It was good to be Gerard Scarfe (best known for his work on Pink Floyd The Wall and the Disney’s Hercules movie) this week as the political caricaturist was awarded a CBE (otherwise known as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for the 40 years he’s spent making fun of people:
Describing one of his most memorable images Scarfe said: “When I made my drawings for Private Eye they were shocking at the time, but by today’s standards they probably wouldn’t be.
“I did a drawing of Macmillan, the Prime Minister at the time, in the pose of Christine Keeler, the prostitute who brought down the Government, on the chair.
“And Private Eye put it on the cover of their annual and WH Smith wouldn’t (stock) it, they sent them all back because of that one drawing.”
Not every caricaturist is doing as well these days unfortunately. A recent Vanity Fair piece on New York Review of Books artist David Levine revealed that the renowned artist is suffering from macular degeneration:
Meanwhile, at the magazine, long the flagship of the American liberal intelligentsia, there was the third drama: what to do about David. First, it debated whether to run what he’d submitted. Then it stopped sending him assignments: it was in April 2007 when his last original drawing (of the novelist Howard Norman) appeared. The Review now primarily uses the work of another artist, whose style resembles Levine’s but displays none of its wit. Still, the masthead lists Levine as “staff artist”; to both the Review’s co-founder and editor, Robert Silvers, and Rea Hederman, its owner and publisher, any suggestion to the contrary is preposterous. “I think of him as someone who’s done marvelous things for us and might do some again,” Silvers says.
In many ways, Levine and Scarfe may be the last lions of a dying industry. Over at the Daily Cartoonist, Alan Gardner notes that American newspapers have dropped 29 editorial cartoonists, and only one of those positions have been replaced. As more newspapers flounder and suffer from shrinking ad revenue and readership, we can only expect to see this number rise.
On a cheerier note, here are some Ronald Searle drawings.