Wedding cartoon: Counting the cost

"Calm down, it's helping me pay for all this."

This is not about that wedding, of course, just about weddings generally and how expensive they can be, particularly if you can't get the taxpayer to help out. This appears in the May issue of Prospect magazine.

The cartoon is more detailed and complex than most that I do. It's nice to push the boat out occasionally. It is a wedding, after all.

Reminder: For more marriage laughs, the exhibition Marriage à la Mode, which features a couple of my cartoons, is at the Cartoon Museum in London until May 22.

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Doctor Who cartoon: Goodbye Sarah Jane

This cartoon was intended as a genuine tribute to the actress Elisabeth Sladen, who died last week, rather than an exercise in humour. It appears in the current Private Eye.

I think I got the balance right -- it is intended to be moving without being too sentimental -- as I've had a positive reaction to it.

Since I drew it, I've seen similar cartoons on the web. This is inevitable with topical cartoons. Any cartoonist who sat down to think about this subject may well have thought of K-9, who was inextricably linked to Sarah Jane, Sladen's Doctor Who character. And as death is the subject it's a short logical leap to a Greyfriars Bobby scenario.

Topical cartoons are drawn quickly and sometimes mistakes are made. There is one in this cartoon. I'll give points to any Doctor Who fan, or anyone else, who spots it! Comment below if you know.

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Beat the Cartoonist at Shrewsbury

Reader's Digest had a presence at the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival for the first time this year, with a stall and a talk on cartooning. You can read an article about it by Alex Hughes over at the Bloghorn.

They ran a version of their Beat the Cartoonist competition, and a cartoon of mine, above, was one of those used. The contest wasn't quite the same as the magazine version as the Digest team just picked their favourite entry for each cartoon. The original caption was not revealed, probably because the gags have yet to appear in the mag.

So I'm not going to reveal it here either, but feel free to make suggestions in the comments below! You can read the Shrewsbury winner in the Bloghorn article.

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Cartoon for "Post Nude" exhibition

I drew a version of this recent Private Eye cartoon -- yes, now he's totally naked! -- on a postcard for an exhibition called Post Nude, to be held at the Horsebridge Arts and Community Centre, just up the road in Whitstable.

It's open to anyone and the idea is that you create on a postcard an original nude in any medium (photograph, pencil, paint, collage etc -- they didn't actually say cartoon ...) and send it in by post. Seemed like a crazy enough idea, so I decided to have a go.

I'm hoping mine makes it in time for the deadline. I was a bit late getting around to it, being very busy lately, but I actually knew about it weeks ago as a Whistable newspaper commissioned me to do a cartoon to go with an article about the launch of the Post Nude project. I put the two topics of postcards and nudes together and naturally came up with a tribute to the late, great, Donald McGill, right.


Great Wall, lovely weather

As expected, Saturday was something of a scorcher down at the seaside. I had a small table selling my wares at the grand opening of the Great Wall of Ramsgate, and a fun day it was too.

There were other people selling watercolours, oil paintings, crafts etc, but it was not really an art-buying crowd. Those attending were, perfectly understandably, more interested in acquiring ice-creams and cold drinks. But I sold a few cartoon books and made a profit so I was happy at the end of the day. The GWoR organisers only charged us £5 for a spot, so it seemed rude not to turn up and support the event!

My spot was opposite my wall cartoon, as you can see from this photo comparing it with the book version, as suggested by my son, who also took the pic above.

As is usual with such events, I got a kick out of seeing the public reaction to my cartoons, in the book, the prints and originals on the stall, and of course, the 4ft by 8ft one on the wall. If laughs could be converted to cash, cartoonists would be rich!

Here's a virtual walk of the Great Wall put together by the GWofR organisers. Well worth a look, see if you can spot mine!

And here's a guy I sketched who was staring out to sea deep in thought, perhaps unable to comprehend the incredible weather ...
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Selling books and art in sunny Ramsgate

This weekend, on Easter Saturday, you will find me once again standing in front of my Great Wall of Ramsgate cartoon, but this time without the scarf and duffel coat (hopefully!) and with a small table piled with my cartoon books, signed prints and original artwork.

It's the official "unveiling" of this community art project at the Main Sands. There will be dance and music (not from me) and local artists selling their wares, from 1pm onwards. The official unveiling, by artist Charles Newington, of Folkestone White Horse fame, is at 2.30pm There are now 80 paintings in place on the wall, and more to come.

Come along get a copy of my book of gag cartoons Penguin vs Polar Bear which I can sign and personalise if you like. Let's hope the weather stays like it is right now ...


Kicking it old school: My Big Board

Note: Draw this ... but in the olden days
"What? There's no 'Victorianise' filter in Photoshop??"

This was attached to my Big Board at the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival at the weekend, where the theme was Sport. I'd originally planned something else but they wanted a Victorian theme for the Market Square boards, to celebrate the "Olympian Games" held in nearby Much Wenlock in 1850, which inspired the revival of the modern Olympics.

The festival programme featured my old "offside" cartoon, which I'd submitted for exhibition, so I thought it would be fun to do a Victorian take on that. Of course, anyone watching me draw could see that despite the jokey notice above, I had the whole thing worked out beforehand and was working from that. I'd scaled the drawing: 6in by 8in for the 6ft by 8ft board. Taking no chances!

I gave all the characters Victorian garb, the mug became a chintzy teacup, the ketchup bottle became an early bottle of "Heinz's Catsup" (thank you Google Image Search) and there was even a cameo role for the New Yorker's Victorian dandy Eustace Tilley, on the left, an in-joke spotted by a few cartoonists when I'd completed the board.

I had a few hours to do the pencilling after arriving in Shrewsbury on Friday afternoon. Some cartoonists like to do a "big reveal" with the punchline, but I figured that there were so many people coming and going, I may as well say what the joke was from the beginning. People can usually "get it" even when the drawing is not quite finished.

I'd decided to paint the cartoon in sepia tones and set about this on the Saturday. I wasn't the only cartoonist to settle on this plan of action, as you can see from Clive Goddard's cartoon on the left behind mine, and there were others. At first I found it a bit of a struggle, as I started off way too dark at the top and bottom. (Thanks to Timothy King for this photo.)

Here's how it came out in the end. I was fairly pleased with it, but having never done a sepia painting before I felt like I wanted to do another based on what I'd learned. But maybe not a 6ft by 8ft one. It got some great reactions though, so I was happy enough as I headed off to the pub...

"I must say, your explanation of the offside rule was most pertinent."

Here's a time-lapse video, put together by Gerard Whyman, of the Big Boards being painted. I'm in here at 4.27 ...

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Staring into the abyss at Shrewsbury

So, another Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival has been and gone. Monday was the traditional comedown day -- it's always a weekend that involves lots of work and socialising and very little sleep -- and today I find myself facing deadlines brought forward because of Easter, so the full report will have to wait until later.

Meanwhile, here's a pic (courtesy of Ian Ellery) of me with knitted brow, facing a very large, blank board.

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Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival gets under way

The 2011 Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival starts today and runs until Sunday. I'll be there from tomorrow, working on a Big Board in the market square and trying to get to see and do as much cartoony stuff as possible.

There will be talks, exhibitions, caricaturing, workshops, the lot. I'll be making Twitter updates -- follow @roystoncartoons -- and will write a full report next week. There will also be up-to-the-minute pictures and tweets live on The Bloghorn courtesy of Matt Buck, Alex Hughes and myself.

If you see me, say hello. And yes, of course I'll be selling copies of my book!


Exhibition cartoon: Ideas man

"Sure, I came up with fire and the wheel – but you're only as good as your last idea."

This original drawing is in a selling exhibition of cartoons in my native North Yorkshire, although as I live 275 miles away I probably won't be going to see the show.

The exhibition, Three Centuries of Cartoon Art, is organised by the Chris Beetles Gallery of St James's, London, but will be held at Nunnington Hall, near York. A colour version of the cartoon was in Prospect magazine in 2008.

You can see the full exhibition online here.


Weather cartoon: Letting it all hang out

"Tut! Some people! First bit of warm weather ..."

Apologies for the full-frontal nudity, there's no watershed on the internet! This cartoon is in the new issue of Private Eye. It was inspired by the warm weather we had last week. The first sings of spring, we all cried! As I write, it is grey and overcast.

This gag is kind of "sequel" to this one from summer 2009.

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