Cartoons online – what are news organisations doing? (guest post)

In a guest post for the OJB, The Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation give an overview of how news organisations are treating cartoons online.

Cartoons have long been an essential part of British newspapers, so why do so many of those publications fail to do justice to drawn content on their websites?

The digital display of the web is a visual medium and cartoons and illustrations thrive on it. Yet many newsprint employers have not been quick to develop the advantages that drawn imagery offers as a digital communication tool and as existing sticky content for their sites and products.

Too many publications hide, or don’t publish, drawn work on the web, sometimes through lethargy and often through an unwillingness to discuss reprint fees with the creators of the work. (Almost all of the people working in this branch of visual journalism are self-employed.)

This is not to say that cartoonists aren’t without fault, sometimes we aren’t the quickest to embrace change either, although we have now set up the UK’s first digital sites for the working professional cartoonist: The Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation and its online diary, the Bloghorn.

At a recent London event, the BBC’s Andrew Marr wondered whether we were a trade union. We are not, and it was a costly question for him: he was kidnapped and is now one of our patrons, along with the Times columnist Libby Purves.

To be fair, some publications are beginning to buck the trend, and decent examples of the display and promotion of drawing can now be found at the websites of most of the major newsprint titles and some broadcasters.

The Guardian stands out, not least for its roster of cartoonists, running from Steve Bell, through to Kipper Williams, Martin Rowson, Nicola Jennings and Harry Venning. (Why no online place for Ros Asquith or Kate Taylor?)

The Telegraph does well too, particularly for its high-up, front-page promotion of Matt Pritchett and of Peattie and Taylor’s cartoon strip Alex as key pieces of quality editorial content.

The Independent’s much improved web showcase also does well for Dave Brown, Peter Schrank and Tim Sanders. This is in contrast to The Times site which lacks a web archive and a sensible display solution for the drawings. This does no favours to the work of either Morten Morland or Peter Brookes.

Mac at The Daily Mail doesn’t fare so well either, as he finds himself relegated to the Coffee Break pages, a distance from his original front page link. The signed-print offer is enterprising though. The Mail also buy-in a US animated cartoon from Joe Martin.

On the homegrown animated front, Matt Buck’s clickable Hack cartoons appear at Channel 4, and the Telegraph scores again for this innovation with Pat Blower’s Livedraw, which also shows weekly as video.

The Spectator magazine now offers a simple click-through slideshow of some of its weekly gag cartoons and Private Eye continues to publish a selection of work from talent such as Pete Dredge, Martin Honeysett, Ken Pyne and Royston Robertson.

The Mirror’s promising cartoon home page (wide selection) is spoiled by appalling sizing of the cartoon strips which are close to illegible in display.

The Sun does better on this front but the home page is so advertising graphic heavy, its a wonder anyone can open it at all. The Sun’s editorial artist, Bill Caldwell, is hard to find too.

Of course, cartoonists are lateral thinkers and resourceful, and many have followed the self-publishing road. Below we list below a few notable cartooning blogs.

One of our older magazines, Tribune, has run a political cartoon blog for more than two years. You can find Alex Hughes, Martin Rowson, Matt Buck and the great cartoonist John Jensen there regularly.

On the creative front, we were pleased to see Steve Bell of The Guardian doing something called a Visi-blog from the Democratic Party National Convention in Denver, USA. That’s visual progress isn’t it?

The Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation

Cartoon blogging:

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6 thoughts on “Cartoons online – what are news organisations doing? (guest post)

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  4. focoafrprtng

    I wonder how print-out coupons match up online and in print. A lot of people wait for their local newspaper’s coupon day, especially in bad economic times. Sure the advertising is different online, but have the coupons gone away? I see ads for sales and such, just like the papers, but nothing printable. It might be that it just does not crossover well because of the printing thing.

  5. Pingback: Interesting ideas about blogging | Ismail Mechbal Portfolio

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