Send in the Clowns?

December 8, 2019 in Comment, Events

Cartoon by © Rupert Besley

Rupert Besley writes:

[a personal viewpoint, not purporting in any way to represent the opinions of the PCO]

For the first time in my life I’m seriously wondering if humour might not be doing more harm than good. That’s a worrying thought and no conclusion I would ever wish to reach. I get to this point down the following route.

The expert analysis of recognised independent think-tanks all seems to agree that Brexit, hard or soft, will leave the country’s economy worse off than before and that those who will suffer most are those already hardest hit and at the bottom of the pile. And yet the parties pursuing this course (Conservative and Brexit) are those that have been riding high in the polls and especially so in the least well-off areas.

I can think of only one explanation for this and it comes in three parts.

Firstly, television has turned politics into a celebrity contest. The two-second conclusions of grassroots opinion foisted on us each day by television news are by their nature superficial and short. Vox pop verdicts may do people a disservice, but from them it seems that large numbers of voters are deciding not on policy or even party but just on the personality of each leader.

Next, no such Johnson-Corbyn dance-off begins on an even footing. The UK press, predominantly in right-wing hands, has seen to that. Boris Johnson, one of their own, is portrayed as loveable chump, accorded the status of national treasure and first-name recognition. The cameras love him, as he does them. For years the most widely read papers in this country have found space each day to vilify Corbyn (surname only), made out to be some kind of crazed communist blend of racist and terrorist. (The shame, perhaps, is that he himself does not do personal attacks on anyone.)

Finally, in any such competition, the guy-in-the-pub, say-it-straight, got-all-the-answers funster image of a Johnson or a Farage will come across to many (or any who don’t know them) as more appealing than the duller, dour, more complicated and apparently humourless mode of a Corbyn.  What else is there to explain the strong personal lead Johnson enjoys in the polls, regardless of his track record? Baffled by the complexities of the political situation and bored with its repetitiveness, people are looking instead for good cheer and light relief.

I accept that we live in an age when a political leader has to have ‘personality’ and be  good on television. They need that to carry the country with them. Things were different in the world I came into. Attlee was a modest man and self-effacing. Of him it was said, ‘An empty taxi drew up in Downing St and Clement Attlee stepped out.’  Stafford Cripps was not known for his laddishness. But, as Chancellor, he is credited with laying the foundations of Britain’s post-war economic prosperity. The Attlee government, which included the likes of Nye Bevan, Hugh Gaitskell and Herbert Morrison, created the NHS and greatly expanded the welfare state. Earnest, high-minded politicians, intent on tackling the ills of the world – but none of them great for a larf.

How might it have been, one wonders, if in those post-war decades the electorate had gone instead for the characters played by the most popular comics of the day? Ken Dodd for Chancellor, perhaps. Or Charlie Drake? Arthur Askey for PM or maybe Bernard Bresslaw. I only arsked.

Bringing Animals to Life cartoon workshop

October 30, 2019 in Events, General

Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery have asked Jonathan Cusick to repeat the animal cartoon workshop he ran during this year’s cartoon festival, during the October half term.
‘Bringing Animals to Life’ is on Halloween, 31st October. It’s one of the activities they’ve ran to tie in with a major exhibition by local comic leg-end Charlie Adlard. (‘Drawn of the Dead’, on show at the museum until 3rd November). Fellow PCO’er Tat Effby ran a family zombie portrait workshop in August.
Jonathan shows various key principles for cartoon drawing, then visitors get to apply these directly in a drawing session working from various exhibits from the museum’s taxidermy archive. In April the selection included squirrels, ducks, owls, badgers, crows and an alligator. It’s fun and for artists of all abilities and ages; a perfect half term activity for the family.

Places are limited, the April workshop sold out.
Tickets are £8 and can be booked via https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/shrewsburymuseum and include all-day entry to the museum.

Press One to Continue Nightmare

October 28, 2019 in Comment

Rupert Besley writes (mainly because he couldn’t get through on the PCO helpline):

I’m sure I’m not alone in my dislike of having other people’s words being put into my

Choose from one of the following options, then click on Next to continue:

– orifice

– earplug

– lexicon

– exhaust pipe

– rear end

– mouth

You know the kind of thing. Urgently needing to put right some wrong, you get trapped in the maze of a website, caught up in an endless loop of FAQs, FUQs (Frequently Unanswered Questions) and irrelevant options, none of them remotely applicable to your own particular circumstance.

In desperation you reach instead for the phone.

We are experiencing an unusually high level of calls and all our advisers are busy…cue cheering Funeral March music… Did you know that by logging on to our website you can find the answer to this and many other interesting questions?

35 mins and several bruises to the forehead later, it’s

Press 1 for Sales.

Yes, always they press one for sales. But listening to what you might have to say is the last thing they wish for. Instead, more options of zero relevance.

Customer Service? Disservice, more like. Contact Us, my

Select from one of the following:

– posterior

– kneecap

– eyebrow

– elbow

– elephant

– arse

I’m writing this from the cosy interior of a padded room, with spume-flecked fingers and froth still running down my chin. I am currently in a state of hostilities with my bank (which has robbed me of access to my online banking), BT (with whom my online account has now gone missing), the supplier of our solar panels (one small part of which is now not working as it should) and my doctor’s surgery and my pharmacy (at odds over my prescription). With each of these it is nigh on impossible to get through to the person who can put things right, thanks to the barrage of obstacles and blocking mechanisms put in one’s way.

BT (slogan, Helping You Communicate) are a case in point. My ongoing complaint, unresolved for more than 2 weeks, has now been escalated to Serious Stuff. I have been verified and validated by more voices in distant places than I care to list, have repeated my tale to each, but none has yet been able to find the account that we’ve had for years. Other telecom companies are available, all no doubt equally guilty of the same kind of practices. So, what has any of this got to do with cartoons? Not a lot, maybe, except that…

The digital age was meant to democratise, empowering individuals and giving them voice. Instead, the dark forces of commercialism and political interest, the rich and the powerful, are making use of digital media to skew information, manipulate minds, control thinking and stifle free expression. Cartoonists stand up to this. They (along with stand-up comics and other satirists) are crap detectors supreme. Cartooning in all its forms (gags, strips, caricature, leader page editorials) has the job of spotlighting (with brevity and humour) inconsistencies and deceit, hypocrisy, abuse and fraud. Cartoons fight back. Cartoons continue to be edged out of traditional forms of media, but they remain an essential part of any free Press and a necessary tool for highlighting things in need of correction. Cartoons get straight to the point.

We need them more than

– hedgehogs

– biscuits

– chainsaws

– custard

– sometimes

– ever.

All cartoons by © Rupert Besley

Ye Olde Whynge

October 16, 2019 in Events

Ben Jennings, Dave Simmonds, Dave Brown & George Leigh. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Kasia Kowalska writes:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, if was the age of foolishness, if was the epoch of belief, if was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, if was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted of its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Charles Dickens “A Tale of Two Cities”

It is widely acknowledged that the collective noun for cartoonists is a whinge.

At the beginning of the year, I had asked a whinge of cartoonists to make good on their bellyaching about not seeing one another often enough. They complained that they were sick of solitary sobbing over their paint pots and drawing boards and were vexed with venting into the void about the state of the world. And so, Ye Olde Whynge was born. Seemingly, out of frustration.

Jeremy Banx & Tim Sanders in compulsory berets. photo © Kasia Kowalska

The Whynge is an informal and unaffiliated cartoonist gathering in a small, friendly pub in central London. Topics of conversation have historically included: the B-words, the T-word, the state of the nation and the state of the world, not to mention the occasional heated debate about gouache and appropriate sharpness of pencils.

 Marten Minkema interviews Ros Asquith. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

The September Whynge played host to a special guest from the Netherlands, Marten Minkema, who was gathering material for a radio programme commissioned by the Dutch National Radio, NPO 1.

The subject of the report was Brexit from the view point of British cartoonists, as a means to elucidate the current situation in the UK and explain it to those living across the Channel, with a prevailing motto of ‘show me your cartoons and I’ll show you your country.’

Marten Minkema attempts to interview Steve Way while Rob Murray savages the microphone. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Marten wanted to find out whether the dynamics of Brexit provide inspiration, or whether it is difficult for cartoonists to surpass reality. The voices of Steve Way, Ros Asquith, Martin Rowson, Bob Moran, Martin Newman, Mac (Stanley McMurtry) and Dave Brown provide some of the answers.

Many raised eyebrows when Marten said he’d brought over a substance for us all to try…turns out it was a fine Dutch cheese.

‘Brexit: De Spotprent Voorbij’ (‘Brexit: Beyond the Cartoon’) is available on NPO1 (the Whynge section begins at 06:57)

Cartoonists are welcome to come along to the next Whynge and have a good whinge.

 

Additional cheese photography by Glenn Marshall.

PCO’s Gagged at St-Just-Le-Martel 2019

October 8, 2019 in Events, General, News

The Surreal McCoy writes:

Our exhibition had two outings this year: one at the high-profile Defend Media Conference in London during the summer and then again at the St-Just-Le-Martel Salon d’Humor in France over September/October.

58 cartoons by 25 members were displayed at the Centre Permanent’s exhibition space that saw many visitors over the two weeks of the festival. Very positive feedback was received from the educators who guided around 50 groups of schoolchildren around our exhibition. Yes, the art of cartooning is taken very seriously in France!

‘Steve Bell: 40 Years of Political Cartoons’ exhibition

There was a major exhibition featuring the PCO’s very own Steve Bell, plus cartoons from the Scottish Art Studio. Also on show was an exhibition that included some PCO members on the theme of Brexit.

Brexit exhibition curated by Terry Anderson, poster image by Steve Bright. All photos from Glenn Marshall

 

 

Noel Ford 1942-2019

September 30, 2019 in Comment, General, News

Noel with daughter Sara at Nottingham’s Big Grin Cartoon Festival 2003. Photo © Pete Dredge

Pete Dredge writes:

It’s a cruel irony that it is only when someone passes  that the outpourings of love, praise and acknowledgement spill out from friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Such has been the response to the sudden and unexpected death of ace cartoonist and one of the founders of PCO, Noel Ford , who died on September 27th after a cruel return of the kidney cancer that was first diagnosed two years previously.

I suspect Noel would have been, on the one hand, hugely embarrassed, but on the other, quietly delighted by the tributes that have been pouring in on the forums and social media, not only for his cartooning skills but also to the nature of the man.

One of Noel’s many Punch covers.

Noel was a modest chap, never one to blow his own trumpet but was someone who would go about his business with the supreme confidence of knowing that he was, and had been for many years, on the top of his game. His game, of course, was cartooning, particularly gag cartooning and, at his peak, was producing double page spreads and covers for Punch magazine with audacious regularity.

Punch original from the recent ‘London Cartoon Show’ exhibition.

It’s pointless listing Noel’s professional credits, there are far too many to mention, but one of his many gifts was his ability to rally, organise and deliver cartooning projects. A professional cat herder, if ever there was one. I’ve seen Noel’s patient diplomacy, wisdom and common sense work effectively at close hand on many occasions when others’ egos, intransigence and misconceptions – no names! – would lock horns and all it would take was a few choice words from Noel to smooth over troubled waters. Such was the respect that his fellow professionals had for him. Take Noel out of the equation and many of these initiatives would never have seen the light of day.

A digital drawing for the PCO ‘GAGGED’ censorship exhibition currently on display at Saint-Just-le-Martel cartoon festival.

The Cartoonists’ Guild, College of Cartoon Art and, most successfully, the PCO had all benefitted hugely from Noel’s vision, perseverance and professionalism. Add to this his invaluable committee work on the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival and The cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain, Noel certainly put in much more than he took out from these extra-curricular calls of duty.

Clipping from ’80s magazine, either Weekend or Tit Bits (via Davey Jones)

Noel was born in Nuneaton on 22 December 1942 and  apparently displayed early signs of his future calling, drawing cartoons in chalk on the pavement outside the front door of the Ford family house. After leaving school it was at the Birmingham College of Arts and Crafts where Noel received the oft repeated advice we have all probably received, to “forget about any ambitions of becoming a cartoonist. You’ll never make a living that way”. The rest is Noel Ford cartooning history. Sadly, today, that  lazy, dismissive piece of advice is probably more pertinent that it would have been in the 1960’s and 70’s. More’s the pity that today the markets for showcasing Noel’s and other’s superb gag cartoon craft have all but disappeared.

Caricature of Noel by Bob Monkhouse and a picture of Bob drawing it (via Royston Robertson)

Noel was irritatingly multi-talented. Not only was he a superb draughtsman, he was also a gifted musician, writer and an early pioneer of the digital art platform as well as being a fine exponent of the Argentine Tango (check this.Ed).

Cartoon from the exhibition at the ‘Music’ themed Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival 2014.

It has to be said, Noel enjoyed the good things in life. Good food, fine wine, a good book, comradeship, country living, dogs and, above all, the love of his family and friends.

Noel demonstrating his equestrian skills at Herne Bay Cartoon Festival 2017. Photo © Karol Steele

I’ll miss his mischievous twinkle and Muttley-like chuckle when something, invariably, would tickle his proverbial fancy.

Noel at one of the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival ukulele-thons. Photo ©The Surreal McCoy

With deepest sympathy to Margaret, Sara and family from all your friends at PCO.

The London Cartoon Show review

September 7, 2019 in Events, General

The private view at Charing Cross Library. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Clive Goddard writes:

Imagine the excitement which rippled through the UK-wide, nay, global membership of the PCO when we announced we would be holding another exhibition down London way. And not only was it in London but was alsoabout London! Palpable joy ensued.

I’m very pleased to say that this latest exhibition, the third in Charing Cross Library, was wonderful. Just under fifty cartoonists submitted work themed around London past, present, and imaginary, and we managed to hang 130 pieces, quite a few of which were sold to grateful visitors (10% of the proceeds from sales are going to the Mayor’s Fund for London). Other prints, books, merchandise and indulgences were flogged by our volunteer invigilators.

On the eve of the show media mover and shaker, Glenn Marshall managed to get us some very nice coverage on ITV London News which, despite starting with a link to knife crime and getting our name wrong, was an excellent ad for the event and brought in most of the punters. You can see a video of the report, starring Carol, Sarah and Jeremy here.

Chichi Parish, Dave Brown & Tim Sanders. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Steve Way, Martin Rowson & Clive Goddard. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Mike Stokoe & Zoom Rockman. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Thanks to all those listed above and to the others who sent their cartoons, gave their time and energy collating, framing, hanging, invigilating, advertising and de-hanging. Special thanks to Kipper Williams for his talk and to Rob Duncan for his cartooning workshop, both of which were well attended and enjoyed by Joe & Joanna Public. Further thanks to Kasia for capturing the action (above) on camera.

Kipper Williams’ talk. Photo © Mika Schick

Robert Duncan’s workshop. Photo © Jeremy Banx

The London Cartoon Show

August 10, 2019 in Events, General

Poster illustration by © Christopher Burke

Clive Goddard writes:

Coming very shortly to a library near you (if you live in, work in or are visiting that London): A free exhibition of cartoons on the theme of London, past and present, drawn by members of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation (PCO). Be it kings and queens, public executions, urban foxes, hideous modern architecture, even more hideous politicians, gin lane, homelessness, tourists, Sweeny Todd, Jack the Ripper, knife crime, Eastenders, Dick Whittington, Sherlock Holmes or any of the other sights, sounds, and smells related to England’s teeming capital you’ll find them here.

Cartoon by © Dave Brown for The Independent

The show features work by over 30 of the UK’s finest, funniest and most insightful cartoonists including Dave Brown of the Independent, Kipper Williams, creator of the Evening Standard’s London Calling cartoon strip, Martin Rowson of the Guardian and many regular contributors to Private Eye and the rest of the British press. 

Cartoon by © Martin Rowson

Signed originals and prints will be on sale at very reasonable prices.

10% of the proceeds from sales will be donated to the Mayors Fund for London.

The exhibition will include two ticketed events: 

London Calling.

A free talk with cartoonist Kipper Williams.

Thursday 22nd August 6-8 pm

Cartooning Workshop.

A free drawing workshop on the theme of travel by cartoonist Rob Duncan. 

Saturday 31st August 11.30 am – 1 pm. Ages 6 to adults.

Both events are free but spaces are limited so please book via charingcrosslibrary@westminster.gov.uk

Cartoon by © Pete Dredge

For a full list of exhibitors & price list for the works please email:

chair@procartoonists.org

Cartoon by © Ger Whyman

More details on Charing Cross Library websites.

Cartoon by © Jeremy Banx

NB Other parts of the UK are also available.

Herne Bay Cartoon Festival 2019 – Bumper bonus photo album!

August 9, 2019 in Events, General, News

The traditional festival team photo at the start of the day.

Last Sunday saw the annual live drawing event on the Herne Bay pier as part of the Cartoon Festival which this year was themed around the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Our chief PCO paparazzo Kasia Kowalska was dispatched to record that one small step for cartooning kind.

We open with some seaside postcard humour as The Independent’s Dave Brown displays his Boris (ooh err missus)

An effigy of him would be set upon by angry crowds later in the afternoon (Boris, NOT Dave Brown)

Cheeky painting by Martin Rowson.

Christopher Burke resurfaces the moon.

Kathryn Lamb’s big board lift off.

Sarah Boyce embarks on her premier Herne Bay space mission.

James Mellor, another big board debutant, tackles Earthexit.

Guy Venables also dipped his toenails into the Herne Bay Cartoon Festival for the first time.

Festival veteran – but still VERY young – Zoom Rockman drawing Skanky Seagulls.

My only criticism of the festival this year was that some of the boards had HUGE holes in them! I’m impressed by the way Des Buckley got round this by incorporating them into his drawing.

Royston Robertson showing that two heads are better than one in solving a nation divided (Photo trickery by Royston)

Nathan Ariss and Sarah Mann on the moon selfie. Ideally there should’ve been another hole for people to put their camera arms through.

Tim Harries questions the theory of spatial dimensions and relativistic physics.

The Surreal McCoy cunningly saves the moon theme for the final frame..

The FT pocket cartoonist Jeremy Banx doing a VERY large pocket.

PCO Treasurer Amy Amani and our Chair-moon (gerrit?) Clive Goddard proving their business acumen – get your board done and flog stuff.

Steve Way was quick off the launch pad in an attempt to be ready for kick off in the Charity Shield cup final.

Pete Dredge and Alex Hughes filling in their festival expenses forms while pretending to do some caricaturing.

Andrew ‘Dancing’ Shoes’ Birch, about to launch.

The man couldn’t stop dancing. Here he is on set at the fake moon landing location shoot pictured with dance partner local artist Gill Wilson.

Cecil B DeMarshall directing his movie epic (you can tell I haven’t got much real work on at the moment) aided by clapper board intern Ace Rockman and in the background festival organiser and soundtrack penny whistle foley artist Sue Austen.

Martin Rowson summoning the gulls to eat chips out of his balloon filled Boris…the lack of takers proving the seagulls of Herne Bay have their limits.

In scenes resembling Zombie Apocalypse members of the public then set about tearing apart the defenceless Mr Johnson!

In cahoots with festival honcho Steve ‘The Dry Iceman Cometh’ Coombs, Rowson then tried to entice the gulls into eating his Dominic Cummings saveloy.

Cummings was eventually devoured by festival regular Teddy the dog.

The customary end of day cartoonists carousel ride. Dredge, Rockman & Banx (sounds like a local accountancy firm)

Chris Burke, Dave Brown, Alex Hughes and Royston Robertson on their mounts.

That man Birch again plus Steve Coombs and Nathan Ariss in traditional cartoonists stetsons.

An out take from the earlier group shot where we tried to get Señor Birch to stand still for a second.

…not easy.

All photos by and copyright of Kasia Kowalska unless otherwise stated.

 

 

Air Show

July 31, 2019 in General

Back on planet earth, away from the lunar orbiting Herne Bay Cartoon Festival, Helen Wilde & Terry Sole are putting on an environment-flavoured exhibition on the theme of ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’ at  One New Street Gallery. As in previous years the exhibition is a mixture of art, cartoons, illustrations and the odd marshall.

There’s lots of art in the show and here are two pieces by the proprietors:

Dead Pen City by © Helen Wilde

Cartoonists in Herne Bay 2016 by © Terry Sole

There is also a good smattering of PCO members work including:

© Wilbur Dawbarn

© Zoom Rockman’s HUGE canvas of Hornsey Gas Holder.

,

© KJ Lamb

© Royston Roberston 

© Rupert Besley

© The Surreal McCoy

© Steve Jones (Jonesy)

© Des Buckley

…and of course no One New Street Gallery exhibition would be complete without a ©Banx cartoon that includes a penis.

Does your exhibition have its own jam?

‘A Breath of Fresh Air’ runs from 2nd August to 31st August. Open Fridays and Saturdays 11am to 5pm.

MainWP Child Reports requires PHP version 5.3+, plugin is currently NOT ACTIVE.