Martin Honeysett was born in Hereford on May 20 1943 and brought up in Croydon. He went to Selhurst Grammar School in Croydon, where he was taught art by Geoffrey Dickinson, who later became deputy art editor of Punch. Honeysett then went on to study at Croydon School of Art from 1960-1961.
He then worked briefly in a London animation studio, and a factory in Manchester, but in 1962 emigrated to New Zealand, where he had a variety of jobs from lumberjack to stage hand for the New Zealand Ballet. Honeysett returned to England for a short time, but in 1965 moved to Canada, where he again worked for a time as a lumberjack. He returned to Britain in 1968, with a determination to "get down to the work of learning about being an artist." At first he worked as a bus driver for London Transport, while drawing cartoons in his spare time.
Honeysett sold his first cartoon to the Daily Mirror in 1969 and began contributing to Punch in the following year. By 1972 he was able to become a full-time freelance cartoonist, and during his career he worked for a wide range of publications including Punch, New Statesman, Private Eye, TV Times, Radio Times, The Oldie, Sunday Telegraph, Observer, Daily Mirror, and Evening Standard. Honeysett also illustrated several books, including a series of poetry books by Ivor Cutler.
Honeysett's cartoons typically featurde grotesque figures and dark humour. His drawings, noted one interviewer in 1977, were "savage in their view of human beings": "The facial ugliness of everyone is beyond belief...They have small heads, ugly faces, and their bodies both swell and sag as they get nearer the ground." When asked about this, Honeysett replied disingenuously "But that's how people really look, isn't it?" But later in life he was more forthright. “I've always enjoyed the darker, blacker humour”, he told another interviewer in 2010, admitting that he tried to include "venom and anger in my cartoons."
In 2005 Honeysett became the first visiting professor at Kyoto Seika University, which had recently established a Department of Cartoon & Comic Art, with separate sections for editorial cartoons, Japanese manga, and animation. “Honeysetto”, as he was known, remained at Kyoto until 2007.
Martin Honeysett died on 21 January 2015.
- Bill Grundy "Grundy's Cartoonists 10: Who is Martin Honeysett?", Punch, 21 September 1977, pp.506-7.
- Mark Bryant "Martin Honeysett", in Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), p.116.
- Hastings Observer, 19 May 2007, “Honeysett crosses language divide with cartoons.”
- Times, 20 May 2010, p.27, “Happy Birthday Martin Honeysett, 67.”
- Daily Telegraph, 23 January 2015, p.35, “Martin Honeysett - Satirical cartoonist whose spidery illustrations captured the 'venom and anger' he felt for the modern age.”
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