The thrill of cartoons

As a youngster once a month I journeyed down the Ashbourne Road in Derby. I’d be so excited.

Part of the thrill was walking on my own (although I am sure my parents followed behind).

Part of the thrill was my destination. An Aladdin’s cave of a shop that stocked anything and everything that I could possibly want to play with or eat.

But mostly the thrill was about what I was going to buy with my pocket money…The Eagle. A comic billed as the adventure paper of the eighties.

I wasn’t a great reader at the time but am sure that my Eagle fix of escapism lured me into being the veracious reader I am now. What captivated me? The stories. It was where Dan Dare did battle with the evil alien Mekon saving the world in a two-page comic strip which always teased the reader with a cliff hanger to ensure next month’s sales.

With only three TV channels to choose from at the time, The Eagle with its host of comic and picture-based stories alongside a dose of history, lived up to its bill. It wasn’t only me. When first published in the 1950s it was selling a staggering million copies a week engaging a generation of kids. And although its popularity waned in the seventies it was relaunched in the 80s and went on to publish around 1500 issues.

The Eagle spawned my love of cartoons and, although I didn’t realise it at the time, an interest in storytelling and creative thinking. After The Eagle I’d spend my pocket money in book shops and my time scouring libraries for copies of Asterix and Obelix, the magic potion fuelled French freedom fighters taking on the Romans, and Tintin, the young journalist and detective.

While Hergé, Goscinny and ‎Uderzo, alongside the characters they invented, were brilliant at telling a story in 40 pages they were my gateway to more powerful cartoons that tell a story in one hit. The geniuses of newspaper cartoonists Matt, the Alex cartoons and of course the celebrated illustrator Gerald Scarfee. All of whom capture the mood of a nation in a single image produced at breakneck speed. It’s no coincidence that my favourite bar is called Scarfe’s and displays his work.

For me though, the master of the art, who still gets me to roar out load with laughter is the American Gary Larsen who created the Far Side. Many of his best, single-panel cartoons have no words, but they all manage to hit a storytelling bullseye.

We have written about the power of pictures in storytelling before. And we all know how many words a picture tells. What many in the B2B space don’t recognise is the impact that a piece of engaging, shareable visual content can have on their business. White papers, technical articles, thought leadership etc. all have their very important place. But when you can integrate a creative idea, the written word and visual content into a campaign and super charge its impact through all available channels the results can be transformative.

So, the reason we have chosen a series of cartoons to promote the work we do isn’t just because of my lifelong love of cartoons, their cleverness and their simplicity or indeed the fact that The Far Side still gets me guffawing. It’s that with gentle, engaging humour they capture the impact we believe we can make to a client’s business.

Our cartoons are reassuringly old school, they consciously ebb the style of the masters of the craft. We hope you enjoy them, that they hit bullseye with you, make you laugh and like any successful creative execution cause you to pause, think and get in touch to discuss the difference we can make to your business.

By Alastair Turner

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