Sunday, 16 March 2014

Catching up with cartoonist Cluff, a rare talent


I have finally caught up with one of my Christmas presents, Private Eye: A Cartoon History. It is a must-read book with real laugh-out-loud moments. There are almost 300 pages crammed with the works of the Eye’s greatest cartoonists including Ken Pyne, Ed McLachlan, Bill Tidy, Willie Rushton, Michael Heath, Tony Husband and, of course, the book’s editor Nick Newman. I was particularly pleased, though, to see the contributions from the excellent Cluff.  
In 1990, when I was at The Northern Echo, a mild-mannered council officer called John Longstaff came into the office to ask if the paper was interested in running a daily pocket cartoon. 

Cluff: John Longstaff
We gave him a go - and were blown away. Every night he would send over two or three cartoons, usually by fax. They were topical, waspish (occasionally too brutal for our sensitive readers) and always brilliant. John had that sideways look at life that separates the great cartoonists from the rest of us. He quickly became a daily feature on Page 1 and he has been in the paper each day ever since. Cluff, who took his name from a 60s' television series called Sergeant Cluff which starred Leslie Sands as Yorkshire Dales policeman, has his own section in the Eye book and there are 19 of his cartoons scattered around the pages. Here are a couple:



Reading the book prompted me to get in touch and discover, among other things, that John is an artist far beyond his cartoons. You can catch up with some of his other work here


This one in particular caught my eye - not least because the Britannia was the Echo journalists' pub back in the 80s. It was a joy to catch up with the man and his work. He also told me he is holding an exhibition in Darlington’s Crown Street Gallery in September. I might have to contrive to be up there. 

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