Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ern Shaw and the Cartoonist Club of Great Britain

Ern Shaw became a member of the Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain when he was in his 80’s. Denis Gifford, (film historian, comic-strip artist, script-writer, film-maker, writer and journalist), encouraged him to become a member and suggested that he attend the convention at Butlins, at Pwllheli in 1972.

The Club was formed in 1960 as a purely social organization by Ian Scott (a political cartoonist in the old Daily Sketch ) with the help of Les Lilly (script-writer). Ian’s idea was that although there were numerous cartoonists around, they did not know one another, therefore the first successful society for professional cartoonists was born.

In 1961 the Christmas party for the club was held at the Presscala Club. Guest of honour was Billy Butlin. During the course of the evening he promised Ian Scott that he would host an annual conference for the club, starting the following May in 1962 at his brand new camp at Bognor Regis. He stuck to his word and offered the facilities for one week free of charge to club members and a discount for family members accompanying them. Sir Billy Butlin, carried on this tradition for the club to hold their yearly conventions at a variety of his camps for over a twenty seven period.

Peter Jacob who is a member of the Cartoonts' Club recalls his first meeting with Ern Shaw:
“Denis Gifford passed on Ern Shaw’s background to my brother Chic Jacob, a cartoonist, illustrator and radio and television comedy scriptwriter, who was chairman of the club at that time and instructed me and other members of the club to make this yearly treat accessible to him.

Ern Shaw was living in Cottingham near Hull at that time and it was arranged for me to collect him from Shrewsbury station, with a friend George Ratcliff, we waited for the train at the station which duly arrived. We expected a typical octogenarian to stagger from the train, instead we saw a large suitcase come off the train followed by another and this gentleman jumped onto the platform. The suitcases were picked up and Ern hurried towards us in a very sprightly fashion, he could have been taken for an active 65 year old.
He told us that one suitcase contained his artwork and he was going to put on an exhibition for the “Kiddies”.

On arriving at Butlins we got him settled in and as soon as that was done he more or less made me his secretary and off we went to set up his exhibition. All the “Kiddies” were notified and during the next two days Ern was in his element.

He attended the conventions up until about 1979. He was solely missed when age caught up with him.

In 1974 Ern Shaw appeared on a TV panel show called “Quick on the Draw”. Denis Gifford who devised the programme, asked Ern to take part with Charlie Drake and Tony Hawes. It was hosted by Bob Monkhouse and Ern out talked him. “Some feat”
Denis Gifford who was the founder member of ACE (Association of Comic Enthusiasts founded in 1978) was so impressed with Ern Shaw’s work, he presented Ern Shaw with the Ally Sloper Award for his many years devotion to the strip cartoon medium.
The award was based on the first British comic strip comic hero, Ally Sloper, created over a century ago by Charles H. Ross and Marie Duval on 14th August 1867.

My memories of him are quite dim now but one thing that always stands out. The early morning knock on Chic’s chalet door and as people remarked the suggestion “Can Chic come out to play”, never actually said but certainly inferred “truly a boy who never grew up”. Thank God.

During the first Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain convention at the Butlins someone had the idea of showing the clubs gratitude to the host by drawing cartoons on a large board, about eight feet by four feet in size and painted in white so that they could draw cartoons on it in memory of that convention. The ritual of presenting these boards to the managers of the camp at which they stayed persisted throughout the twenty seven years history of Butlins Cartoonists’ Club Conventions.”
Below are two boards from the 1974 and 1979 Butlins club conventions and enlargements of Ern Shaw's cartoons that appear on the boards.

The club still continues today and is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year. The Club's primary objective remains to encourage social contacts between cartoonists whilst promoting the cartoon art form . It continues to organise many local, nationwide and international cartoon events, from exhibitions and competitions to charitable fund raising events and public exhibitions.
I would like to thank two members the club Mike Turner ( Chairman of the club 1997-2002) and Peter Jacob (brother of Chic Jacob) for their help with my research into the Cartoonists’ Club history and Ern Shaw’s involvement in the club.
If you would like to find out more about the Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain's History go to my blog through this link: 'They make us Laugh'

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