Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cartoonistobit: Ray Lowry

Really sorry to hear of the death of Ray Lowry, the cartoonist whose career was reinvigorated by punk.

Lowry had already built a reputation on the underground press circuit in the late 1960s, working for titles like the International Times and Oz, but it was the 1970s where he really kicked into gear - sending illustrated reports back from The Clash's tour of the US to the NME, most notably. He designed the London Calling sleeve for the group - which surely gives him a position in British music culture at least alongside Peter Blake - and, more recently, returned to adding pictures to words about the band for Johnny Green's A Riot Of Our Own.

It was as a cartoonist, though, that he earned his living: providing acerbic editorial and pocket cartoons for the NME, of course, before moving on to provide work for everybody from Punch to Private Eye, the early Face and - perhaps uniquely - getting paid for material by The Spectator, New Society and Loaded.

Ray, who was 64, was found dead at his Lancashire home on Tuesday. His official website team is collecting tributes.

My favourite Lowry cartoon was one of a series of his 'men in a high-powered office' sketches, featuring a top-paid business man sat at his desk, the penthouse floors of lowlier skyscrapers visible through the window. A pinstriped arm reaches for the intercom, and the caption: "Remind me again, Miss Jones - what was my raison d'etre?"


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