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This review is from: Private Eye a Cartoon History (Hardcover)
This is one of those books where you already KNOW whether you want it or not. When people ask me whether I still read Private Eye, I challenge the word 'still'; for, while I dipped in and out as a teenager in the 60s, and can still recall some of the items in this volume, it was the Hislop era - still esoteric, but not quite so - that made me a more regular reader (ironic, since IH has callously rejected all of my own submissions, not just to the Eye - including one ultimate 'Try Punch' rebuttal - but also when script editing at Spitting Image!) I was actually attracted circa 1990 by the quality and topicality of the cartoons, as well as, I admit it, the easy-to-read items like Colemanballs; again, some of those cartoons are here. Nick Newman admits to finding a gargantuan task in choosing representative cartoons from half a century: every reader would choose differently - from each other, not just from Nick. Some of the material I've seen before (in reprints, I mean, otherwise that's a daft comment) - including in the more-or-less companion volume, `Private Eye - the First 50 Years' - but not with enough duplication to spoil the read. The sections are organised decade by decade, with capsule biogs interspersed for the higher-profile cartoonists; revealing a mix of backgrounds, blending public school with comprehensive and `respectable' office workers with more casual types. It's funny how Willy Rushton's drawings, with those distinctive `uncloven-hoof' feet, seemed bang in vogue at the time; as did others like Scarfe, whose style, like denim, hasn't really run out of date. I was chuffed to see that at least four Eye cartoonists are from my old stomping-ground - proving that you need a sense of humour to live (and, regrettably, pass away) in Leicester. It's also noticeable which topics get a lot of airplay, including anachronistic nursery characters, firing squads, foot-in-door salesmen, Punch and Judy, lemmings psychiatrists' couches, ventriloquists' dummies and - perhaps tellingly - attempted suicides, mainly from ledges. It's hard to pick favourites, but McLachlan and Honeysett always seem to combine skilled draughtsmanship with razor-edged humour, while the sad Kevin Woodcock was suitably off-the-wall - and by the way, could we have another `Celeb' compilation, please?