Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

"If you've been affected by any of the issues raised in this drama ..."

Here's the Christmas card I drew for Private Eye this year. Click the image to enlarge.

I very nearly didn't send them this one because the caption, which you will surely have heard at the end of many a gritty TV drama, has been used in other contexts in cartoons. But I hadn't seen it applied to the story of Jesus, and as that concerns teen pregnancy, homelessness and child murder, it seemed appropriate.

I'm taking a blogging break until January, so all the very best of the festive season to you.

Review of the Year type thing

It must be time for what reality-TV presenters call my "best bits", a round-up of the highlights of my cartooning year, as seen through this blog (mostly).

Yes, I know it's basically a round robin, but at least I didn't print it out with dodgy festive clip art around the edge and I'm not boring you about my kids' achievements or any challenging health issues, so cut me some slack.

Presenting a talk and slideshow about my cartoons for the first time was certainly a high point of the year for me. I wrote about that experience here. It was a buzz getting an audience reaction to my cartoons.

The Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival, the fifth I've attended, below, was great as usual, and I'm now in the process of trying to think up cartoons on an Olympics theme for next April's festival. More live cartooning took place at the Big Draw, where I fought valiantly in the Battle of the Cartoonists – didn't win though.

It was great to be in an exhibition at the Cartoon Museum for the first time. Ink and the Bottle is entirely cartoons about drinking. Here's another from the exhibition, and a festive one too ...

"Oh no, look who's in..."

Another first for me was spending the General Election night at the Groucho Club. We drew lots of cartoons and people supplied us with lots of free booze as a result. That was a better outcome than the election. Here's a cartoon about the fallout from that ...

"Remember, it's not the winning that's important, it's the not losing ..."

More drunkenness ... this year the Cartoonist's Club of Great Britain celebrated its 50th, so we had a party and we even kicked it old school with a convention at Butlins.

"Life's a beach."

I usually include a couple of cartoons that went down well in this round-up. This cloudspotters' cartoon, which I thought was too odd to sell, generated a lot of good feedback.

"Ha ha, that cloud looks just like Frederick Pethick-Lawrence, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, 1929-1931."

A personal favourite was my Bayeux Tapestry cartoon. That also got a lot of reaction, though quite a bit was of the "I don't get it" variety. Scoring a hat-trick in the Reader's Digest caption competition caused me to do a lap of honour around the room.

I should mention all the great cartoons by other people I've seen this year in exhibitions, many of which I wrote about for the PCO's Bloghorn: Ray Lowry, Fougasse, Toy Tales, Modern Toss, Rude Britannia, and Roland Searle.

And finally, it's great to know that I can head into 2011 knowing that I am officially as funny as Matt!

If you've enjoyed my cartoons this year, why not commission me to draw some for you in 2011!


Carol singers cartoon: A Christmas classic

"I do love the traditional Christmas songs."

This cartoon is one of two I've got in the Private Eye Christmas Special and it refers, as I'm sure most of you know, to Fairytale of New York, by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl.

I love the song (I still have a battered 7in single of it somewhere) but I do find it funny that it has become such a Christmas favourite despite those lyrics.

You're a bum
You're a punk
You're an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap, lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it's our last

Like the best Christmas songs, it has an edge of cynicism and melancholy, the latter made worse by the tragically early death of Kirsty MacColl. I was a big fan both of her solo stuff and the contributions she made to records by some of my favourite acts, such as the Smiths and Billy Bragg. She was one of a kind.

Royston's portfolio website


Christmas cartoon caption contest craziness

Can I really post two Santa Claus cartoons in a row? Well, it is [almost] Christmas. (Hang on, there's a pattern developing here ...)

Readers of the Daily Mail have been let loose on this cartoon, as it appears on their financial website This is Money, as the Austerity Christmas caption competition.

Click the link if you want to take part, apparently there's a suitably austere prize on offer.

Royston's portfolio website


A few of my favourite things

"What happened to the old 'Naughty' and 'Nice' lists?"

If you're not completely fed-up with "Best of the Year" lists already, you may like to know that I (among many others) was asked to do one for the Forbidden Planet International blog.

It's a list of favourite comics/cartoons, films, TV and books from 2010 and can be read here: Best of the Year: 2010

Royston's portfolio website


Deconstructing the snowman cartoon

Can I really post two snowmen cartoons in a row? Well, it is [almost] Christmas. Snowmen gags are great to do, as you can take the joke in so many different directions, as Bill "Calvin and Hobbes" Watterson demonstrates in these strips ...

My cartoon above came about as I was trying to think up Christmas cartoons and decided to break the "classic" snowman image into its constituent parts: two lumps of coal, a carrot, two sticks etc. The joke more or less instantly came out of that process. This is one of two I've got in the current Reader's Digest.

Royston's portfolio website


Cartoon about woman who dialled 999 over snowman theft

You may have heard or read about the woman who called the emergency services over the theft of a snowman. It has provoked quite a few chuckles on Twitter and Facebook.

It happened here in Kent – in Chatham, innit? – so one of the newspapers for the area asked me to do a cartoon. As a subject for humour, it was a bit of a gift.

Royston's portfolio website


Cat cartoon: There's an app for that

"Lame. Haven't you got an iPad?"

Because everyone likes a cat cartoon, right?

Royston's portfolio website


Evolution cartoon: The job interview

"So ... where do you see yourself in four million years?"

Sometimes it pays to do a bit of picture research. I could've gone for the standard ape-like caveman look with this cartoon, but I decided to do a Google image search for artists' impressions of early man. It paid off I think. I might put him in some other cartoons ...

Royston's portfolio website