Thursday, November 24, 2016

Better get used to drawing Trump

Cartoon drawn for the cover of the November issue of The Jester, magazine of the Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain, which had "clowns" as its theme. To think, when I drew it in October I was worried that it may soon go out of date! I think I'll be drawing him some more ...

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Monday, October 31, 2016

At the new Hastings Cartoon Festival

I took part in the first Hastings & 1066 Country Cartoon Festival on the weekend of October 15 and 16, which was held to coincide with the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.

Above is my big board cartoon (click to enlarge) created on the Sunday, the Big Festival Day, in a marquee on The Stade, on the seafront. It was fun to draw parallels between events in 1066 and 2016.

On the Saturday I took part in a cartoonists’ panel discussion and Q&A with The Surreal McCoy and Glenn Marshall. We showed our cartoons on a big screen and talked about influences, generating ideas, feedback and, inevitably, rejection.

There was also a festival exhibition in The Stade Hall, with lots of gags on a historical theme. The top one here was recently published in The Spectator.
I designed the festival logo, seen below on a T-shirt. They wanted something about King Harold with the arrow in his eye, so a dip pen seemed the obvious substitute for a cartoon festival. Don't try this at home, kids.

All in all, a great debut for this festival. Let's hope we can do it all again next year.

I wrote a longer report at the PCO blog. And you can visit the festival website at:

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Surprise role as wedding cartoonist

Recently I did day of live drawing at a wedding held at the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate. Between the ceremony and afternoon drinks the guests had a chance to view the works on display, which allowed for a few art-based jokes (above).

This was not the typical kind of job cartoonists do at weddings (i.e. live caricatures). Instead I drew a series of cartoons telling the story of the day -- much as I would do at conferences and workshops -- from the arrival of guests, through the ceremony and afternoon reception and up to the first dance in the evening.

Here are a couple of excerpts. Each page was drawn with a cartoon frame, to go with the gallery location, and I used yellow and grey, the wedding colours, so they fitted right in.

The cartoons got a great reaction (even the magician was impressed and he does magic) and certainly added something a little bit different to the day. A fun job.

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Monday, September 5, 2016

We have the technology


Take a "behind-the-scenes" look at a cartoon from a recent issue of Private Eye. See every mistake and rethink! This video probably needs some music, but you'll just have to sing Y Viva EspaƱa while watching it

Drawn with ProCreate on the Apple iPad Pro.

If you can't see the video, try this link.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Herne Bay Cartoon Festival 2016

Here are a couple of my cartoons from the exhibition Postcards from the Seaside, part of this year's Herne Bay Cartoon Festival, in which many of the cartoons were modern takes on traditional seaside postcards, many in the style of Donald McGill, the acknowledged master of the genre.

The cartoon above refers to McGill's notorious, much-prosecuted postcard "A Stick of Rock, Cock?", below.

As usual there was a live event in the Bandstand on Herne Bay seafront, where there was much drawing of cartoons. Photo by Kasia Kowalska.

Here are a couple drawn on the shared boards (i.e. with lots of other cartoonists) during the afternoon. It's always nice to hear laughter for cartoons that have previously been rejected by several magazines, as these two have. Clearly this was an audience of great wit and taste ...

"Did you know you may be entitled to PPI compensation?"

"Ah, summer! The sun! The long nights! The annual Labour leadership campaign!"

I put together a photo report on the event which you can see at the Professional Cartoonists' Organisation blog.

It's another Winnie

"We need to address the heffalump in the room."

A recent Spectator magazine cartoon that is, oddly enough, not my first Wiinie-the-Pooh-based cartoon this year.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Post-Brexit hat-trick

I managed to get three cartoons in the Private Eye "Leave Special", a feat I was rather chuffed with but I'd rather we hadn't voted to leave the EU for it to happen!

All three were on a post-Brexit theme, here's one of them.
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Monday, June 6, 2016

In praise of gag cartoons

Here's an article I wrote for the Procartoonists blog five years ago, when I published my first collection of cartoons:

Whenever the media spotlight is turned on cartoons it is often those of a political variety. These cartoons shout the loudest and have news impact, but I think it's time to speak up for its modest cousin: the gag cartoon.

I have been drawing gag cartoons for the magazine market for about 15 years. I love the process of coming up with new ideas and, hopefully, getting them published.

Recently I've been sifting through my drawings from magazines such as Reader's Digest and Private Eye in order to put together a book collection. I'm not friends with any famous people so I had to write my own foreword for the book and decided to to put down exactly what it is I like so much about gag cartoons as a medium.

This was the crux of piece: "The single-panel joke is a perfect, self-contained unit of comedy, an instant hit of humour that doesn't demand much of your time."
I once heard the writer Will Self describe gags as "the haiku of cartoons". That may sound a little pretentious (from Will Self? Surely not?) but I think it's true, a gag cartoon is like a poem. Or a one-liner joke, perhaps. It is a small, carefully crafted article.

It doesn't have the grandeur or the, let's be honest, occasional self-importance of the political cartoon, but it is still designed to provoke a reaction: hopefully laughter.

I have heard some people claim that the gag cartoon is in some way an old-fashioned form. This is probably because it is so closely connected with magazines, so people think of crumpled, yellowing copies of Punch in the dentist's waiting room. Also, magazines and newspapers are "dead-tree technology", and that, we are constantly being told, is on the way out.

But, when you think about it, the gag cartoon is actually perfectly suited for this age of the short attention span and sits just as easily on a web page, or an iPad app, as a magazine page.

And long may it continue to do so.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Referendum cartoon

Click to enlarge. Just because a cartoon is for a magazine about waste and recycling, doesn't mean it can't be about the EU referendum! From the May issue of Skip Hire Magazine.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Spectator cartoons

Here are a couple of recent cartoons from The Spectator. One on over-sensitive university students closing down debate (which is proving to be a rich seam for joke cartoonists ...)
And one about a recent high-profile crime ...

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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Private Eye cartoons

"I only drink Arts and Craft beer."

Yikes, my blog posts seem to have become more or less monthly (!) so I'd better get one in before this one ends. Here's a couple of recent cartoons from Private Eye.
"Before I begin, I should issue a Tigger warning."

The latter landed me, not for the first time, in "Pedantry Corner" on the letters page ...

I knew that as I read the books to my kids when they were young, but putting "The House and Pooh Corner" introduces unnecessary detail and ruins the immediacy of the joke. Here's another example of that.

The cartoon also seems to have kicked off one  of those Private Eye repeated jokes (it would probably be called a meme on the internet) and cartoonists have weighed in with warnings for trigonometry and Trigger from Only Fools and Horses. I've also got another in the latest issue. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Going live: Cartoons in front of an audience

Drawing live at conferences and events is something I've been doing more of over recent years, producing a memorable cartoon summary of speeches, workshops and discussions.

The process is variously known as graphic recording, scribing, sketchnotes, graphic facilitation, visualisation ... I tend to just call it live cartooning. The subjects can be many and varied, though this one, held last month, was something of a gift: a conference called Comedy on Stage and Page.

It was held at the University of Kent by the newly established British Stand-Up Comedy Archive (BSUCA) in association with the British Cartoon Archive. The photos are copyright BSUCA, and you can see more here.

Below is one of the finished pages. I completed eight by the end of the day's events. Get in touch if you have an event that could benefit from this kind of cartooning.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Private Eye cartoon: Should've gone to Specsavers*

"Yeah, I like these, I'll take them."

From the current edition of Private Eye. Had my eyes tested recently. Resisted the temptation to crack this joke and drew it as a cartoon instead. *Other opticians are available

[Update 22/2/15] From the letters page in the following Private Eye:

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Another year over: 2015 in topical cartoons

It's almost the end of 2015, must be time for the traditional look back at the past 12 months via the medium of topical cartoons.

The year was just a few days old when the first major tragic story of 2015 happened. One that had particular resonance for cartoonists ...

Free speech became a thorny issue, particularly at universities, where some student unions appeared to have a problem with it ...

Here in the UK, we had a general election ...

We saw the return of some old knitted friends ...

The demonisation of certain elements of, er, society ...

It seems we are now in an age where social-media sites introducing new buttons is news ...

... and tech company bosses are the subjects of movies.

Gadgets continued to rule our lives, of course ...

There were the usual health scares (delicious processed meats this time ...)

And -- seismic change alert -- a 5p tax on carrier bags was introduced in England ...

More tragic news from Paris almost bookended 2015 ...

But, here in the UK at least, we had some positive news as the year drew to a close ...

Have a happy 2016, all!

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