Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Grim news all round.

Playboy cartoonist Robert 'Buck' Brown, passed away just the other day. I'd like to show you one of Buck Brown's colour cartoons for Playboy because they are so beautifully painted - but there may be copyright issues around that so I'd suggest getting that marvelous big fat collection of Playboy cartoons, Playboy, 50 Years, The Cartoons, so you can marvel at the masterly brushwork the book contains. The book contains cartoons by some really, really, big names in cartooning, like Jack Cole and Eldon Dedini and Gahan Wilson and Buck Brown's work is among the best in it. Now that's a legacy.

Private Eye cartoonist Kevin Woodcock has also passed. I liked Woodcock because he was a good cartoonist with clever ideas, and he didn't much care for mixing with the poseurs and brown-nosers of Greek Street. He was very much in the mould of some of the cartoonists I admire, the still-maverick freelancers, because he just got his head down and produced his own style of work, regardless of what was fashionably funny. You wouldn't catch Woodcock producing some dumb cartoon variation on 'Sat Nav' like all the other Eye-hacks, he was much too inventive for that. His surreal view of life will be sorely missed.

I think that any death is tragic, but when it is untimely and unexpected, it always seems more so, in that respect perhaps the saddest news this week was the untimely passing of Pullitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette, who died in a car crash, aged just 57. He was hugely talented and work appeared in Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post and other titles and in addittion to his award-winning editorial work, Doug was also the creator of the 'Kudzu' comic strip, and a celebrated writer. What a tragedy.

Finally, George Melly, who took over the writing of Wally 'Trog' Fawkes's Flook strip after Humphrey Lyttelton and wrote it, uncredited, for 15 years. Well, as I have said, any passing is to be mourned, and George Melly was a colourful character who loved my home city of Edinburgh and the Fringe Festival, and I though he was pretty funny; the best show in town on some occassions - but I didn't ever like Flook, and now, in retrospect, I don't like the way the writers were picked. I just don't think jobs in cartooning should be handed out that way. I always hated Marc Boxer's cartoons too, so obviously I hated any of those that George wrote. That said, the man did write Flook for one and a half decades, and he deserves his place in the cartooning hall of fame.

However, the George Melly I prefer to remember is the old Jazz rogue, dressed like a pirate, who could still prop up and transfix the top bar in William Burdett-Coutts's Assembly Rooms when he should have been at home, in bed, with slippers and a mug of Horlicks (yeah, fat chance).

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