Archive for October, 2007

A picture can lie more than a thousand words…

October 31, 2007

These days Political satire in the form of digitally altered pictures is a regular feature on blogs and in newspapers everywhere. With software like Adobe Photoshop, manipulating pictures has become possible for most of us. Before I offend anyone though, as with any creative expression – satire in particular – doing it well takes more than just technical ability of course!

The blogs of Beau Bo D’Or and The Spine feature examples of what most of us probably associate with satirical photo manipulation at the moment. Traditional cartoonists tend to look at their work with a mix of fascination, trepidation and bewilderment.
What many don’t know however, is that past ink-cartoonists like Low and Vicky also had contemporary satirists who used manipulated photographs to lampoon the political players at the time.

It’s a well known fact of course, that the likes of Stalin was fond of altering pictures in an attempt to erase political adversaries from history, but that it was used in newspapers to create cartoon-like images, was something I certainly didn’t know until recently.

I came across a Danish photographer who produced incredibly sophisticated satirical photomontages for the front page of French newspaper Marianne before and during the second world war, until the German invasion put and end to the paper.
Not only is the work of Marinus Kjeldgaard extraordinary in terms of the quality of ideas and execution, but the way he portrays the likes of Hitler, Stalin and other world leaders at the time, shows a daring satirist willing to take a very public stand against the most dangerous facist forces at a time when many others shied away.

There’s currently an exhibition of Marinus’ work at Nordjyllands Kunstmuseum in Denmark.
Accompanying it is a book by Gunner Byskov called “Karikaturtegner med kamera” (Caricaturist with camera), published by Aarhus Universitetsforlag.

A good excuse to visit Denmark, I’d say.


Animation Galore…

October 30, 2007

As animation slowly takes hold among British cartoonists (Expect some new and exciting things very soon, is all I can say – although not from me yet unfortunately), the Americans are in full flow.

Current SuperNews has got a brilliant new cartoon out, which really is worth watching. The “White House Halloween Party” is very funny indeed!

Walt Handelsman, the Pulitzer prize winning cartoonist, has released a few more since I last paid a visit to
There’s for example a rather amusing one on political soundbites called “What they Say, What we Hear”.
Another clever one called “2008 Web Campaigns” about…well…web campaigns by those running for President.
There are others too, so have a look and enjoy.

Also from across the pond, the increasingly prolific Mark Fiore has got a new animation attacking the usual suspects.

Closer to home Neil Hepburn from Beau Bo D’Or is also continuing his animated viral venture. Continuing his love affair with the Lib Dem bird, he’s done a really successful, and strangely profound piece, if I may say so, on the current state of the party. Neil doesn’t spell out his thinking behind it, nor does need to, but he does go some way to explain why he’s taken a somewhat different approach to animation than he usually takes in his pictures:

I know it seems counterintuitive to put up animations or images that make people ponder a bit, considering a lot of virals are essentially quick-fixes (nothing wrong in that), but that’s what I prefer.

It’s an interesting idea, brave even, because it’s not an easy approach. Even less so given the limited tools and time he has at his disposal as a one-man-band doing animations about current affairs. It’ll be very exciting to see more – with or without birds!

Visual News Language…

October 29, 2007

sky immigration
Screen grab from SKY News online.

I’m not bothered enough to make a “Troubled from Tunbridge Wells”-type argument at this time of night, so I’ll just let you ponder in your own time this rather emotive use of illustration photo to the current top story on Sky News Online…

Some old animation on a Friday…

October 25, 2007

Almost a year ago now, I posted a clip from the excellent Jove Films collection of Animated Soviet Propaganda, which I’m now a delighted owner of. (The DVD set costs $89 and believe me, it’s worth it)
Following that though, I also got a rather brilliant DVD of old American Oil propaganda, which you can still get a copy of on Ebay for $8.99 (..or next to nothing basically in today’s money).

However, if you’re not the Ebay-stuff-buying type, I’ve found a clip of one of these 50’s corporate delights on YouTube, and it really is worth a watch.
It’s a 1956 film by John Sutherland Productions, made for the Oil Industry Information Commiteee of the American Petroleum Institute.
It takes place on Mars – the red planet – which in this case is a totalitarian state. When one of their explorers travels to earth, he discovers the wonders of Oil. As a result Martians dissidents rise up against their ruler and embrace this superiour product – and the glorious American market economy.
It’s a fabulous piece of work.

This particular version has been edited to a YouTube-friendly lenght, but if it grabs you can also find an un-edited version on YouTube, which has been divided into two parts.

Diploma Balls…

October 23, 2007


Gordon Brown’s irritable lap dog and all-round favourite Mini-Me, Ed “Gordon’s-Balls” Balls, has spoken about his plans to revolutionize education for 14-19 year-olds.
“Diplomas” hold the answer, apparently. Lots of different ones that put together will become the jewel of the education system, he says.

I wonder if there is any British politician less believable than Ed Balls…
He probably is sincere about all sorts of things, like Blairites and power, but when it comes to policies and ideas, credibility escapes him.

New Mark Fiore animation…

October 22, 2007

Very good.

Oh, Britishers…

October 21, 2007

I’ve followed the recent English sporting events with as much enthusiasm as the average tabloid reader, and shouted at the telly with the best native accent I can muster. But as the England football team said a near-goodbye to Euro 2008, and the Rugby team lost in the final, and Hamilton (fuel tests pending) lost his record-breaking F1 Championship bid, I drew some smug joy from an encounter last week – with the editor of a weekly publication I work for.

Before this weekend’s disappointments I was doing a cartoon about the teaching of Britishness in schools, and thought it’d be funny to give it a sporting twist – using this nation’s self-deprecating attitude to their sporting achievements.
But no, I was told, that was a thing of the past. An out-dated notion. Long gone, replaced by the winning mentality.

Well, maybe so, there was the Ashes after all…in 2005, and of course the Rugby – in 2003. And given that the World Cup win in 1966 still is celebrated with some personal pride even by people who weren’t born at the time, there’s no reason why events in 2003 and 2005 won’t last a long time too.

Events of the last few days however, might at least go some way in getting the country back to its more recognizable self.
To the “oh, why do we bother” attitude from those who’d dressed themselves in proud patriotism at the prospect of British success in a sport they until then hadn’t cared for all that much.
And the “That guy doesn’t know his arse from his elbow”-analysis from the more avid followers. The kind that makes every British bloke a better manager than the guy in charge. Or a better player. Or referee.

“We were playing really well in the first half…”
“…but then they fell apart in the second.”

“We was robbed.”

The ferocious build-up followed by anticipation, disappointment and dissection.

You are champions at that.
Sorry, “We”.


Jim White in the Telegraph puts it better than me.
An excerpt:

In Britain, we don’t win sporting things. That’s a fact. Others might call us arrogant, but you wonder where they get that idea: falling at the last is our usual finishing spot, so near but so far our sporting motto.

This Matt Pritchett cartoon is funny.

Friday Animation Treat…

October 19, 2007

I recently discovered this old animated triumph from the 1958 “Disneyland” TV show, exploring the future of transportation in the USA. It’s a stunning piece of animation and layout design, but maybe more importantly a rather lovely display of late 50’s futuristic thinking.
Watching this in the age of environmentalism, is just fascinating.

Alan Coren dies…

October 19, 2007

The great columnist, satirist, News Quiz panelist and former editor of Punch, Alan Coren has died from cancer, at the age of 69.
Coren was patron of the newly established Professional Cartoonist Organisation, and he will be greatly missed in the cartooning community.

Pick of the day…

October 19, 2007

Dave Brown in the Indy.