Thursday, April 26, 2007

Departure news: 260407

If the rumours are to be believed, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair will step down as Prime Minister on May 9th - about five days after his party suffers a very bad set of results in the local elections.

And I am going on holiday for a week, which means I shall miss a lot of the multitude of supplements and memoirs of Tone which are heading our way right now.

The editorial drawing above is from 2003 - and I still think it sums up his legacy pretty well.

But if you would like further evidence about Blair, the government of the United States and Iraq, I offer several stories fom the past week;

1. Former war 'heroine' Jessica Lynch testifies to Congress about what exactly happened to her when she was captured by Iraqis during the 2003 invasion. My colleague Andy Buncombe (of The Independent) reported on this back in 2003 - sadly, precious little of his excellent work was followed up at the time. Still, better late than never.

2. One of our big tanks is broken

3. Getting us ready to leave in a hurry

4. The cost (conservatively estimated.) Try comparing it to the size of your nearest local market town)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Election news: filth 230407

Sometimes news stories are just a gift to a cartoonist in search of a useful image for election coverage.

How to draw really big: Part three

Here's a to-scale-shot-of-the-cartoonist and his Big Board with the fear I wrote about previously replaced by hope that my chosen image about trade was going to hold up over such a big space.
I started off by blocking in the shapes of the image I wanted to draw with a tin of Homebase's finest grey exterior paint. This was surprisingly effective and the rough surface of the hardboard meant that dry-brushing was very effective. This was very handy for the image I chose to paint.
After I had established the shapes and the layout I could then add black and white and further tone to help bring the image up and into a better and more powerful focus. The whole process took about eight hours and was hard work but great fun.

Festival news - 230407

I survived my trial by 8 by 6 foot drawing board - and I'll post some more photos this evening.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Cover image news: 190407

A commissioned piece for a magazine cover. The headline feature is about welfare reform and the extension of means testing over the past decade. This theme sent me off in search of a good strong image and a simple strapline. I landed at an excellent ad campaign run by Barnardo’s which kicked up a right stink back in 2003.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How to draw really big - Part Two

I'm getting frighteningly close to the start of the Shrewsbury cartoon Festival and the big board drawing, I was describing here. There's a healthy degree of fear beginning to circulate now - especially as the good citizens of Shrewsbury and surrounding districts will be peering over my shoulders as I work.

As I explained last time, the theme is business and I've been thinking about which way to approach it - I'm going to outline a few approaches and some of their benefits and drawbacks, below

1) Gag - the most traditional or funny of the sort you might see in Sun Fun, Prospect or Private Eye in the UK. These are typically black and white lineart drawings with or without a caption. Really good practitioners of this art I know include Rod McKie, Royston Robertson and Tim Harries.

2) Illustration - a beautiful or striking image usually dependent on its context, or the things around it to help give it meaning. This is the most common form of cartoon in print. The Association of Illustrators have lots of members, but sometimes I'm not sure about their sense of humour.

3) Editorial - an image with a point. A column or opinion piece in pictures - this is my own particular specialisation. Colleagues like Alex Hughes, Morten Morland and Andy Davey make this a challenging environment.

Drawbacks with all of them - when considering an 8 by 6 foot board.

a) Fear!
b) Having a powerful enough joke or comment to translate over such a big space
c) Materials - a 2B isn't going to manage it alone ...

I'm veering towards approach 3) because it's what I know best - but what do I really think about business - time is running out, I'm supposed to start painting on Friday!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Political News - 170407

Graphic to display if Flash Player is not available. Gordon Brown's official Prime Ministerial inheritance campaign has rumbled into life this week. A book, Profiles in Courage has been published and friendly media outlets are indulging in a frenzied bout of the-man-we-don't-know-itis. After the best part of two decades, I think most of us have a fair idea of what Gordon Brown is about. The more interesting question is how he will cope with what being Prime Minister involves.

My fellow blogger, Chicken Yogurt has a nice line on the Chancellor's new seriousness - click this mini blog title to read it.

Another forward-thinking blogger, Devil's Kitchen, has offered some thoughts on my faltering attempts to animate editorial cartoons. He asks why do it? And it's a good question.

I'm doing it because increasingly the industry I knew, print journalism is in some sort of crisis of confidence. Readerships have been falling for years - and younger potential readers are taking their eyes to digital reading.

This means that a lot of traditional markets for people like me are contracting very fast - and that means change for us too.

This is why, I shall continue to try and animate the original image that I'm attaching below - with mixed results! And a thanks to Devils Kitchen for making me think about what I am doing and why.

Employment news: 170407

For anyone who's working in a trade which is undergoing massive structural change.

And also a link to an interesting blog about the way we, the pseudo-employed, work.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Royal breakup analysis - 150407

I haven't listened to the radio or watched the telly much this weekend - and the reams of cod analysis in print are going to be too hard to read this week. But having seen the photographs of our future king in several Bournemouth clubs, I fear he just fancies grabbing a new pair of breasts in the way that young chaps do.

A hat tip to Paul Sorene for the link to the pic.

The drawing references John Betjeman's A Subaltern's Love Song. This work was famously described by my partner as 'poetry for those who don't like poetry.'

Perhaps, but it scans and ryhmes very well for this contrived joke - avec mammaries.

The converged journalist: 150407

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Here is a brief and slightly belated, visual report on a very interesting evening at the Telegraph Media Group. It was a meeting arranged by members of the old media, who are very interested in the opportunities presented by the new. Kudos to all who arranged and attended, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The changes to the industry and the way it has operated are going to be huge.

The gag above owes much to the great British cartoonist Larry - Terence Parkes - who had a wonderful and extremely long-running series of visual jokes based on the statues made by Auguste Rodin. Sadly, Larry died a few years back, but there will be a pint or two sunk in memory of this brilliant craftsman at the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival at which I'll be appearing later this week.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

War news: 120407

When the inhabitants of a country start blowing up bridges across physical dividing lines like rivers, you know that country is falling apart.

Don't miss Birds of War if you are in London anytime until the 17th of April. A fantastic exhibition of art by people from Iraq, Jordan and for some old-style Brit angst, Northern Ireland.

It's an excellent exhibition.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Technology news: 110407

The well-intentioned arguments for attempting to regulate the web are daft.

There's a great fear in some news businesses and they aren't willing to accept both the good and the bad about human behaviour and favoured methods of communication.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

How to draw very big - Part One

I shall be drawing at the Shrewsbury cartoon festival during the weekend of April 20-22.

This is a fantastic annual event organised by a group of Britain's very best cartoonists and very kindly supported by Shrewsbury and Atcham District Council.

This year, I have to draw in the town square on a very large board, 8 feet wide by 6 feet high - with lots of folk peering over my shoulders. The theme is trade and business.

Here's a small diagram giving you an idea about the relative proportions of this board and as you can see, it's going to be an interesting challenge. My colleague Royston Robertson is also on Big Board duty this year and you can almost see the fear in his recent blog entry about it.

I'll keep you posted on how it goes!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Defence news - 090407

The Ministry of Defence is (hastily) reviewing the situation about allowing members of the armed forces to sell their 'unique' story to the media. There has been an awful lot of negative coverage of this decision.

Here, there are two links to either side of the argument - and a thoughtful comment piece from Peter Preston, ex-editor of The Guardian, about why any of this matters.

The Guardian
The Telegraph

An excellent post on the hypocrisy surrounding the condemnation of the 'sell-out' sailors is available courtesy of Mark Crail.

Also, the Iranians officially 'celebrated; (and promoted) increased production at their Natanz nuclear plant. This is basically a great big up yours to the UN, the rest of the world and particularly, George W Bush.

Knife news: 090407

The modern British murder

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Diplomatic news: Iran releases navy

The benefits of talking

But I wonder how likely they are to release their influence in Baghdad? Yup, not very.

I don't draw gag cartoons very much - as one of my professional colleagues kindly put it, you've never been funny - he may well be right.

The drawing here was an attempt to 'make humour', which unusually, I did actually submit to a magazine. I'm told the editor said it was too political. It was about the time everybody was very worried about enriched uranium in Iran.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Political news: Round-up

The 'Get Gordon' campaign continues. The Tories appear to believe that David Cameron will stand a better chance of victory at the next election against David Miliband and are busy encouraging Labour to try and self-destruct completely by encouraging him to run against the chancellor.

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The Labour party seem to be torn between a fear of Brown and desperation to be somewhere, anywhere, beyond Blair.

Elsewhere, I believe Mong Campbell has recently acquired a new pair of slippers for the local election campaign.

I hesitate to describe the situation with Iran as light relief, because it certainly isn't for the 15 navy personnel, but if you try to see it in the context of the arguments over Iranian nuclear ambitions, the major war going on next door in Iraq and the fag end of George Bush's presidency, you begin to see how complex the situation is.

Journalism news: Reeves-iasm No5

Your weekly guide to all that's new and interesting in how to tell the news.

Ian Reeves

This one's got a lovely clip toards the end about an American cartooning colleague of mine, Kevin Kallaugher or Kal.

In traditional fashion, after hard service for the Baltimore Sun, Kevin's job became surplus to editorial requirements. He responded in the best (fingers up) fashion, by going off and doing something altogether more interesting. Watch the video Ian has put together to find out what.