Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

"Apparently, it's organic."

Well, after complaining last week that we've not had any festive snow, some did finally arrive here at the weekend. And here is the snowman we made ...

My wife tells me that the carrot is organic, which makes it a case of life imitating cartoons i.e. the one above which can be seen in the current issue of Prospect.

Talking of snowmen, I was commissioned by one of the Kent papers to do a snowy weather cartoon and somehow managed to turn it into a gag about Rage Against the Machine making it to the coveted Christmas Number One spot.

The funny thing is, I already had a punk snowman, with a carrot mohawk, in my sketchbook from months ago when I was brainstorming Christmas cartoons. I liked the image but didn't know what to do with it as a cartoon. Until now. So the moral is never throw away old sketchbooks!

I'm now taking a break from blogging until January 2010. All the best of the festive season to you. Have a good one.

Royston's portfolio website

In the Reader's Digest caption competition again

One of my drawings is being used to "Beat the Cartoonist" at Reader's Digest again. Please be gentle with me ...

Can you think of a caption? The closing date is January 10, which, coincidentally, is my birthday!

Royston's portfolio website


Review of the Year type thing

As the end of the year approaches, it's time for a round-up of my cartooning highlights, as seen through this blog. Don't worry, I'm only doing 2009, not the whole decade, as most papers seem to be doing these days ...

  • The main highlight of the year has to be being a member of the Cartoonists team on TV's Eggheads, especially as we won!

  • The Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival is always a highlight of the cartooning year. As is the Big Draw.

  • It's always great when posts on the blog touch a chord with people. And If this isn't nice, I don't know what is and Keep Calm and Carry on Drawing, above, both got a good reaction.

  • It's also good to get good feedback from published cartoons, of course, and inevitably this happens most with cartoons in Private Eye. The Picasso cartoon and Granny on drugs went down well, someone emailed me to tell me they carry a copy of the latter around with them to show it to people! But the most astounding reaction was to the cartoon that appeared to show purveyors of organic food in a less than positive light ... I sold many copies to owners of organic food businesses, deli owners etc. Go figure.

    "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."

  • Contributing to the PCO's Travelling Moleskine, which was organised by the Culture Vulture was fun.

  • Getting a reaction to my IT Crowd-based cartoon from Graham Linehan, writer of the show, made me see there could be something to that Twitter lark.

  • It was amazing to find out that there was once another cartoonist called Royston who I later found out was a woman. I was sent a book featuring her work so I was able to see her brilliant Disney cartoon and other more saucy stuff.

  • It was nice to be one of the few cartoonists to win the Reader's Digest caption competition. And a caption contest with a difference over at the CCGB website proved to be a fun challenge.

  • Commission me in 2010, why dontcha?


    Snowman cartoon: Who's that?

    Apparently, lots of people here in the UK have snow today. People in London appear to be getting particularly excited about it on Twitter. As usual, there is none here on the tip of the Kentish coast, so I have to make do with snow cartoons instead.

    This one can be found on a Christmas card in a gift shop near you (I sold the card company this and a slightly rude caption for a photo card). It can also be seen as a full-page cartoon on the back of the latest edition of Foghorn, the magazine of the Professional Cartoonists' Organisation.

    You can read an archive of the Foghorn online, just click the button on the right-hand column of this blog (scroll down). To buy a print subscription to the mag, which comes out six times a year, go here.

    In other news: There's an interview with me over at a US blog called David Wasting Paper. David is a self-confessed cartooning geek and has put the same questions to a whole load of cartoonists and comics artists, including Bill Griffith, Nick Downes, Dave Coverly, Chris Browne and Larry Gonick. There's lots to read there, well worth a look during the inevitable festive period down-time.

    Royston's portfolio website


    Office cartoon: The sick day

    "Is somebody here implying that I was not really sick?"

    One of the best things about being self-employed is that you never have to make that humiliating phone-call where you put on a croaky voice and call in sick.

    (Having said that, I do remember loving that feeling when you hang up the phone, and you know you've now got a day of watching DVDs while sitting on the sofa under a duvet ahead of you!)

    This cartoon was drawn to accompany an article about the number of working days lost to illness. Why do companies whinge on about this all the time? You're never going to get away from the fact that people get ill, and that there are some days when people just don't feel like working! I've never worked anywhere where they have "duvet days", but it sounds like a great idea.

    Royston's portfolio website


    Cartoon coasters: An ideal Christmas present

    Sets of cartoon coasters (above, click to enlarge) featuring my gags are available for sale over at cartoonz.co.uk – the ideal Christmas present for the person in your life who likes a drink and a laugh but also likes to keep their table free of marks!

    They are available as sets of four, with various designs on a drinking and socialising theme, to choose from. Steve Willis, who runs the site, gave me two sets featuring my cartoons last week and I was impressed with the quality and also how well cartoons work in this context.

    My dad worked in the licensing trade when I was a kid and I remember cartoons were very popular on beermats back then, particularly gags by Larry. Coasters and beermats are a no-brainer for cartoons really, I suppose, as you've simply got a square blank canvas which is about the size of a magazine cartoon. Go buy!

    Royston's portfolio website


    Boardroom cartoon: A man for our times

    "Our new finance director, Ebeneezer, tells me can start immediately on identifying areas where we can make cuts."

    This year seems to have been characterised by cuts, redundancies and companies banging on about cutting waste. So when I was commissioned to do a festive gag in my ongoing series of boardroom cartoons, to be used as an Christmas e-card, it occurred to me to throw Ebeneezer Scrooge in there. He'd probably be seen as an asset to most companies these days.

    Royston's portfolio website


    More cartoons from the other Royston

    "Sometimes, Phillips, I just like to sit at home and look at the four walls."

    I managed to get round to scanning a few cartoons by the other Royston, the pseudonym of Victoria Cowdroy, who worked as a cartoonist in Australia in the 1940s.

    I posted her excellent Disney cartoon a few weeks ago, and here are three more. Like all the cartons from the 1941 Man annual, they're full-pagers, hence the captions appear small here. Click to enlarge.

    They're mostly in a "saucy" style, as above, though the one below appears to be making a comment on bankers, who were clearly held in as high esteem then as they are now.

    "Eleven o'clock, an appointment with the Consul. Lunch at one with Sir Basil Binge. The Russian Ambassador at four, and report to the Parole Board at five."

    This one, though is definitely in a more saucy vein. It's pretty racy stuff, as this couple have clearly been up to something naughty. The look on the face of the patient is brilliant, although, slightly disconcertingly, he does look rather a lot like Ronald Reagan.

    "Well, you said to pacify him, didn't you?"

    The bad crop, which turns Royston into "oyston", is the fault of the publishers, by the way, not my scanning. Thanks again to Denise Miles for sending me the book.

    Click here for cartoons from the male Royston!


    New cartoon business card

    I decided it was time for a new business card, as my existing one has an old email address on it and I'm fed-up of crossing it out.

    So I've just knocked this together, with a cartoon that appeared in Private Eye in the summer. Its shape allowed me to design the card in a vertical shape rather than the more traditional horizontal layout. This means I can get a lot more information in, so this card includes the address for this blog as well as my portfolio site.

    Once they're back from the printers I will no doubt thrust one into your hand, reader, should we meet. If you can't wait until then, feel free to print this off and attach it to some card from a cornflakes packet.