Reader's Digest caption contest: Result

"He may be a super-villain to you, but do you have any idea how many jobs he's created for the local area?"

You many remember I mentioned that this cartoon of mine was the Reader's Digest "Beat the Cartoonist" drawing in the August issue.

The idea was that readers submitted their captions, and the three best ones were posted on the website alongside my original wording, with no clue as to which was the original, of course. Visitors to the site were then asked to choose their favourite.

Well the good news, revealed in the October issue, is that they made the correct decision ... in other words they voted for my caption! It's the first time for five months that the cartoonist has won. My fellow scribblers, the fightback begins here ...
Royston's portfolio website


Boardroom cartoon: Snack time

"Owing to the very real threat of biscuit-related injuries, the snack of choice for meetings will now be blancmange."

Anyhoo ... enough about the other cartoonist called Royston, here's a drawing from the current one (click to enlarge). This is the latest in the boardroom series, which I draw regularly for a trade publication. It accompanied an article about the number of accidents caused at work by biscuits. It's quite a lot, apparently!

Royston's portfolio website


Another cartoonist called Royston: Update

When I found out last week that there was another cartoonist called Royston, working in Australia in the 1940s, I knew I would need to uncover more about my namesake.

After numerous emails to cartoonists in the UK and Australia, primarily John Jensen and Lindsay Foyle, consultations in reference books on artists, and a fair bit of poking around in dusty corners of the internet, I found out a lot more. And here’s the headline news: Royston was a woman!

“Royston” was the pen-name of Victoria Ethel Cowdroy, better known as Vic Cowdroy, an Australian cartoonist, painter, sculptor, illustrator, filmmaker and commercial artist. I feel like a bit of an underachiever compared to this Royston.

A poster I found in an online auction, credited as the work of Vic Cowdroy, circa 1965. Intriguingly, it is signed “Royston Cooper”.

Cowdroy was born in 1908 and moved to London after the Second World War. She married cartoonist Arthur Horner, creator of the strip Colonel Pewter. They lived and worked in Britain until the mid-1970s when they returned to Melbourne. She died on 26 June 1994.

From The Age, Melbourne, Dec 31, 1977. Note the reference to Horner working on a Colonel Pewter film with his wife.

You can find out all you need to know about Vic Cowdroy here. The article states: “From January 1938 Cowdroy contributed numerous joke cartoons and elegant line and watercolour drawings to Man, Man Junior, Cavalcade and other semi-salacious publications under the pseudonym ‘Royston’.”

I couldn’t find any more "Royston" cartoons online (if you have any, please do scan them and send them to me) but this piece does contain some very entertaining transcriptions of her Man cartoons, which were more than a little risqué for the time.

Old woman to young woman going out: “Be a good girl and have a good time.”/ “Make up your mind mother.” November 1938

Young woman to customs officer checking her luggage: "Oh, don't worry with that one. It's only some marihuana I'm smuggling in." December 1938

Woman with knickers round her ankles but hat intact: “Huh! I thought you said this stuff would knock your hat off.” January 1939

So, lots of information uncovered on Victoria Cowdroy, but one mystery remains: Why earth did she chose the name Royston?!

Many thanks to cartoonist John Jensen for being the first to tip me off that "Royston" was a woman. John's father was Jack Gibson, one of the key artists at Man, and John met Vic Cowdroy a few times.

Thanks also and to Lindsay Foyle in Australia for a heroic amount of research, finding out info from colleagues and looking Cowdroy up in reference books on Australian art. And cheers to Matt Buck, Andy Davey, Jason Chatfield and Nik Scott.

And this is me! THIS Royston's portfolio site


Art cartoon: I'm so very sorry

Picasso's "Weeping Woman", Picasso's lesser-seen "Pull Yourself Together, Woman"

It is traditional when producing cartoons based on works of art to put "After ..." followed by the name of the artist. Out of respect, this often takes the form of "Apologies ..." which I have used here.

It's genuinely felt too, because I love Picasso's "Weeping Woman". It's an amazingly powerful work, particularly when you see it in a gallery. The painting is about bereavement in the Spanish Civil War, and I wondered whether it was a suitable subject for a cartoon.

In the end I decided not to let my liberal guilt get in the way of a cheap gag! So here it is, and sorry again Pablo. The cartoon can be seen in the current Private Eye.

It was drawn with coloured brush pens, as I thought that would be better than using Photoshop. And yes, I used a lightbox to get the "Weeping Woman" right. It was quite a lot of effort to go to for an on-spec gag, much more than is usual, so I'm glad it sold.

Royston's portfolio website


Another cartoonist called Royston

"Great gosh! My husband! Then who the devil's this?"

Yes, unlikely though it sounds, it appears there was once another cartoonist called Royston. And with a signature eerily close to mine! These were emailed to me be Denise Miles, from Sydney, Australia (click to enlarge).

Denise found them in the 1941 annual for Man magazine, a saucy periodical published by Land newspapers in Australia.

"I presume you know the story of the commercial traveller and the farmer's daughter. Well I'm the farmer's daughter ..."

If you know anything about this Royston (the name is more common as a surname, so that may be the case here) let me know in the comments section below, or send me an email. My theory is that in the future I invent a time machine, go back to the 1940s and illicitly sign a bunch of contemporary cartoons, before sending them off to magazines which I hope won't notice.

Hopefully, someone else will be able to provide more plausible information. Look at the similarity of the signature to mine though. I'm officially freaked out.

Denise tells me that the Man annual has a cover price of two shillings and contains many cartoons by Royston, alongside some beautiful old advertisements for Australian companies, an ad for war savings certificates and another telling its wartime readership to "Speak no rumour, hear no rumour".

Other cartoons in the book are signed "Such", "Barnes Amos" and, possibly, "Gibson". There are also cartoons by someone whose signature is a flower.

Let me know if you can provide more info. Now, I'm going back to the shed to work on that time machine ...

Royston's portfolio website


Big Draw a huge success

I went along to the Big Draw launch at the Idea Generation gallery in London on Saturday with my son. We both had a brilliant time, with his prolific drawing output putting me to shame.

The icing on the cake was the fact that our team won in the Battle of the Cartoonists! I've written a full "match report" on that over at The Bloghorn.

Don't forget that the drawings in the gallery's Now We Are Ten show, including mine, above (click to enlarge) and banners from previous Battles, are to be auctioned at 7.30pm this Thursday (September 17). All proceeds go to the Campaign for Drawing. For more details click here, and to see artwork and place bids online click here.

Royston's portfolio website


Deli cartoon: Warning adult language!

"Everything here is organic, free-range, naturally produced, locally sourced, pesticide free, minimally packaged, and fairly traded – and yet, ironically, I am a complete bastard."

The long-caption cartoon is always a tough sell, but the sweary gag is even more so. This one ticks both boxes, but Private Eye went for it anyway and it appears in the current issue.

Of course, "bastard" is, arguably, not really a swear word. It is a perfectly, ahem, legitimate word. And of course, Quentin Tarantino put the word (albeit misspelled) in the title of his new film. So no big deal, right? Even so, I use swearing very rarely because in the gag cartoon, a very minimalist form, every word needs to be justified.

Here's a rare example of a cartoon where I avoided swearing, but the cartoon editor felt that actually it was needed!

So, if every word needs to be justified, why the long caption? Well, sometimes you can get away with them. Here, the long list is part of the joke and I think I got a good rhythm to it. Here's another example of a cartoon with a long caption.

Royston's portfolio website


Big Draw exhibition opens

The Battle of the Cartoonists banner (click images to enlarge) which I helped to create last year, as a member of the PCO team, is now on show at the Big Draw exhibition "Now We Are Ten".

The show opened yesterday at the Idea Generation Gallery, 11 Chance Street, London. This drawing is also in it.

The exhibition includes work by the likes of Steve Bell, Gerald Scarfe, Quentin Blake Tony Husband and Posy Simmonds. Illustrious company. I guess I'm one of the cartoonists described in the blurb as "up-and-coming". I wonder how long you have to be up-and-coming before you get there?

The drawings will be auctioned at 7.30pm on September 17 at the gallery. All proceeds go to the Campaign for Drawing. For more details click here, to see artwork and place bids online click here.

The 2009 Battle of the Cartoonists, along with cartoon workshops, takes place this Saturday (September 12) at the Idea Generation gallery. The event kicks off at 2pm with the workshops, and the Battle gets underway at 3pm. It goes on until 5pm when the banners are put to the public vote.

I'll certainly be going along to show my support for the PCO team. And my son, who is seven and loves drawing, will be coming along to take part in the workshops.

Royston's portfolio website


Press cartoon: Reverse caption competition

I took part in the "reverse caption" competition at the Cartoonists' Club public forum again this week. The caption was "I've just realised where we went wrong" and this was my entry.

I was pleased, and not a little surprised, to be able to get a topical joke in there. Didn't win though, I came fourth. So much for satire.

Fact: the shorthand on his notebook is genuine Teeline shorthand, dimly remembered from my days as a news reporter. It says,"We're totally f-----!" Maybe I'd have got more votes if I'd flagged that up. Or perhaps not.

Royston's portfolio website


CCTV cartoon: A new spin on an old idea

"It followed me home, can we keep it?"

This cartoon appears in this week's edition of The Spectator. "He followed me home, can we keep him?" is, of course, an old line which has appeared in many forms in gag and strip cartoons over the years. It's usually a dog or some other creature. This was an attempt to put a modern spin on the line.

Royston's portfolio website


Music cartoon: In with the IT Crowd

"Have you tried turning it on, turning it on and turning it on again?"

I drew this cartoon for a "just for fun" competition over at the public forum on the Cartoonists' Club website. Well, I say that I drew it for the competition, in fact it was immediately ineligible (or illegible if you don't know the Genesis song that it refers to!)

The idea behind the weekly competition is that everyone draws a cartoon to go with a caption, without changing the wording at all. The caption was "Have you tried switching it off and on?" but my mind went off at a tangent and came up with this one.

The competition has been running for a few weeks and I've entered a couple of times. It's a fun exercise, but it's pretty far from how I would normally create cartoons. Usually I do have a clear joke in mind when I sit down to draw the cartoon but often it gets tweaked or changed completely, which is what happened here. As the competition was just for fun, I posted it anyway.

Royston's portfolio website