Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ronald Searle The Great (part 6) - His so human bestiary

In an interview Searle explained: “I work with no fixed market in mind. Some ideas may be best expressed in lithography, others are large water-colours, others in pen. When they have been sufficiently developed I start worrying about placing them… The only factor I watch is: whatever I do is thought of as an international idea – that it will have equal appeal in any of half-a-dozen countries. Or be equally rejected.”

In addition to his cartoons about people, the second part of the 60s brought forth some animal new themes. Gathering scenes of people interpreted as cats, a new book was issued.

In 1967, De drôles de chats was published by Librairie Arthème Fayard in Paris, and by Dennis Dobson in London, titled: Searle's Cats. In the next year, this book was published by Stephen Greene in Brattleboro (USA), and in Germany by Kurt Desch in Munich, as: Die Katzen des Ronald Searle. Later on, Searle's Cats was republished several times: by J. J. Douglas in Vancouver in 1977, by Souvenir Press in London in 1987, by Droemer Knaur in Munich in 1988…

De drôles de chats

Another book was soon launched in several countries. Featuring people, cats, birds, pigs, snails, and few flies, Searle expressed one more time the dark side of the human behavior: aggressiveness, cruelty, blindness deformity, frustration…

L’œuf cube et le cercle vicieux

L’œuf cube et le cercle vicieux was published by Librairie Arthème Fayard in Paris in 1968. In the same time, titled The Square Egg and the Vicious Circle, it was published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in London, and by Stephen Greene Press in Brattleboro, USA. In the next year, as Das eckige Ei, this book was published by Kurt Desch in Munich. Then after several pocket size editions were printed: published by DTV in Munich in 1973, by Penguin Books in London in 1980, and by Viking Press in New York in 1981.

L’œuf cube et le cercle vicieux

The following book has a single theme. It contains 80 ideas on snail subjects. Some cartoons seem to be just like an image-association, when others are much elaborated.

Tiens! Il n’y a personne?

The title of this French edition was suggested by the French artist Roland Topor: Tiens! Il n’y a personne? The book was published in 1969 by Jean-Jacques Pauvert in Paris, and by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in London, titled there: Hello. Where Did All the People go?  In the next year, this book was published by S. Greene Press in the USA, and by Kurt Desch in Munich, as Nanu, wo sind die Menschen geblieben?  In 1979 it was republished by Rowohlt in Hamburg, with a new title: Schneckereien.

Tiens! Il n’y a personne?

At left: a set of odd associations. At right: a "snailish" parody of Fragonard’s famous painting: The Happy Accidents of the Swing – however, in 1980 Searle drew a new version of this scene, with pigs in place of snails, that is closer to Fragonard’s work.

In 1972, Searle dedicated a book to one of the smallest insects: a gnat; but a gnat having a human shape.

The Suicide & Reincarnation of an Extremely Small Man

The Suicide & Reincarnation of an Extremely Small Man was published by Daily–Bul in La Louvière (Belgium). It is the 41st volume in the collection Les Poquettes Volantes; a not so voluminous “volume”, as this thin micro-book measures 11cm x 13.5 cm. This edition, which was never republished, was limited to 1,000 copies.

The Suicide & Reincarnation of an Extremely Small Man

In twenty pages, Searle shows the story of this odd character that flies, falls and crashes to an apparently enormous eye, eye which reveals to be just the pattern of a butterfly’s wing. At the last page, this butterfly bumps into something, and maybe the story can restart from the beginning, again and again endlessly.

In 1975, Searle came back to his favorite animals with a book of twenty marvelous color plates of cats (but there were few birds and one pig too). This More Cats was first published by Dennis Dobson in London, and then in 1976, by Stephen Greene Press in Brattleboro (USA), by J.J. Douglas in Vancouver, and by Kurt Desch in Munich, as Mehr Katzen.

More Cats

Some cartoons of this book have been already published in The New Yorker magazine.

More Cats

One more time, Searle’s cats express human passions.

Hereunder, this couple of pigs looks like very human too.

Le Fou Parle

This work was drawn in 1974, and it was edited in the back cover of the French magazine Le Fou Parle, issue number 9, in January 1979.

In 1980, Von Katzen und anderen Menschen [Cats and other people], an anthology of Searle’s former books, was published by Eulenspiegel in East Berlin. This book has 118 pages.

Only eight real or mythic animals are part of the signs of the zodiac. Searle changed Virgo into a mole (a private joke with Monica, his wife), added cats to Libra, dogs to Aquarius, birds to Gemini, so he finally got the full menagerie of 12 animalized signs. With two cartoons for each sign, the content of a new book was ready.

Searle’s Zoodiac

Searle’s Zoodiac was first published by Dobson in London in 1977. In the text year it was published by Pantheon Books in New York, and in Germany by Gerhard Stalling as Searles Tierkeis.

Searle’s Zoodiac

Some cartoons from this book were used for postcards published by Verlag L. Dabritz in Munich.

Increasing his private zoo, Searle drew 26 animal cartoons that were gathered in a new book: The King of Beast & other Creatures, that was first published by Allen Lane in London in 1980.

Le roi des animaux et autres creatures, and by Viking Press in New York, as The Situation is Hopeless

In the next year, it was published by La Boétie /Deux Coqs d’Or in Paris, as Le roi des animaux et autres creatures, and by Viking Press in New York, as The Situation is Hopeless.

Le roi des animaux et autres creatures, and by Viking Press in New York, as The Situation is Hopeless

A larger and bigger book was issued in several countries in 1982. Ronald Searle’s Big Fat Cat Book was an anthology containing many new cat cartoons and some others from three former books: The Square Egg, More Cats, and Zoodiac. Four cartoons of this book originally appeared in The New Yorker magazine and some others were edited as lithography (like "The coming of the Great Cat God" hereunder at right)

The English edition of this book was published by Macmillan in London, and by Little Brown & Co in Boston. As Chats Chats Chats, it was published by La Boétie /Deux Coqs d’Or in Paris, and as Ronald Searles Großes Katzenbuch, it was published by Gerstenberg Verlag in Germany.

Chats Chats Chats

Some of Searle’s cartoons only appeared in press and were never republished in a book form.

 International Herald Tribune - Ronald Searle
This drawing was published in International Herald Tribune (5 October 1987)

Ronald Searle has also illustrated some books for young readers. Such are The Tales of Grandpa Cat, written by Lee Wardlaw, and published by Dial Books in New York in 1994. Obviously, in this children's story, the felines personify less human faults and vices, but rather human qualities.

Here, Grandpa Cat humorously entertains his grandchildren with exciting tales about the exploits of various fellow residents of his retirement community: Billy the Kitten (the fastest paw in the West), Diamond Jim Kitty (millionaire thanks to his mitten factory), the Great Tabby Houdini (the great magician), and Miss Kitty Hawk (the cat who was determined to fly).

The Tales of Grandpa Cat

In the book Beastly Feasts! - sub-titled: A Mischievous Menagerie in Rhyme - some of Searle’s illustrations of Robert L. Forbes’ funny poems, are also real cartoons. In all, 42 various animals are there. This book was first published by The Overlook Press in New York in 2007.

Bestioles un peu folles [Beasts a bit crazy]

One year later, it was cleverly translated into French and, as Bestioles un peu folles [Beasts a bit crazy], it was published by Jean-Claude Gawsewitch in Paris.

Bestioles un peu folles [Beasts a bit crazy]

Our next article about Searle’s books will be dedicated to some sweet dope (well… to legal poisons anyway).

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Scalarini: Il padre della satira (The father of satire)

In 2014, there will be in the ECC an exhibition of cartoons of the Great War (WWI 1914-1918). One of the artists we must show is the great Italian political cartoonist Giuseppe Scalarini (1873-1948). Yesterday Fernand and I met in Brussels with the kind Nando Levi and his daughter Noela and Antonio Garonzi. Scalarini was the grandfather of Nando. Nando told us a lot of interesting facts about his grandfather. There will be an article in Scherper about this meeting.

Antonio Garonzi, Fernand, Nando Levi, Noela Levi, Jan
We were given a well documented file and a Scalarini catalogue of outstandig quality: "Il veleno della storia".

Hereunder are some pictures of this catalogue. (the pictures are taken on the train..)

Antonio is the webmater of the official Scalarini website and he is proud to announce that the website soon will be available in English too. Visit the site to learn all about the great artist.

On YouTube, you can wath this videos about the work of Scalarini:

From Rai television:

Learn more:
ECC article Giuseppe Scalarini
Join the Scalarini Facebook group

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Roger Blachon in Marseille

I found this footage of an exhibition of one of my favourite cartoonists Roger Blachon(1941-2008)  on YouTube. Enjoy the art.

Learn more:
Roger Blachon and links ons ECC Cartoonbooks Club

Read related article (News of Marseille).

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Titanic Cartoon by Jiri Sliva

In memoriam the 'Titanic'. Cartoon by Jiri Sliva out of "Allerlei Zirkus", Eulenspiegel Verlag Berlin, 1979. Visit the Jiri Sliva exhibition now in the ECC.

I'll present this book in a next post.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Cartoons and Crowds - part 2

Browsing through his collection of cartoon books, Jean-Marie found  some other cartoonists we can link with crowds.

■ The Frenchman Sempé  has produced a number of drawings of crowds. But for him the important thing is not always in the mass of people, but often in the singularity of a single character.

Sempé : Rien n’est simple (Denoël, Paris 1962)
Sempé : Rien n’est simple (Denoël, Paris 1962)

Sempé : Rien n’est simple (Denoël, Paris 1962)

Sempé: Women and Children First! (Perpetua, London 1962)

■ The German artist Hans-Georg Rauch took advantage of crowds by using them as a material.

Rauch : Dessins à regarder de près (Planète, Paris 1969)
Rauch : Dessins à regarder de près (Planète, Paris 1969)

Rauch : Rauchzeichen (Nebelspalter, Rorschach 1969)
Rauch : Rauchzeichen (Nebelspalter, Rorschach 1969)

Rauch : La majorité silencieuse (Hachette, Paris 1974)
Rauch : La majorité silencieuse (Hachette, Paris 1974)

Rauch : La majorité silencieuse (Hachette, Paris 1974)

Rauch : H. G. Rauch. Dessins. L’œuvre gravé / Zeichnungen. Das grafische Werk / Drawings. The Graphic Works (Les Presses de la Connaissance, Paris 1976) This book is a catalogue of exhibitions that took place in Bruxelles, New York, Ottawa, Boston, San Francisco, Montreal, Türbingen, Gent, Stockholm, Colmar Bourges, Oslo, Bochum, Osnabrück, Baden-Baden, Houston, Paris

■ About Dubout, we can say that from the 20's he produced many drawings showing accumulations of objects or characters.

Dubout : Dubout. 200 dessins (Michèle Trinckvel, Paris 1974)
Dubout : Dubout. 200 dessins (Michèle Trinckvel, Paris 1974)

Dubout : Dubout. 200 dessins (Michèle Trinckvel, Paris 1974)
 He set a unique record with his drawing showing the siege of La Rochelle (1627-1628). Knowing there were 5000 besiegers, he decided to keep strictly to this number. To find out how far he was completing his composition, he wrote down on a blackboard the number of characters terminated.

■ Another example is the work of Jacques Lerouge (

Related article:
Cartoons and Crowds - part 1

Learn more about:
Jacques Lerouge
Hans-Georg Rauch
Albert Dubout
Jean-Jacques Sempé

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Leonard Sansone

Maggie Sansone, daughter of Leonard Sansone (USA, 1917 - 1963) , sent a mail with the message that the death day of her father wasn't correct in our article 'The Wolf'.
She sent some evidence, not that I didn't believe her:

Maggie shared with me some articles she found in her mother’s scrapbook about the details of the tragic end to her father’s life who died in a car accident at age 46. It’s been over 50 years since the tragedy and their family is now working on releasing a memoir to honor the memory of Leonard Sansone’s life and contributions as a cartoonist.

Sgt. Leonard Sansone (1917- 1963, USA) has lightened the load for millions of G.I. guys and gals. He was working for the Yankee dollar in a New York ad agency’s art department when the roof fell in a Pearl Harbor. A few weeks later the government offered him a new smock if he would come to Fort Belvoir. After basic training he drew The Wolf as a one-shot cartoon for a local camp publication – the first appearance of that all-too-human character. The idea caught on and Sansone was syndicating his lupine glom for world-wide Camp Newspaper Service. Sansone insists that The Wolf is strictly a product of hearsay and observation. But to all working wolves and corner coyotes he wishes “Happy howling”.

The Wolf by Leonard Sansone

Thanks Maggie for reminding me and let us know when the book about your father is ready!

Learn more: