Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The British attitude to words and pictures

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

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

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

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

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

Let these people put pictures alongside your words ...

Snapshots from Shrewsbury

PCOer Kipper Williams at work on a Big Board during the recent cartoon festival. Bloghorn will be publishing more reportage from the event shortly.

It's British cartoon talent

Friday, April 25, 2008

Standing up for caricature

PCOer Adrian Teal (click to enlarge his Daniel Craig drawing, above) discusses the neglected art of the caricaturist:

If press cartoonists are feeling neglected, press caricaturists are feeling doubly so. The PCO is pursuing an admirable policy of singing the praises of the cartoon to anyone who’ll listen. The highly specialized trade of caricature is even more threatened, however, and I humbly submit that this noble profession should be given equal standing in the campaign.

Perhaps it’s the caricaturists’ fault. The standard (and standing) of British caricature has been in steep decline since the press lost interest in it after Spitting Image’s demise, and really good caricature is hard to find these days. Unless we can show the world how potent the art form can be, we will perish, and deservedly so.

When faced with something humorous and visceral, people often overlook the care and thought which has gone into a drawing. To a large extent – and I know I’m treading on a few corns here – cartoons are the fast-food of journalism; enjoyed briefly, and then discarded. But good caricatures have a staying power, which is lacking in pocket cartoons. They usually do not have the luxury of a caption to help them along. And the sheer amount of work which goes into them can be out of all proportion to the attention (and fees) they are given.

It is this kind of attention to detail, and plain hard slog, which marks the caricaturist out as the sturdy, muscular workhorse of cartooning, and I urge the PCO to help the journalistic world recognize his worth.

Thanks to Adrian Teal. Bloghorn says: Click T for Teal

UPDATED 28th April 2008: Some responses to Adrian’s opinion can be found in the comments section immediately under this edit

More British cartoon talent

Cartoon Artist of the Month

Bloghorn has been taking a break from our regular cartoon Artist of the Month feature while busy talking about the goings on for Shrewsbury, but it will be back next Friday.
It's British cartoon talent

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cartoons on the radio

Above: Low takes on Hitler and Mussolini. Click to enlarge

Cartoons were back in the spotlight this morning with an item on BBC Radio Four's Today show about the David Low exhibition currently running at London's Political Cartoon Gallery.

Tim Benson of the gallery appeared on the show to discuss the work with politicians Douglas Hurd and Ken Clarke. You can see a selection of the cartoons in an online gallery at the Today website.

The Best of Low is at the Political Cartoon Gallery until June 7. Low (1891–1963) is considered by many to be the greatest political cartoonist of the 20th Century. This exhibition of his work includes more than 60 original cartoons from before the First World War to the early 1960s. None of the cartoons on show have been exhibited before.

The Political Cartoon Gallery is at 32 Store Street, London WC1E 7BS, and is open Monday to Friday 9.30am – 5.30pm and on Saturdays between 11.30am – 5.30pm.

Click here for top British cartoonists that are still with us!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cartoons in the Arts section

After a weekend exploring the subject of "Art" at the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival, it was good to see The Guardian dedicating several pages of its G2 Arts section to cartoons yesterday.

Hillary Clinton by Barry Blitt, from The Guardian

The paper carried an article looking at the work of cartoonists attempting to get to grips with depicting US presidential hopefuls Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain. Cartoonists were canvassed on how they approached their subject and the paper carried lots of images.

You can read the article and see the cartoons here:
National lampoon

UPDATED: Click image to enlarge

And here is some British cartoon talent

Monday, April 21, 2008

Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival is a big hit

Bloghorn would like to offer some applause to the official organisers and sponsors of the Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival, as the main event weekend has just passed by. More than 40 cartoonists attended and with a little light herding they provided the public with a large range of activities over three days and at numerous venues.

We shall be publishing some reports on those activities and celebrating some of the art and entertainment from the Shrewsbury festival here on Bloghorn.

British cartoon talent

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bloghorn has gone to the Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival

PCOer Wilbur Dawbarn drew this cartoon of last year's event for The Oldie magazine. Bloghorn has now left the digital arena to go to this year's event.
British cartoon talent

Why bother with cartoons? Ask an expert

"Cartoonists always go cheerfully and happily straight to the heart of the issue, or the trend, or the argument: they are wise, because they have seen the truth about life, which is that at the heart of everything there lies a joke."

Libby Purves, columnist, broadcaster and patron of the Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival.

British cartoon talent

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The living UK cartoonists

PCOer Bill Stott writes:

We're good at celebrating the work of dead cartoonists in the UK, but less adept at flagging up good living ones. True, some live cartoonists are celebrated, but not many. Only recently, the media fate of visual humour was placed in the hands of the Hayward Gallery on London's South Bank. The curator of the resulting show chose not to feature any cartoonists, living, dead, or even those just a bit off colour. Instead the job of representing visual humour in the UK was given to some other people who turned in deeply unfunny, clunky pieces of preciousness, technically, described as art. We say, Enough! We also say find a joke (sometimes) by going here - or to, yes, you guessed it, Shrewsbury.

Bloghorn notes that you'll probably find Bill Stott there too.

British cartoon talent

Cartoon workshops at the Shrewsbury festival

Tim Harries running a cartoon workshop Click image to enlarge

Cartoon workshops are a key part of the Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival, and PCO members Tim Harries and Andy Gilbert will be running two of them.

Tim will host a workshop called Create a Comic Strip on Saturday (April 19) at Shropshire Wildlife Trust, 2pm–4pm. This is aimed at children aged 8 to 12 and families.

Andy’s workshop is called Animal Antics and is aimed at younger children, ages 6 to 11. It’s designed to help them to draw cartoon animals. This workshop is also on Saturday, from 10.30am - 12.30pm, and is held at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery.

Both are drop-in workshops and are free, with no need to book. Children must be accompanied.

There are other workshops at the festival plus a Cartoon Clinic, where budding cartoonists of all ages are invited to bring their work for a critique and some tips from the professionals. See the events section of the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival website for more details.

British cartoon talent

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival - In The Soup with Gordon Brown

Caricature of Prime Minister Gordon Brown appearing in cartoonist Dave Brown's one-man show at this year's Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival. Cartoon courtesy of Dave Brown. Click to enlarge the image.

British cartoon talent

Monday, April 14, 2008

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival - But is it Art?

PCOer Alex Hughes submitted this caricature of Prime Minister Gordon Brown for the "But is it Art?" show at this year's Shrewsbury festival. Click the picture to enlarge it.

British cartoon talent

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival - But is it Art?

One of PCOer Mike Turner's contributions to the "But is it Art?" show running at the Shrewsbury Festival.

British cartoon talent

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival - But is it Art?

A contribution for the "But is it Art?" show from PCOer Ken Pyne. The show is currently being exhibited in Shrewsbury until the end of April. Click to enlarge the picture.

British cartoon talent

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival and the UK Cartoon Museum

The curator of the UK's national Cartoon Museum Anita O'Brien has contributed an exhibition to the Shrewsbury festival this year. This cartoon from Steve (Bestie) Best is one of the many on show now. You can click the cartoon to see a larger version.

British cartoon talent

Friday, April 11, 2008

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival - Ralph Steadman on Martin Amis

Among the exhibits in the caricature show at this year’s Shrewsbury cartoon festival is this drawing of author Martin Amis by Ralph Steadman.
British cartoon talent

Cartoon exhibition: Pont of Punch

Cartoon by Punch cartoonist Pont. (Click to enlarge)

An exhibition entitled Pont: Observing the British at Home and Abroad runs at the Cartoon Museum in London from April 23 until July 27.

It features more than 90 classic cartoons about the quirks of the British by Graham Laidler, better known as the Punch cartoonist Pont.

The Cartoon Museum is at 35 Little Russell Street, London. It is open Tue-Sat, 10.30am-5.30pm; Sun 12pm-5.30pm. Admission: £4, £3, free to students and under-18s. Visit the Cartoon Museum website.

British cartoon talent

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Shrewsbury Big Boarder writes - about drawing

PCOer Pete Dredge writes about making a Big Board for the Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival:

I've been in training for weeks now, aiming to be at peak fitness for the Big Board Challenge at Shrewsbury this month. Yes, the "knee-bending, back-stretching, squat-thrusting and magnum marker pen-clutching" exercise DVD has been dusted off once again in preparation for this most unnatural of acts for the normally indoor, horizontal A4 practitioner of the cartoon art. Rather like a finely tuned Test cricketer being asked to adjust to the Twenty20 version of the game, the entire spectacle is rather more entertaining for the uninitiated than for the true connoisseur of the art!

British cartoon talent

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival - The Big Boarders

Kipper Williams of The Guardian is one of this year's PCO Big Boarders at the festival. Above is one of Kipper’s submissions to the "But is it Art?" exhibition, which is already open in the town.

The full list of cartoonist Big Boarders drawing at this year's festival, over the weekend of Friday 18th and Saturday 19th April, is:

Steve Bright, Clive Collins, Bill Stott, Ross Thomson, Martin Honeysett, Alex Hughes, Pete Dredge, John Roberts, Matt Buck (Hack), Royston Robertson, Mike Turner, Noel Ford, Steve Best (Bestie), Dave Brown, Ian Baker, Chris Burke, Andy Davey, Neil Dishington, Paul Hardman, and Andy McKay (NAF).

PCOer Pete Dredge will be blogging tomorrow about how it feels to do a big board at Shrewsbury.

British cartoon talent

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

How big is your pencil?

Bloghorn noticed yesterday that artist David Hockney has donated his largest ever painting to the Tate Britain museum in London. The enormous picture is called "Bigger Trees Near Warter" and he's made a pun in the title. It's a play on words with a small village in East Yorkshire. This art behaviour is bit like that made, day-to-day, by cartoonists.

Some of our own oversized art talents will be big boarding at the Shrewsbury cartoon festival in a couple of weeks time. The picture here should help explain exactly what they will be doing and Bloghorn will be publishing the full list of the participating PCO cartoonists soon.

Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival Big Boards

British cartoon talent

Monday, April 7, 2008

Cartoonists 2008 exhibition

Cartoon by Peter Brookes of The Times

An exhibition entitled Cartoonists 2008 opens at the Chris Beetles Gallery in London on April 8 and runs until May 3.

It is the gallery’s second annual show devoted to the art of British cartooning, following on from its successful You Havin’ a Laugh? exhibition last year.

The show features cartoonists from publications such as The Times, The Sunday Times, Private Eye, The Spectator, Daily Express, London Evening Standard, the Telegraph and The Economist, and includes PCO members Andy Davey, John Jensen, Royston Robertson, Kipper Williams, and Mike Williams.

Original artwork is on sale, at prices ranging from £50 to £5,000.

The gallery, at 8 & 10 Ryder Street, St James’s, London, is open from 10am-5.30pm, Monday to Saturday. Tel 020-7839 7551, email or visit the website.

British cartoon talent

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Shrewsbury Festival events - the art of reverse caricature

Caricature is the art of exaggerating the features of the face while retaining the identity of the person being drawn. Reverse caricaturing is the art of giving someone the body they may, or may not, desire. Here, one of the PCO's patrons, Libby Purves, gets reinvented as a bunny girl.
British cartoon talent

Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival: A family thing

The Guardian's Family section yesterday listed the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival as one of its Things to do with your family ...

The paper admits, however, that the talk by its own Steve Bell may not be suitable for all ages!

British cartoon talent

Friday, April 4, 2008

The not-the-PCO-artist-of-the-month-post

Bloghorn is going to be taking a break from our regular Friday feature during April as we feel we may have a lot on our plate with the upcoming cartoon festival. PCOer Martin Honeysett has submitted this piece for the But is it art show up in Shrewsbury.

British cartoon talent

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Cartoon exhibition: Dave Follows

As well as the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival, April also brings with it a long-awaited exhibition celebrating the life and work of the late Dave Follows. It takes place at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, from April 19 – June 29.

Dave, who died in 2003, left a significant legacy of artwork that spans three decades. His work appeared in newspapers, comics, and magazines all over the world, including the Sunday Times supplement Funday Times (weekly for 15 years), more than 20 local newspapers, such as the North Staffordshire Evening Sentinel (daily for 20 years), and Buster comic.

Dave lived in Stafford all his life. He had a special soft spot for the Potteries and its people. His daily cartoon strip May un Mar Lady, written in Potteries dialect, first appeared on July 8, 1985, in the Sentinel and was a local institution for nearly 20 years.

The exhibition, May un Mar Lady: Three Decades of Cartooning by Dave Follows, includes a huge selection of Dave’s original cartoons, a reconstruction of his work area, life-size cartoon figures, a May un Mar Lady pilot animation, and a preview screening of a documentary exploring the Potteries dialect in the context of Dave’s cartoons by the Stoke-On-Trent based film production company Inspired Film And Video.

British cartoon talent

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival: Six exhibitions open to the public

Six exhibitions of high-quality cartoon and comic art opened at the Shrewsbury festival yesterday evening. All free to enter and available to all, are the But is it Art? cartoon show and a one man show for Dave Brown of The Independent. The national UK Cartoon Museum has lent a collection for display and there is also a caricature show and contributions from cartoonists and artists from both Belgium and America.

British cartoon talent