To celebrate a decade of sweary sketches, the brilliantly silly cartoonists Modern Toss are hosting an exhibition. Eddy Frankel speaks to Jon Link and Mick Bunnage about ten years of razor-sharp humour.
‘Face like a shitflap’, ‘twat pack’, ‘plant’s arsehole’, and ‘shit me own piss’. No, these aren’t stanzas from a lost poem by Keats or lines from a forgotten Shakespearean sonnet, these are the graceful words of our very own contemporary laureates – the pair we know as Modern Toss.
Those rude epithets form part of a talking ‘periodic table of swearing’ (much more fun than the boring school science version) at a new exhibition in east London celebrating ten years of brash, abrasive and expletive-ridden cartoons from the London- and Brighton-based duo. Alongside that interactive table, the exhibition will include work from throughout their profane time together and an opportunity to get drawn by the mischievous artists themselves, ‘if they’re about.’
Jon Link and Mick Bunnage are the brains behind the operation, and came together when working at lads’ mag Loaded just over a decade ago. ‘The idea was to just do a few cartoons and see how it goes,’ Bunnage says. But a trip down the Mall soon set things in motion. ‘We took a shopping trolley full of comics to the ICA bookshop and they really went for it. They liked that homegrown, “two blokes shambling in” sort of thing. They bought about a hundred, sold ’em and then just asked for the rest. That’s how we got going.’
Since then they’ve produced two animated TV series for Channel 4 and managed to get their filthy cartoons into such esteemed publications as The Guardian, Private Eye and the Sunday Times. No one expected it – but they’ve become a success. Something about what they do appeals to a suppressed side of the British psyche. ‘I think it’s the bluntness of it. People are sort of shocked but they laugh at it at the same time. We don’t do that English thing of going at things sideways, we just go straight at it,’ Bunnage says.
Alongside their cartoons and TV shows they also have a range of greeting cards and have released a new book, ‘A Decade in the Shithouse’. ‘We do so many things these days,’ Bunnage says. ‘We’re like a little cottage industry of mischief. We’re like a low-rent Walt Disney.’ Low-rent? Sure, but the swearing is fucking top quality.
‘Modern Toss: A Decade in the Shithouse’, Forge & Co, 154-158 Shoreditch High St, E2 6HU. Thu Oct 2-Oct 19. Free. The book of the same name is out now.
For more great exhibitions take a look at this week’s best new art.