Humorous illustration: some examples

You might get the impression from this blog that my work is all about the on-spec gag cartoon market. But, in fact, a lot of my time is taken up with commissioned work, and these drawings are often more in the area that is known as "humorous illustration", rather than joke cartoons.

Here are some examples, from various books and magazines. Click the images for larger versions.

Royston's portfolio website: humorous illustration and more


Caricatured by Steve Bright

This caricature of me was drawn by my cartoonist pal Steve Bright. It was kind of an exercise in no-holds-barred caricaturing. I'm pretty sure Steve isn't quite so cruel when at live caricaturing gigs, or he'd never get asked back. But I'm not (too) vain, I love it! And it's now on my wall, as well as my blog.

Steve cut his teeth at the Beano and Dandy and was co-creator of Bananaman (he also kindly drew a Bananaman for my son). He's a superb draughtsman and to see him draw live is a joy. Check out his website Steve Bright Cartoons.

The egg-shaker, by the way, is a reference to my "musical" exploits at the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival.

Royston's portfolio website


Recycling cartoon: Climate change is such a laugh

I "do my bit", as they say, in terms of recycling, composting, re-using stuff, using public transport, etc, and I certainly believe that climate change is a problem ... yet I find that it's so much easier to make jokes about "Green enthusiasts" than about the climate-change deniers. Above is an example, which appears in this week's Private Eye.

I read an article in the Guardian last week about whether it's possible for comedians to do jokes supporting environmentalism, or whether they just end up sounding preachy. I've certainly seen the latter with some comedians who have tackled the issue. But maybe I'm just being lazy and should attempt some pro-environmentalism gags. Watch this space.

Appropriately, the joke in this cartoon was originally written for a commission but it was rejected by the client in favour of another option. So I "recycled" the joke by drawing it as a cartoon to go out with an on-spec batch.

Royston's portfolio website

Review: Pont at the Cartoon Museum

I wrote a review of the exhibition Pont: Observing the British at Home and Abroad, which is at the Cartoon Museum in London, for the Professional Cartoonists' Organisation blog. Here it is:

It's probably asking for trouble to use the word "important" in relation to a cartoon exhibition, but it seems applicable here as Pont, who was known as Graham Laidler to his mum, is so often overlooked when histories of cartooning are written.

Also, these cartoons from the 1930s were clearly instrumental in helping to create the magazine cartoon as we know it today. And a tribute to their worth is the fact that so many are laugh-out-loud funny, even now.

Pont's The British Character cartoons, which appeared in Punch and make up a large chunk of the show, still seem to hit the nail on the head. Even the captions in themselves are funny: "Fondness for laughing at our own anecdotes"; "Passion for not forgetting the moderately great"; and, my particular favourite, "A tendency to leave the washing-up till later".

The drawings demand your attention, and repay you with lots of brilliant details. Look at that impatient left foot in the drawing above! In "Life in the Flat Above", part of the Popular Misconceptions series, we see every member of the family jumping up and down on the floor and clanging pots, but look closer and you see that figures in the paintings on the walls, including an elephant, are also jumping.

Laidler died at 32, a tragically short life, but what a groundbreaking legacy he left. The cartoon above looks like a 1930s precursor to the melancholy of Charles Schulz's Peanuts.

So it's an important show, but it's mostly just very, very funny. The exhibition, which includes a comprehensive and reasonably priced catalogue, is at the Cartoon Museum until July 27. Go and see it.

The Cartoon Museum website

The Professional Cartoonists' Organisation


Dinner party cartoon: Let's change the subject

Here's a cartoon from May's Reader's Digest. Needless to say, this is based on experience. Why do people love talking about these subjects so much, particularly houses? I own a house, not thinking of moving, or buying another, so who cares? People ask how much your house is worth now even when you're not selling, as if you're supposed to keep checking. Come on people, let's find something else to talk about. Whose watching Mad Men? Anyone?

Royston's portfolio website

From the archives: Early "fame"

I came across these cuttings while having a sort out the other day. The first two are from nearly 20 years ago when some friends and I ran a self-published Viz-inspired comic called DoodleBug.

We sent copies out to various media outlets, most of whom ignored us. We did get a mention on the John Peel Show though and, for some reason, five glowing reviews (not bad as we only did eight issues!) in the now defunct Record Mirror. These are the last two. Click to enlarge and read the text.

The cutting below, worth posting for the dodgy hair and glasses, is from 1994. Universal Post was a magazine for students in Sunderland. It was independent, not connected to the university, and was my first regular paying gig. For a couple of years I did a strip every fortnight (A4, landscape, two decks) and they paid me £20 for it. Not a great deal of money even then, but I put it all into a separate bank account and eventually it paid for a holiday abroad.

I submitted some of the strips in a competition for student cartoonists run by Zit comic, to which this article refers. Click to enlarge and read the text.

Check out the "comedy" pose and me pretending to draw a strip I'd finished ages ago! By the way I didn't come second, there was only one winner and everyone else was a runner up. I think the paper decided second sounded better. The bit about me being drunk is a scurrilous lie.

Royston's portfolio website