Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Phil Evans

Picasa is playing silly buggers again so I have to write a separate post to accompany the wonderful Phil Evans cartoon that I have just uploaded below.
It's amazing the amount of crap that you accumulate over a number of years. The bloke who spoke of the paperless office all those years ago should be taken outside and battered senseless with a rolled up copy of a Viking Catalogue*, but you do occasionally stumble across a wee gem and lucky enough this cartoon that had been cut out of an old copy of Tribune from March 1994 - when I still pretended to read Tribune - fell out from amongst some papers I was sifting through this morning.
I've always loved Phil Evans cartoons. I will still try and root out old International Socialist/Socialist Workers Party pamphlets in dusty secondhand lefty bookshops (otherwise known as Porcupine) to see if any of his cartoons are included within, when he was their leading cadre-toonist**, and however much I love the acerbic wit of Jim Higgins in his More Years For The Locust, I know I love the book just as much because of the wonderfully funny cartoons from Phil Evans that accompany the text.
My admiration for Evans is such that I made myself look a bit of an arse when I attended a Free Speech special event late last year to celebrate an anniversary held at Conway Hall in honour of the South Place Ethical Society. A friend who also attended the event briefly introduced me to Martin Rowson, who he knew in some professional capacity, and rather than me making pleasant noises about how much I admired his work in the Guardian and elsewhere, and that his Scenes From The Lives of Great Socialists is arguable the greatest collection of bad socialist puns*** this side of a Socialist Standard Editorial Committee meeting, I instead became all manic and enthused: "Do you know Phil Evans? Do you, do you? Whatever happened to him? Where can I see his work?" in a manner that would have made Robin Williams in his manic cocaine fuelled days look like the human equivalent of a sloth. Rowson**** just looked at me with lofty disdain - in doing this, it helps that he looks a bit like Peter Hitchens - probably thinking something along the lines of who is this idiot, and why are we sharing the same air and I beat a hasty exit stage left to snaffle some more of the wee posh sandwiches you get at these sort of dos.
Though you will stumble across his cartoons occasionally on the net, lifted from the aforementioned IS pamphlets and old copies of Socialist Worker and elsewhere, it seems a crying shame that there doesn't appear to be a webpage anywhere specifically devoted to his work. I think he is up there with Steve Bell in the political cartoon stakes and if me scanning this one brilliant pic in so that it now appears in the google search engine when someone types in the words 'Phil Evans', then it wouldn't have been too bad a day.
* Before anyone says anything, I will flog varitations of that hackneyed joke until the ravens finally leave the Tower of London.
** That particularly bad pun is especially dedicated to Hak Mao.
*** I refuse to elaborate for reasons of not wishing to inflict too much bad humour in my footnotes (see ** for what I'm referring to) but if I was to mention the phrases "trained seal" and "Proper tea is theft" I think you can get the gist. If you can't, think yourself fortunate. I wish I was in your Chuck Taylors.
**** Before I get stabbed with a blunt ink nib one dark night by a bloke who looks like - or was it sounds like? - Peter Hitchens, it has to be said that Martin Rowson gave an absolutely brilliant speech from the platform. One of the funniest and most incisive speakers I have ever seen at a public meeting. And bearing in mind, I've seen this guy speak, that is no mean feat. I'm glad my social faux pas earlier on in the evening helped gee him up for his speech. He had a point to prove.


John said...

Scenes is one of my most treasured books. The trained seal joke is my fave.

I wonder if M.R. ever found something to rhyme with Gramsci.

Kent said...

You might be interested in this:, as well as this: One more Phil Evans post to follow.