I did a live-drawing project last weekend as part of the Summer Squall arts festival in Ramsgate. It was called Love Them or Loathe Them and I drew a series of 3ft by 3ft cartoons of well-known divisive figures, such as the artist Tracey Emin, below, a local Margate girl ...
These were then pasted up on to the "Great Wall of Ramsgate", a hoarding around an empty building site which is itself the focus of local hate as it used to be the Pleasurama leisure park, was then supposed to become flats and is now a derelict eyesore.
The passing public were asked to give their views on the individuals depicted. We had ink pads saying “Love” or “Loathe” but they didn’t work very well, so instead people were invited to add comments with marker pens. And they didn’t hold back ...
Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence party was particularly divisive. He has since been confirmed as the Ukip candidate for the area at the general election next year, so this proved to be a poll of local opinion. I counted 15 against, 7 for and 3 undecided ...
Here are the rest of the drawings. The Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans ...
Once I'd added the blood to the teeth of the footballer Luis Suarez, below, I realised I probably shouldn't have bothered with the "Barcelona" on his shirt. But as the public had to match the cartoons with the names on the poster (top) I wanted to leave no room for doubt ...
Pop star Lady Gaga ...
Boris Johnson. Another one seeking election next year ...
TV "controversialist" Jeremy Clarkson ...
Former MP/writer/TV personality Ann Widdecombe. One of the last ones I drew, hence no comments yet ...
The comedian and wannabe revolutionary Russell Brand ...
X-factor judge and record company boss Simon Cowell. I might have pushed this one a bit far, he looks a bit like Kim Jong-un. The Kids got this one no problem, though ...
Toothsome journalist and TV personality Janet Street-Porter ...
The last one I drew was Alan Sugar and I freely admit that the likeness is not really there. Looks a bit too thuggish. However, I had a get-out clause with the speech bubbles ...
It was a really fun job and the public reaction was great. Many thanks to Jeni Butler for sorting out the logistics of the job beforehand and Sue Martin for her help on the day by, particularly by helping me with the wallpapering!
UPDATE: I neglected to take pic of all of the cartoons but thankfully @standuptoUKIP were on the case (posted on Twitter by @StopFarage). Looks like more comments have been added, and someone has tried to remove Suarez! Click image to enlarge.
"That's a little unfair, I just haven't found my niche."
I've got a couple of cartoons in the current Private Eye, here's one of them.
It's a reworking of a gag I sent round a few years ago which was rejected. The original drawing was a similar set-up but the cat looked depressed and said "I wouldn't say I was lost, it's more of a disaffected malaise". I think I did another version where he spoke of "ennui". It's more than possible that I was over-thinking the joke.
While re-working it I removed the repeated use of the word "lost" in the caption and decided that making the cat look depressed was over-egging the joke. These were both crucial to making it all work, I think. Cartoons often need a little fine-tuning to get them right.
I'm a bit late getting around to blogging about this but the Beside the Surrealside cartooning event in Herne Bay was a great success in glorious sunshine. Thanks to Kasia Kowalska for the picture above. And here's a report from the Herne Bay Gazette. Click the image to enlarge and read.
The Guardian mention that is referred to in the piece was a "reader's cartoons" feature they ran via their website. A handful of the submitted cartoons appeared in the Guardian and in an online piece.
It was really aimed at "budding" and "aspiring" cartoonists, but as I was saying to someone at Herne Bay, you never feel established as a freelance cartoonist anyway, as there's so much rejection involved! And it was nice to see a cartoon turned down by all the magazines get some exposure in print at last.
Here's a cartoon I submitted for the exhibition Cartoonists Beside the Surrealside which can be seen at the Beach Creative gallery, Herne Bay, from Wednesday 30 July until Tuesday 12 August. The show celebrates the town's link with Marcel Duchamp, like last year's event, so many of the cartoons will be art-themed.
I'll be one of the cartoonists taking part in the live drawing element of the event, which will be on Sunday 3 August (midday-5pm). Here's a picture of a bunch of us from last year.
Left to right: me, Kipper Williams and Chris Burke. Photo by Kasia Kowalska
It was a glorious day both in terms of weather and enjoyment, so we're hoping to do it all again at this year's event, which is supported by Arts Council England. Here's the event poster (note: the exhibition dates have been extended since the was made) drawn by Ian Baker.
"The BBC want you back, Danger Mouse – subject to a full risk assessment."
This cartoon from the current Private Eye could land me in Pedantry Corner again. Several people have pointed out that Danger Mouse was on ITV. However, they may not be aware that this is a topical cartoon as the much-loved cartoon series is indeed returning ... to be screened on Children's BBC.
So technically it's not wrong, depends on how you read it. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
UPDATE: The cartoon was mentioned in the next issue's Pedantry Corner, as predicted!
The exhibition, which includes contemporary artists as well as cartoonists, looks at works that riff off, and indeed rip off, other works of popular culture, as well as brands, logos etc (yes I've also got one of my many HMV dog cartoons in there!)
For this cartoon, I completely redrew (OK, traced) the Roy Lichtenstein "original" (he famously ripped off an actual a comic book image). But I wonder if that was really necessary? Should I have just changed the original in Photoshop as some cartoonists do?
Some works in the exhibition do use directly lifted material. This has been common in the art world since Duchamp, if not before, but continues to be controversial (see the comments here). Whatever you think, it looks sure to be an interesting and thought-provoking show.
"It's a battle of wills – I'm refusing to do anything funny for his YouTube page ..."
Fashions come and go, governments rise and fall, but yer humble gag cartoonist carries on drawing jokes about cats and dogs. People love 'em! The cartoon above can be seen in the current issue of Reader's Digest, the one below was in the last Private Eye.
"They're the dog's Pollocks."
Cartoonists are often the worst judges of their own material – you never know what people are going to go for – I had few hopes for this cartoon.
My surprise that it was taken by Private Eye was nothing compared to the surprise that since it appeared two weeks ago I have had emails almost every other day praising the cartoon and asking for the original, prints and redrawn versions (including a request to rework it "with the dog as identifiably an Airedale Terrier".)
I've just got back from a family holiday, during which I was mostly offline, so it was good to go online and find that this cartoon, which was in this week's Private Eye, got a very nice reaction and lots of retweets on Twitter (including here and here).
It was a little surprising as the cartoon refers to a song from 1979 (ask your parents, kids) so it's not exactly topical. But it seems to have tapped into a nostalgia vibe.
UPDATE: The cartoon made it into Pedantry Corner in the most recent Private Eye (13 June):
Being a bit of a pop music pedant myself, I was actually fully aware of this but I thought putting "Pop Musik" would get in the way of the joke, a view backed up on Twitter by someone who knows a bit about comedy.
UPDATE UPDATED: Here's my follow-up letter in this week's Private Eye (27 June):
Errr ... but someone pointed out that I put "Musik" instead of "Muzik" so this could run and run. Hoist by my own pedantry!
"Due to the inclement weather conditions, you are reminded to please take extra care ..."
Here's another cartoon about the First World War. It can be seen in the current issue of Prospect magazine. Unlike my recent war silhouette cartoon, this was not inspired by the centenary coverage of the war in the media, but by something far more mundane.
I was walking through a London Tube station after we had had what can only be described as a spot of light rain. The floor was slightly damp so they played the standard health and safety recorded message about "inclement weather conditions".
Like the middle-aged person I am, I thought, "And to think we won two world wars ..." From such nonsense are cartoon ideas spun ...
I attended the 11th Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival last weekend, the 9th consecutive one I have been to. Below is my Big Board cartoon (the boards are 8ft by 6ft) drawn at the event. It's a compilation of cartoons I've drawn over the years of Nipper the HMV dog, as the festival theme was Music. Click to enlarge and see the gags.
As well as the Big Board I contributed to the instant cartoons exhibition in the Market Square, drawing music cartoons on the spot. Here's me being indecisive over which pen to use. (Photo, and the one at the top, by Kasia Kowalska)
And here's a very silly music-themed gag from the instant cartoons exhibition, which seemed to go down well, as very silly cartoons usually do.
For the first time I was also on the Melodrawma team, helping draw a live comic strip to the accompaniment of narration, music and bizarre sound effects. Words and photos can't do justice to the craziness of the Melodrawma so you'll have to just go along next year to see what that is all about!
My second collection of magazine gag cartoons is available now. It's called Cartoons on Demand and is the same format as my first book i.e a 104-page glossy paperback with lots of cartoons in it from magazines such as Private Eye, Reader's Digest, Prospect and The Spectator.
Head over to my Online Shop where you can see some of the cartoons and buy a signed copy of the book for £5.99 plus £2 p+p. (Or, bargain hunters, you can buy it with the first one for just £11.49 plus £2 p+p). The perfect gift for the cartoon lover in your life etc etc.
As it's Easter this weekend, here's a cartoon about Jesus, which can be seen in the current issue of Prospect. I used a similar colour palette to the cartoon below, which was in the same magazine in 2011.