Ding dong…

… the witch is dead… Hey, right wingers hell-bent on canonising Thatcher as some modern political saint, protesters will stop buying Ding Dong the Witch is Dead to get it into the charts if you stop wasting millions of pounds of the tax-payer’s money on what is essentially a state funeral in all but name. Deal? No? Well if you can close down half of central London and waste millions on a politician who is still despised by half the population decades on then it is fine for people to protest in a witty and sarcastic manner by getting this song to the charts. In fact there is something delightfully, subversively British about the humour behind that, the sort of satire and humour which goes back to the days of Hogarth as a way for ordinary citizens to make their views on their ‘betters’ known and heard.

And on the related note of Hogarth, here’s a recent work from one of that esteemed artist and observer of society’s modern heirs, the excellent Martin Rowson on the whole nonsense surrounding Thatcher’s death (cartoon by and (c) Martin Rowson, published in the Guardian):

I’ve head the pleasure of hearing Martin speak twice now at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and he’s not only very knowledgeable about the history of editorial cartooning and illustration, he is passionate about using it to hold politicians and other public figures to account and letting them know we are watching the buggers, which is vital in any healthy democratic society.

Edinburgh Book Festival 2012 - Martin Rowson 05
(Martin Rowson at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2012, pic from my Flickr)

Bugs and Opera

There’s a long and very fine tradition of animation matched to music and some of the best came out of that glorious period in the 1940s and 50s; its not really a coincidence that one artform which requires close attention to timing and rhythm would work so well with another. And back in the day when studios could afford the much more lush, detailed animation (unlike later eras where budget constraints mean much less flowing animation) and the studio would just happen to have an orchestra on staff too they made some of the finest, with one of Hollywood’s greatest ever stars (and a personal role model for me growing up), Mr Bugs Bunny being in not one but two of the best ever made, The Rabbit of Seville and What’s Opera, Doc?, probably both of which would be my earliest introduction to the world of classica music, not too mention a lifelong appreciation for the skill and imagination of animators.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas…

… and all through the night not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse… I’ve loved Tom’n’Jerry since I was a very small boy and have wonderfully warm memories of sitting there watching them with my dad. Truth be told even as an adult if a T&J came on when I was home dad and I would sit down to watch it, hee-hawing with laughter as we did so, my mum shaking her head and wondering when either of us would grow up. With crisp snow lying all around us this Christmas Eve it seems like a perfect evening to sit by a roaring fire and watch the classic Night Before Christmas film from the Oscar winning T&J:

Oh to be five years old again and watching this on Christmas Eve at home with dad while mum was making baking and cooking magic in the kitchen and all seemed right with the world and there was no problem in the world so big that your mum and dad couldn’t sort it out and you felt wrapped up in that warmth and love. Looking back now I think that childhood was the most wonderful present I’ve ever received and at the time, of course, I didn’t even know it. Little wonder as the world seems darker and colder that I warm myself by those memories of times that never come again.

"Check yer baws!"

In a window festooned with men’s health advice, specifically about checking the old undercarriage regularly to detect early onset of testicular cancer, on Cockburn Street I see this cartoon image – yes, it is indeed a giant, hairy bollock encouraging men to check themselves by declaring “check yer baws!” (a literal take on the old phrase ‘talking bollocks’). Cracked me up, much to the bemusement of some passing Spanish tourists who not knowing Scots didn’t understand what I was laughing my arse off about; once I stopped giggling I had to take a quick snap. Apologies for the reflection, no way to really avoid them; for film fact fans the street side reflected in the window is the side where Sophia Myles’ character lives in the film version of Hallam Foe:

check yer baws!


I heard at work from the BBC this week – comedian and sometime cartoonist Phill Jupitus had a very good programme on cartoonists and cartooning a few moths back, which was very well received so Radio 4 have come up with four more. They are in fifteen minute segments, with the first one in which Jupitus meets the legendary Gary Trudeau, creator of Doonesbury (which has been a satirical thorn in the side of many a politician, bless ‘im) was last week – it can still be heard via Listen Again and there is also a permanent link for this one. I’m told that hopefully the other three in the series will also get perma links and not just the usual 7-days only Listen Again. This coming Tuesday sees a chat with some up and coming New York cartoonists, the next week Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor, creators of Alex (which has become very topical at the moment with the financial meltdown) and then finally Bill Griffiths, creator of (among others) Zippy the Pinhead. Full details are over on the FPI blog.

Tttttttthththt That’s all folks!

This incredibly cool set of Looney Tunes characters such as Wil E Coyote and Bugs Bunny (one of my personal role models as a child, which might explain a lot) as skeletons is for the Day of the Dead and was snapped in a Hollywood cemetery where the great Mel Blanc (a saint in my Church of Seventh Day Cartoonists) is also buried – the item on the lower right is apparently a rubbing from his headstone. It comes from Superape’s Flickr stream, via Boing Boing. Happy Halloween and a macabre Sahmain to you all.

Popeye Vs Anime

Two separate cartoon cultures clash as Popeye comes face to face with Anime and has a similar reaction many folks not clued up in the genre have – what the heck is this? Warning, contains scenes of silliness, violence and spinach.

Say ‘Cheese’!

Dammit, the very cool Gentlemen’s Duel animation I mentioned the other day has been pulled – I heard from a friend that the studio hadn’t okayed the web release, so that was probably why it had been removed. Which is a shame because it seemed to be getting some great word of mouth which would suggest to me they should consider sticking it back up in one form or another since it was doing their studio’s rep no end of good.

However, since that one is gone, here is another cool animation I came across this week via Steve Ogden’s rather fine AnimWatch site: “Cheese” by Slovakian animator Peter Harkaly, a graduate of the Vancouver Film School. I love the old 40s style story of the mouse and the spring trap and the cheese – even the music adds to that classic feel. Six months of work according to AnimWatch (one of the especially nice things about the site is that Steve doesn’t just post the animation, he posts a bit on the artist and work as well, it’s a great site) and I like the fact that Peter chose to ignore his mentor’s advice and render fur for his mouse – not easy even when you have a full animation studio working on it, so pretty brave of him to do. It’s only a couple of minutes, but very funny and nicely done.

A Gentlemen’s Duel

I came across this animation via Boing Boing today and thought it was terrific as a comedy French and English duo compete for the favours of a rather busty noblewoman (the men can’t keep their eyes from her chest) which ends in a duel – at which point they climb into wonderful steampunk battle suits which look as if they should have come from a crate marked ‘acme’. The creators have clearly watched a lot of classic cartoons…