By Ronald Searle (Pavilion Books)
Britain has a fantastic history and tradition of excellence in the arts of graphic narrative and cartooning. Whether telling a complete story or simply making a point; some of the most innovative, inspirational and trenchantly acerbic drawing has come from British pens and British hearts.
Ronald Searle is one that very gifted few (I’d number Ken Reid, Leo Baxendale and Hunt Emerson among them) who can actually draw funny lines. No matter how little or how much they need to say, they can imbue the merest blot or scratch of ink with character, intent and wicked, wicked will.
This compilation of cartoons traces the rise of his star following his years in the army and as a Japanese POW at the infamous Changi Prison. The second St Trinian’s cartoon was drawn in that hell-hole in 1944 and it survived along with his incredible war sketches to see print at the end of World War II. Searle was a worker on the Siam-Burma Railroad (a story for another time and place) and risked his life daily both by making pictures and by keeping them.
This glorious book collects a huge number of his mordantly funny cartoons from a number of sources including Punch, Lilliput, Sunday Express, and previous collections of his work including Hurrah for St. Trinian’s!, The Female Approach, Back to the Slaughterhouse, The Terror of St. Trinian’s, Souls in Torment, Merry England, etc., The St. Trinian’s Story, Which Way Did He Go? and Pardong m’sieur.
Ronald Searle’s work has influenced an uncountable number of other cartoonists too. His unique visualisation and darkly comic satirical cynicism in the St. Trinian’s drawings, and the utterly captivating vision of boarding school life as embodied in the classically grotesque Nigel Molesworth (created with Geoffry Willans for Punch and released as Down With Skool!, How to be Topp!, Whizz For Atomms! and Back in the Jug Agane) influenced generations of children and adults and even played its part in shaping our post-war national character.
And his drawings are really, really funny. Try him and see for yourself…
© 1941-1985 Ronald Searle. All Rights Reserved.