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Newspaper cartoonist Steve Camley comes under the spotlight

By Hamish Mackay

January 3, 2012 | 3 min read

Newspapers cartoonists tend to be relatively anonymous creatures so it was revealing to see one of the breed, Steve Camley, of The Herald, emerge from the shadows.

The Herald Magazine gave a double-page colour spread to eight of Camley’s top cartoons published in the main paper during 2011 - plus an insight into his working day.

Camley made the point that, unlike an editorial columnist who might have 1000 words with which to communicate their point, the cartoon has to be not only funny and observant – but concise.

He points out: “You’ve got one rock to throw; you have to hit that mark with it.

“It’s not like other art forms, where people will happily analyse a photograph or a painting for a couple of hours – you only have the reader’s attention for a few seconds.”

Camley, who works from home, revealed that he delivers three to four cartoons to The Herald editor every day. He listens to the news bulletins almost from the moment he wakes up to keep ahead of the game.

“I watch the BBC News channel to see what’s on the agenda for that day”, he explains. “Some days, as during the eurozone crisis, it’s obvious what the main story will be – but I have to wait for The Herald to send me their news schedule for the following day to see how prominent it will be in the paper.

“Even if there is only one big story, I’ll send in three or four ideas; the one that is used isn’t necessarily as much my decision as you might think.”

Asked if he concurs with The Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell’s view that political cartooning is “lonely, low, scurrilous and rude”, Camley responds: “It probably is valid, certainly the lonely part.

“You’re working on your own all day, shouting at the radio or the TV. And, when you put your cartoon out, you don’t know how it's going to be received.”

• The work of James A. Allan, who was the staff cartoonist for the Press and Journal and Aberdeen Evening Express from the early 1960s to his death in 1971, is currently on show in Aberdeen.

All the original drawings of his work are now in Aberdeen City Council’s collection, and an exhibition featuring them – and others - runs at Aberdeen Maritime Museum until February 4.

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