Daily Express also looked at the notion of new hope for America.

A celebratory tone was notable. Steve Bell in The Guardian depicted a slam-dunking Obama and Dave Brown in The Independent showed his ballooning popularity.

Mac in the Daily Mail had Obama beating racism, to make it to the White House while Matt Buck at Channel 4 News noted how that famous address is changed for ever. Nicholas Garland in The Telegraph took an interesting sideways slant, with a quote from Martin Luther King.

Alex Hughes in Tribune looked ahead to the huge challenges faced by the new President and Patrick Blower, on his Livedraw site, had an animated take on this weight of expectation.

It will be fascinating, of course, to see how cartoonists will react once Obama is doing the job of President, when the news stories are not all positive.

Have you seen any other great Obama cartoons in the UK media? Let us know via Comments below

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

PCO Artist of the Month – Kate Taylor

Bloghorn's featured Artist of the Month for November is cartoonist and illustrator, Kate Taylor.

Yorkshire-based Kate's work has appeared worldwide in books and magazines for a wide variety of clients. Like many cartoonists, her work appears in many markets. Her clients include Sainsburys, Yorkshire Electricity, Honda, BBC, The Daily Mirror, The Sunday Times, Exley Publications and Pearson Education.

We will be publishing examples of Kate's work here every Friday in November.
Bloghorn says click T for Taylor

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Making the Giles cartoon exhibition

This cartoon courtesy of the Cartoon Museum, the University of Kent and the trustees of the Giles collection.

Bloghorn interviews Nick Hiley, curator of the exhibition Giles: One of the Family which is now on at the Cartoon Museum in central London.

Who had the original idea for a Giles retrospective?

As soon as the Giles collection arrived at the British Cartoon Archive in 2005 it was clear that we needed to celebrate with a London exhibition, and the Cartoon Museum was the most appropriate place to hold it. We have spent the last eighteen months cataloguing and digitising Giles' enormous collection of artwork, correspondence, and ephemera. This exhibition puts on display some of the things we have found.
How long has it taken to put the Giles exhibition together?
In a sense it has taken five years, as it was in 2003 that we began looking at the possibility of giving the Giles collection a permanent home in Canterbury, and making it accessible to the public and to researchers. The collection was in storage for ten years after Giles' death in 1995, and it was always our aim to make the artwork available for exhibition and display once it reached the British Cartoon Archive. The actual exhibition planning and selection, and the writing of the catalogue, took about six months.
How did the University of Kent get involved?
We've been interested in the Giles collection for a long time. The University's cartoon archive was set up in 1973, and after Giles' death in 1995 the archivist approached the Cartoon Trustees, to whom Giles left his collection, with the suggestion that his artwork should come to Kent. At the time they had hopes that the collection might remain in East Anglia, where Giles lived and worked, but when we approached them again they were happy to donate the collection to us. A second exhibition – "Giles: Drawn to Suffolk" – is opening in Ipswich on November 8, and we do hope that a permanent display of Giles material may one day be established in Ipswich, where he had a studio for many years.
What does promoting the work of a cartoonist who has died achieve?
I hope that it brings the enjoyment of his work to new audiences, and gives existing fans a new insight into how he worked, by displaying his original artwork. Giles' correspondence does include letters from other cartoonists and illustrators, expressing admiration for the way that he could arrange complex scenes in a simple visual way, so I hope that present-day cartoonists can learn something from seeing his work. He could draw cartoons of the Family where there is action across the whole frame, or on different floors of the house, but the focus is never lost.
What would Giles have seen if he was watching the last-minute preparations for the show?
He would probably have laughed a lot, and grumbled a lot as well. He would laugh because we reconstructed his studio, using all the easels, paints, pencils, etc. which came with the collection, even down to his glasses and his cardigan on the back of his chair. I'm sure he would tell us we had got it all in the wrong place! He would undoubtedly grumble, because he never liked his original artwork, partly because he was a perfectionist and partly because he regarded the printed cartoon as the finished work. His originals were drawn for reduction, and he thought that by comparison with the printed version they looked as if they had been "drawn with an umbrella"! They don't seem like that to me, but to show that they are part of a reproductive process we have used specially made frames that show the whole artwork, including Giles' notes and the blockmaker's scribbles in the margins.
Visit the Cartoon Museum

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cartoon exhibition: Giles – One of the Family

Original artwork by Carl Giles. Click to enlarge

The exhibition Giles: One of the Family opens today (November 5) at the Cartoon Museum in London. It showcases the work of Carl Giles (1916-1995), the most famous cartoonist of his generation.

Born in Islington, London, during the First World War, Giles joined the Daily Express in 1943 where he would create his quintessentially British "Giles Family". For many people his cartoons capture British life in microcosm. Giles was voted Britain’s Favourite Cartoonist of the 20th century in a 2000 poll.

In 2005 – ten years after his death – the complete Giles collection passed to the British Cartoon Archive at the University of Kent. The material in the exhibition is drawn entirely from the 6,000 original drawings (dating from the 1940s to the 1990s), 1,500 prints, tens of thousands of letters, documents, films and ephemera together with the contents of his studio held at the Archive.

For more information on the Giles Collection or the British Cartoon Archive go to:

A catalogue of the exhibition published by the British Cartoon Archive is available for £25.

The Cartoon Museum, Little Russell Street, London, is open: Tues-Sat, 10.30am-5.30pm and Sun 12pm-5.30pm. Admission: Adults £4, Concessions £3, Free to Under 18s and students.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cartooning the US election if you are a British cartoonist

PCOer Martin Rowson writes:

Basically, it's a bugger, and quite often you have you make a virtue of necessity by saying you don't know (the result). So in 2000 I did a cartoon for The Scotsman, drawn on the day of the election, to be published on the Wednesday, saying that Ralph Nader had won. Then again, in 2004, in a cartoon appearing the day before the US election, I just launched into fantasy, second guessing the outcome (click the picture for details). After all, we're in the business of comedy and fantasy, so you should, with a little bit of guidance to the readers, be able to get away with anything! Just like the Republicans!
This cartoon first appeared in the Guardian during the 2004 US Presidential election campaign.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Cartooning the US Presidential Election

We've seen how they covered the recent Democratic and Republican Conventions, but as the USA goes to the polls today, how do cartoonists cover an election?

Probably the most controversial approach is that being taken by Garry Trudeau of Doonesbury (seen here in the Guardian) - to draw the artwork for Wednesday's strip in advance and in essence 'call the election', in this case for Obama - an approach not without it's dangers, as dealt with here by's Jim Borgman.

Of course, in these days of blogging, it's now possible for a cartoonist to live-blog their drawings, like Marshall Ramsey in the Mississippi Clarion Ledger or the's Rob Tornoe. The Daily Cartoonist's Alan Gardener will be live-blogging the live-bloggers as the results come in tonight as well.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Friday, October 31, 2008

Cartoon Pick of the Week

Bloghorn spotted this great work this week ...

One: Nick Newman in the Spectator on Ross and Brand

Two: Christian Adams in the Telegraph: Peter Mandelson - three strikes ...

Three: Royston Robertson in Reader's Digest: No man is an island

Week ending 31st October 2008

The PCO: British cartoon talent

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The cartoonist and the rebounding, rubber artwork

PCOer Chris Burke sends a visual report on the phenomenon of rubber, or, rebounding artwork.

Clients always want artwork as soon as possible but, strangely, there is always time for it to come back for changes.
We offer here an example of Chris's work with before and after images showing the changes requested in a complex piece of caricaturing he did recently. First, here is the original and approved piece of art.

Secondly, the unexpected changes which were subsequently requested - in this case, it was a question of different people being asked for. We've marked them here to help.

And at last, the final version.

It is hard work being a professional cartoonist.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cartoon exhibitions: Giles and more

Giles: One of the Family is at the Cartoon Museum in London from November 5 until February 8, 2009. Click image to enlarge

Whenever there is a show dedicated to a big name in the world of painting, such as Monet or Rothko, the media describes it as a "blockbuster exhibition". Well, this must be the equivalent in the cartooning world, as it features one of the giants of the artform: Carl Giles (1916-1995).

The exhibition of more than 80 works includes wonderful colour covers as well as drawings never reproduced in the annuals. His studio is recreated complete with desk, drawing board and reference material. Also revealed are less familiar aspects of his career including his time as an animator, his propaganda work for the Ministry of Information and his work as cartooning war correspondent.

The Cartoon Museum, Little Russell Street, London, is open: Tues-Sat, 10.30am-5.30pm and Sun 12pm-5.30pm. Admission: Adults £4, Concessions £3, Free to Under 18s and students.

Here are two must-see cartoon exhibitions which are currently running:

Steve Bell's Drawing Politics and Other Animals is a free exhibition at the Lightbox, in Woking. Re-live the political scandals of the 1980s and 1990s through the drawings and original artwork of Britain's most renowned political cartoonist.

Cartoons and Coronets: The Genius of Osbert Lancaster is at the Wallace Collection in West London. This free exhibition, which marks the centenary of Lancaster's birth, celebrates his astonishing range as an artist and as a chronicler of style and fashion.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent