Reader's Digest cartoon: Funny bunnies

Here's a gag from the October Reader's Digest. I don't do that many cute animal cartoons, but they're usually popular so I suppose I should. Captionless gags are often popular too, I think because the reader sometimes has to work a bit harder to get the joke, so when they do it's rewarding. I personally find them more difficult to come up with though.

A cartoon batch one year on ...

While having a clearout of files on my computer, I found this collage from a year ago this week. The Wisenheimer, an American cartoonists' internet forum that I take part in has an occasional thread called "What's on your drawing board?" where people show their latest work. I had just put together a batch of cartoons to be sent out on-spec to magazines. So, as I didn't want to reveal the actual jokes, I just used excerpts from each cartoon. Some people put up low-res unreadable scans.

The thing that's of interest one year one, which illustrates the insanity of the gag-cartoon market, is that only one of these has so far sold! (Left hand column, one down, it was in Prospect magazine.) This, I should point out, is perfectly normal for freelance gag cartoonists! If you sell upwards of two or three out of ten that's a great result.

But all hope is not lost for the others. Some will be looked at, rejigged or reworded and sent out again. Others will go into semi-retirement as stock cartoons. Many find a home this way, though usually in not such high-profile places. For example, a gag I did about utility companies providing multiple services (it's funnier than it sounds, honest) was rejected by all the mags but has sold several times to, er, utility companies. So we keep churning them out ...


Cartoonists meet the public: Big Draw 2007

I took part in The Big Draw at Covent Garden at the weekend. The Big Draw is an annual, nationwide campaign to get people enthusiastic about all kinds of drawing.

A marquee was set aside specifically for cartooning. There were workshops on strips, caricatures etc. with cartoonists on hand to offer tips, advice and encouragement to those taking part.

Here's me doing a spot of “reverse caricaturing” (Thanks to John Stilgoe for the pic.) This is where people put their faces through a board, like the ones you see at the seaside, except it’s blank and the participants say what kind of body they’d like. Very popular with the kids: lots of fairies, pirates, princesses, animals and a couple of Bart Simpsons. I probably had to draw a few too many girls as butterflies than was strictly necessary. All good fun though. The whole event reminded you of how much people love cartoons – grown-ups as well as kids. I hope there were some art editors from magazines and newspapers taking note!

Like last year, there was a Battle of the Cartoonists, where four teams competed to produce a banner on the theme of “High Life, Low Life”. Again there were teams from Private Eye, The Guardian and The Independent, plus this year there was a team from the new Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation. The banners were put to the public vote, with those clever clogs from The Guardian, led by Steve Bell, winning again. There's more on the Battle at the PCO Blog

There are Big Draw events throughout the UK right now. See their website for details.


Caricaturist mystery: Who's Ronson?

A book dealer contacted me asking if I was in any way connected to the caricaturist who produced this:

I certainly wish I could draw hands as elegantly as that. Obviously it's not me, as this is from the 1930s! There is some similiarity in the signatures, but I think it looks more like "Ronson", with an elaborate "s", or it could be "Royson".

Google searches have failed to turn up any info on this artist, so if anyone knows anything about "Ronson" or "Royson", please let me know and I'll pass it on.


Smoking cartoon

In the UK the age at which you can legally buy cigarettes was raised this week from 16 to 18. Here's a cartoon I did to accompany a news story on this subject.

A cartoonist friend of mine mentioned in a recent letter to The Jester, the CCGB newsletter, that that there was once an agency that asked cartoonists to supply cartoons depicting smokers as happy folk enjoying a harmless pleasure. These were known as "Smokey Jokies" and the agency would place them in magazines and papers throughout Europe. This product placement system was funded by cigarette companies and would earn the cartoonist a bonus. This couldn't happen now, one would hope, and even if it still went on I'm pretty sure that this cartoon wouldn't be accepted!


Cartoon book: Laughing All Over the World

I have several cartoons in a new kids' joke and cartoon book which is out this month and is sold in aid of the Kings World Trust for Children. The Trust was founded in 1993 to provide a caring home, an education and skills training for orphan and homeless children in developing countries. Its work is focused in India, which has the largest percentage of orphan and homeless children in the world.

Children, celebrities, comedians and cartoonists from the UK and overseas have contributed rib-ticklers, one-liners, anecdotes and cartoons to the book. Most of my cartoons are animal gags. Here's one of them:

See more on this book at laughingallovertheworld.com