Sunday, 1 May 2011

My all-time favourite cartoons: Pont, Addams, Bill Tidy and Gary Larson

I’m feeling a trifle crabby today – our neighbours held a noisy birthday party last night which went on till four in the morning, kids at the back have just lobbed a football into our garden, where we were both sitting peacefully,  reading the papers, some sociopath has decided Sunday afternoon is an ideal time to take a chainsaw to his hedge (whereas I think it would be an ideal time to take a chainsaw to his x%!ing neck), and Manchester United are doing their level best to surrender the Premiership title to that pack of horrible blisters at Stamford Bridge. 

So I’ve decided to cheer myself up by sharing with you (or inflicting on you) my all-time favourite cartoons.

I’ll leave out the Telegraph’s Matt Pritchett. His pocket cartoons are simply the funniest ever produced in that format, and he is one of the greatest cartoonists who ever lived – but I’ll save him for another day to concentrate on cartoons that I’ve known and loved for decades.

First up is my all-time favourite cartoon. Bill Tidy drew it, and it appeared in Private Eye in 1977:
Unfortunately, I can’t find my second-favourite cartoon anywhere. It appeared in the New Yorker in the 1960s and featured two businessmen standing on a balcony at night, with cigars and cocktails in their hands, gazing up at the night-sky. One of them says to the other: “Well, it sure as hell doesn’t make me feel insignificant!” (Yes, I know it’s not remotely funny without the drawing.)

I could have chosen any of about 20 Gary Larson cartoons, but this one, from 1984, just shades it:

This one from Charles Adams appeared in the New Yorker in 1946 (my wife tells me this is how I behave during horror movies).

Finally, this one from Pont, which, like most of his work,  originally appeared in Punch, and was reproduced in The British Character, a book featuring his work published in 1939 – a year before he died of TB at the age of 32. What a loss. 
In the unlikely event that you don’t know Pont’s work - his real name was Graham Laidler - I really recommend seeking it out: he’s very funny, and I’m not sure anyone has ever captured the British middle classes better. Here, to end, is another example of the master speaking for all of us:

     The British Character: A tendency to Despair on Monday mornings    

   The British Character: A Tendency to despair on monday Mornings

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