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H M Bateman - Strip Cartoons               Page     <1    <2    <3    4    >5    >6    >7        


Then, sometime just before the beginning of the War, probably on one of his many trips to France, he came across the work of the great French cartoonist Caran d’Ache. His work became the second decisive influence or source of inspiration for Bateman’s strip cartoons, probably the most important both in matters of form and content. Years later, in 1933, he wrote the introduction to a collection of Caran d’Ache’s cartoons published by Methuen (who had published Bateman’s own various collections).In fact, he had almost certainly encouraged Methuen in this, urged on by his own abiding love for the artist. In the introduction he wrote that Caran d’Ache “combined perfection in telling a really droll story with superb draughtsmanship and an astounding observation and knowledge of humanity. For me he defies criticism. I simply admire.” He was “ the most trenchant and illustrious of all designers of what we now call “the comic strip”.

The Boy who breathed on the glass in the British Museum

The Boy who breathed on the glass in the British Museum (1)

The first great strip cartoon Bateman drew was The Boy Who Breathed on the Glass at the British Museum. It is now in the British Museum! It appeared in Punch in October 1916 and was inspired by the zealous vigilance of the attendants when he went there one day with some friends. He thought how very odd it was that such care was being taken to look after so many dead things while, only a few miles away, men were being slaughtered in their thousands. Immediately – as was so often the case with Bateman – this became material for his work, his life feeding into his cartoons to the most extraordinary degree, so that they can be read not only as a history of his times, but as a personal biography. But, of course, a biography wonderfully charged and transformed - here, particularly, into a bizarre melodrama, stark, ironical and brilliant amongst the rather predictable, rainy-Sunday-afternoon pages of Punch.

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