Doomed duck and arts cuts among themes of young cartoonists of year

A duck haphazardly flying into the jaws of a sitting bear and a witty depiction of the effects of arts funding cuts are among the winning entries to this year’s young cartoonist of the year competition.

The Cartoon Museum and the British Cartoonists’ Association announced the winners on Tuesday after receiving more than 150 entries.

The under-18s category winner was 13-year-old Rohan Rooney from Trim in County Meath, Irlanda, who produced the image of a duck heading into a gleeful bear’s mouth. Looking over its shoulder, the duck says: “Pear? What do you mean, pear?"

The under-30s competition was won by 22-year-old Cara Grainger from Stoke-on-Trent, whose cartoon is a spliced depiction of two people on a sofa.

On one half of the image, a fully illustrated man holding a newspaper reads: “It says here that the government has cut funding for arts courses by 50%.” On the other half, a stick figure reacts with a suitably expressionless face – a comment on the repercussions of failure to support artists.

The Woodcock prize went to nine-year-old Bianca Hsu from London, who drew a cat leaping across a kitchen to get its paws on a sausage.

All three will receive prize money and a certificate, which will be presented to them at the Cartoon Museum in London in May, alongside an exhibition of winners and runners-up.

Martin Rowson, the chair of the British Cartoonists’ Association, disse: “For the last 21 years I’ve always joked that the real purpose of the annual young cartoonist competition is to remind everyone that ours is a crowded and frequently beleaguered profession and that the last thing we need is competition from the whippersnappers. So this way we can identify the best ones and break their fingers.

“And if it’s the kind of gag which causes offence to the winners, that sort of suggests they’ve chosen the wrong path in life. But to be serious for a fleeting second, the wealth of talent which we see coming up each and every year shows cartooning is alive, kicking and screaming, just like it should be.”

The competition was originally the Mel Calman young cartoonist competition, in memory of the Times cartoonist and Cartoon Arts Trust founder. Nel 2001 it morphed into its current form, led by Rowson, who recruited judges from each national newspaper.

Now in its 26th year, the competition has produced winners including Nick Edwards (2009), who went on to win an Emmy for his work on Uncle Grandpa in the US, the New Yorker cartoonist Will McPhail, and the political cartoonist Matt Buck.

The director of the Cartoon Museum, Joe Sullivan, said the competition was “so important to the museum and to the cartooning community, encouraging young artists to pick up a pencil and draw a cartoon, and displaying the very best on our walls alongside the greats of Hogarth, Gillray, Darly, Low, and the rest”.

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