I recently bought a book of Punch cartoons, a collection from over the years. Bill Tidy’s cartoon with this punchline was in there. I’m not going to put in here the actual cartoon as I don’t have the rights, but it’s simple to describe. A crowd gathers outside the White Star line offices after the Titanic disaster. One man has a worried polar bear with him and asks the question.
In a way it is a typical “scouser” joke. Indeed Tidy is from Liverpool. He and his work were everywhere in the 1970s and he had fantastic draughtsmanship skill. He did his drawings on any old bits of paper, I once saw an original and it was on very cheap animation paper. Not for him the Irish Brand hand weaved acid free watercolour stuff. No frills. A friend of mine who commissioned him some years ago said he did the drawing he wanted whilst he was on the phone to him, it was almost instant.
It’s one of those that at the time of the disaster would be in the bad taste, but I bet it was made at the time in a pub in Liverpool. One can analyse it to death, but to me it’s just a very clever way of viewing a grim event, that there’s another side to every story, but there you go, I’m analysing it to death.
I was once asked if I could do a cartoon in the Bill Today style, I was flattered to be asked and wondered why they did not ask him, he’d probably have done it in 5 minutes. I think they said he was away or something and they needed it the next day. It was for a beer ad. Wanted by 9.00 the next day. I laboured all that night and almost buried myself in rejected drawings. I took in about half a dozen efforts for them to choose. None of them were remotely like Bill Tidy’s work. The art director chose the first one I’d done the night before, so all the additional hours were for nothing!
My lesson from that was not to try too hard to be someone else.
For myself I only ever had one cartoon published in Punch. A magazine that is sadly no more, but the jokes live on!
Here’s one of my random cartoons.