Here is the last poster for the festival.
Winning the grand prix/humor vache (cow) at the St just festival comes with the obligation/honor of drawing the festival poster for the next year’s festival. I thought I would share the rough sketch that was just approved – I’ll start to work on the finish now.
This is based on an old painting of Marie Antoinette, that had such a huge derriere, that I thought it could, ambiguously, hide the body of a cow. In recent years the St Just festival poster has always featured a cow. They have cow statues on the roof of the cartoon museum there, in the middle of French cow country. And they have a recent tradition of dressing a cow statue at the entrance to the museum, to match the dress of the cow in the poster.
Last year, the cow was a ballerina – an easy costume. I thought I would put the volunteer seamstresses in St Just to the test this year, with a much more ambitious project.
Here I am with my cow, Josette. I’m holding the St. Just porcelain statue depicting their logo that they give to grand prix winners.
I just got back from the grand editorial cartooning festival in St. Just le Martel, France where I won the grand prix, the “Prix de l’humor Vache” award, which was an actual cow, named Josette.
The “Salon de St. Just, ” in its 32nd year, draws cartoonists from around the world to a tiny town near Limoges. The townspeople have adopted the cartoonists and hold a party that stretches over two weekends, in a grand cartoon museum they built in the middle of cow country. Most of the cartoonists stay in the homes of volunteer villagers – the entire event is put together by townpeople Cartoonists usually come for only one weekend of the festival, splitting the crowd between what becomes two different weekend groups of roughly 120 cartoonists each.
This was my second “Salon,” last year I went with our knuckle-dragging, conservative, “Tea Party” cartoonist, Eric Allie, who was a strange beast to the French. This year I went with three liberal cartoonists, Pat Bagley of the Salt Lake Tribune, Steve Sack of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and Bob Englehart of the Hartford Courant for three days of open bar and schmoozing with our international colleagues.
Here I am with my Cagle Cartoons colleagues, dubbed “Cagle Cowboys”, from left, Josette, Pat Bagley, Me, Bob Englehart and Steve Sack below.
My festival friends tell me that a cow is usually a placid animal, but sometimes the cow will get annoyed and give a swift, painful kick as a surprise to an unlucky bystander; this contributes to the idea that the cow is a little sneaky, nasty and unpredictable. The “Prix de l’humor Vache,” the grand prize they gave me, is described as an award for “caustic humor.” “Humor Vache” (funny cow) rhymes with “Amour Vache” (love cow, or more accurately “rough love”) a French idiom for a love affair that is nasty, consisting of harsh words and arguments. In France, to refer to someone as a “vache” (cow) is a little bit nasty. In contrast, on the first Saturday of the Salon, they give out the “Humor Tendre” (Tender Humor) award, which is a sheep, given to a sweet cartoonist such as a children’s book illustrator.
The Limoges area is proud of their cows, which are raised for beef and are all a warm brown color. The cow is the symbol and mascot of the Salon. Every year, the “Prix de l’humor Vache” cow is named “Josette” and is actually given to the winning cartoonist. At the ceremony, the mayor of St. Just, Gerard Vandenbroucke, awarded Limoges porcelain cows to my three American compatriots, dubbing them “Cagle’s cowboys.” Bob, Pat and Steve, who can also claim to have won cows (although, not real cows) took their little cows around to all the other cartoonists at the Salon to sign; it was charming.
Typically, the winning cartoonist is expected to take a cash award (I still don’t know how much) in lieu of actually taking delivery of the real Josette, who would be difficult to check on a plane and would likely be an unpleasant roommate in my tiny, Nashville apartment. But, they make it clear that the cartoonist really won a cow and could actually take the cow if he or she chooses to, and there are stories of cartoonists in past years choosing to take the cow. I’m told that are some amusing movies of a past winner taking his cow to Paris, trying to bring the cow on the Metro, and taking the cow up the Eiffel Tower. If anyone can find these movies online, I’d love to take a look.
Part of winning the grand prize cow is the obligation to do the art for the poster for the next Salon. The poster this year featured a lovely Degas-like ballerina cow. The festival people then dress a cow sculpture, in the entry to the museum, to match the cow on the poster. My plan is to give the cow on next year’s poster a very elaborate costume that will be a unique challenge for a St. Just volunteer to create for the cow statue. Right now, I’m thinking of doing the poster cow as Marie Antoinette with a huge, elaborate, flowing gown.
Here’s Bob Englehart with the cow statue at the entrance to the exhibition. The cow is dressed to match the poster which is a ballerina this year. Next year I’ll be doing the poster and I plan to put the cow in a very elaborate costume that will be a challenge for St. Just’s volunteer seamstresses.
The whole event in St. Just is a lovely boost for our beleaguered editorial cartooning profession which is suffering in France as it is here and around the world with newspapers declining everywhere. I’d love to see some of the great French attitude about the value of editorial cartooning rub off on other parts of the world, like America, which treats cartooning as a second class art form. I can’t imagine a whole town in the USA choosing to build a municipal cartoon museum, opening their homes, and pitching together to cook dinner for hundreds of editorial cartoonists – and, of-course, a nine day open bar would be unthinkable in America.
From left to right, Bob Englehart, Stave Sack, St. Just’s Mayor Gerard Vandenbroucke in the red shirt, me holding my “Prix de l’humor Vache” porcelain statue, Josette, and Pat Bagley in the lower right corner.
Below is a scan of the Limoges newspaper front page and interior story from the day after I had a cow.
I will crawl out of my spider hole for two events! Come see me!
I’ll be speaking, and giving a Powerpoint presentation, to the Southeast Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) in Knoxville, TN on Saturday, October 26th, at about 11:00am, at the Crowne Plaza Knoxville (University), in Salon B on the mezzanine level. The NCS chapter folks tell me that anyone can come, so here is your chance to tell me off face to face, no hiding behind those nasty e-mails.
I’m impressed with the NCS Southeast Chapter, they put on an ambitious gathering and have a lot of cartooning luminaries in their ranks. I’m looking forward to it.
Next week I’m going to the big, international, editorial cartooning convention in St. Just le Martel, France. This is a little town that has decided that they love editorial cartoons – they built an impressive cartoon museum and the whole town comes out in wholehearted support of our troubled art form. They also love cows; this is French cow country, down by Limoges.
Three of the cartoonists I syndicate are coming along, Pat Bagley of the Salt Lake Tribune, Steve Sack of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and Bob Englehart of the Hartford Courant. I think this will be the biggest American turnout that little St. Just has ever had. And none of us speak French. Here is a list of all the attending editorial cartoonists, and the days that they will be in attendance.
So, if there are any editorial cartooning fans in France who want to visit with some obscure, American editorial cartoonists, the four of us will be hanging with all the other world cartoonists at the cartoon museum the second weekend of the Salon, October 4th, 5th and 6th.
For the past six years we’ve enjoyed a partnership with msnbc.com (which recently changed its name to NBCNews.com) and for six years before that, with Slate.com when it was part of the Microsoft Network – all in all, twelve years with Microsoft and MSN.com. I regret to write that our partnership has come to an end.
I was the official “editorial cartoonist” for Slate.com, msnbc.com and NBCNews.com. Of-course, all of the cartoonists that work with us through our Cagle Cartoons syndicate and Politicalcartoons.com were featured on the MSN.com sites, including slide shows on news topics of the day on msnbc.com, the Today Show site and NBC Sports; we did a cartoon week in review and maintained a “CartoonBlog.”
Recently, msnbc.com changed ownership to be run by NBC, and NBC itself recently changed ownership. It isn’t usual these days for cartoons to be cut to save costs, but we were cut for editorial reasons. The reason I was given for our departure was “the new management wants nothing to do with cartoons.” Msnbc.com/NBCNews.com has never had an opinion section, or other opinion content, so it is disappointing, but not entirely unexpected.
Readers of our Cagle.com site will see very few changes – the NBCNews.com logo is gone from our header and will be gone from my attribution in my future cartoons. Our site will look the same as always; we’ll continue our syndication business as always at CagleCartoons.com and Politicalcartoons.com.
Our editors at MSN/Slate/msnbc/NBCNews were wonderful to work with all these years; I’ve appreciated their support for our cartoonists and our art form. They loved what we did, let us do what we wanted and were happy with what we wanted to do – the perfect editors! They were great. I miss them already.