Friday evening saw the good and the great (and me) descend on the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh for the launch of the cartoon art book and the art exhibition for Fizzers: Famous Scottish Faces Caricatured, with some of the people caricatured actually in attendance, including the Scots actor Brian Cox. The six artists from the Glasgow Cartoon Art Studio – Brian, Chris, Derek, Edd, Terry and Tommy – were there, all arrayed stylishly in waistcoats adorned with their own artwork (which made it much easier to track them down afterwards to get my book signed).
The turnout was huge and to this old comics fan it was uplifting to see such support from so many people, including the aristic establishment in the shape of the National Galleries of Scotland (who did the boys proud) for comic and cartoon artwork. I’ve reported on some instances of our beloved genre finally being treated as a serious artform by the artistic authorities (the Crumb retrospective in London last year, the recent Hernadez Brothers exhibition in the US) and so I was delighted to see similar recognition and support closer to home. The spokesman for the National Galleries commented on how pleased they were to host the exhibition (which runs for the next couple of months and is now open to the public) and how different it was from some of the more traditional material they usually displayed but this just made it more interesting. The book is a pleasure and being able to see the original, full-size artwork was a real treat, with the subjects being pretty wide ranging, including a few folk who aren’t actually Scottish but live here, such as J K Rowling (as well as those who are Scottish but don’t live here anymore, such as Sean Connery).
The SF genre is well represented too, with pictures of the aforementioned Brian Cox who has dabbled in big screen SF outings (the US version of the Ring, X-Men 2) as well as a huge range of other parts and no less than two Doctor Who actors in the shape of David Tennant and Sylvester McCoy. People often assume that comedy is easier to write than drama and similarly assume caricatures are probably something simple you dash off simply in minutes, but, of course, we know that is is a pretty demanding discipline, requiring the artist not merely to reproduce the subject portrait-style but to bring out and enhance perceived characteristics which will be instantly recongisable to the viewer. While this can take the form of exaggerating physical characteristics it also takes in emotional and psychological components, or in the case of the cariacture of artist Peter Howson, cleverly incorporating aspects of that artist’s style into the caricature.
The book of Fizzers is out now while the exhibition runs to Sunday the 2nd of July; one of the artists involved, Terry Anderson, wrote about the Glasgow Cartoon Art Studio, the book and the exhibition on the FPI blog back at the end of March here. And on a personal note I found out just how small a world it was when I was chatting to one of the artists, Edd and discovered he is the little brother of a boy who used to play with me and my friends as kids! It really is a small world…