John Jensen (born 1930) In a career of almost sixty years, John Jensen has contributed to innumerable magazines and newspapers, and has illustrated around 70 books. An expert in the history of his own field, Jensen was a founder, trustee and sometime Chairman of the Cartoon Art Trust, and also Chairman of the British Cartoonists’ Association. In 2002, he received the first ever ‘Grinny’, a Lifetime Achievement Award, at the 1st Nottingham Cartoon Festival.
John Jensen was born in Sydney, Australia, on 8 August 1930, the son of the cartoonist, Jack Gibson. He studied at the Julian Ashton Art School (1946-47), and while there published his first cartoon, in the Sydney Sun. He adopted his stepfather’s surname of Jensen when he began to contribute cartoons regularly to such publications as the Australia National Journal and Pertinent.
In 1950, Jensen worked his passage to England as a messboy, and took on a job as a dresser at the Piccadilly Theatre, London, before becoming a full- time cartoonist.
He was pocket cartoonist on the Birmingham Gazette (1951-53), the Glasgow Bulletin and the Glasgow Evening Times, and staff cartoonist for the Scotnews agency (1953-56). His first cartoon for Punch appeared in 1953.
In 1956, Jensen returned to London to freelance for a range of publications, including Lilliput, the Daily Express and the London Evening News (drawing a daily cartoon for the latter for over a few months). He became political cartoonist on the Sunday Telegraph at its inception in 1961, and remained with the paper for eighteen years. In the same period, he drew the series of social cartoons, entitled ‘The Quality of Life’, for the Spectator (1973-76), and theatrical caricatures for the Tatler (1973-77). He has also produced political cartoons and a ‘talking-head’ strip for Now! magazine (1979-81), and television caricatures and sports illustrations for Punch (from 1972 until its closure twenty years later). He has produced several books, and has illustrated seventy more.
As an expert in the history of cartooning, Jensen curated a major exhibition of the work of Will Dyson in 1996, and both wrote and designed its accompanying catalogue. He also contributed six entries on cartoonists and illustrators to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004).
His own work has appeared in a number of exhibitions, including the greatly successful show, ‘John Jensen’s Showbiz’ held at Chris Beetles Gallery in 1990.
His work is represented in the collections of numerous public collections, including the British Museum and the V&A; and the British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent (Canterbury).