Archive for January, 2008

SUPERB Current News…

January 29, 2008

Excellent new animation from the Super News team.
Getting more advanced by the episode.
The first part of Rambo vs. Terror.
Good fun.

Here’s part two!


Hotlinking and other exciting trouble spots…

January 29, 2008

There’s a thoroughly interesting spat going on over on Tim Ireland’s Bloggerheads, between himself and the Conservative blogger Guido Fawkes, over the latter’s repeated theft of artists material alleged tendency to use material without permission.

The latest run-in comes after Matt ‘Hack’ Buck, followed by Beau Bo D’or, revealed that Guido had been using cartoons they produced for Channel 4 online, on his site. Guido seems adamant that he has some sort of permission from Channel 4, although no concrete proof has been shown to prove that.

If Guido doesn’t have permission he should be forced to pay a fee.
If he does, Channel 4 must pay the cartoonists and apologise profusely – provided of course there’s not a contract stating that they own the full rights.

Tim Ireland is currently trying to contact Channel 4.
Look out for more developments on his blog.


January 28, 2008

I’m not much of a collector. I forget to categorize things.
Which means it ends up being just a pile of stuff.

Anyway. I’ve just come across a collection that I wish I had. Of political packs of playing cards. Some brilliant stuff in there.
From Kennedy Kards (1963) to V&A’s Playing Politics (1983) to more recent ones like the Sky News Politipack (2005) drawn by Matt ‘Hack’ Buck.
Click on the images to see more from most of the packs.

I actually once had one the packs in this collection. The one from the Lib Dem conference in 2003, which I bought while at the conference in Brighton to give me picture reference for drawings. Had I known that it was part of limited edition of 1000 I would’ve taken better care of it…I’m sure.

Tribune cartoonist Alex Hughes did an interesting project last year, in which he drew a card every week featuring someone who’d made headlines in the news – making it a fully illustrated pack. I haven’t heard what he intends to do with it now, but if you want to see the drawings, go to his blog here.


January 27, 2008

Influence, plagiarism, copying etc, is a difficult subject in any creative profession.
It’s been said that plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery, but I have a feeling it was a plagiarist who first said it. In court. On his knees.
It’s bollocks of course.
In its purest form it’s the sincerest form of laziness…

In a profession like cartooning though, it can often be difficult to distinguish between intentional plagiarism and (unfortunate) coincidence, and between influence and identity theft.

I reckon most cartoonist at some point must have drawn a cartoon and realised afterwards that the idea was not a result of their own brilliance, but an unintentional ‘rip-off’ of an idea they’d seen in the past. As most cartoonists themselves are eager follower of cartoons, it is not entirely surprising that this can happen.

In order to avoid it, some cartoonists deliberately refrain from regularly looking at other cartoonists’ work.
I personally stopped my almost daily trawl through Daryl Cagle’s website after it last happened to me a couple of years ago with a cartoon about the Iraq war. I didn’t realise the mistake until I saw my drawing in the paper the next day, and suddenly made the link to a cartoon I’d seen on the Cagle website a few days before.

It’s an honest mistake of course, but embarrassing nonetheless – even if you’re not ‘caught’.

Of course, when it comes to ideas, references and metaphors, many of them are so commonly used that it is impossible to say whether the use of them stem from one cartoonist in particular, or if they simply are so ‘obvious’ that many would have picked them up anyway. This is regularly illustrated by the fact that several cartoonist do virtually identical ideas on the same day.

But what about more deliberate copying?
Most cartoonists will at some stage in their career have looked someone else’s cartoons and caricatures and picked up elements that work particularly well, to use in their own drawings. Things like style, line, colour and composition. That kind of influence is mostly harmless – and a natural step in the progress of finding your own unique expression.
For the cartoonist being copied, it might indeed be flattering, as long as the line between flattery and identity theft is not crossed.

When new politicians enters the scene, there’s a race between cartoonists to see who first ‘gets’ them. Particularly when it comes to party leaders.
Take an example like Blair’s eyeball, which I think it’s been established that Steve Bell first coined, and which others, myself included, subsequently adopted some extent.
It’s natural, maybe unavoidable, that this sort of thing happens, but where does the line go?
You could argue that the eyeball is a physical attribute which Steve first picked up on, but which everyone must be free to exploit. Or less you would end up in a situation where the first one to draw Gordon with big jowls had the ‘copyright’. A cartoon creation like Major’s pants, would be a more clear cut case, but Steve could be forgiven for thinking that the eyeball was a similar creation.

Run debate!

An afterthought:
I’ve been tipped off a couple of times by a friend of mine about an illustrator in Norway who seems to be tracing some of my characters for his own work. I haven’t got an example to hand, but anyway, they’re so crudely done that I haven’t felt the need to do anything about it. However to my surprise and slight amusement, I found a similarly blatant example of the sincerest form of laziness in a recent edition of Private Eye. A cartoonist, who I shall not name, has copied one of my caricatures of Peter Hain down to the details of the number of wrinkles on his forehead.


It’s an extreme example of course, which hopefully, for this particular individual’s sake, is a one-off.
Still, considering what I’ve said above, I defy any cartoonist to throw the first stone.

Livedrawing on a Friday…

January 25, 2008

I’m pleased to say that Patrick Blower’s weekly Livedraw is back on Telegraph Online, after a short break.

While we’re one the subject, go to to see an excellent Livedraw promo piece, plus an archive section with material that will be new to many.


From the Sketchbook: Brillo…

January 25, 2008

“Why?!” you ask.
“He’s on TV,” I say. “And I sometimes draw little drawings when I watch political programs on TV.”
“Don’t judge me!” I shout.
As you walk away.

andrew neil

Peter Hain…

January 24, 2008

peter hain toast

The Indy Improved…

January 23, 2008

I’ve just spotted the new-look Indy online.
At first glance it seems to be a hugely improved design.
I guess it’s doubtful whether spending the money on packaging rather than journalists will do much to improve the quality of the output, but never mind that just now…

The Indy has some strong points.
Dave Brown is one of them, and it’s very encouraging to see that designers have finally done something about the presentation of his work online.

It used to be the case that only the most recent cartoon would be easily available for readers to enjoy.
With the new design, Dave’s cartoon is presented on the top of the opinion page, with an option to enlarge the image for greater detail. Even more welcomed however, is the fact that you can also flick through the last 53 cartoons from the paper – including those done by Peter Shrank and Andy Davey.
It’s a similar solution to that of the Telegraph, although with a better and slightly more user friendly design.

Only the Guardian now has a better archive of their cartoonists’ work.

Sadly, as a result of the Indy redesign, Times Online now arguably has the least ‘exciting’ presentation of cartoons.

Initially, when Times Online was redesigned some time ago, there were a lot of very positive moves. Like the increase in very visible links to the cartoon page from several relevant parts of the site.The cartoon page itself shows the last week of cartoons, which in itself is not a bad idea (One week is all there is though, which is not great). It’s strange however that there is no option to enlarge the images, which means that the cartoons lose a lot of detail and often have virtually illegible text.

Another positive step at the time of the relaunch was the inclusion of slideshows with the cartoons of Jonathan PughMatthew Martin and Stephen Collins. Then incredibly, these were not regularly updated.

Small changes could make the world of difference.


US Elections: Thompson wakes up…

January 23, 2008

smells the coffee – and retires to get some rest.

Fred Thompson

The Red Box of Parliamentary Delights…

January 23, 2008

There’s relatively recent addition to Times Online which increasingly is making its way upwards on my list of daily reads. Sam Coates’s blog from inside the Westminster bubble, The Red Box, is a brilliantly entertaining site for anyone with an interest in goings-on in- and outside Parliament.

Sam, not to be confused with Samuel Coates of by the way, is famed and rewarded for his ability to get good stories, and the blog certainly reflects that talent.

A must read.