Thursday, December 18, 2008

End of the Year Awards.

I have a post or two to finish for the FPI blog, but I'm hoping to make this the last blog post here, on Rod McKie Illustrations and Cartoons, this year. I'm following the lead of our political masters and vanishing on my "staycation" until January the 12th. So, do whatever it is you all like to do over this period and enjoy yourselves. Next year is going to take some tackling, so refuel those batteries.

As I was just discussing the CAT awards with Jonathan I'll start with them.

Jonathan mentioned that anyone can nominate the people they think should win. That is a good point, I think, and looking at the way a bunch of cartoonists lobbied the Sun not to drop its gag cartoons, and stopped the illegal sale of cartoon art by auction in Edinburgh not so long back, I think cartoonists can argue for change and I think Jonathan is right, it is important to bring this point to your attention.

However, I'm not not sure about the Young Cartoonist award because I'm not sure how relevant it is, especially if we are honest about the future of a "young cartoonist", and especially today. Being able to draw one good, funny, cartoon, will not lead to a career in cartooning. If we are to be honest, and that is one of the things I am desperately hoping will come from this discussion, there are hardly any full-time professional cartoonists left in the UK, unless you include the cartoonists who work in book publishing and comic book production, and the CAT awards don't.

Let me just make clear the points I made to Jonathan. As a cartoonist, and one who practises capturing likenesses (not very well) I know very well that caricaturing is a skill.

As a gag cartoonist I sometimes feel life just isn't funny enough for more gag cartoons, and only the editorial cartoonists, or political cartoonists like Nick Newman, should be using the space.

But, if I make those points when I'm trying to convince everyone that British cartooning needs to become more inclusive to survive, and that the narrow focus by the London-based cartoonists on their own little universe is going to see that universe collapse, I won't make my point.

If the Cartoon Arts Trust awards, in the form they are in, is all we are ever going to have in the UK, then obviously one has to be thankful for small mercies, on the other hand, why not try to increase their scope?

My example of Kieran Meehan for comic strip artist is not because I think he is a better cartoonist than Charles (Peattie), in fact I personally prefer Peattie's drawings. But it's an example that I think is valid. Kieran Meehan has achieved, by getting his strip syndicated by Kings Features, where it has survived a name change, something that many British cartoonists over the decades have dreamed of doing. For that reason alone I think he deserves respect. I could just as easily have suggested the Rogers for Andy Capp, which continues to attract new fans in the US.I'd even put forward Roger Kettle for a lifetime achievement award for his writing on Beau Peep, Andy Capp and A Man called Horace, but these awards are, as far as I can make out, avoiding the slightest reference to modern culture.

Anyone who has read this blog will know that this narrow view of cartooning is one I have tried to counter for decades. If you read Moore and Reppion's Albion Comic, you'll know a bit of the story of IPC's burning of the comic art, and if you read this blog in any depth you'll know the whole story; back in the day before the University of Kent opened its doors to a wider range of cartoon art I tried, with the help of Liz Ottaway, to get them to save IPC's decades of comic artwork that was earmarked for incineration. At the time, only "editorial" (yes, now you're getting it) cartoons were accepted into Kent's collection and Liz Ottaway couldn't even talk the place into using a broom closet to house the comic pages - not even those by Stan McMurtry (Grimley Fiendish after Baxendale) and Steve Bell (Gremlins). It worries and disappoints me, in equal measure, that today, in 2008, we have a cartoon awards ceremony that seems to take a similarly narrow view of what is a worthy cartoon.

Anyway, it's out there, and if even one more cartoonist is talking about it and thinking about it, then that's a good thing. AS Tom Spurgeon (a belated Many happy returns Tom; welcome, officially, to middle-age) pointed out on his blog though, it was more a post focusing on British cartooning, and my own awards ceremony is the same:

Great Cartooning Acheivement: Hands down it's a tie between The Beano and Gary Northfield for Derek The Sheep, the first creator owned strip to ever appear in that publication.

Best Comic: Laura Howell's Johnny Bean (The Beano again). The winner of the Best Comic Strip at the 2006 International Manga and Anime Festival, and the first regular female Beano cartoonist, and the cartoonist behind Toxic Comic's Robin Hoodie and DFC's The Mighty M, wins hands down.

Best Cartoonist: I dislike giving this to Wilbur Dawbarn, but there is no escaping it, Wilbur is the cartoonist of the year. I pretend that the flies he draws on his character's trousers in his Private Eye cartoons look like erect penises, but he shrugs it off. I tried to sow the seeds of doubt in his mind, but he keeps on regardless.

Best Graphic Novel: Oliver East's Trains are Mint. Yes, they are.

Best Mini-Comic, or self-published book: I'm giving this to Gerard Whyman for his collection of his cartoons, Oddly Distracted, for two reasons, one is that you don't see enough cartoon collections these days, and the other reason is I think this is a great example of how gag cartoonists can take control of their own destiny. Also, this book is great value and Ger is funny.

Best Comic Artist: Jamie McKelvie for Phonogram: The Singles Club.

Best Graphic Story: Tom Gauld for all manner of things, including his work in Kramer's Ergot #7.

Best Web Comic: This is a tie between John Allison's Scary Go Round, a perfect example of a well-round digital universe and Darryl Cunnigham's Super Sam, presented as a series of, currently, 64 colourful and exotic pages.

Best Illustrator: Danny Allison, who this year won the Flair Illustrator of the Month award for his Nature Magazine cover of April 2008, melting Greenland.

Best Editorial Cartoon: I think Alex Hughes making a haulage truck recognisably the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, is a fantastic example of cartoon art used to make a political point, without being boring to look at. The drawing works as a political cartoon and could even be transformed into a comic or a kiddies book character. It just works as a brilliant artistic idea.

Best Caricaturist: This is better than "best caricature" which sounds like a one-off. I'm tempted to give a double award to Alex Hughes for the Gordon Brown haulage truck, and I was also tempted to suggest the Al Hirschfield-inspired Gary who has shown a lot of flair recently, I think, but instead I'm going to give this award to the rather excitable Jonathan Cusik for his illustration of John Prescott's TV show on the Class system, which encapsulates almost every aspect of the series in one drawing, and for generally being in the same league, almost, as MAD Magazine's Tom Richmond.

Lifetime Achievement Award: I'm happy with Raymond Briggs. He is fantastic, and I still have my Fungus book, and my Fungus stationary set.

Best Cartoon-related Blog: Lew Stringer's Blimey it's another Blog about Comics. A great blog, hours of fun.

Best Pocket Cartoon: Fuck Off!


Jamie McKelvie said...

Thanks, Rod! An honour.

Anonymous said...

Rod, I hereby accept.Thanks. Do remember to email!

Joking aside, if you feel people are going unnoticed you should just drop them a line. As someone outside London and who isn’t a ‘name’ I’d hope I’m evidence against accusations of it being a closed circle.

Merry Christmas,


Rod McKie said...

Oh hey, thanks for working hard at honing that talent and getting the work out there, you guys.

We had a fund to provide trophies and cash, but our accountant, Mister B. Madoff, is proving hard to locate.

Happy Holidays Everyone.

Matt Buck said...

You see you're at it again Rod. Awards - they get people to come and see what's going on.

I'd like to give you the Controversialist of the Year award.

Anyone disagree?


Matt Buck

Bloghorn for the PCO

Rod McKie said...

Would you believe I have Larengytus, Matt?

I could be up for best rasping croaker.

Oh, my word ids "genched".

John A said...

Rod you really are far too kind and I am very flattered.

Rod McKie said...

Hey John, you do excellent work. The site really is a joy to move around.

I've taken the liberty of using Scary-Go-Round as an example of future-proof cartooning in a piece I'm still to send (caught up with all sorts of bugs)to the FPI blog.

I'll get the thing finished soon, it's just that the scope of the piece grew as this recession started to bite.

John A said...

I hope I'm future proof! I look forward to reading the article.