ukjarry (ukjarry) wrote,

Aesop Revisited by Willie Rushton and Christopher Booker

Mass-market satire magazines in America have tended to follow in the format established by “Mad Magazine”. Either because other attempts have been edited by the man Kurtzman himself, or because magazines like "The Realist" and "Monocle" were so below the radar that they didn't have much of an influence against the success of "Mad". "National Lampoon" was often a sort of half-way house, with lots of comics-oriented material.
“Mad” was the creation of comic strip artists, therefore its satire was either of other comic strips or relied heavily on the comic strip mode. The dense cartoon panoramas ("chicken fat") of Harvey Kurtzman in collaboration with Will Elder are probably the high water mark of this style.
English satirical magazines have always been more of a writer’s medium. Cartoons have either been big one panel editorial-style cartoons (Tenniel, Illingworth, etc), or else pocket and gag cartoons tucked away in the corner of the page for comedic relief.
Possibly the only English body of work to compare with Kurtzman and Elder for gag-crammed satire in a comic strip format are the “Aesop Revisited”s that appeared in “Private Eye”’s first couple of years. They were the collaboration of Christopher Booker with Willie Rushton. The drawings are obviously by Rushton, but he also contributed many of the detailed puns and jokes. The series stopped when Richard Ingrams ousted Booker from the magazine. They may also have been partly inspired by Ronald Searle's fantastic "Rakes Progress" series in "Punch in the mid 1950s.
En masse these "Aesop Revisted"s comprise a portrait of Britain where the leading cultural figures come from the traditional Establishment: politicians and writers, with a few actors and sportsman, and the newly emergent class of TV presenters, but no rock stars, or even youth/cult personalities. An other age, other mores.

#1 - Peter Cook -
#2 - Huw Weldon -
#5 - Arnold Wesker -
#6 - Arthur Christiansen -
#7 - Tony Hancock -
#12 - John Osborne -
#13 - Richard Dimbleby -
#14 - Sterling Moss -
#17 - Ian Fleming -
#19 - Peter Ustinov -
#21 - The Civil Servant -
#22 - Harold Wilson -
#23 - Winston Churchill -
#24 - Roy Thomson -
#25 - John Freeman -
#26 - Anthony Chevenix-Trench -
#27 - Olivier and Peter Hall -
#28 - Canon John Collins -
#29 - Cyril Wolf Mankowitz -
#30 - Oliver Poole -
#31 - Edward Heath -
The Authors -

If you like these, why not track down Edward Sorel's "Literary Lives", in which an adept selection of fact adorned by high-spirited caricature results in some of the meanest and most elegant roughings-up of the likes of Tolstoy, Ayn Rand, Norman Mailer, Brecht and Lillian Hellman you could ever wish for. Ivan Brunetti did some potted biographies of Kierkegaard, Satie, Thurber, and Louise Brooks, although most of them read more like spiritual autobiographies of the Schopenhauerianally-morose Brunetti himself. Oh and Peter Bagge's recensions of the Founding Fathers are gloriously venal and petty. The "Popjustice Idols" books weren't bad either.
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