Friday, May 30, 2008

Artists of the Month

Click on the banner above for a look back at some of the PCO’s recent artists of the month.
It's British cartoon talent

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cartoons as graphic report

PCOer Ian Ellery alerts us to the work of Chinese cartoonist Coco Wang who is reporting on the earthquake in her country. Comics historian and teacher, Paul Gravett is hosting some of her still, narrative reports here.
British cartoon talent

Another animated film for grown-ups

An unlikely new trend appears to be emerging in the world of film: animated movies for grown-ups. Hot on the heels of the likes of A Scanner Darkly and Persepolis, comes Waltz with Bashir, which was in competition at the recent Cannes Film Festival. See the trailer above.

It's billed as an "animated documentary", as the Writer and director Ari Folman uses animation to depict his haunting but vague recollections of the 1982 Israeli Army invasion of Beirut which he took part in, incorporating also the memories of an old friend.

As film writers would no doubt say: Ratatouille, it ain't! But it's fascinating to see this medium used in this way.

It's British cartoon talent

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Beryl Cook

Artist Beryl Cook, a painter with a cartoonists’ sensibility for accurate observation from life, has died. The The BBC has a slideshow of her images here which are from a gallery exhibition for her 80th birthday made in 2006. There are also formal obituaries from the Telegraph and the Guardian as well as a short piece about her pictures of women at play.
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Not all in the dirty mac brigade...

This morning, a BBC Radio5Live feature ran a feature on child pornographers using drawings to avoid the law on the distribution and viewing of obscene photography.

The presenter described such images as 'cartoons'. Perhaps he meant drawings or simple visual communication, or even art, but to be honest, the feature was so badly constructed it was difficult to know exactly what was meant.

However, the casual use of the term cartoon felt like the denigration of a trade; cartoon equals grubby, worthless, evil.

Clip available - 2hrs 22 minutes into Radio5Live for Wednesday morning - 28th May 2008 available on the BBC’s IPlayer.

Basically decent British cartoon talent

Friday, May 23, 2008

PCO Artist of the Month - Arthur Reid

Here is our last portfolio piece from Arthur Reid, our cartoonist of the month for May 2008. Bloghorn runs examples of artwork from the PCO's membership every Friday morning.
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Main PCO website offline

Please note that the PCO's members' portfolio website is currently down for technical work. We will have it online again soon. Apologies for any inconvenience.
UPDATED: Friday 23rd May. The folio site is now back online - apologies for the inconvenience.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pont events at the Cartoon Museum

The Cartoon Museum has a series of evening events lined up to accompany its exhibition Pont – Observing the British at Home and Abroad, which was reviewed here last week.

Pont – the Making of a Humorous Artist, June 5: Illustrated talk with Anita O’Brien, discussing the evolution of Pont’s style from his drawings of the early 1930s to his wartime work.

Pont of Punch, June 19. Former Punch archivist and Cartoon Museum trustee Amanda-Jane Doran looks at Pont as a Punch artist.

In Praise of Pont – Cartoonists’ Roundtable, June 26: A host of cartoonists join Richard Ingrams to discuss the wit and artistry of Pont. The panel includes Steve Bell, Peter Brookes, Nicholas Garland, John Jensen, Nick Newman and Posy Simmonds.

Graham Laidler, The Man Behind Pont, July 3: Simon Booth reveals more about the short but eventful life of Graham Laidler, aka Pont.

For full details on times and ticket prices, visit the Cartoon Museum website.

The PCO: Today's British cartoon talent

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dave Follows retrospective exhibition

A retrospective exhibition of the cartoon art of Dave Follows is now on in his hometown of Stoke-on-Trent. There is a wealth of detail about Dave's long career in drawing here and many examples of his best-known work - including The Creature Feature - a cartoon strip which ran in the Sunday Times newspaper (and many other papers) for more than a decade.
Click to enlarge the cartoon
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Friday, May 16, 2008

PCO Artist of the Month - Arthur Reid

Here's our third cartoon from Arthur Reid, PCO Artist of the Month for May 2008.

It's British cartoon talent

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Review: Pont at the Cartoon Museum

PCOer Royston Robertson reviews the exhibition
Pont: Observing the British at Home and Abroad at the
Cartoon Museum
It's probably asking for trouble to use the word "important" in relation to a cartoon exhibition, but it seems applicable here as Pont, who was known as Graham Laidler to his mum, is so often overlooked when histories of cartooning are written.

Also, these cartoons from the 1930s were clearly instrumental in helping to creating the magazine cartoon as we know it today. And a tribute to their worth is the fact that so many are laugh-out-loud funny, even now.

Pont's The British Character cartoons, which appeared in Punch and make up a large chunk of the show, still seem to hit the nail on the head. Even the captions in themselves are funny: "Fondness for laughing at our own anecdotes"; "Passion for not forgetting the moderately great"; and, my particular favourite, "A tendency to leave the washing-up till later".

The drawings demand your attention, and repay you with lots of brilliant details. Look at that impatient left foot in the drawing above! In "Life in the Flat Above", part of the Popular Misconceptions series, we see every member of the family jumping up and down on the floor and clanging pots, but look closer and you see that figures in the paintings on the walls, including an elephant, are also jumping.
Laidler died at 32, a tragically short life, but what a groundbreaking legacy he left. The cartoon above looks like a 1930s precursor to the melancholy of Charles Schulz's Peanuts.

So it's an important show, but it's mostly just very, very funny. The exhibition, which includes a comprehensive and reasonably priced catalogue, is at the Cartoon Museum until July 27. Go and see it.

The Cartoon Museum website

The PCO: British cartoon talent

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New children's comic launched

The perceived wisdom is that the children's comic market in Britain is in decline, but Random House publishing is attempting to reverse the trend with a new comic called The DFC. Initially the comic, which is aimed at eight to 12-year-olds, will be subscription only, though there are plans for it to appear in shops. You can read an interview with David Fickling, the man behind the comic, at Times Online, and the DFC homepage is here.

The PCO: British cartoon talent

Monday, May 12, 2008

Snapshots from Shrewsbury - the bigger picture

First person testimony on how it feels to try and make something this big in less than ten hours comes from PCOer Pete Dredge.

’For the majority of our working year we toil away in solitary isolation, hidden away, apparently unloved and unsure of our worth. Two days in Shrewsbury's town square working on a big board in front of an appreciative audience and we leave with enough ego to see us through the next twelve months. Thank you people of Shrewsbury."

Click the picture to enlarge it.
It's British cartoon talent

Friday, May 9, 2008

PCO Artist of the Month - Arthur Reid

Our second cartoon from the PCO Artist of the Month for May 2008, PCOer Arthur Reid.
It's British cartoon talent

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Cartoon workshops: inky fingers and flying pickles

Workshops and cartoon "clinics" were a major part of the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival as usual this year, and PCO members Andy Gilbert, Paul Hardman and Tim Harries were at the forefront, helping members of the public to develop their cartooning skills.

Here's Tim Harries on how he ran his "Create a Comic Strip" workshop:

"I explained the mechanics of producing a three panel strip, from character design, story refinement to actual drawing techniques. This was all duly noted and I suspect roundly ignored by several of the more boisterous participants, judging by the finished strips. I'm not complaining mind you, invariably the strips produced that day were energetic, great fun and frankly bonkers.

"Children have a terrific ability to just get on with the business of drawing, unencumbered by any doubts regarding their artwork. The young chap finishing off his 12-panel creation Bob the Flying Pickle was in no doubt that Bob was indeed a pickle that flew. More critical eyes would have perhaps renamed him 'Bob the wobbly squiggle' but that's missing the point. Fun was being had, ideas were being explored and pickles were indeed flying. And you can't say fairer than that."

Photos by Gerard Whyman.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The mayor of London's cartoonist

PCOer Martin Rowson writes about his time as Cartoonist Laureate to the former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, and wonders whether he'll survive the regime change.

I suppose that Ken Livingstone's defeat by Boris Johnson means that I'm no longer the Official Cartoonist Laureate to the Mayor of London, although I'm not quite sure. Somewhere in the bowels of City Hall, the Great Glass Testicle by the Thames, there is a contract, drawn up between the Mayor's office and me.

It was, I now freely admit, a joke. It was also a joke to remind Ken of his promise every time we met, and it remained a joke, after he was elected mayor in 2000, to browbeat one of his policy wonks at a party about his boss's failure to keep his promises. However, jokes are dangerous things, and a few days after the encounter with the wonk I got a call from Ken himself, saying we were going ahead, and that I was duly appointed as the Cartoonist Laureate for London.

The terms of the contract were pretty straightforward. I would provide drawings of the Mayor or of events involving him, the GLA and the administration of London, in return for one pint of London Pride ale per year. This, I stipulated, had to be bought by the Mayor with his own money over the bar of a public house during licensing hours. And that was more or less it.

At the time of my appointment in 2001, I got a great deal of press attention, mostly because neither the mayor nor the GLA had actually got round to doing anything else by that stage. I got invited to attend the opening of the new City Hall by the Queen, and produced what I think was my finest cartoon in the job, of "Red, White and Blue Ken" rolling his tongue out as a red carpet for the Queen to process down, with the Duke of Edinburgh behind her.

But by 2007, payment was, strictly, five years in arrears.

This didn't actually stop me voting for him and I still churned out stuff for GLA's in-house newspaper - The Londoner – up until February 2008. One of Boris Johnson's few palpable election promises was to scrap the paper, but even that wouldn't make me vote for him.

I'll 'fess up and say that I admire Ken Livingstone probably more than any other politician I can think of. His bravery in thwarting New Labour was a beautiful and inspiring thing, and both the Congestion Charge and the pedestrianisation of the North of Trafalgar Square were enormously brave too, in the latter case because nobody had been able to make a decision to do this for sixty years. But I hope that that admiration didn't constrain me from taking the piss when so inclined, even if, as things turned out, the beer that might have provided the piss dried up rather sooner than I'd hoped.

And as every workman is worthy of his hire, if Boris comes up with the goods, I'm more than happy to drink his beer and piss on him too. I await the call.

Bloghorn says click R for Rowson.

It's British cartoon talent

Friday, May 2, 2008

PCO Artist of the month - Arthur Reid

PCOer Arthur Reid has more than thirty years experience as a cartoonist. A graduate of Gray's school of Art in Aberdeen, he has contributed cartoons to many magazines and newspapers including Punch, Private Eye and The Oldie. He is a winner of numerous awards for visual joke-making and has also served as a judge at several international festivals, including Knokke Heist in Belgium.
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