London’s Toon Museum

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The Cartoon Art Museum is this charming little place on Little Russell Street, London, not far from The British Museum. It houses over 200 original cartoons and comics… including an engraving by Hogarth, Cruikshank and Searle (as in Searles’ Cats). They also had originals of Posy Simmonds (Fred the Cat), and Steve Best and a lot of stuff from the now defunct Punch Magazine. Granted, many of these names and titles I’ve not heard of, like Simon Thorp’s Mrs. Brady Old Lady, and Vern and Lettuce by Sarah McIntyre, but I love discovering new things! Comics on this side of the pond are just different… they even have their own Dennis the Menace (who looks more menacing than ours).

The museum itself is small. There’s an upstairs with random original drawings by a variety of cartoonists as well as a room for creating toons aimed more at kids, a main room which changes every-so often and a permanent gallery with the history of cartooning in Britain. The rotating show was on toys… I just missed the show on Ronald Searle, to my disappointment. But the “toy show” was impressive with animation sketches with a Wallace & Grommit or two, Famous Fred, and Morph among others.

I met a budding cartoonist who remarked on my sketching… she was from Dallas, Texas. I gave her a Squid sticker and she asked me lots of questions like, what sort of pens do I use? and how do you draw your character from the side? We chatted for a bit and I gave her a Micron 01 and a sketch of Randie. She seemed pretty happy.

The gift shop was impressive for the museum size with lots of different books on cartoons and cartooning. By this time in the afternoon, my cohorts were getting tired and restless, and I didn’t really get a good go at the books. My hope is to return to get a better look at the selection and make an informed purchase. If anything, The Ronald Searle exhibition book will come home with me.

One last thing… they didn’t let you photograph individual works at the museum, but you could take general museum photos… so I have a few posted on Flickr. Have a look.

One thought on “London’s Toon Museum”

  1. A cartoon MUSEUM? Now that’s a civilized country! Why don’t we have anything like that on this side of the pond? Maybe we do, it’s a big country.

    I used to love the cartoons in Punch! The british have the dryest humor on the planet. Stiff upper lip and all that.

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