Many of my fellow caricaturists will be aware of the Romanian Caragiale exhibition that has been running for a number of years, whereby caricaturists around the globe have been politely invited to contribute a caricature of the great Romanian writer, Ion Luca Caragiale, later broadened out to include a variety of other Romanian celebs from history. It seemed to capture the imagination of cartoonists worldwide, even though there was no payment for these drawings, only an annual competition, with prestige for awards, more than anything of more tangible value. Hundreds participated, including quite a number from the UK. I was one of them (my original entry, above), and as a diversion from paid work, enjoyed the experience.
Recently, they contacted me again. This was to invite me resubmit new caricatures for their Facebook exhibition. I had a bit of spare time, so rattled of a quick King Carol ll, followed by a rapid Mihai Eminescu, both well received. So much so, that I thought I’d have another stab at Caragiale himself, with his wonderful handlebar moustache.
Trouble is, he’s been drawn so many times that it’s difficult to come up with something a little different. However, I hit upon the idea of combining his image with that of another iconic mustachio’d figure, much loved in Western culture, and set about the task, trying out a new style for me in the process. All very enjoyable. I hit send, and looked forward to seeing my Caragiale joining the growing ranks on the Facebook site.
Next morning, I received an email from the organiser, informing me that my cartoon was “special” (good start), but that he had sent it to his colleagues for their opinion (not necessary with the others), and that he felt Caragiale is a respectable character, and should not be the target of laughing and joking. I immediately responded in my best Romanian (thank you, Google Translate), reassuring him that the character I had ‘mashed’ with Caragiale was not only a much-loved icon in the UK, but also considered to be erudite and wise, hence my choice (along with the big moustache).
However, I received the verdict earlier today, and it was bad news, I'm afraid. Whilst they had enjoyed my latest submission, they felt they could not use it in the exhibition. My disappointment however, was completely quelled by the rather wonderful explanation which followed. This being: “We want to protect the sensibilities of those who haven’t sense of humor. Sponsors have no sense of humor.”.
Love it! I wrote back immediately, thanking him for the humour in his honesty and wishing them all the best.
As for whether the sponsors would be right to be offended, I'll leave that for you to decide…