History and Cartoons
By: Cornelius - On: 19/12/2007 15:41:36 - Comments: 4
I have a very geeky confession.
When I was a kid, maybe 10 or 11, a cousin gave me an old illustrated history of Britain filled with cartoons from the eighteenth and nineteenth century. I don’t think I read a single word in the book, but I loved the pictures. All the great moments of British history were illustrated by brilliant artists such as Tenniel, du Maurier or Cruikshank to the point where it appeared to me that the artists commentating and depicting the events were as, or more, important that the great events themselves. Gladstone and Disraeli (Britain’s Greatest nineteenth century Prime Ministers) were only important because they were depicted by Tenniel, not because they did anything interesting in themselves.
I think this experience gave me a slightly skewed impression of the importance of cartoonists and their role in the world. I loved what they could do with pen and ink, but maybe as importantly I loved the fact that a hundred and fifty years after a work was created people were still looking at and enjoying it. When I say ‘people’ how was I to know that there weren’t that many other 10 or 11 year olds who were into Victorian cartoonists.
Anyway the point is that for me part of the importance of cartooning is its permanence. When we license a cartoon for use in a newspaper or magazine it might be wrapping tomorrow’s fish and chips - but the same cartoon may well be used again by another magazine, or in a business presentation or a television programme, or, most importantly for the sake of this argument an illustrated history book that a geeky 10 year old might enjoy.