Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Joys of Sax, and other UK Cartoonists

Weekend Magazine and Titbits Magazine were a lot like America's National Enquirer, but with a lot more cartoons - when the Enquirer did carry cartoons, that is. Alone amongst the two, Weekend sometimes compiled a lot of cartoons into The Weekend Book of Jokes, which was about 70 pages thick and carried 3 or 4 cartoons per page. Of course Weekend didn't pay any of us for second use of the cartoons, or even ask permission to use them, and they kept the original artwork; but nonetheless, the publication was a great market for British cartoonists, a good window for work, and a great place to experiment. That is if you could muscle the great SAX out of the way.

This is a bunch of pages from Weekend No.22 which features a range of great cartoonists, a surprising amount of whom are still with us and still producing great cartoons.

The opening cartoon is by Noel Ford. Noel is a bit of a hero of mine. I wanted to become as good as Noel, but I didn't realise he would spend the decades getting even better. It's sickening really because as you can see from the cartoon above, he never had that awkward development stage, he was always a great cartoonist. What can you do?

I like Roger's cartoon here, but it's next to a SAX. I think SAX influenced more British gag cartoonists than any anyone else, during the 60s the 70s and the 80s. His cartoons were all over all the British papers and Titbits and, of course, Weekend.

Sax again, but the bottom cartoon is nice, it's a Roland Fiddy, who was better known for his Tramps comic strip.

Again Sax, alongside the Sax though is a Paul White cartoon. Paul White drew nice cartoons.

Another brilliant Noel Ford cartoon, and up there beside the SAX cartoon is one by Jim Watson. I really, really, liked Jim Watson's work. I'm pretty certain Jim was/is an American cartoonist who sent a lot of work over here and many of his cartoons appeared in my local paper, the Edinburgh Evening News.
The Doctor Who comic readers will recognise Dicky Howett's work. Dicky, like Jones and David Myers created really original looking cartoons. I think I have a sort of Wabi Sabi liking for that kind of drawing; it's pleasingly wrong - if you get my drift.

Two nice drawings here by Ivor and Frank (Quanda) Holmes. I like Frank, I have one of his original drawings.

These two, alongside the ubiquitous SAX, are by Colin Earl, who seems always to have had those nice fluid lines, and an early Mike Turner (you can tell by the noses).

The top cartoon is by Jones. Suddenly, out of the blue, I got Jones. I got his drawings and his humour.

The top right cartoon is by Jim Crocker, who was also a comics artist. His signature is a "crockerdile"; geddit?
Another really original cartoonist up top there, the great Ray Lowry, no stranger to fans of The Clash and readers of The New Musical Express.

Another Lowry, and top right there, an ALB. ALB's cartoons looked great to me, his lines varied thick and then thin, as though that Crow Quill or Gillot (I'm guessing Crow Quill) nib was being pushed in any direction he chose (not as easy as it sounds). He really seemed to attack the paper and the drawings always looked more substantial as a result.

ALB and SAX, of course, but at the top a nice big Keith Reynolds; again a cartoonist better known for his comic work.

The big ALB cartoon of Noah's Ark takes up most of this page. It's excellent, of course. I tried to get a cartoon by him or at least a print of one of his cartoons from the Daily Mirror. They sent me a bromide, exactly the same size as the cartoon in the paper, about 1.5"x1".

Hah, I didn't like Rali's comic strip "Hamish", in fact I rate it about the worst strip of all time - but I like his cartoon here.

Fiddy and SAX again, but the top cartoon here is one of Kevin Woodcock's wordless specialities. A Woodcock classic is usually wordless, and features trees.

Alongside SAX here are Dish and Barry Knowles. Back then Dish seemed to be inspired by Willie Rushton.

An oldie here by Kim. It's good. The yob looks great.

Another nice Lowry. Couldn't resist this one.

Lowry again, and SAX, but it's the Pete Williams I like here. I always liked Pete's cartoons. Mike Williams is great too, but has a much more controlled line than Pete's.

A brilliant slapstick cartoon here by SAX and another great example of Noel Ford's brilliance.

I think the top one here is a Mike Aitkinson, again, a cartoonist better known for his comic strips and also these days his card lines.

This is a great Ray Lowry and above it a Colin Whittock cartoon. I bought a Colin Whittock original for my cousin Alan (his money).

Another great gag/single-column cartoonist, REX and below I think is a cartoon by Sally Artz.

A nice gag by Acken and another great visual gag by SAX.

This has three great drawings, once again the cartoonist at the top right, Brian Platt, is better known as a comic strip artist and Roy Nixon always created perfect looking cartoons.

Hah, the cartoon on the bottom left is by Gerald Lip, who went on to become the Cartoon Editor for the Daily Express and the Daily Star. Nice guy.

Roy Nixon again and Fiddy and the great Dick Bogie. I have an original by Bogie, from Weekend Magazine, as it happens.

The top one here is by Clew. Clew did a lot of Spot the Difference cartoons. Very funny cartoonist.

The Walker cartoon on the top right here stuck with me. I thought it was very funny and it made me rethink my own writing.

Another great; Dave Parker, bottom left.

I think the top cartoon here is an early Anthony Hutchins. I worked with Anthony on the Buster Comic. His drawings are very bold, very powerful but fluid.

The cartoon on the bottom left is by Nigel Edwards, I think. I also like the top one, it's still funny.

The cartoon above these two is by Nick. I'm not sure when he left these shores so I don't know if he was based in the US or the UK when he sold this one. Nick is a great cartoonist, I think he created Alan Coren's favourite cartoon for Punch back in the 1980s.

The Rees cartoon is still very funny. Rees was a big influence on a lot of cartoonists who read Punch in the 80s.

You know, you tend to overlook the fact that Weekend was a great training ground for cartoonists. I suppose it's because we think of the humour as "general", in perjorative way, but it was a good magazine for cartoonists and it is missed.


Blind Donkey said...

I was a great fan of CLEW when in the 60s I copied his style of cartooing. Because he is so hard to find on the net I though Id got his name wrong. Thanks for sharin this Rod.

Mike said...

I was just passing through. Today, something reminded me of Sax. I wondered who he WAS (and whether he was still with us).

As a teen in the late Sixties, my Mum used to get Tidbits and I always used to pinch it for the Sax (that's SAX!)

Sax's work appeared everywhere. His output seemed incredible and you could spot his style a mile off. For me he was second only to America's Don Martin.

So today, I decided to look him up on the Interweb. Right! Lotsa LUCK! Tons of entries for Adolphe Sax - inventor of the saxophone - and pieces on every sax-player who ever lived (which is a lot - piano-players have to play the house piano - and most other instruments need amplification or are BIG - and horns DISTORT the face).

Even WIKI had nothing on the man.

But I'd still like to know about the MAN - even though he was in every page, you barely mentioned him. One would think you HATED him!

However, if you don't - TELL me about him - I've subscribed to this strain. And thanks for a FEAST of Sax. I even REMEMBERED a couple!

paulingrad said...

i was a lad int he seventies and loved sax. i'd also like to know more about him.

my fav sax was an armed crook looking down, out of a window and screaming "COME AND GET ME COPPER !"
behind him we see about twenty burly armed cops, all smiling evilly. lol. thanks for the sax cartoons, you're the only mention i can find of him on the net. someone needs to compile his work and bring out a book honour of britain's greatest gag cartoonist.

Anonymous said...

thank you for the sax posts. when i was a lad in the seventies sax was always the first we looked at in the paper. does anyone know anything about him? so sad that one of the great gag cartoonists has vanished without due recognition. i'm even thinking of trawling the archives to collect him. thanks again

hilton Woodroofe said...

I grew up here in New Zealand reading weekend magazine & loving the work of the great cartoonist Sax.I want to know who he was too.he was funny 40 years ago & he is funny today.Someone ought to write a book on him & publish a collection of his cartoons.They're far funnier than most being produced

johnny7gun said...

Totally agree with all comments about Sax.I too have trawled the web looking for information about him or an archive of his work.Second to none in my opinion.Who is he, where is he still around and has his work been collated?As a kid i used to love the Weekend books of cartoons and always raced through it.He was the best.

Anonymous said...

i'm not totally sure about this, but i think Sax was Lithuanian. not sure what his full name was, but my late husband used to tell me tales of he and Sax back in the 60p's , living in a place called Lithuania House in Notting Hill Gate. certainlyhis cartoons matched my husbands sense of humor, so i guess it could be true. if Peter were still alive he would be 75, so i guess Sax would be similar or maybe a little older? I think his surname may have been Saxonius or similar.

Maris said...

SAX real name is Vitalijs Sarkans. He is (I think he is still alive) Latvian not Lithuanian. He may well have lived in the Lithuanian Club in Notting Hill but it could have been the Latvian Club in Bayswater. The Lithuanian club is long gone, sold off, but the Latvian Club is thriving.

Emanuele said...

I’m Emanuele, from Italy. I wish to thank you all for information about SAX. I have known this extraordinary cartoonist since I was a teenager in the Seventies, as his gag cartoons appeared (and still do) on La Settimana Enigmistica, a well-known Italian weekly puzzle magazine. I always wondered who this cartoonist was, as cartoons published on La Settimana Enigmistica are always anonymous. Recently I resolved myself to contact La Settimana Enigmistica editorial office in order to know who the author was, but I was answered that their editorial politics doesn’t allow them to reveal the identity of their collaborators. So I started browsing the web until I bumped into your blog and solved the mystery! I’m very grateful to you for your help, and I share your hope that a collection of cartoons of this Master should be published. If anybody is interested, a sample of cartoons by many authors, among whom SAX, published by La Settimana Enigmistica is available on its website:

Caroline said...

My grandfather worked at Benskins Brewery in Watford. A caricature of him appears in the 1955 Christmas edition of The Pennant, the company magazine. This was in recognition of 40 years' service for Benskins.

The editorial refers to his 'caricature by Sax'. We have the original cartoon in the family and I have been trying to find out who the illustrator 'Sax' might be - which brought me here.

I would very much like to know if they are one and the same person and whether anyone else knows about Sax undertaking illustrations for Benskins?

The caricature is signed by Sax - although the letters are neat and written horizontally and so this differs from the stylised diagonal signature I have noticed on the cartoons in this blog.

David Marriott said...

I have been trying to get hold of either original or decent framing quality prints of Sax cartoons for years. There's one in particular I'm searching for. One cartooning source in UK suggested The Sun cartoon editor, but I got no reply to an email. Any ideas? surely there must be some stuff out there?