Saturday, October 31, 2009


My presentation on Searle at the CTN-x conference went down well. Many people thanked me afterwards for showing all the rare material, some weren't even familiar with his work & were seeing it for the first time.

'Energetically Yours' was well received-I showed the behind the scenes photos that Searle had given me, Amid Amidi contributed storyboards that didn't feature in his book 'Cartoon Modern' and Bill Melendez' son Steve allowed me to screen his print of the film which his father animated.

Searle himself wrote a great introduction for my presentation that I read for those assembled:

"Greetings to this sparkling constellation from an ex-Hollywood dinosaur.
Yes, it is weird to realise that when I was born, radio and television did not exist in the home.
But the cinema was wildly alive- and animation was bursting out all over.

Every week I gathered up my pocket-money and dashed to the local flea-pit to lose myself in the splendidly eccentric adventures of Felix the Cat. Drawings were actually coming alive! I was hooked.
Animation has come a long way since those golden pioneer days of Felix. Now the future is the hands of you lucky people.

Forgive me if I take advantage of this exotic occasion to make a small plea as an infatuated pen & ink dipper.
Please do not forget that the magical pen line still exists!
Also, merely as an observer, I feel that some of you could switch off the automatic pilot and wing your way into wilder territory. Just a thought.
Thank you very much for inviting me. I will now go back into my hole."

The highlight of the presentation was the slideshow of the two sketchbooks that Searle allowed me to photograph on my last visit. Very few have seen inside these books so it was a real treat for Searle fans. I plan to put up the images here on the blog in due course . . .

Nov. 20-22 I'll be at the CTN-X animation conference in Burbank, LA. I'm giving a presentation on Searle's work in animation & film titles. Support materials will include a slideshow of the 2 sketchbooks Searle filled on the sets of SCROOGE and MONTE CARLO OR BUST! and I'll be screening several animated shorts Searle collaborated on with Ivor Wood.

There will also be a panel discussion with animation director John Musker, animator James Baxter, CalArts Student Manny Hernandez and myself.
If anybody coming has an original Searle drawing please bring it along, I'd love to see any Searle related material.

I've updated the Ohio University exhibition section and put up a post on Searle's work for Lilliput magazine here. Also I continue to add more to the Punch Theatre section and the French sub-section.

Refugees pt.2

Searle's Refugees sketches as originally published in Punch magazine (Dec. 30, 1959). Pt. 1 here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Investigator

Many thanks to Dave Shelton who contributed these scans of all of Searle's illustrations for Reuben Ship's celebrated satire of the work of the US House Committee on Un-American Activities and its chairman, Joseph McCarthy.

The original drawings photographed at the Ronald Searle Archive, Hanover.

The following rough drawings were part of Chris Beetles' 2012 'Ronald Searle Remembered' exhibition

Printers Block

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Heroes of Our Time

In the late fifties Searle made a series of full colour portraits of contemporary 'heroes' for Punch magazine. They were published as 'centre-fold' spreads, twelve in total.

(Photo by Inge Morath)

'Among the 'Heroes', there were several (notably T.S.Eliot, in his office at Faber's) who consented to give Ronald a brief sitting, though they must have known that the heading under which they were destined to appear was heavy with irony.  The selection actually divided itself between Sacred Monsters and Sacred Cows.  Adopting the faded palette of the age of 'Spy' and 'Ape', and toning down his natural spikiness, Searle produced portraits which were the talk of London for weeks. . . '

Russell Davies

1 Sir Malcolm Sargent September 12, 1956
"Our glossiest maestro dominates the scene
With renderings as glossy as his mien.
Let envious, less glossy maestros sneer,
But goodness, how the Promenaders cheer!"

Pencil sketches of Malcolm Sargent made at rehearsal in the Albert Hall

'This 5” x 8” greetings card has a Ronald Searle cartoon of conductor Malcolm Sargent on the cover. Inside is a pre-printed greeting AND one in the conductor’s own hand. PRINTED is: “Sincere Good Wishes from Malcolm Sargent”. To this, Sargent has added, in his OWN HAND: “So grateful for the notes (3 volumes!) – M.”. In addition, in order to make the printed greeting more personal, he has put “Sargent” in brackets. The conductor presumably had a stock of these cards printed for his own use, after Searle’s cartoon appeared in Punch magazine. In good condition with just a few minor signs of wear.' (eBay)

2 Mr Gilbert Harding -television personality.  'Punch' magazine 19 September 1956
'Behold in me the common people's sage, 

The Plato of the television age.
In place of wisdom, piety or grace 
I offer endless prospects of my face.'

3 Lord Goddard
Punch, October 3, 1956

4 Aneurin Bevan ‘Heroes of our Time' 

T S Eliot - 'Punch' magazine 14 November 1956
'What we praise most, in your adopted land,
Are all the things we cannot understand.
So stand not on the Order of your Merit;
England has honours yet you may inherit.
Pile fame on fame, reflecting as you go

"Omne ignotum pro magnifico".'
Sketch of T. S. Eliot inscribed by Eliot, 17th July 1956 at Faber & Faber Office, London
Eliot was the only one to actually sit for Searle when making these portraits

6 Lord Beaverbrook / Daily Express / Newspaper mogul / journalism / Canadian tycoon
'Punch' magazine 5 December 1956

The Beaver has a notion that without his guiding hand
Our grand Imperial destiny's a castle built on sand.
Contrariwise, observers of his journalistic capers
Can estimate the influence of an empire built on papers.'

7 Princess Margaret  Dec 19 1956

The Dean of Canterbury Hewlett Johnson
 'Punch' magazine 9 January 1957 

'What curious creed does Hewlett preach,
What singular gospel spread?
Perhaps that the doctrines the Christians teach
Should all be taken as red.'

9 Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh January 23, 1957

"In Shakespeare and Coward and Rattigan, what other stars can give
Such prettily turned performances as those of Larry and Viv? 
But the parts they play with a polish that's almost unmatched in our age
Are SIr Laurence and Lady Olivier, First Lady and Gent of the stage."

10 The Marquess of Salisbury 'Punch' magazine 27 February 1957

'I come from haunts of duke and earl;
I ornament the Tories;
Encrowned with strawberry-leaf and pearl;
I shine among their glories.
The House of Lords I may bring low,
And rank from ruling sever;
For peers may come and peers may go,
But Cecils rule for ever.'

11 Brian Robertson

Lord Russell / Conrad / Lib Dem peer.  'Punch' magazine 27 March 1957

'All earthly knowledge finally explored, 
Man feels himself from doubt and dogma free.
There are more things in Heaven, though, my lord,
Than are dreamed of in your philosophy.' 

Inge Morath © The Inge Morath Foundation