Call For Papers: Cartoon Animation: Satire and Subversion, plus Bob Godfrey exhibition announced

Art from Roobarb: Red Book Adventure (1975)

Art from Roobarb: Red Book Adventure (1975)

A Call For Papers has just launched for “Cartoon Animation: Satire and Subversion“, an academic conference taking place on Monday 17th February 2020 at the Animation Research Centre, at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, Surrey. Speakers will include Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell.

Proposals for conference presentations of 20 minutes are being sought for the event, organised by Birgitta Hosea, Emma Reyes, Jim Walker (Animation Research Centre), with supported from Felicity Croydon, UCA Archivist, and Lesley Adams, Programme Director for Animation, UCA.


50 years ago, in 1969, Oscar winning animator, Bob Godfrey, established the Animation course at UCA, which was the first Higher Education animation course in the UK and his archive is held at UCA. As well as his work in teaching, Godfrey served as mentor and employer to many budding animators and is revered as an iconic figure in British animation.

Although popularly known for his children’s TV series, such as Roobarb and Custard and The Do-It-Yourself Animation Show, Godfrey also created a number of more experimental and adult works that drew upon traditions of British satire, DADA and Situationism.


To mark the Golden Jubilee of animation at UCA, celebrate the irreverent and anarchic humour of Bob Godfrey and re-launch the Animation Research Centre at UCA, this symposium will take place in the new Film building at Farnham, and will be accompanied by an exhibition of items from Bob Godfrey’s archive, curated by Jim Walker.

While the main focus of the symposium is on animation, the organisers warmly invite interdisciplinary perspectives by scholars from other disciplines such as film, performance, illustration, comics, philosophy, psychology, queer and gender studies, etc.

The Keynote speakers are Steve Bell, Guardian cartoonist and Dr Sharon Lockyer, Director of the Centre for Comedy Studies Research, at Brunel University.

A panel from Bob Godfrey's Oscar-winning animated short, "Great", a comedy biography of Isambard Kingdom Brunel manages to cram a great deal of wit and invention into its half-hour running time, as noted on The Lost Continent blog

A panel from Bob Godfrey’s Oscar-winning animated short, “Great”, a comedy biography of Isambard Kingdom Brunel manages to cram a great deal of wit and invention into its half-hour running time, as noted on The Lost Continent blog

For its themes, the symposium draws upon Bob Godfrey’s archive to call for papers that engage with the following questions:

Politics and propaganda from print to the pixel: How have traditions of print cartooning from Hogarth and Punch influenced animation?

Laughing in the face of adversity: Is humour a form of survival strategy? What is funny for those who are historically the focus of caricature and the butt of jokes based on stereotypes? What is the comedy of the oppressed? What is satire for the subaltern? How are hegemonic discourses around colonialism, class, race, gender and regional identity resisted through laughter?

Dream Girls: Funny or pathetic? How do we deal with historic cartoon versions of male sexual fantasy? What do they say about masculinity? Are they due for a feminist re-evaluation?  Could they be read as a critique of patriarchy? Are humorous films about sexuality made by women different in any way?

It ain’t half hot, Mum: How do we discuss racial stereotyping and caricature in historical animation? What is the relationship between iconic cartoon characters and minstrelsy? Are there arguments for re-evaluating controversial works such as those made by the Fleischer brothers, or Ralph Bakshi?

What are we going to do now? What were the influence of traumatic circumstances such as war and PTSD on animators during and after the two World Wars of the 20th Century?

Arty Farty: Is there a relationship between comic animation and post-war art movements such as DADA, situationist and theatre of the absurd?

Vader his dolly buns: subculture, sexuality and comic codes: How does insider knowledge of shared cultural conventions, such as camp, gender parody and ‘secret languages’ like Polari, slip undetected into mainstream animation? How has theatricality and performativity effected animation?

What’s up, Doc? What is it that is just so funny about the cartoon character whose impossible, plasmatic body defies all the limits of the physical world and all social taboos about abjection?

Its Animation Department originally established by Bob Godfrey, the Animation Research Centre aims to promote, contribute to and support the under-researched discipline of animation theory. Over the years, it has developed into one of the outstanding British animation programmes, buoyed by the appointment of many noted international animators and theorists who have contributed to the increasing excellence of the programme, and graduating students have a high placement in industry upon graduation.

The aims of the archive are to maintain and expand holdings of UK animation and to develop and produce teaching and other support materials for animation curricula and other disciplines affiliate with international archival institutions.

The LLRC Library has a significant collection of animation films on video as a research resource for students and scholars. These videos represent one of the largest animation film study collections in England. In May 2001, the ARC initiated a project with the library to screen the animation videotapes situated at the Farnham campus and gather data of all films not recorded in the Library OPAC on-line catalogue. To date, 1,600 uncatalogued films were found on the LLRC animation video tapes.

• Deadline: 16th December 2019| Notification of selection: 6th Jan 2020 Send proposals to:

Bob Godfrey Archive – Catalogue

• The Animation Research Centre’s ARC Archive, University College for the Creative Arts, Farnham, UK | Web:

"The Key", a comic animated parable on salvation and enlightenment made by the production team of Roobarb led by Bob Godfrey (1976)

“The Key”, a comic animated parable on salvation and enlightenment made by the production team of Roobarb led by Bob Godfrey (1976)


Bob Godfrey films on BFI Player (Subscription Required)

Some of Bob Godfrey’s short films are available to view on MUBI (subscription required)

Michael Sporn Animation: Bob Godfrey talks to John Cannon
An interview with Bob Godfrey by John Cannon, pulled from Animafilm, Februray 1979

Articles on the work of Bob Godfrey on The Lost Continent blog

Roobarb and Custard on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Categories: Animation, Art and Illustration, Comics Education News, Comics Studies, downthetubes News

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