Seedy grotesques give a taste of cartoonist Martin Honeysett

PUBLISHED: 16:24 29 January 2016

Hokusai Studio

Hokusai Studio


Alison Oldham looks at a new exhibition at the Cartoon Museum which features over 140 works of the late artist.

Martin Honeysett’s mischievous take on the making of one of the best recognised works of Japanese art, Hokusai’s woodblock print The Great Wave off Kanagawa, is in a new exhibition at the Cartoon Museum in Bloomsbury. A Taste of Honeysett marks the anniversary of his death last January and has over 140 cartoons and illustrations charting his prolific output for British publications before becoming the first visiting professor of cartooning at Kyoto Seika University in 2005.

He had a long association with Private Eye, which gave free rein to his seedy cast of characters, “down at heel and down in the mouth”, according to political cartoonist Dave Brown. Much of Honeysett’s work was in pen and ink but he also produced many coloured cartoons, illustrations and covers for The Oldie. Richard Ingrams, former editor of both magazines, said “He was not just a cartoonist, he was a brilliant artist – his masterly cartoons featured grotesque, squalidly dressed men and women often living in the company of rats.”

Born in Hereford in 1943, he grew up in Croydon where he studied briefly at the local art school. He worked in animation and travelled widely before getting his first cartoon published in the Sunday Mirror in 1969 and appearing in Punch the following year.

Honeysett provided illustrations for Terry Jones and Michael Palin’s Bert Fegg’s Nasty Book for Boys & Girls (1974), Sue Townsend’s The Queen and I (1992), and, from 1984 onwards, produced a series of evocative pencil drawings to complement stories by the Scottish humorist Ivor Cutler. When asked by someone why he drew people the way he did, Honeysett replied, “But that’s how people really look, isn’t it?”

Until April 16 at 35 Little Russell Street, Mon to Sat 10.30am to 5.30pm, Sunday noon to 5.30pm. Adults £3.

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