A few years ago I became very interested in the brilliant caricatures featured in the Victorian British magazine Vanity Fair.
This was the second magazine (of five) to be titled Vanity Fair and the British version was founded by Thomas Gibson Bowles (1841-1922) and published weekly from 1868 to 1914.
Subtitled "A Weekly Show of Political, Social and Literary Wares", it was most popular for its regular full colour lithographic prints of caricatures of the 'celebrities' and the great and the good of the day.
There were over 100 caricaturists who contributed to the magazine during its lifespan, but probably the two most prolific and certainly my personal favourites, were Sir Leslie Ward (1851-1922) and Carlo Pellegrini (1839 - 1889). Many of the Vanity Fair caricaturists used pseudonyms and this included these two, who were 'Spy' and 'Ape' respectively. The aliases were, as far as I can ascertain, without exception either one word names or a set of initials.
I guess it was almost like the Spitting Image of its day and I think, like Spitting Image, it was the case that people who were not caricatured were actually quite miffed, even though the accompanying written summary about them (supplied by Bowles), was often poking fun at their expense. I thought at this time that I might start trying to produce something similar in style and layout to this. A kind of tribute, but also because I just really liked the way they were presented.
Next I designed a template for a typical Vanity Fair caricature page layout and then started to produce some figures of my own.
I wanted to mimic the Victorian caricaturists and I decided to call myself Wasp for this project. My initials are SAW and after a bit of doodling, I managed to come up with a wasp motif made up from my initials, with the addition of the letter P. You can imagine, I was quite pleased with this. Well I was! Ward was 'Spy', Pellegrini was 'Ape' and now I was going to be 'Wasp'. Very much in keeping with the influence I thought!
The scans are made at very high (1200dpi) resolution and they are then hand coloured in Paint Shop. It is quite a time consuming process, but I like the results and enjoyed producing what I think are high end caricature.
VanityQueer ~ Fifty Notable Queens Of England
VanityQueer ~ Fifty Notable Queens Of England is an ongoing project. My aim is to produce a coffee table book of hi res, high end caricature prints of fifty gay male figures from approximately the last 100 years, starting with Oscar Wilde and coming right up to date. I wont mention any other names for the time being. There will be a light hearted 'resume' on the opposing page of each illustration.
Each of the illustrations will be produced 'framed' in the style reminiscent of the Victorian Vanity Fair caricatures, with background colours varying by subject.
One of the initial pieces I produced give a further idea of this layout and style.. Quentin Crisp ~ The Naked Civil Servant.
Please note, non of these caricatures, anywhere on this site are shown in their full high resolution, for obvious reasons. Well I can't give it all away Dear! :O
It is a long term project, what with all my other commitments, but some time in the future we may well see a book looking something like this lying around quality bookshops!