Local Cartoonists Present a Picture of Cartooning Today

BY VC WILKINSON (for SA Art Times)

Incisive wit combined with skilled technique - a lethal combination and essential prerequisite for successful political cartooning.  Some of South Africa’s best political cartoonists presented their takes on reality and cartooning history at the Iziko South African National Gallery Annexe in July and August.

Head of the newly founded Centre for Comic, Illustrative and Book Arts (CCIBA) at Stellenbosch University; cartoonist and historian Andy Mason with Iziko’s Kathy Coates facilitated a political cartooning Master Class and Kids Toonlab. The programme featured Jonathan Shapiro, Brandan Reynolds, Jeremy Nell, John Curtis - managing editor of Africartoons accessible through a website currently hosting a petition signed by leading editors opposed to the threat of a media tribunal and legislation curbing press freedom in South Africa.Stent, Gavin Thomson, Andy Mason, Jerm and Dave Gommersall

Respected cartoonist Stacey Stent believes that this challenge will encourage cartoonists to inform the public in alternative ways through the comic medium.  As a veteran of the former Weekly Mail’s ‘Who’s Left’ and currently Noseweek cartoonist her sensitive intellectual interpretations deal with issues like education, politics and the double standard. Informal discussion with Argus cartoonist Chip Snaddon provided insight into working methods and sensitivities employed when creating cartoons that link to news on a daily basis. Networking and professional proactivity among these hypertalented and well informed artists is paramount to the success of their comic humour. Cartoon genres targeting different sectors of the community were discussed by the Treknet partnership of Gavin Thomson and Dave Gomersdal who publish internationally and have developed characters based on their neighbourhood in Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay. These have stereotypical qualities that reflect the human condition in a multitude of guises that are widely recognizable. Thomson and Gomersdal provided insight into the freelance position where so much depends on perseverance, courtesy and the willingness to negotiate in order to make a living.

The Master Class was the first to be held in Cape Town.  Mason is very pleased with results having just completed 3 consecutive weekend Master Classes/ Toonlabs in Stellenbosch, Johannesburg and the mother city.  His purpose is to identify and select cartoon artists in SA to work with and mentor. Pointing out that the discipline is regarded as formal in the fine art field, Mason emphasized the   importance of drawing skills for some types of comic rendition.  The internationally successful Supa Strikas soccer themed comic and TV series which is distributed locally and internationally and supported by corporate sponsorship is produced by the Woodstock based Strika Entertainment team. Here 45 to 50 people work in a ‘bull-pen’ environment like DC and Marvel comics in the USA, a stimulating environment where ideas are shared. This practice became less common in the early nineties when technology made it easier for artists and writers to work alone from home.

 For the Supa Strika soccer series accurate rendition of figurative models is integral to the quality of the cartoons.  Painstaking attention to detail and production of other cartoons for the masses including the popular animé/Disney hybrid Arcadia, which appears in Huisgenoot, give examples of Alex Kramer’s success since the inception of Strika Entertainment in 2000. In April this year they launched ‘Unleashed’ for National Geographic cartoon fans.

The value of historical models was illustrated by power point presentations that introduced visual examples in text and image since the 16th century.  These days in Europe the production of contemporary dialogue-free cartoons rely on a cultural commonality of experience and history much as religious narratives painted on walls and ceilings in churches and temples do. The communicative power of cartoon images to convey information in symbols and signs requires less reading time.  This can be a valuable source of humour and insight into prevailing sentiment and prejudice.

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Participants at the CCIBA Editorial Cartooning Master ClassParticipants at the CCIBA Editorial Cartooning Master Class   Participants at the CCIBA Editorial Cartooning Master ClassA participant at the CCIBA Master Class Stacey Stent presents some cartoons that inspire herCartoonists Jerm and Stent

Trek Net Creators Dave Gommersall and Gavin ThomsonFilm maker Luke Mason captures it on video

Posted on Aug 21, 2010 by Africartoons Bookmark and Share