Chatting with Rob about Philip Schofield (in my previous post) reminded me that I’d drawn a cartoon strip last year that I’ve never made public. There’s a good reason for that.
I’m sure there are cartoonists out there far more obscene than I am (in fact, I’m certain of it) but if you like my stuff because it’s quirky (or funny) or my writing because I’m (hopefully) reasonable and moderate, the following is a bit more… well, in your face. I drew it deliberately trying to be offensive (though I hope I also made a serious point). I do know I could be a lot more offensive but this one sits on the point where my sensibilities step in and tell me to stop.
I drew it last year when I was having another of my regular black moods brought on by drawing “clever” cartoons that were always being rejected by the Eye, Spectator, Oldie… So I turned my mind to Viz.
It was Twitter that drew me there. I’d been spotting Barney Farmer’s tweets cropping up in my timeline, found them funny, so I started to follow him and then read Viz which, I confess, I hadn’t ever seen before. That confession should make you wonder. Surely everybody of my generation read Viz… Well, I didn’t. The reasons why are probably long and boring, but amount to somebody I really disliked at school constantly banging on about Viz. That association probably stuck in my head for many years.
So, I started to read Viz, enjoyed it, and particularly liked their really dark sensibility and the stuff that other people probably found most objectionable. I particularly like the stuff that pushes the bounds of good taste. I rewatched Monty Python’s Meaning of Life the other day and realised how predictable I am in my tastes. There are long periods of that movie where Python are at their absolute worst (the tedious missing leg sketch). The best bits, though, are brilliant, and usually involving really objectionable content: Every Sperm is Sacred, Chapman’s Protestant discussing contraception, Mr Creosote, The Penis Song…
A juxtaposition I find myself returning to often in my work is that between the pious and the obscene. I don’t mind good people being good as I don’t mind bad people being bad. What I despise, however, is when one tries to pretend it’s the other. The hypocrisy really grates with me.
Which brings me to Philip Schofield. What annoys me about him and his show (and this was true in the Richard & Judy days) was how it tries to be innocuous morning TV, yet it’s clearly driven by the most objectional motives and utterly lurid obsessions. Hence, my cartoon, in which I mix the virtuous with the obscene.
As for if it’s any good. I honestly don’t know. It makes me laugh every time I read it but I’ve only shown this to one person (a friend who is a Viz subscriber who said they liked it) and then the editors of Viz who gave me one of my very worst bits of feedback: “nicely drawn but it’s just not funny” (I’m paraphrasing but that’s pretty much what they did say).
After that, I figured I didn’t know what “funny” meant. Didn’t try again. This does, however, remain the nadir of my bad taste (and it’s really not that bad compared with many cartoonists). That much said: some won’t find it objectionable at all and others will think I’ve gone too far. Myself, I can’t tell and that’s why this has been sitting unpublished in a folder for a year.