Archive for June, 2008

Martin Rowson and the Wet…

June 30, 2008

There’s something about Martin Rowson and water. It makes for stunning cartoons! (see old post)

Today’s piece is probably one of the most brilliantly painted of all. Gordon as a fully emerged shipwreck, seen from above the surface of the water.
Superbly executed.


Today’s Cartoon…

June 30, 2008

Mugabe is sworn in...
©Morland/The Times

Sketchbook: Wendy Alexander (resigned)

June 28, 2008

Wendy alexander sketch

From the Sketchbook: John McCain…

June 26, 2008

McCain sketch

All Satirical Passion Spent..?

June 26, 2008

There’s a fine article by Nick Cohen on, and presumably in the paper edition too, on satirical passion. The first line kicks it of wonderfully provocatively: “Satirists are natural conservatives.”

Cohen opens with a brief historical outline of role of satire, which he the follows up with a savage attack on satire post Thatcherism and Blairism, culminating in the ITV puppet show Headcases. No matter what your views are on that particular show, Cohen undeniably makes some very valid points.

ITV billed the first series as the successor to Spitting Image. If only this were true. The writers had no energy and no ardour. It did not take long for the viewer to guess that they were happy with the world as it is.


In The New Elites, his study of modern culture, George Walden dissected Oxbridge-educated media grandees who make a career out of assuming the masses are ignorant. The makers of Headcases proved his point. Before the series began, they unblushingly told the Times that they wouldn’t pick on Jack Straw, Ed Balls, David Davis and Vince Cable because they didn’t think the viewers knew who they were. Even if they were right, and I’m not sure they are, Straw is Labour’s most devious survivor, while any decent satirist would have thanked the gods for giving him the bombastic, bullying Balls to play with. If their audience didn’t know who they were, they would make them know by the force of their anger and comic invention.

Not so the writers of Headcases. They presumed that the poor stupid little dears would switch channels if presented with any thing outside the comfort zone. All the proles wanted to know about was celebrities, so Headcases gave them endless spoofs of Posh and Becks.

Anyone who dabbles in satire should read this article in full.
Not necessarily for the attack on Headcases in particular, but the wider problem that it undoubtedly represents.

Animation on a Thursday…

June 26, 2008

Here’s a treat.
A BAFTA award winning animation directed by Digby Turpin, about the history of telecommunications.
It was made for Philips Electrical in 1957, but some fabulous person at BBC Four dug it up and broadcasted it again some months ago.

Digby Turpin by the way had previously been part of the design team on the classic 1954 version of Animal Farm and twenty or so years later made the animated children’s program “Little Blue” for Yorkshire Television.

Please down tools for about ten minutes and enjoy!
It’s fantastic!

Tip of the Day: Yousendit…

June 25, 2008

I might be way behind everyone here, but in case there still is someone out there who’s struggling to send their very large cartoons by email, here’s the solution:

Unlike FTP transfers it requires no complicated set-ups or downloading of software.
I discovered it only a couple of months ago, and it’s been incredibly useful.

You can send one file at the time (up to 100MB) to multiple recipients without paying anything at all.
For a more extensive service, including the option of sending multiple files, larger files, password-protected delivery, return receipt etc. you have to pay a monthly fee. However, compared to getting a bike to pick up your CD with monster-files for a client, it’s a pittance.

Highly recommended.

Ken Sprague Cartoon Competition…

June 25, 2008

The winner of the Ken Sprague International Political Cartoon Competition 2008 was chosen yesterday. The title of the competition this year is Earthworks.
The jury included representatives from various newspapers, among them cartoonists like Martin Rowson of the Guardian and myself.

Given the mix of opinionated jury members, most had expected fierce fighting before a winner was finally found, but the process was surprisingly amicable. Naturally there was some vigorous tussling as the selection gradually narrowed down, but I’m glad to say that a very worthy winner was selected by a (healthy) majority vote.

The result will be announced on July 1st.
More about the winner then…

Total Politics…

June 25, 2008

I picked up the first issue of Total Politics today, on a brief trip to Londinium.
For those who don’t know, Total Politics is, according to its own blurb, a “lifestyle magazine dedicated to all things political,” and the brainchild of Iain Dale.

I must admit that I haven’t read the entire magazine yet, so I won’t give an extensive review of the editorial content, but my first impression is (surprisingly) positive.
There’s a great range of stories covering the many aspects of life in and with politics.

There are however not enough cartoons (but then I would say that wouldn’t I)…
The strip cartoon “Road to Nowhere” by Hoby is good, and its move from Dale’s blog to glossy print seems to me very proper. It suits the publication.
Apart from that though, the only drawn content is a couple of small illustrations. Politics and cartoons have a rich history together in this country, and Total Politics should draw on the large pool of talented cartoonists and illustrators to create more visually engaging pages.

Sadly stock photography is cheaper, and too many publications like this one chose that option despite the fact that it undeniably also makes their product look cheap. The benefits of good illustration go well beyond the image itself. It enhances the reader’s experience of an article and the magazine as a whole. Bad use of imagery does exactly the opposite, and the first issue unfortunately have a few examples of this.

Total Politics is an interesting read though.
I reckon those of us who eagerly look forward to election nights, laugh at The Thick of It and happily watch BBC Parliament when there’s nothing better on, will pick up this magazine again…

George Carlin Drawing on My Mind…

June 23, 2008

Hat Tip to CartoonBrew for this animated short written and narrated by George Carlin who died last weekend. Drawing on my mind (1985) is directed by Bob Kurtz.