Monday, June 20, 2016

PUNCH Cartoonist J.W. Taylor

Here's a post from five years ago. Although it's mostly about J.W. Taylor, a British Punch Magazine cartoonist, it opens with a want list of cartoon books. There are five items that I said I would like to see, and most of them are now a reality. That's pretty amazing!

Here is the edited entry from 2011:

Today I am celebrating the cartoons of J.W. Taylor, a cartoonist that's not well remembered at all, except by me. And maybe, after a moment of looking at his gag cartoons, you'll like his work and remember as well.

Like a lot of gag cartoonists, I discovered his work in collections of gag cartoons. I began to recognize his style and I loved his sense of humor and his broad, bold, economic ink line. When Tom Spurgeon at Comics Reporter asked his weekly "Five for Friday" question yesterday (Five For Friday #120 -- "Name Five Archival/Translation Projects That Aren't Happening Right Now (As Far As You Know) That You'd Love To See)," I emailed a list:

1. The Complete SKIPPY by Percy Crosby (EDIT: IDW is publishing this series and it's now on its third hardcover collection. Visit Joan Crosby Tibbetts' Skippy site for all the info.)

2. The Complete Virgil "VIP" Partch (EDIT: Fantagraphics has published a bio of Partch, as well as a new collection of his cartoons.)

3. The New Yorker Cartoonists Do Newspaper Strips (WHITE BOY by Garrett Price, THE SMYTHES by Rea Irvin, etc.) (EDIT: WHITE BOY in its entirety was published by Sunday Press last year in a gorgeous hardcover volume.)

4. WHERE'S NEMO? The "Other" Dream Strips (NIBSY THE NEWS BOY by McManus, MR. TWEE-DEEDLE by Gruelle, THE NAPS OF POLLY SLEEPYHEAD by Newell, etc.) (EDIT: Sunday Press has published just that in its large FORGOTTEN FANTASY collection of comic strips.)

5. The Complete J.W. Taylor (a great unsung British gag cartoonist for PUNCH) (EDIT: Not yet. I would love to edit this and/or buy it.)

I could blog about any one of those five topics, but it's the last one on the list -- the relatively unknown Punch cartoonist -- that I want to talk about a little and then show some of his terrific cartoons. (And maybe make a case for having a collection of his work.)

Who was J.W. Taylor? I'll share what little I know. First, his cartoons (especially the talking dogs ones and the beer ones) are very funny.

John Whitfield Taylor was a full-time schoolmaster who also cartooned. He attended the University of Manchester, and was head of the art department at Portland House School.

The little that I have found out about his life, I grabbed from the Comics, Cartoon, Caricature scan site at Dr. Chris Mullen's Visual Telling of Stories pages.

These J.W. Taylor cartoons are from two big hardcover collections of general gag cartoons from the 1950s: THE BEST CARTOONS FROM PUNCH (copyright 1955 by Bradbury, Agnew and Company, Ltd., the US proprietors of PUNCH) and CARTOON TREASURY edited by Lucy Black Johnson and Pyke Johnson, Jr. (copyright 1955 by the Johnsons).

Above: perhaps his most reproduced cartoon.

"All of his drawings are done at weekends, but throughout his working week he makes copious notes and rough sketches in a notebook which he always carries around with him. 'I attend seriously to business at educational conferences and head teachers' meetings, but I have sometimes been known to doodle on the agenda paper.'" Weekly Illustrated, The Artist and His Humor Series #14, June 1955 article by David Clayton.

"Full-time comic artists, far from resenting the success of an amateur in a highly-competitive field, are full of praise for his work. One professional, Bernard Hollowood ("Hod"), says, 'I collect genuine 'Taylors' as a connoisseur. His captions are slick and economical. The disarmingly simple brush lines of his drawings match the captions in clarity and vitality." - ibid.

"So we bought a couple of hens and I was to write a humorous best seller about our misfortunes -- but it didn't work out."

Above: parents don't change.

"All right, Brannigan -- we know you're in there!"

Above: one of my personal favorites.

Above: a rare multi-panel.

"One misses a lot -- being brought up to appreciate it."

The above gag works if you understand there's a can of Sterno with an open flame under that coffee pot!

I hope you enjoyed seeing this man's work. J.W. Taylor deserves at the very least a cyber-salute here for his modern, breezy brush style, spot-on expressions and great gag writing.

Above: the Weekly Illustrated article, with cartoons.

Note: this is an edited version of an earlier piece. The above was originally presented here on December 7, 2011. And I would be glad to edit that J.W. Taylor book, OK? OK!


Unknown said...

Nice collection of cartoons when viewed all together. Especially like the captionless ones--good luck finding more. I find he was still cartooning into the early sixties(1963) as there are 3 of his cartoons on a Punch reprint site. Somewhere I have a box of Punch magazines from late fifties and around 1965. Maybe I have some there. If I can locate them I surely look for you.

Andrew Crowther said...

Very interesting! I was surprised to see no mention of probably his most famous cartoon (admired by Miles Kington and I think Alan Coren, among others), showing Jane Austen being told by her publisher: "We like the plot, Miss Austen, but all this effing and blinding will have to go"....

Benjamin L Clark said...

Just discovered J.W. Taylor myself in one of those old Punch collections. So great! Thank you for posting something for those of us who stumble on his work and are eager for more!