fougasse at london’s cartoon museum

Hurrah! The Fougasse exhibition is officially open, and he’s one of my all-time favourites! Here’s illustrator/designer/typographer Rian Hughes posing decoratively with the banner last night. We’re both big fans, as is, we deeply suspect, one of Rian’s greatest heroes, Serge Clerc.

I don’t even know that much about the life of Fougasse (aka Cyril Kenneth Bird), as far as research is concerned, I just love the LOOK of his stuff. I’ve been studying it before I even came to England; here are some copies I did in my sketchbook back in Pennsylvania, 12 years ago or so:

Thanks to comics artist-in-residence Mark Stafford for tipping me off about the show! It’s fascinating to see how in Fougasse’s early work, his lines and washes are fairly complicated, in the style of the day, and gradually becomes more and more clean lined, to the iconic look we know today and associate with the war-time Underground posters. I love the way he uses red, and a bright salmon pink, along with a very limited but lush palette. There’s a great cartoon of a guy sitting on a chair looking at an enormous blank canvas (we’ve all been there) and a great crowd scene picture that’s at once very complicated and hugely simplified. You’ll have to go there to see what I mean.

If you’re in London, it’s just a couple streets back from the front of the British Museum, well worth a visit. The show doesn’t last very long, only until 21 November. Cartoon Museum website. I need to go back and read a few more of the exhibition panels and have a look at a new Fougasse book that’s just come out. (They have one preview copy in the shop.)

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