Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ronald Searle the Great (Part 4) - Abroad

Article by JMB


Until the late 50s, Ronald Searle has devoted most of his work to England but his trips abroad became an important source of inspiration for his drawings of the 60s.

In August-September 1947, Searle and three other British artists, including Paul Hogarth, spent three weeks in Yugoslavia at the invitation of the Peoples’ Youth of that country. They drew and painted in Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia. Sixty drawing by the group were exhibited at the Leicester Galleries in London, the following February.

Street corner in Belgrade, 1947

In August 1948, Searle was traveling across Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland where he and Paul Hogarth, with a small group of sketchers, were sneaked in the Intellectuals’ Congress for World Peace at Wroclaw.

Square Hradčanské náměstí in Prague, 1948.

Poland: a gypsy beggar in Zakopane; and a man at Cracow cathedral, 1948.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees invited Searle and his wife Kaye Webb as writer and reporter , to visit some of the camps in Austria, Italy, and Greece. In this book they submitted all their reports.

The entire proceeds from the sale of Refugees 1960 went to the United Kingdom Committee of the World Refugee Year.

Some drawings and texts of this book were first published in Punch magazine.

Ronald Searle drew illustrations and cartoons for several books by Alex Atkinson. To begin with The Big City that was published by Perpetua in 1958. It is about London, whereas  the others books are travel accounts. The first of these "reports books" takes place in the USA, but if the drawer went in this country already (*), the writer lets know his account of a trip across America is made by a man who has never been here. It presents "an Englishman’s view of America - as America sees itself".
(*) In May 1957, on advice from his agent in the USA, Searle had made his first travel to this country for working on an animated film for Standard Oil. During the long legal preliminaries in New York he drew the city and his report appeared in Punch. Then he stayed in Hollywood for the film storyboard and making.

By Rocking Chair Across America was published in the United States by Funk Wagnalls Co in 1959.

This book was simultaneously published by Perpetua in Great Britain in 1959, but it has a different title: U.S.A. for Beginners.

Note that the dust jacket of this British edition shows an American cowboy, whereas the American edition shows a very British character.

In 1960 the next Atkinson’s & Searle’s book: Russia for Beginners was published in Great Britain by Perpetua and in the United States, by The World Publishing Co, this one titled: By Rocking Chair Across Russia. For once both Searle and Atkinson never have been to this country in their lives. But although this writer never dropped any line in Pravda, he was then contributing to Punch for twelve years!

This book, translated into German, and then titled: Russland für Ungläubige, was published by Kurt Desch Verlag in 1964.

The cartoon here above, which is printed on a double page of the book, was first published in Punch magazine, on 19 August 1959.

Escape from the Amazon!, the last book by the non-travelers team Atkinson & Searle, was published by Perpetua en 1964. It has four chapters: By Rocking chair across Spain; By Rocking chair across Sweden; By Rocking chair across France; and The Adventures of Mrs. Dyson. As to the Amazon in question, she is an exuberant blonde.

During the years 1958-1962, Searle had frequent return trips to America. During the election campaign of 1960 he traveled several months, first with Nixon, then with Kennedy. His report was published in Life magazine. In 1962, his trip across Alaska was published in Holiday magazine.

In 1964, a selection of his American and Canadian drawings was gathered in book form: From Frozen North to Filthy Lucre, with remarks by Groucho Marx, was published in New York by Viking Press; and in London by William Heinemann.

Searle in the Sixties was published by Penguin Books in 1964. Many of its drawings originally appeared in: Holiday, Life, Look, Sports Illustrated, Punch, Réalités, and Le Canard Enchaîné. Some of them were also published in the book From Frozen North to Filthy Lucre.

All drawings were done during Searle’s trips in the USA, in Ireland, in Germany, in France, and during his last stay in England.

The book hereunder was published in France by Editions Stock in 1966. In the same year it was also issued in Germany, in Great Britain and in the USA. Of course their titles were different. The German version: Anatomie eines Adler – ein Deutschlandbuch was published in Munich by Kurt Desch Verlag. The English version: Haven’t We Met Before Somewhere? was published in London by William Heinemann and in New York by Viking Press.

The author, Heinz Huber, looks uncompromisingly but humorously at his own country. Some of these cartoons have already been published in press; the others were made especially for this book.

Among numerous drawings, only 9 are in colour, some of them on centrefold.

A set of cartoons titled "A tourist in Hamburg St. Pauli", appeared in Holiday Magazine in January 1968. In 1969, Searle’s sketches of Hamburg red lights district were first brought out in France as a soft cover book published by Jean-Jacques Pauvert.

This book was republished by Weidenfel and Nicolson in London in 1970. This hardback edition is titled Secret Sketchbook and subtitled The Back Streets of Hamburg on the title-page.

Its dust jacket is not illustrated but as you see, a mention could titillate some buyers.

In the next book the illustrator travels no more; it’s just the main character of this story who does. In addition to his adventures in almost every country on earth, imaginative but liar Baron Munchausen even went to the moon.

This edition, brilliantly illustrated by over sixty Searle’s drawings was published by Pantheon Books, in New York in 1969

Let us rest after all these trips and do take a while at enjoying some improbable but hilarious brief encounters gathered in this book, which was published by Pavilion Books in London in 1994.

Ronald Searle has vividly imagined just what would occur when the paths of two famous characters momentarily cross.

Some cartoons of this book were first published in The New Yorker magazine in 1992

article by JMB

Learn more:


docnad said...

These are once again very fine scans. Thank you.

Matt J said...