It’s not often you get to meet your heroes. And when you do, it can be disappointing. Luckily I was in the office when Martin Honeysett came in to see about representation. How gratifying it was, as a cartoon aficionado, to discover that the genius who produced some of my favourites from the past 45 years was charming, delightful, warm, interesting, friendly, generous and very funny.
It was easy to believe this extraordinary man had once been a lumberjack and, much later, a visiting professor of cartooning at a Japanese university. (He was invited for a year and they extended his stay to two.)
It’s so difficult to take in that someone so full of life has died, cruelly struck down by endocarditis, a rare heart infection.
Phosphor Art had the honour of representing Martin for illustration work. Whenever anyone even so much as hinted at the word ‘cartoon’ we put Martin forward. His styles were as distinctive as his signature. Perhaps because he was so well known for his ensemble of grotesque characters, often dwelling in life’s underbelly, his versatility was largely ignored. Too many art directors missed out on commissioning outstanding, challenging, unique work.
Your own eyes should tell you just how good Martin’s drawings are, but if you still need convincing, look at the calibre of his collaborators. Sue Townsend, Terry Jones and Michael Palin and Dick King-Smith were among those who benefited from the Honeysett imagination and talents. His work was welcomed by the best homes for cartoons: (pre-Fayed) Punch, Private Eye, The Spectator, The Oldie… Private Eye‘s book A Cartoon History features dozens of his drawings from the 1970s through to today. When the Eye before last arrived recently, it had a Honeysett which raised a grin as ever.
There’s a wonderful photographic portrait of the artist in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection. That smile will live on in the memories of everyone fortunate enough to have met Martin. Our sympathy goes out to all his friends and family.
Bob Wilson, who introduced Martin to us, was looking forward to meeting up soon with his friend at an Oldie event. Hopefully the occasion will be used to wallow in stories and reminiscences of many great times shared.
R.I.P. Honeysett – and thanks for all the gags which survive you.