Sunday, November 02, 2008

Carl Giles exhibitions upcoming

From the Guardian last week is an informed and illuminating article on one of my favourite cartoonists; Carl Giles. (Again, as I wrote here, this is all thanks to my father's study and a collection of Giles that still takes pride of place today).


(Giles cartoon from 1980 with carefully placed hanging Rupert in the background)

The Guardian piece concentrates on the dichotomy of Giles, the left winger, working as one of the highest paid cartoonists of the age for Lord Beaverbrook and the Daily Mail. So it seems Giles spent his days subtly trying to annoy the establishment as much as possible:

His first job as resident cartoonist was for the leftwing Reynolds News, and the archive reveals his guilt at abandoning it for the rightwing Sunday Express: "They stuck a cigar in my face," he explained. He never agreed with the Express's politics, but it made him rich: by 1955 he was being paid £8,060 for three cartoons a week and on one occasion, walking back from a good lunch with the proprietor, was invited to choose a car as they walked past a Rolls-Royce showroom.

"Once he became one of Beaverbrook's gang, he was in a class of his own," Hiley said. "He was certainly earning two or three times as much as any other cartoonist of his day."

He got his revenge in jokes like poor slaughtered Rupert Bear - who was also executed by firing squad, and ripped apart by the Family's dog, in cartoons published in 1971. Giles stayed away from the office as much as possible, never attended news conferences, and never submitted drafts of cartoons: they arrived, on or just after the deadline, by taxi from his studio in Ipswich. Subeditors were standing by ready to scour the backgrounds, particularly densely shaded patches or foliage, for obscene outlines or other audacities, and inevitably some got through.

However, the real point of the Guardian article, and the real point of me telling you about it is to point out that there two new exhibitions of his work, which I'm sure will be well worth a visit. Giles' work is too often forgotten when we talk about great British cartoonists:

Giles, One of the Family: Cartoon Museum in London: from November 5.
Town Hall Gallery in Ipswich: exhibition of local scenes in his work: from November 8.

Co-incidentally, this very week, CBR had Carl Giles' profiled in their Stars of Political Cartooning series. (Carl Giles at CBR).

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