Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Cartoon Museum of London

I’ve been missing the San Francisco Cartoon Art Museum. 

I used to drop by whenever I could to experience the museum’s permanent collection of original artwork by George Herriman, Hal Foster, Winsor McCay and other illuminaries. The SFCAM put on some great exhibits--solo shows of Ronald Searle, Mary Blair, Arnold Roth, Spain Rodriguez and special exhibits such as 60 Years of Mad Magazine, The New Yorker Rejection Collection and Pioneers of Underground Comix.

In 2015, the museum, like so many other San Francisco institutions—and unfortunate individuals--suddenly found itself homeless.  It’s been on hiatus ever since losing its Mission Street address.

The good news is the cartoon museum may finally be back later this year in a new location.

In the meantime, I recently had an opportunity to visit another museum dedicated to the realm of comic art --the Cartoon Museum of London.

Here’s a brief tour:

The Cartoon Museum was established in 2006. It’s in the area of Bloomsbury and included in the “Museum Mile” (not far from the British Museum).

Public sketching table

The upper gallery

The special exhibit during the time of my visit was The Inking Woman—a historical survey of British women cartoonist.

Marie Duval was the pen name of Isabelle Émilie de Tessier regarded as one of the first female cartoonists of Europe and co-creator of the iconic British comic character Ally Sloper.

I've always liked the  mid-20th century cartoons of "Anton" but the artist(s) identity was always little confusing to me.  This image from the exhibit is apparently the work of Antonia Yeoman (born Beryl Thompson). She and her brother, Harold, collaborated under the name 'Anton' beginning in the late 1930's. Starting around 1949 Harold dropped out and  Beryl became sole creator of Anton cartoons.

Here are a few realtively contemporary pieces from the catalog:

It was a real treat to see so many of my heroes of graphic humor dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries:  Thomas Rowlandson, James Gillray, Robert Seymour, John Tenniel and the like.

Along with 20th century giants such as David Low, H. M. Bateman, Ronald Searle, Ralph Steadman and Gerald Scarfe.

The great political cartoonist David Low.

The museum publishes excellent catalogs of many of its exhibits. I picked up a couple.

This one on H.M. Bateman.

And this one on the equally remarkable Ralph Steadman:

More info the the Cartoon Museum at

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