Monday, May 02, 2016

Ronald Searle and The Great Fur Opera!

Monday May 2nd 2016 HBC is celebrating its 346th anniversary! See my old post on the amazing book he did for their 300th published in 1970 here

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Le Figaro

As Searle began to branch out into editorial and illustration assignments on the Continent during the 1950s he did several cartoons for French newspaper Le Figaro Littéraire.

Perdu dans le Labyrinthe Londonien, pen and ink, 12 x 13.5", Figaro, 18 February, 1955

Vroomp!!! Crrakk!! Zok!!! (1966)
Pen and wash, 35.2 x 49.1 Collection Monica Searle
Le Figaro Littéraire, October 20, 1966

The Square Egg & The Vicious Circle (1968), Page 15
Ronald Searle (1973) Cabinet des Estampes, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, Catalogue number 153
Searle & Searle (2001), Catalogue number 16, page 39

 From Stephen Nadler's  'Attempted Bloggery' site



Ici Londres N°368 25 Fevrier 1955 - Ronald Searle Maître De L'humour Noir -



Stop, Magazine Arristique et Littéraire N° 72 - Ronald Searle - la Blonde du Texas - Barbarella - la Femme Modele

Friday, April 08, 2016

'Ronald Searle's America' Book Reviews

Thanks to those who have left comments and reviews on both the US and UK Amazon sites- it helps promote the book and support the case for another. You can purchase it at the link on the right or if you've bought it please do consider leaving a review too.

'This is a stunning book, clearly a labour of love. The US-based author, Matt Jones, maintains a consistently interesting Ronald Searle blog. Here he has gathered an astonishing range of Searle's art into a really impressive package. It's beautifully printed and for the most part lets the artist's work do the talking. One reason that it does this so well is that it's BIG! More than 360 whopping pages, with plenty of room to let the drawings breathe. In the UK we usually see Searle associated with St Trinian's, Nigel Molesworth and various wine-drinking felines (and nothing wrong with that per se) but it's refreshing to be led off in a different direction for a change. A real treat, and well worth the price-tag.'  -S. J. Carter

'This great thumping book is an embarrassment of riches! Every page (and there are 350+ of them) dazzles with the genius of Ronald Searle. British fans shouldn't be put off by the American slant. Quite the opposite, in fact, as there'll be loads you haven't seen before, and boy, are you in for a treat! You can lose yourself for hours in the quality of Searle's line (sometimes softened with a subtle wash) and the skill of his composition and the sheer beauty of his draughtsmanship. From the quickest sketchbook thumbnail to the most detailed architectural study serving as a backdrop for some supremely observed character, there seems nothing this man couldn't do. His terrific humour, coupled with an ability to draw like an Old Master, make him, for my money, the most brilliant cartoonist of the last century. This book (which is well-bound, with high production values, by the way) is crammed with examples of his unique talent and we should be grateful to the editor, Matt Jones, for assembling it all for our delight and amazement.' - Colin West

'This book is incredible. I bought it on pre-order because the deal was great - but this book is well worth the 85 dollars listing price. It is GORGEOUS. Both the quality of the printing and the size/weight of the pages is great. But of course MOST importantly - this book is chock-full of beautiful illustrations. Ronald Searle was a wonderfully prolific and hugely inspirational artist, and this book showcases his work beautifully. I suspect I'll be taking this one off the shelf quite often.' - Amazon customer

Saturday, March 26, 2016


Searle first visited Morocco in March 1951 and a handful of the sketches he made were published in the broadsheet News Chronicle March 28th. I believe he was traveling with his first wife Kaye Webb and it is probably she who penned the accompanying dispatch (as she did for their reports on London for the same publication).

'We saw our first  yashmak in Tangier; the international port where taxes are low and a ten-roomed house sells for 15,000 pounds.
The Arab shop in the souk (bazaar) burst with Swiss watches, French perfume and American shirts, nylons, watches and fountain pens. Great Britain is represented by chocolate and sewing machines.
In Tangiers' market place, the country-women from the Spanish zone, their babies tied to their backs underneath shapeless white haiks, sell flowers, vegetables, much-handled bread and sweetmeats. The men, bearded and turbaned, gather entranced as children round the story-tellers on the square.
The narrow streets are bursting with boot-blacks, vendors, begging children, pickpockets and donkeys so loaded that we cram into noisome doorways to let them go past. . .

'In Fez the Arabs retain their dignity and their privacy in their thousand-year old walled city. Tourists gape at the wonderful golden marriage belts, the elaborately ugly copper bowls, the tooled leather blotters and admire the pretty, friendly children. They have no way of guessing that they are ridden with tuberculosis. . .

In Marrakesh, El Giaoui's country, the people are gayer, lazier, more corrupt. The white clothes are replaced by brilliant jellabahs. There are more bicycles than donkeys and the famous Place Djemaa el Fna is teeming with snake charmers, musicians, dancers and storytellers from breakfast time until nearly midnight. At sunset their their noise reaches a crescendo and drowns the voice calling the faithful to prayer from the nearby mosque - and we never saw any of the audience turn towards Mecca.'

In 1965 Searle returned for a reportage assignment to capture in drawings Casablanca for HOLIDAY magazine. The format allowed him to use colour and a couple of the pictures he made even drop his trademark linework in favour of impressionistic swatches of colour. These pictures are among my favourite of Searle's ouvre. We can see how is style has developed over the intervening 14 years.
On one visit to Searle's studio he permitted me to photograph the original sketchbook he kept on the '65 trip to Morocco and I present them here with the corresponding finished pictures (which were not all published by Holiday).

Wilhelm Busch - Deutsches Museum für Karikatur und Zeichenkunst
Holiday Magazine, 
Uli Meyer, 
 British Library, 
News Chronicle
Ronald Searle

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

6 drawing lessons from Ronald Searle

Top animation news site Cartoon Brew ran an article I wrote on drawing lessons learnt from the master and his work. Read it here

Friday, March 18, 2016

Molesworth on the radio, chiz, chiz!

I'm informed that there will be a programme on BBC Radio 4 about Molesworth on 28th March.
The programme is called 'Down With Skool: The Art of Molesworth . . . Philip Hensher explores the art of Molesworth with contributions from Mike Leigh, Gerald Scarfe, Wendy Cope and Posy Simmonds'.

A programme broadcast in 2004 had the following synopsis:

'Nigel Molesworth, the blackly comic anti-hero who influenced a generation with his anarchic take on life, featuring contributions from some of his fondest fans. “I couldn’t live with someone who didn’t enjoy the Molesworth books,” says poet Wendy Cope, whose strong loyalty is shared by fans such as John Walsh, Sir Tim Rice and Russell Davies. “Molesworth had a fantastic influence on me,” says Walsh. “He’s more than a comic character, he’s a classic post-war meritocrat and a wonderful role model.” 

The world first met the surly, ink-splattered schoolboy – created by writer Geoffrey Willans and illustrator Ronald Searle – 50 years ago. Down With Skool, published in 1953, is a wonderful parody of the ghastliness of public school life.The following year, How To Be Topp continued Nigel Molesworth’s fantastically misspelled and world-weary account of life at St Custard’s. His mangling of the English and Latin languages, and his detestation of swots and those who are good at games, gave the world a cache of unforgettable images and catchphrases. 

But there’s more to Molesworth than brilliant comic observation; his jaded view, argues Sir Tim Rice, also offer valuable lessons for life as well as laughter. As the St Custard’s soccer team lose game after game to Porridge Court, Molesworth offers these pearls of wisdom: “It is a funy thing tho, your side always gets beaten whichever skool you are at. That is like life i suppose.” 

There are also insights into the black humour of the books from Searle’s biographer Russell Davies, and tantalising glimpses into Willans’s early life. Listeners also learn that Searle created his grim scenes of school life less than 10 years after returning from a period of slave labour as a Japanese prisoner of war on the Burma-Siam railway, while Willans survived war service on the Atlantic convoys, only to die young before the last of the Molesworth books hit the presses.'

Speaking of Molesworth here's an homage from 2005 . . .