Matilda and saucy postcards

5-tim-copy-of-mcgillA sequence I am working on at the moment (Matilda by Harry Champion*) to complete the two music halls films draws inspiration form the work of Donald McGill.

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Just after the war, about 1300 subversive picture postcards, redolent in double-entendres, were seized by the police and a court case was held to judge whether these cards were undermining public morality. Oddly, it is exactly the same sort of humour that turns up on screen a few years’ later in the “carry on films”. They got away with it. The postcard industry was not so fortunate. The line taken by the postcard artists in court, however, was that the pictures were only offensive to those people corrupt enough to appreciate the risqué jokes. Quite a brilliant bit of legal subterfuge in itself.

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The king of the seaside postcard was Donald McGill. I have spent many months copying his images and my moleskin is stuffed with them! It is only when you look at what an artist does very carefully that you appreciate the cleverness of composition and the recurring features. Donald McGill is really a very good draughtsman! What I love perhaps more than the expressions which are excellent and well-observed are the ways he breaks the frame- constantly!

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His images are just the flip-side of the Dandy and the Beano. The adult-version. His men are whimpy, his women rubenesque. Here are my copies of some pictures by other postcard illustrators – the first one is clearly Edwardian so there is some history to this…

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*Really interesting lyric which I have avoided:

“Matilda she went to a fancy dress ball and she played an original part.
She rubbed herself over with raspberry jam and she went as a raspberry tart.
I went up to hug her and give her a kiss. Well, the jam was all over my kite.
I know she’s a sticker, but lor’ what a licker! I shouted, “You’ve done it tonight.”

The kite in this case would be his belly as in the expression “stuff my kite”. The expression is also in the other song “Boiled beef and carrots”- ‘From morn till night, Blow out your kite on Boiled Beef and Carrots’

“Played an original part”, which I have retained, is a great line with the suggestion that Matilda was not only dressed as something unusual but that she was being a bit rude too.

In rhyming slang “a raspberry tart” is flatulence.

“discovered that I was a jay” – in 1880, this generally meant a fool and is retained in the US in the word “jaywalker”

“the dicky”- slang for shirt.

Daniel Radcliffe, Sitwell & Oxxxymiron

I am not a natural rap fan, but I am always impressed by people who do it with intelligence. Words are words after all and there is a history of rap arguably as old as the G&S nightmare song in Iolanthe, but certainly going back to Edith Sitwell and William Walton’s “Façade”, a series of sound poems or Klangdichtung. Sitwell simply called them an “entertainment”. This nonsense incantation is the stuff of magic and religion. With my own interest in Edward Lear, it is not perhaps surprising that I should be a fan of Façade!

Sitwell first performed Façade standing behind a painted curtain and speaking through a papier-mâché megaphone, the “Sengerphone”. Noel Coward hated it.

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I did the 1951 version of Façade in a concert a few years ago and have always thought how well it would animate! The rapidly morphing images would lend themselves to gloriously anarchic animation. The concert version is much briefer than the revised 1977 version and Walton’s music is tremendous. It is, however, fiendishly difficult to remember all the words because the whole piece is predicated on nonsense. But great fun.

Below is my version of the Cecil Beaton portrait from late in her life. I suppose this was Beaton’s take on the famous triple portrait of King Charles. It was all done with her head poking out of bits of torn paper. Very interesting.

At the time, her personality was probably more important than her poetry, but I think if it is considered in the context of the modern rap movement, Façade becomes much more significant.

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I saw Daniel Radcliffe rap the “Alphabet Aerobics”. Really very impressive.

Here is a link which I hope Youtube does not remove:

Meanwhile, I urge you to follow Miron Fyodorov, now known as “Oxxxymiron” whose work, though so far in Russian, is clearly clever and punchy. Heavily influenced by Grime, (and better than Guf) he is very keen on the Rap-fighting thing and has some bookings next year in Canada when he promises to do something in English. Meanwhile, he is writing his third album.

Here is a song from his second Album “Gorgorod” which tells a story through a series of rap pieces. This song was, I think, censored by the TV screening. I was in the audience (the show was the Russian equivalent to the Graham Norton show, or The late late show with James Corden in the US) and afterwards the host of the show, Ivan Urgant I think, gave me a signed T-shirt asking me publicly (to much mirth from the rest of the Russian-speaking audience) whether (a) I spoke any russian at all, and (b)if I understood what was going on. I confessed that I had not the slightest idea but that I was a dutiful member of the audience and I knew my job was to laugh and applaud. It was clear, anyway, that Miron was in complete control!

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/the-man-who-was-raised-in-slough-and-raps-in-russia-8324127.html

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Ola Kala

While there is a fairly good account of the introduction of the expression OK into the UK in the song “Walking in the Zoo” sung by Alfred Vance, the Great Vance, one of the great “lions comiques”, it probably emerged from the Greek migrant population in Boston or New York and is first recorded in use in 1839.

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The sheet music here is decorated with a drawing by Richard Childs and dates from 1871.

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Sakis Rouvas (whose birthday is tomorrow) popularised the term “Ola Kala” in a Greek pop song written by the American songwriter, Desmond Child in 2002. Child also wrote “she bangs” and “La vida Lorca” for Ricky Martin.

Trial by Jury, Judge’s song

Here is a post on progress on the Judge’s song from “Trial by Jury”.

This is a line test of the first verse. The Right arm and some of the body is still missing as well as the earlier frames of the pigtail and the pupils.

The animation was completed on the Harmony/toon boom system though I note the production of the brilliant and recently-screened “Ethel and Ernest” on BBC was done with TV Paint which seems to offer so much more opportunity in terms of textures and usability. Harmony was a wonderful tool when it was run by the Vogelesang family, particularly Lilly and Joan, but they were taken over by Corus entertainment in 2014 or so and it does not seem to have been the same ever since. I have been teaching in a school in Moscow that apparently promotes the software and it was a devil of a job to get it actually to work at all on the school machines. So much for Industry standard! I note the company also acquired Animo, Pegs’n’co and the Cambridge animation system, rival 2d animating software and has not made any effort to update any of these since, effectively smashing the opposition and leaving precious little choice.

Here is an earlier version:

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This is the finished “look”-

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First combined image of background and character…

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