Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Life In Pictures

Steve Bell in the Guardian.   Thanks to (S. Nadler)

Martin Rowson's contribution to the Cartoon Museum catalogue (via the Bloghorn)

Libby Purves in the Times.

Jeffrey Archer reports on the Chris Beetles exhibition on his blog. 

 "Some things are just depressing and here is one. Consider this: just how rich is Lord Archer? Last week the rogue peer attended a party to mark the 90th birthday of his friend, the illustrator Ronald Searle. Searle himself was absent. He rarely leaves his home in France, and in the normal run is only contactable by fax. Archer supplied a gallery in central London with 30 of his Searle masterpieces for the occasion but, reports the scribe from the Camden New Journal, the author's enthusiasm for his friend's achievements got the better of him. "On two occasions, he insisted: 'I must have it'," records the onlooker. "Only to be told: 'You already own that one, Jeffrey!'"

Hugh Muir      The Guardian, Wednesday 10 March 2010

Searle's a rarity: a cartoonist who can draw
I was at the Bath Literary Festival on Tuesday helping to promote a book of cartoons from The Oldie magazine. I pointed out to the audience that there were basically two schools of cartoonists: those who can draw and those who can't.
The most famous of the can't-draw school was the American cartoonist James Thurber, who invented an entirely new type of cartoon not only badly drawn but surreal in inspiration. "That's my first wife up there and this is the present Mrs Harris," says a party host pointing to a female figure crouched on top of his bookcase. Thurber's editor at The New Yorker, Harold Ross, was baffled and demanded to know if the woman was alive or stuffed.
The best example of the cartoonist who can draw is Ronald Searle who this week celebrated his 90th birthday at his home in France. Appearing on Channel 4 news he looked alert and lively and is still hard at work. Searle's drawings from a Japanese POW camp drawn on any bits of paper he could find show his skill as a master draughtsman. As for his cartoons he will always be remembered for St Trinian's and for Nigel Molesworth, however much he may want us to appreciate the rest of his massive output. 
-Richard Ingrams in the Independent

‘I went into the war as a student and came out as an artist’

Ronald Searle, who turned 90 this month, talks to Harry Mount about being captured by the Japanese, chronicling the 1950s and inventing both St Trinian’s and Molesworth
Even after St Trinian’s had been bombed to smithereens, Searle’s publisher, Max Parrish, wanted more. Searle suggested an alternative. His friend Geoffrey Willans, of the BBC Foreign Service, had already written several skits on a boy’s prep school for Punch, and had suggested that Searle might do some illustrations. And so Nigel Molesworth, the curse of St Custard’s, ‘the goriller of 3B’, nemesis of Basil Fotherington-Thomas, was born.
‘Geoffrey and I just sat together in a room for hours, days on end, swapping ideas. He had been a schoolteacher, and had been to public school, I went to an elementary school. So he set up the framework but he gave me space to make it visual: to work out what animal the gerund would look like; how the Romans and the Gauls looked; the feel of the foopball ground, as Molesworth called it.’
Despite bewitching several generations with St Trinian’s and Molesworth, it is his reportage that Searle is most proud of, much of it in the Cartoon Museum show: sewer men and street sweepers in 1950s London, horse auctions and the funeral of George VI for the News Chronicle; commissions for the American magazines, Life and Holiday, including, in 1961, the newly built Berlin Wall and the Adolf Eichmann trial in Jerusalem.
‘Reportage is much harder, you’ve got to get behind what’s going on, to locate the atmosphere people are living in,’ he says, ‘Anyone can do a cartoon and make people laugh.’
Millions of devoted fans will disagree; no one can do it quite as well as the new nonagenarian.

Harry Mount  The Spectator Wednesday, 10th March 2010

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