Saturday, 20 March 2010

Cartoons as cultural icons

Hedges, queuing, bowler hats, marmite, miniskirts, Doctor Who, Monty Python, brass bands and Damien Hirst's shark - all of these are national icons, according to Icons: A Portrait of England. I was a bit disappointed that no animated icons made the cut, although the section on Monty Python discusses Terry Gilliam's contributions, while several other icons - such as Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland - have been adapted into cartoons.

The icons are nominated and then voted for by the site's readers before appearing the front-page list, and the nominees
that have yet to get voted in (old ladies with tartan shopping trolleys and the misused possessive apostrophe are two of my favourites) include a few cartoon-related picks. The only bona fide pieces of animation are Wallace and Gromit, Danger Mouse and Oliver Postgate's children's programmes, but also worth mentioning are the nominations for The Wombles, the Noddy books, Dennis the Menace (surely a bit of a rogue entry, being Scottish and all, but there we go), Sooty, Rupert Bear, Fred Basset, Viz, Paddington Bear, Mr. Bean, the Tufty Club and Eeyore, all of which were animated at one point or another.

Comics are also represented, with Dan Dare, The Eagle, Andy Capp and Roy of the Rovers all present and correct, while puppets turn up quite a bit too: Thunderbirds, Thomas the Tank Engine, Spitting Image, Basil Brush and Zippy from Rainbow have all been nominated and Punch and Judy have been voted into the list of icons. There's also a nomination for the Yellow Submarine but, somewhat oddly, it's the sculpture at the John Lennon Airport rather than either the film or the song.

So take a look through the website, vote for your personal choices, and savour the political ravings of disgruntled people. "You have to be joking", reads a comment posted on the page for kebab vans. "What a travesty of an icon! What a parcel of trendy-leftist pap!" Er, yes, thank you, J. Oswin.

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