21/10/2008

Endangered species thriving in the crash

5144_21102008.gifSpin-offs from the financial crisis proliferate. On Radio 4 Phill Jupitus' Strips provided the creators of the Telegraph's Alex cartoon with a platform. There were some interesting insights into the creative process and a side-swipe at the dearth of young people who can actually draw.

Artist Charles Peattie and journalist Russell Taylor are both in their forties. They met at a party in 1986. Charles had a commission for a strip for the financial pages of the London Daily News and the result was Alex.

The strip is a wicked send-up of nasty City types with such a huge following it has now turned into a stage show, with a film promised. The strip's creators are such experienced collaborators they develop the cartoon by email. Scans of roughs are swapped and layers of stuck-on emendations are built up.

Peattie and Taylor mockingly described themselves as the 'Ant & Dec' of the UK cartooning world, since they are often the youngest attendees at cartooning conferences.

Now that graphic designers draw with mice, what's the future for brilliantly-crafted satirical cartoons like Alex? Not good according to Peattie and Taylor: 'people don't learn to draw so much... cartoons depend on a fairly academic way of drawing... more [cartoonists] have died in the last decade than have come up'.

09/10/2008

Lampitt's living maps

2863068137_055aef279a_b.jpgA worthwhile post on English Buildings drew my attention to Ronald Lampitt's illustrations in The map that came to life, a children's book first published by OUP in 1948. Elsewhere there's also a complete set of spreads and a page about Lampitt's map of an ideal city.

The beautifully illustrated cover is slightly reminiscent of Seurat's 'La Grande Jatte', without the pointillism. The book celebrates the fascination of maps as graphical language - ways of representing in two dimensions the richness of the real world. Lampitt paints the archetypal romantic (and very idealised) English village, set in a perfect landscape:

"These two children set off on a walk across unfamiliar country with only their map for guidance. They talk to strangers – who give them fascinating nuggets of local information rather than luring them into dark corners. Their dog spends most of its time off its lead, rivers and lakes hold no terrors for them, and, of course, this being 1948, they are not much troubled by traffic."

Picture 2.pngPicture 1.pngLampitt also worked for Ladybird, including the 1967 title Understanding maps, but information on him is scarce. Google Earth can't compete with Lampitt's golden vision of English Never-Never-Land.  2863882570_5ffe9958f2_b.jpgSecondhand copies appear rarely. A reprint is certainly overdue.