POTD – Steve Bell

Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell discussing his craft yesterday as part of the Out to Lunch festival.
The phrase gentle giant could have been written to describe Steve. He ran through some of his more famous (iconic) cartoons and talked about the process of development.
My favourite quote from yesterday
“Yeah i’ve upset a lot of politicians over the years. So what? F*ck them”

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  • Hi MP

    I see the great man is also a fan of TTV images.

    In the early 80s I confessed to a Steve Bell fan that i didn’t really get his “If” strip and was told ” Just read them out loud to yourself until the penny drops.” I was a commuter at the time. Happy days.

  • Ha it’s actually the angle that i took the shot from but yeah the rounded edges do look like a ttv shot.
    I did manage to take a TtV portrait before the gig

  • I hope we all recall Bell’s feature in The Guardian, 30 December 2010. Particularly his caption for the 12th January cartoon, which was the start of his running condom metaphor:

    This cartoon marked a turning point, in that I’d been trying out various ways of doing Cameron, from man boobs through to jellyfish, and this seemed a natural development. It said a great deal about his smoothness, but opened up a lot of new, symbolic and rubbery possibilities. By way of a bonus, Cameron does not favour the depiction. He came up to me at a Spectator party at the Tory conference in October, and asked me how long I was going to carrry on with it, before advising me: “You can only push a condom so far”.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Moochin Photoman,

    It is Matt in the (Engleze) Torygraph that does it for me – I would put him well ahead of SB and the rest in the funniness league table.

  • I agree about Matt just brilliant, his work is plain and simply but always hits the spot. Steve Bell is great but sometimes I feel he puts to much detail in and for me a good cartoon enables one to get the point immediatly, if you have to read the words to get it I feel it has partialy failed in its task.

    Overall I think for cartoons the Torygraph wins hands down, I like Adams and Garland a lot. Martin Rowson who I think started in the Morning Star but now competes with Steve Bell at the Guardian is always spot on.

    Out of interest are there any good rightwing cartoonists, most seem to be on the libertarian wing of politics although I have no evidence to back this up, just that which I draw from their work

    There is also a lad who publishes in the socialist worker whose name escapes me whom I like, he uses photo monarge type stuff, or what ever it is called and Irish republican John Kennedy’s drawings are fantastic, but for me he falls down a bit when he pushes to much word play in.(Sorry John, what do I know)

  • John Kennedy Cartoonist

    Thanks for the mention Mick but to set the record straight, I`m not an Irish Republican! You have me mixed up with someone else.

  • John Kennedy Cartoonist

    The cartoonist Mickhall is referring to is called Brian Mor. I don`t know much about the guy but our work is of completely different styles.

    I can only speak for myself when I say this but I pride myself as an impartial cartoonist who has worked for both nationalist and unionist newspapers. I never have been a member or supporter of any political party and never will be!

    If the excellent Slugger O`Toole has the space I would be more than happy to provide a collection of my best cartoons of 2010 and let you good readers judge for themselves.

  • crafty

    john kennedy,
    being an irish republican is nothing to be ashamed of

  • aquifer

    and a political idea does not have to be any good for people to get shot for it

  • Harry Flashman

    Steve Bell, unfunny, coarse, vulgar, beloved of Guardian readers because they think he is “edgy”, no one else finds his work remotely funny.

  • Harry Flashman @ 3:06 am:

    A bit sweeping, peut-être? No apologies for the affectation: we Guardianistas have a duty to flaunt our pretentiousness, y’know, Harry. But, we also know you really, deep down, love and admire us: why else use a 45º anti-clockwise rotation of a Guardian logo as your avatar?

    To state the obvious: I’d venture that Bell has impacted on English politics more than any other graphic artist of the last three decades. His mad-eye Thatcher was definitive; and transferring the image to Blair made a very telling point. Major, with his Y-fronts outside his trousers, was as seminal as (and referential to) Vicky’s “Supermac”.

    At his best, Bell achieves artistic status, and is acutely conscious of his place in a long tradition. Consider the pastiche of Tenniel’s Dropping the Pilot he did for 1st July 2009. His earlier version, from 10th November 2006, told a great deal about the slime-ball nature of the Bush administration, long before more of the whole story became known.

    Bell, in the flesh, is also a fine stand-up comedian.

    If this thread is to become a beauty-parade, I’d want to acknowledge the Guardian‘s other regular, Martin Rowson. There’s Peter Brookes at The Times, for too many his draughtsmanship now locked behind the pay-wall: his “Wallace and Gromit” of the two Milibands was a typical “hit”. Martyn Turner has been a fixture at the Irish Times for donkey’s yonks. He has nailed successive Taoisigh; and his “Three Wise Men” (23rd December) was, for me, right on the button. His Railings collections I gladly add regularly to my shelf.

    Now, don’t start me on the excellent American cartoonists …

    What Harry Flashman @ 3:06 am might want to reflect upon is that it is more natural for the acerbic political cartoonist (perhaps any social critic) to be “outside the tent, pissing in”. That doesn’t deny the worth of the gentler pen of the late Carl Giles (another personal favourite). By the way, there’s a YouTube clip of Steve Bell commenting on the “cosy … subversive … suburban” Giles collection, now on-line via the University of Kent.

    This point also came to mind when I saw Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit commending Matt [Pritchett]’s pocket cartoons. They only get a quick glance; but they can provoke. However, are they comparable with the late, great Osbert Lancaster’s Maudie Littlehampton for Beaverbrook’s Express?

  • John

    Sorry about that, [and to Brian] I did confuse the two of you as I have seen the work of you both on the Pensive Quill and very good it is [grovel grovel 😉

    What I marvel at about cartoonists like Matt, Bell, Adams and others is day after day they turn out excellent work that for me hits the spot.

    I cannot really see how anyone could be a good cartoonist unless they are interested in current events and politics.
    Matts cartoon in the Sunday Telegraph today sums up what I mean.

  • Pocket cartoons are a distinct genre

    Albeit Matt is presently untouchable I think he in turn would pay tribute to the Guardian’s Bryan McAllister and his Little Boxes.

    And of course many of the same stories come round time and time again. I’m looking at one of McAllister’s cartoons from 1976: Prison officer to prisoner “Of course you can complain to your MP – he’s in the next cell.”

  • articles @ 8:58 pm makes a good point about distinctions of genre. Is that not a consequence of deadline times? The front page (and therefore the pocket cartoon) must have a later timing than the main editorial/comment page, where we expect the main “topical” cartoon.

    Widen that time-scale further, as with the monthlies and the fortnightlies, and the conceit needs to be more reflective because it has to be more general, more generic, and thereby less caustic.

    Since women artists have not had a mention here, might I put in a plug for Annie Tempest and her running strip “Totting-by-Gently” for Country Life? There Lord and Lady Tottering (Dicky and Daffy) survive mainly on burgundy and snifters in their North Pimmshire ancestral pile, complete with two more generations of the dynasty, the dogs Scribble and Slobber, a coat of arms with the motto “In wellis latexis plodamus” and their domestic goddess, Mrs Shagpile. Tottering has been about for a decade; but the recent archive (with watermark) is on line.

    I’m not convinced it’s irony that makes Country Life consign Tottering to its “Culture” pages.

  • crafty

    Steve Bell is pure genius

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    The Eastern European (possibly Czech or German) cartoons (pre-Iron curtain) were outstanding for political, social satire. Are there any good cartoon websites out there that are classified by date, country etc.