British Cartoon Library Gets Face Lift

(with thanks to Matthew Badham): The British Cartoon Archive based at the University of Kent is about to get a major facelift that includes, at last, the digitisation of the archive of the late, great Express cartoonist Carl Giles.

Ronald Giles – nicknamed “Carl” – worked for Reynolds News between 1937 and 1943, and for the Daily Express and Sunday Express from 1943 to 1991. He was self-taught, but became the most famous cartoonist of his generation, and had a considerable influence on the style of British social and political cartooning.

Giles died in 1995, but is fondly remembered, and a collection of his work is still published each year. In 2000, Giles was voted Britain’s favourite cartoonist in a public poll, and in 2005 the Press Gazette chose him as one of the forty journalists in its Newspaper Hall of Fame.

The Giles Archive, comprising some 6,500 original cartoons dating from the 1940s to the 1990s, but also image files and filing cabinets of business correspondence with the Daily Express and Sunday Express and others, and of “Studio Correspondence” with readers and admirers, has never been open to research. During Giles’ life he maintained close control of his originals and documents, and very little was open to outsiders and in the years since his death the material has been in storage, and the Giles Archive has remained totally inaccessible, the majority of the collection boxed, just as it was put into storage in 1995.

Now, tthanks to a grant by the Joint Information Systems Committee the BCA has begun to digitise the archive, perhaps the single most important archive of British newspaper cartoons, and a key resource for British political and social history.

The BCA’s web site will also be relaunched on 5 November 2008, offering improved accessibility, usability and teaching-related resources.

All the existing content will be moved to when the site is re-launched. In addition, Over 12,000 new images from the Giles archive will also be available on the new site with more material and functionality being added in the months following the launch.

The existing database will remain for the time being, although content will not be updated after the end of October 2008.

Categories: British Comics - Newspaper Strips


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