Ronald Searle (1920-2011)

Ronald Searle and Walt
Ronald Searle with Walt Disney. Click for bigger version

World-renowned cartoonist and illustrator Ronald Searle passed away peacefully in his sleep on Friday, December 30th, 2011. He was 91. Here is the BBC News obit.

In addition to his print work, Searle worked on numerous animation projects throughout his career including Energetically Yours and Dick Deadeye, and has indirectly been responsible for the look of countless other works of animation, most notably Disney’s 101 Dalmatians.

Here’s a Channel 4 interview with Searle on the occasion of his 90th birthday in 2010:

Below is the 1957 industrial film Energetically Yours that Ronald Searle designed. There are lots of behind-the-scenes photos and artwork related to the film on the Ronald Searle Tribute blog:

This is an animation test of his St. Trinian’s characters animated by Uli Meyer:

A photo of Ronald Searle visiting with Disney director and animator Ward Kimball in 1957. Click on the image for a larger version:

Ronald Searle and Ward Kimball


Note: Gallery Nucleus will present a Ronald Searle Exhibition January 7th through 29th, 2012. The opening reception is this Saturday at 7 pm — 10 pm.

Searle, an influential figure in the cartooning world since the beginning of the post-war era, his drawings identifiable by their scratchy textures, controlled gestural line quality, and often exaggerated human forms. This exhibit features a collection of Searle’s published and preliminary works including caricatures, illustrated typography, completed cartoons, and signed lithographs.

For more information on this Los Angeles area event, click here.


  • Inkan1969

    My sympathies. I’m very sorry to read this news.

  • http://zeteos.blogspot.com/ mick

    What a splendid fellow. Cheers to you Ronald

  • http://www.spiteyourface.com tony mines

    It’s impossible not to contemplate the political details in that news clip; a much loved cultural icon in Britain, but one chiefly lauded and employed abroad, residing in France, and his collection rewarded to Germany. A typically British story of a national treasure, completely undervalued by the state.

  • http://www.adamoliver.com Adam

    It is sad, but he achieved so much and when you watch that video you get a sense of the man…what a character!

    He was a giant of our world and I know many, including me, will always look up to him.

  • http://Shaneprigmore.blogspot.com Shane Prigmore

    Thankfully his work and immeasureable influence will live on. What an incredible inspiration he was, is, and will be. Thank you Mr. Searle.

  • http://www.oddballcomics.com Scott Shaw!

    When I was a kid, Searle’s work (often seen on the cover of TV GUIDE, of all places) genuinely disturbed me. Then, years later, I finally “got” his art and realized that I was put off by it because it was such a personal, organic approach, one that my mind could never second-guess. Ronald Searle has been one of my favorite illustrators/cartoonists for many years now. RIP Mr. Searle.

  • Pieter

    Quite a peculiar thing to stage a photoshoot behind bars with a former POW…

    Very sad that he passed away. St. Trinians will be remembered.

  • http://kicreativestudio.blogspot.com/ Ki Innis

    A great man. A great artist and inspiration.

  • http://4eyedanimation.com JoeCorrao

    the best…greatest influence on my work…will look through the books I have he did till I am 91

  • James Madison

    Sad news. My condolences to his family and friends.

  • http://www.kineticschool.com santosh

    Ronald Searle was an amazing artist whose work profoundly influenced me when I started taking classes in animation. I managed to get hold of his Paris Sketchbook that he put out awhile back, and have poured over it constantly for inspiration and creativity.. Sad to see him gone.

  • Bud

    How very sad. I poured over my collection of 15 or so Searle ink/paint originals I’ve got and just about cried. RIP, Ronald Searle.

    • http://ronaldsearle.blogspot.com Matt Jones

      Hey Bud-any chance you would share your collection with us on my Searle blog?

      • http://zeteos.blogspot.com/ mick

        I actually just met a fellow over the festive period who told me he has collected a shed load of illustrations by Mr Searle and he promised I could scan them so I will mail those to you for the blog… just off to kick him up the arse now

      • http://mousetracksonline.com/blog.php Greg Ehrbar

        You’ve probably seen this many times, Matt, but it’s a joy to watch over and over again. I love the song, too.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tEBXZjJfVQ

  • Harry

    He may not be the greatest cartoonist who ever lived. But offhand I can’t think of anyone who was consistently better.

  • http://www.ulimeyer.com Uli Meyer

    Ronald was possibly the most influential graphic artist of the last century and my personal hero. Harry comments above that he wasn’t the greatest cartoonist. Ronald wasn’t a cartoonist. He was a reportage artist, an illustrator, a painter, a satirical commentator, a writer, who also drew cartoons. And he was the best in all of that. Luckily he was so prolific that there will be new pieces of his magnificent oeuvre to discover and re-discover for generations to come. Ronald was a great admirer of George Grosz and Picasso and in my opinion their equal. Maybe the three of them will get together now for a glass of heavenly champagne and go on-the-spot sketching in the sky.

    • http://www.ailhadoceu.com.br Céu D’Ellia

      Cheers Uli, How is St. Trinian’s feature production? There are plenty of good reasons to the film do come to be. A few more, now.

      • dbenson

        A St. Trinian’s live action movie came and went –it’s already knocking around cable, an odd cross of Disney Channel tween fare and Animal House knockoff. The film’s major legacy is probably the hardbound collection of Searle drawings that came out as a sort of tie-in.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/ariville Ariel

    He was an inspiration to ALL artists.

    RIP Mr. Searle