Archive for April, 2007

Wandering Blindly Where No Man’s Gone Before…

April 29, 2007

Daryl Cagle, American editorial cartoonist and founder of the popular Daryl Cagle’s Professional Cartoonist Index writes some rather harsh truths about newspapers and cartoonists in his blog entry of 25.april.

Under the headline Newspapers and Cartoonists Wandering Blindly, he sets out a rather depressing assessment of what he sees as editors fanciful belief in the future newspapers online. No less naive are the cartoonists apparently, who desperately scramble to make animations in an attempt to make their product fit the new medium. Touché, perhaps…

Essentially I suggest you read the article. Daryl Cagle is no small-timer in the world of cartoon publishing. He himself runs a syndicate representing many of the artists featured on his page. So when he speaks, we should all listen, because he does speak with great authority when it comes to cartoons, internet and the combination of the two. It’s worth pointing out of course, that the situation specially with political cartooning is very different in America than it is here. This is particularly the case in relation to how work is sold and distributed through syndicates. But the arguments are still worth noting.

He’s correct about the differences in the way advertising revenue is distributed online, compared to traditional media. I’m not going to argue (much) with his assessment of how the Web audience works either, because I believe he probably has got a great deal more knowledge and hard numbers than me on that subject. As is the case on the subject of what he calls journalism 2.0; Circulating content that is created in other media while paying little or nothing for the content.

Indeed most of what Daryl Cagle puts forward is probably correct…
…right now!
But what he fails to do, it seems to me, is look ahead. He claims the cartoonist community is in a tizzy about the whole idea of animated editorial cartoons, but that it essentially is a futile exercise as there is no way it can be financially viable. Maybe so…
He doesn’t however mention Mark Fiore – a one-man syndication who sells his animation to a range of clients for a few hundred dollars a film (it was $300 in 2005 I think…). Then again, Fiore – as far as I know – is the only one who solely work in animation, so I guess that fact rather supports Cagle’s point

But as I said, Cagle fails to go look beyond the current.
Yes of course the cartoonist community is in a tizzy. And of course the newspapers are too! Just like radio broadcasters were when TV was introduced. Anything else would be abnormal when faced with the potential of the internet.
Cartoonists such as myself, are trying to get our heads around animation not because ink cartoons will cease to exist within the next few years. We are doing it because the opportunity is there, and it represents and exciting possibility to develop the artform.

He’s quite right that the money on offer at the moment never can justify a cartoonist working the amount of hours it takes to do a 45 sec cartoon. This shoudn’t nevertheless deter cartoonists from moving in that direction, I think.
The fact of the matter is that we are in the very early days of online newspapers. And as it has changed enormously in the last five years, it will probably change just as radically in the next five. The same is the case for the way advertising revenue online is made. It is quite possibly also the case for the web audience! It is certainly the case for the way newspapers will operate, with a greater link with online TV f.ex.
AND not least, the change also happens with the animation itself. Changes in computer software is making the production process quicker, easier and more efficient by the year.

At the moment we’re all rather pathetically testing the water, looking amateurish and borderline undignified in the process. What Daryl Cagle seems to be proposing though, is that we somehow turn back and don’t swim. It’s a sensible, but frightfully dull argument.

On an only mildly separate note, last weekend here in England, saw the launch of the Professional Cartoonists Organisation, the PCO.
Whilst most cartoonist associations are little more than dinner clubs (enjoyable no less) this one is meant to take an active role in promoting the use of cartoons in media and elsewhere. It’s an interesting idea, and when it all gets up and running it’ll be very interesting indeed to see what if anything it can achieve.
What would be useful would be if the coming together of cartoonists like this could lead to some kind of pressure on media organisations, for higher pay. As with illustration, the prices have been largely unchanged in the last 20 years. I somehow feel though, that with the aim of the organisation being to promote more use of cartoons, this will not be a huge priority.
The website will soon feature members’ portfolios as well as guidance, news and views.
Worth a visit again and again I’m sure, so note the name!

Hat-tip: Matt ‘Hack’ Buck and Alex Hughes.


Terrific Animatic…

April 27, 2007

Hats off to Cartoonbrew once again, for digging up this stunning piece of animation/animatic by a group who call themselves ‘The Law of Few’. Artwork by Christopher Koelle. “Men in Black” is a story by U.S. Army Specialist Colby Buzzel and was part of the film Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience.

It’s a beautiful piece of work.

Fiore Firepower…

April 27, 2007

Mark Fiore on terrific form with this animated cartoon on the gun laws in the US.

Boris buried in a blaze of boozy cartoons…

April 25, 2007

With Yeltsin lying in state, Peter Brookes, Steve Bell and Dave Brown offer their comments on his life.
Peter has gone for a visual heaven-gag with a reference to Boris’ famous drunken(?) snub to Taoiseach Albert Reynolds in 1994.
Steve bases his image on the ever useful Gin Lane , and links it with the iconic images of Yeltsin on top of a tank.
Dave’s cartoon shows mostly how difficult it is to try to sum up a mixed legacy like Yeltsin’s in one ambitious image, but he succeeds up to a point I think.

Garland in the Telegraph did a Yeltsin cartoon yesterday (24.04).

Cartoonists in America and elswhere around the world have also chosen to cover the ex presidents death. They’re generally booze based. If you can be asked, you’ll find a few of them in amongst a whole lot of other stuff here.

Central Comments…

April 23, 2007

Comment Central is on sparkling form today, so rather than writing much myself, I’ll just refer you in that direction…

In between the duties of refreshed fatherhood Danny Finkelstein has managed to post this little “eye-opener.”
It’s so obvious it hurts a little, but in a good way…

Robbie Millen underlines what Tim Hames said in the paper earlier. About Miliband’s Manifesto that never was. Glad to see that they’ve made good use of my at the time premature, but now rather timely cartoon about the Miliband-Brown situation.

Both Robbie and Murad Ahmed have interesting posts about the fringes of the French election, although Murad’s point on the state of French democracy is a little rash, isn’t it?

Yesterday’s remarkably high turnout has led some to say it’s a great moment for French democracy. Well, oui and non.

Although many commentators are heralding far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen’s “abject” fourth place in the polls, he still got just over 10% of the vote. Imagine one in ten people here voting for the BNP? Worrying.

I get his point, but the fact that 10% of voters are inclined to be taken in by the rhetoric of Le Pen in a country with a large immigrant population, high unemployment and a great deal of general disillusionment with the status quo, is hardly surprising! Neither is the fact that 9% of the French electorate are seduced by the far left option, as Robbie seems to be very concerned about. And it surely isn’t a sign of problems for French Democracy per se? Rather on the contrary!
That 85% of eligible voters went to the polls, even those on the extreme right and left, can’t possibly represent anything but a ‘great moment for French democracy’! Had they managed to defraud or corrupt the system, it would have been bad. Had they rejected the ballot box and staged a violent uprising, it would have been problematic. But instead the people spoke through the same channel and the result was a majority rejection of the views of an extremist, vocal minority. It is actually a demostration of the democratic system at its best.

Anyway, like I said, I’ll just refer you in their direction. Go read.

Quick cartoon round-up…

April 23, 2007

Dave Brown in the Independent and myself in The Times, have gone for Gordon Brown and David Miliband.
As has Matt in typical funny fashion.
JAS (aka Jim Sillavan) either gambled spectacularly, or decided to hold on to the exit polls from France confirmed the victory of Sarko and Sego. Either way he’s managed to comment on the result.


The Guardian has finally managed to get Martin Rowson’s cartoon online. He’s done Miliband and Brown as David and Goliath…
Must be an obvious metaphor that, because I think I’ve seen it used in this context before…just a couple of weeks ago in fact… Hmmm…

Not even a Fun Run for Miliband…

April 22, 2007


I challenge anyone to say they were not bemused or mildly to severly disappointed by David Miliband’s leadership manifesto in the Observer today. The one that started so well with the importance of renewal. And the importance of acknowledging where the Government has gone wrong in the last 10 years. You know…the manifesto which he concluded by handing it all to the self-confessed best Chancellor since Adam, Gordon ‘I-curse-your-traitorous-tounge-for-questioning-me’ Brown.

There is a lot of talk about being a chicken and lacking balls and the rest of it…
Let them talk.
No, really…let them.
They might just have a point.


Tim C. Hames’ comment piece on the Miliband Exit Manifesto in The Times this morning is a good read.

Aaah…so beautifully offensive…

April 20, 2007

…on so many barely acceptable levels, from Dave Brown.

Peter Brookes has gone for David Miliband in today’s cartoon, and everyone’s refusal to believe that he hasn’t got Prime Ministerial ambitions.
Although I, like anyone else who enjoy observing politics, would prefer it if he did take on Gordon, wouldn’t it be rather brilliant if you had a Minister with no ambitions above his current post?
“I’m Environment Secretary and I really like it! This is where I want to be! I really feel I’m making a difference here!”
The only problem of course, is that such an attitude makes him look exceedingly appealing compared to power-hungry Brown, which means even more pressure will be put upon him to stand!

Ever-excellent Steve Bell is back on familiar territory, somewhere in the White House…

Also worth looking at today, is the cartoon by Garland-stand-in JAS, in the Telegraph. Good strap line. (‘All for one and none for all’)

Handelsman leads the way…

April 19, 2007

As mentioned before on these pages, all three cartoonists nominated for this year’s Pulitzer dabble in animation! And guess what, one of them has won!
Walt Handelsman won the award for his ‘stark, sophisticated cartoons and his impressive use of zany animation.’ It’s his second Pulitzer.

Handelsman’s animations can be seen on, and they do deserve to be seen! I’ve often presented Mark Fiore on these pages, and although I still think his work is superior to other animated cartoons online, there is one major thing he should learn from Handelsman.
Fiore tend to linger on scenes for too long after the everything’s been said. It might be the curse of modern tv/film that you can’t keep the camera on anything for more than 3 seconds at the time, but it’s nevertheless the case that you tend to lose the momentum if the viewer is left on a scene for longer than is strictly necessary.
On the other hand, Mark Fiore more than most cartoonists, have something on his mind that he wants to convey. He relays the hard facts through labels and pop-ups, which require that you stay longer on one scene. So maybe we should just live with it…
Walt Handelsman certainly manages to keep a pace and rhythm in his animations, which very successfully keeps the humour going right to the end.

Anyway, the point is as always that things are happening in the world of animated political cartoons. And it is now also an official, award winning medium.

Hat tip Coldhardflash

Free Alan Johnston…

April 17, 2007

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