“Picture This”, a free exhibition of cartoons from Gay News and Capital Gay, featuring work by artists such as David Shenton, Kate Charlesworth and many others, opens at Newington Green Meeting House in London later this month, running until December.
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, Britain’s leading gay press was Gay News and Capital Gay, papers that reported on the most pertinent issues of the day, from police raids and entrapment, to the HIV/AIDS crisis and Section 28.
Despite the severity and urgency of these topics, both papers employed cartoons and cartoonists to display a humanity and warmth that sometimes columns of words cannot convey.
These works, by artists such as David Shenton, Kate Charlesworth, Tony Reeves, Jennie Simmons and cartoons reprinted from Christopher Street, a gay-oriented magazine published in New York, are at times poignant and angry, and at other times, mischievous and playful. They encapsulate the queer identity perfectly; on how to be resilient and survive, but how to be silly and impish, also.
A highlight of the exhibition is the ‘gay poem’ that broke blasphemy laws in the 1970s, written by James Kirkup, published in Gay News, which, Pink reports, it is still “illegal” publish in the UK.
Mary Whitehouse, founder of the National Viewers and Listeners Association, (NVLA) announced her intention to sue in December 1976 for blasphemous libel after she read the poem entitled “The Love That Dares To Speak Its Name”.
Gay News editor Denis Lemon was sentenced to nine months suspended imprisonment and fined £500. Publisher Gay News Limited was fined £1000. It was the last succesful prosecution for blasphemy in the United Kingdom, but the law has yet to be reformed.
This exhibition, curated by Dan de la Motte, organiser of Queer Tours of London, with support from the Bishopsgate Institute, focusses on major news stories that the artists illustrated, as well as more general themes around gay and lesbian identity and community from the pivotal decades of the 1970s and 1980s.
• Picture This: Illustrating the News – The Cartoons of Gay News and Capital Gay | Open Thursdays and Fridays, 12 noon until 6.00pm, Friday 30th September – Friday 16th December 2022, Newington Green Meeting House, 39A Newington Green, London, N16 9PR | Free | Tickets via Outsavvy | Web: www.ngmeeting.house
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.