Punch Invents the Cartoon
The 24th of June 1843 AD
Comic papers had appeared in London well before Punch arrived on the scene in 1841 , and Hogarth had made his indelible mark in the previous century; but it was Punch which perfected the art of the political cartoon; and that magazine which coined the actual term in relation to humorous drawings.
The word cartoon was employed by the magazine in June 1843, warning the government of its forthcoming lampoon of the exhibition of cartoons (in the older sense of the word – as full size drawings created as a study for future development) concerned with the decoration of Pugin and Barry ’s sumptuous new Houses of Parliament.
It was John Leech who drew those (humorous) cartoons which duly appeared in Punch in July 1843. Leech is also remembered as the illustrator of Charles Dickens ’ A Christmas Carol. Cartoon No. 1 was titled Substance and Shadow, depicting paupers, invalids and the elderly looking at a wall covered in portraits of the wealthy (thereby attacking certain artists along with the political elite). Leech went on to contribute 600 cartoons to the magazine.
Punch continued in publication (with one brief hiatus) until 2002, its pages offering other great cartoonists an outlet through the years, their numbers including Tenniel, E.H. Shepard , and in more recent times Ronald Searle , Bill Tidy , and Gerald Scarfe .
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