The Lakes International Comic Art Festival has just released a profile of Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson, ahead of the opening of What a Fur Cup, a retrospective exhibition of his work at the Cross Lanes Project in Kendal, part of this year’s annual comics gathering. The exhibition runs until 5th November 2021.
Martin talks about his continued love of creating comics, takes viewers through the creation of one of his cartoons for the The Guardian newspaper (“always rub out your pencil lines”, and proudly shows off a piece of art created by a hippo at London Zoo…
Be warned, there is some swearing… especially when politicians are mentioned.
What a Fur Cup, opening tomorrow, features some of Rowson’s most powerful political cartoons, caricatures and comics and present an entertaining journey through the past forty years of politics and celebrity.
Martin Rowson has been the scourge of the political establishment for nearly 40 years, focusing his unflinching eye and scurrilous wit on those in power. His cartoons for the Guardian, Daily Mirror, Independent, New Statesman and many more, draw from an encyclopaedic knowledge of western culture and combine with a breath-taking talent for image making.
His comics, including The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman and The Communist Manifesto take apparently challenging texts and make them accessible and enlightening for a whole new generation of readers.
Among his 20 or so other books are Stuff, a memoir about clearing his late parents’ house, which was long listed for the 2007 Samuel Johnson prize.
Last year, he set himself the challenge of writing a Lockdown Diary in verse. The result was Plague Songs, published by Smokestack Books, a unique cycle of furious, bleakly comic and often offensive poems about COVID-19, fiercely inventive and desperately funny.
Rowson, who recovered from the virus at the start of the year (sweating in freezing fits, embalmed in bed/ In sulphurous miasmata, my joints like broken walnuts,/ With hogtied eyeballs and less energy than dissipating smoke) records in manic verse the long lockdown Summer of 2020 coughs and sneezes, lockdown-haircuts, funerals and furloughs, hangovers and hauntings, track and trace, when Death and Pestilence were playing on the swings, or visiting the elderly in their Care Homes.
Plague Songs is also book about living in Banarnia a nightmarish world of jingoism and xenophobia, hierarchy and inequality, government incompetence, Boris Johnson’s world-beating wet dreams, and the deadly twin viruses of stupidity and selfishness. What rhymes with COVID except bovid? Is Matt Hancock the Tory Party’s answer to Fred West? Does every shroud have a silver lining?
Martin is also chair of the British Cartoonists’ Association, former Cartoonist Laureate to the Mayor of London and has served twice as a vice-president of the Zoological Society of London.
• What A Fur Cap – The Political Cartoons and Comics of Martin Rowson 15th October – 5th November 2021, Cross Lanes Project, Cross Lane, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 5LB
MARTIN ROWSON ONLINE
Tickets are on sale now for this physical event from the Festival web site: www.comicartfestival.com
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The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.