Stanley Franklin was born on 30 October 1930 in Bow, London, the son of a coppersmith. While still at school he became fascinated by the work of David Low and Philip Zec, and began to draw his own political cartoons. He left school in 1944, aged fourteen, and, by his own account, applied for a political cartooning job on the Evening Standard, but was informed "that a chap called David Low already held the post and intended keeping it."
Franklin went to work for an advertising agency, where he spent fifteen years working on design, lettering, and cartoons. As he later recalled, "by the time I was seventeen I was drawing cartoons in advertising, on a small-scale but fairly regular basis": "But I never really went into the illustrative side of advertising because I was hoping to become a political cartoonist eventually." From 1946 to 1948 he studied lithography at Mornington Crescent Working Men's College, and, from 1948 to 1951, life drawing at Hammersmith School of Arts & Crafts.
Franklin's first published cartoon appeared in the Daily Mirror, but his staff cartoon work began with the "Mr Farthing" strip on the Daily Herald, which ran from 1954 to 1955. In 1958 Franklin was awarded a Victor Silvester gold medal for ballroom-dancing. In 1959 he became political cartoonist on the Daily Mirror, taking over as Vicky's permanent replacement - although he was asked to adopt a lighter and more humorous approach than his predecessor. The paper enabled Franklin to reach a huge audience, with sales climbing to 5 million by 1965. However, he finally left the Daily Mirror in 1970, claiming that it had lost interest in its cartoons, and objecting to the reduction in size of the main political cartoon.
From 1971 to 1973 Franklin produced cartoon graphics for BBC TV comedy shows, such as The Marty Feldman Show, Them and Lame Ducks, and from 1974 he freelanced as a political cartoonist for the New Statesman. In the same year he took over from Paul Rigby as Editorial Cartoonist of the Sun - celebrating the event on 4 November 1974 with a cartoon of himself bombing the Houses of Parliament. He was much happier at the Sun than he had been on the Daily Mirror, noting in 1976 that he "used to have much more trouble at the Mirror than I do at the Sun": "The Sun is much bolder in approach. They have allowed me to draw cartoons which I don't think the Mirror would have allowed me to do...On the Mirror, they would often have a day without a cartoon. If the editor didn't like it, it wouldn't go in." At the Sun, by contrast, "I've never had a day without a cartoon."
Franklin started work on his Sun cartoon at 7.00 am, reading all the Fleet Street papers, and selecting two or three ideas for presentation to the editor. As he explained in 1976, "you want to see what other cartoonists have done so that you don't repeat their jokes and you read the editorials to know what the country thinks or is going to think." Franklin developed a more popular style for his Sun cartoons, explaining that the editor was "not too keen" on his use of literary quotations: "But what I use an awful lot is the whole culture of television: shows like Opportunity Knocks and Alf Garnett - pop shows. And people love it, because it's part of their life - of their cultural environment."
One literary reference which Franklin was permitted to use at the Sun was his portrayal of the Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan as the ever-hopeful Wilkins Micawber from Dickens' "David Copperfield." Franklin used this image extensively from July 1977 onwards, and it was apparently effective. Callaghan even challenged Franklin about his attacks, and when he replied that it was the prerogative of the press to attack the Prime Minister, Callaghan replied "Yes, I know, but every day?" Franklin also depicted Michael Foot as a dwarf, claiming later that "my depiction of Michael Foot as a dwarf led many people to believe he was a dwarf, politically speaking." On 13 August 1977 Franklin celebrated both depictions in a cartoon, where teenagers identified Callaghan as "a Dickens character" and Foot as "the dwarf wot appears in Sun cartoons!"
The Sun gave Franklin access to an enormous audience, reaching sales of 4 million, and a readership two or three times larger. His work was undoubtedly seen by more people than any other cartoonist of his generation. However, in 1981 Tom Johnston joined the Sun, and began to take responsibility for most of its daily cartoons. During the Falklands War Franklin contributed a series of strongly patriotic and anti-Labour cartoons, but on 5 May 1982, when the news broke of the destruction of HMS Sheffield, his cartoon was dropped, being replaced by a blank space and the note "Franklin's cartoon has been held out because it is now considered inappropriate." The next issued carried an anodyne cartoon by Franklin, in which Nelson paid tribute to the ship. By 1992 Franklin's contribution had dropped to just one cartoon a week, and in 1998 he finally retired from the Sun.
Franklin's mascot was a little man called Raspberry, who appeared as a spectator or commentator in many of his cartoons. Franklin described him as "a little bald-headed, big-nosed, one-toothed, pot-bellied dwarf". When Franklin joined the Sun he added a pigeon - named Percy - as a second mascot. Franklin worked with a mapping pen and brush and drew a third up on Bristol board. His drawings were simple and lively, but he once claimed that his reputation suffered "because my style is inconsistent": "I do the 'comic cuts' type of drawing one day, and the next day, it is more illustrative." Stanley Franklin died in Kingston-upon-Thames on 2 February 2004.
- Ian J. Scott (ed) British Cartoonists Year Book 1964 (London, 1963), p.133.
- CSCC Archive, Transcript of Rosette Glaser's interview with Stanley Franklin, 14 September 1976.
- Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), p.80.
- Mark Bryant "Obituary: Stanley Franklin", The Independent, 6 February 2004, p.22.
- The Times, 17 February 204, p.33, "Stanley Franklin."
- Alan Mumford "Obituary: Stanley Franklin", The Guardian, 27 February 2004, p.31.
2 boxes originals [FK0001 - 0060]
2436 originals, 13,200 rough sketches [SF0001-SF2519]
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