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Cartoonist brings 18th century satire to Hornchurch

09:30 24 March 2014

Ahead of his upcoming talk at Hornchurch Library next week, the Recorder spoke to cartoonist Adrian Teal to find out about his book The Gin Lane Gazette, the tabloid culture of 18th century Britain and life as a political satirist.

The fascination with celebrity culture and scandal may seem a modern phenomenon, but according to a cartoonist turned author, it can be dated way back to the 18th century.

Last year, Adrian Teal, who has worked as a political caricaturist for national newspapers including The Sun and The Sunday Telegraph, published his first book, The Gin Lane Gazette, in which he illustrates and writes stories collected from newspapers in the Georgian 1700s.

As part of the promotion for the book, he will attend Hornchurch Library, in North Street on Thursday.

So why choose this particular topic?

Illustration from the Gin Lane Gazette - Duke of NorfIllustration from the Gin Lane Gazette - Duke of Norf

“The 18th century was a time of sex, scandal and celebrity, explained Adrian.

“It is a current trend but it was just as prevalent in the 18th centuy as today and you can draw some interesting parallels between then and now.

“It gets overlooked and loses out to the Tudors and Victorians. It was such an exciting time, a party age with fun and debauchery.”

The book, marketed as an “18th century Heat magazine”, has sold well since it’s release, and publishers are close to issuing it for reprint, according to Adrian.

Adrian TealAdrian Teal

He said: “The reaction has been fantastic. It is selling well and consistently. People who aren’t familiar with the period are delighted with what they are reading and those that are familiar are enjoying the interest. It’s gone really, really well.”

The material was sourced in part by a historian friend who collects 18th century newspapers, though Adrian explained there is no shortage of material, and he would jump at the chance to do a second volume.

“Stick a pin anywhere in the 18th century and you will get a brilliant story,” he said.

For Adrian, the transition to author was an exciting challenge after he had become disillusioned with writing satirical news caricatures for the nationals, claiming editors were “tricky to work with.”

He said: “I liked the cartooning bit, but the editors always have one eye on the sales figures. For example at the Sunday Telegraph once I had an idea for a cartoon. It was when Mark Thatcher was arrested for organising a coup. Around that time [August 2004], The Scream painting by Edvard Munch, was stolen from a museum.

“My idea was Margaret Thatcher as The Scream holding a newspaper saying ‘Mark Thatcher arrested’. The editor said he loved it but we couldn’t run it because our readers had a sentimental attachment to Margaret Thatcher.”

Adrian, of Northampton, was a keen child cartoonist and often visited the studio of Spitting Image between the ages of 10 and 16 after his father called up to tell them of his son’s hobby.

It was there he met creator John Lloyd, who he would again work with on the QI annuals, which he illustrated between 2008-2011.

But for now he is concentrating on the 18th century, and his new found interest of writing the stories to go alongside his images.

He explained: “I actually enjoyed the writing more in this endeavour, and I am enjoying talking about the great stories from the period.”

To listen to Adrian talking about his book and his work as a cartoonist, go along to the Gin Lane Gazette Talk on Thursday. Tickets £5.

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