Over 8000 Cartoons from Punch Magazine
March 2, 2010 10:00 PM   Subscribe

Punch Cartoons has over 8000 cartoons from the pages of Punch, the long-running British satirical magazine. It cast its eye on everything from quintessentially British entertainment to children's books to computer games to optometrists. Punch ran from 1841 to 1992 and was relaunched in 1996 and finally closed shop in 2002. You can read up on the history of the magazine on their website and if you want to read some old issues to see what they were like, Project Gutenberg has quite a few. [Punch previously]
posted by Kattullus (19 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I heard a story one time that I found pleasing, though it may well be apocryphal: Punch had a wooden desk, and occasionally they would invite some author to carve their initials in that desk with a pen knife. Only two American authors were ever granted that honor: Mark Twain and James Thurber.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:28 PM on March 2, 2010

Here's a diagram showing all the initials. Twain, incidentally, was offered the opportunity to carve his initials into it, but he declined. Thurber's there, however, and P. J. O'Rourke as well, so there's at least two American names on there.
posted by Kattullus at 10:33 PM on March 2, 2010

My first "grown up" book of cartoons was a "Pick of Punch" collection with stuff from the late '40s and '50s. Totally outclassed New Yorker cartoons. So veddy British. So glad to see this online resource.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:51 PM on March 2, 2010

Re the table: sucking up to the royal family that way seems out of character.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:53 PM on March 2, 2010

Oh, well. Couldn't find it: A lost patrol is staggering out of the desert; the lead man points to a mushroom cloud looming over the horizon and joyfully cries "Civilization!"
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 11:01 PM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

My dad gave me a book of Punch cartoons when I was 14 or 15. Truly great stuff and pretty wicked a lot of the time.
posted by parmanparman at 11:03 PM on March 2, 2010

How come Alen Coren manages to get his initials on that table twice? Apart from him being the Editor?
posted by hardcode at 12:58 AM on March 3, 2010

I have many favourites, but speaking of optometrists there's one where two men are sitting in the waiting room of an optometrist as she walks past - and she's horrifically ugly, fat, spotty, etc. One of the men is saying to the other "Wow!. She can check my eyesight anytime!"
posted by milkwood at 2:26 AM on March 3, 2010

Best mag ever.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:35 AM on March 3, 2010

Famous in its dotage for being seen mainly in dentists` waiting rooms. Owned by Mohamed Al-Fayed.
posted by chaschas at 3:50 AM on March 3, 2010

I used to love the caption competitions that were a feature of the back page. Often the wittiest cartoons in the magazine.
posted by mattoxic at 4:22 AM on March 3, 2010

For some reason, this is the only Punch cartoon that stuck in my mind. And actually, I'm pretty sure that I read it in the waiting room of my optometrist.
posted by octothorpe at 5:04 AM on March 3, 2010

wait, wait, wait. you're telling me the fount of great western culture isn't amurrica?
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:57 AM on March 3, 2010

The library at my college had almost 100 years of Punch back issues on the shelves - and usually when I hit a wall on a project or studying I'd go grab bound volume of Punch. That or the NMEs from the 60's and 70's. Damn - I miss that library.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:02 AM on March 3, 2010

This is fantastic, thank you.
posted by everichon at 7:59 AM on March 3, 2010

My favorite Punch cartoon is the one they printed after the Crystal Palace truss strength demonstation was completed successfully, celebrating the event (rather than mocking it in some fashion as was typical.) Sadly, that cartoon eludes me in this collection.
posted by davejay at 9:42 AM on March 3, 2010

It's a bit of a curate's egg.
posted by teppic at 11:32 AM on March 3, 2010

Oooh, this is gonna be fun to look through - I grew up on Punch.

There was one particular issue "Punch goes Playboy" which I took to school in about 3rd grade, slipping it out of my schoolbag with the "Punch goes" obscured by my hand, so I could impress all the other little boys that I had a Playboy magazine.

This gained me a lot of instant cred amongst my classmates, but I had opened a bit of a Pandora's Box & somebody said (probably out of jealousy) that they were going to tattle straight to the Headmaster himself, and I would be on detention for ever because we're not supposed to read grownup magazines.

I spent the rest of the day with that kind of churning, hollow fear in my guts, expecting at any minute the dreaded "Ubu! To the Headmaster's office - NOW!"

Luckily, I escaped that fate. All that happened was that my Punch goes Playboy satire disappeared from my bag before the day was over. I never found out what happened to it, but I imagine it was hidden in the woods somewhere, for little boys to pore over and think "Those grownups are weird...what is this all about?" whilst wondering whether or not they were supposed to touch their pee-pees.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:30 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

So mention of Punch is complete without citing one of its more famous alum, the man who drew Pooh.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 7:38 PM on March 3, 2010

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