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John Glashan facts for kids

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John Glashan (born John McGlashan, 24 December 1927 – 15 June 1999) was a Scottish cartoonist, illustrator and playwright. He was the creator of the "Genius" cartoons.

Glashan's cartoons typically included small pen-and-ink figures drawn over a fabulous backdrop often featuring fantastic Gothic or imaginary architecture, surreal landscapes or gloriously impractical ingenious-looking machines.

Life and work

Born in Glasgow and the son of the portrait painter Archibald A. McGlashan, John McGlashan studied painting at the Glasgow School of Art after national service in the army. He moved to London intending to make a living from painting portraits, but was unable to do so. After switching to cartooning and illustrating he shortened his surname to "Glashan".

Glashan's cartoons appeared in Lilliput, Queen, The Spectator, Punch, Private Eye, and various London newspapers, as well as Holiday and the New Yorker.

Glashan's illustrations were also used in advertising material for brands such as ICI, Aalders and Marchant, and Blue Nun.

A series of humorous guidebooks created with Jonathan Routh in the late 1960s allowed extensive expression of Glashan's graffiti-like style, combining small figures (often bearded men) with scrawled text – but, even here, often with elaborate backdrops.

The "Genius" cartoons, which allowed Glashan to use colour and a great expanse of space, ran in the Observer Magazine from 1978 to 1983, whereupon he concentrated on landscape painting. His cartoons reappeared from 1988 in the Spectator.


  • Francis Kyle Gallery, 1979
  • Francis Kyle Gallery, 1983
  • The Cartoon Gallery, 1991
  • The Fine Arts Society, 1991
  • The Fine Arts Society, 1994
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