Religion cartoon: Keeping it in the family

"He only got this job because of who his dad is."

After two posts about my social life (it's so rare that I have one!) it's time I posted a cartoon on this cartoon blog, so here's one from the November edition of Prospect.

Watching BBC Four's Holy Flying Circus the other day reminded me how much Monty Python's Life of Brian opened the door to allow us all to be a bit non-reverential about religion. A cartoon like this may have ruffled a few feathers once, but it's hard to imagine anyone getting too worked up about it now. Actually, as a former Catholic (and altar boy!) I should probably think that's a bit of a shame.

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Partying with 'smartoonists' at the Guildhall

Cartoonists were outside their usual comfort zone at the Private Eye Golden Jubilee party on Wednesday -- the culmination of the magazine's 50th celebrations -- not because of the splendour of the venue, but rather the "smart dress" instruction on the invite.

The grandeur of the Guildhall, in the City of London, was punctured by the placing of cutouts of famous Private Eye "victims" (Robert Maxwell, Andrew Neil etc) on the balconies, giant Private Eye crusader logos flanking the stage, and a few well-chosen speech bubbles, right.

There was champagne, canapes, speeches from all three Eye editors, some minor-celeb spotting -- mostly of the "meeja" variety ("Look, it's Mark Lawson off of that Late Review!") -- and a little dancing. The evening is well summed up by a great reportage cartoon by longtime Eye cartoonist Martin Honeysett, along with a short article, over at the Bloghorn


Out and about with the Cartoonists' Club

Last weekend I went on a trip to Somerset with the Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain, for the 2011 AGM/jolly. This, I should point out, was immediately prior to the Private Eye opening, so I had an heroic four days in a row of drinking and socialising. First time I've done that since I was a student, I think.

There were 20-odd of us on the trip, a few of whom are pictured above, at Cheddar Gorge. Left to right: Nikki and Tim Harries, Simon Chadwick, me, Rich Skipworth, and Hugh "Shug" Raine. The photo is by Ger Whyman.

The weekend is best summed-up in a letter I sent to The Jester, the club newsletter:
I just wanted to send my thanks to the committee for organising such a brilliant weekend in Clevedon. I've been on a few of these trips now (Masham, Witney, Skegness etc) but I think this may have been the most fun yet.

The weekend was filled with big laughs, good food and possibly a little too much drinking. And the vintage bus trip, to Clevedon Pier, Thatchers for the cider tasting, and on to Cheddar Gorge, was just a perfect day.

A team of us winning at the pub quiz on the Sunday night (commiserations to the other cartoonists' team!) was just the icing on the cake. We didn't even know there was a quiz on, but as Tim Harries had been posing quiz questions from his iPad all weekend, at every available opportunity, it was as if we'd been warming up!

So thanks again to the committee and to everyone who turned up and helped make it a great weekend.


Art cartoon: Sorry, Vincent

Regular readers will know I like to do art-based cartoons, so here's my take on a famous Van Gogh. Click the image to enlarge.

This one is in, er, slightly poor taste, so lots of mags passed on it. But it has found its natural home in the November issue of the adult comic Poot, which is not averse to a bit of gross-out humour. They have a softer side though, and it was Poot that added this rather fetching frame.

Apologies, as ever, to the artist ... and indeed to art lovers everywhere! Pedants note: Yes, I know he didn't cut off his ear in this room. It's just a joke.

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Exhibition cartoon: Private Eye at the V&A

"Must dash ... I want to spend some time on my social-networking websites."

I went along to the opening of Private Eye: The First 50 Years at the V&A on Monday. As is often the case with these things, I spent so much time chatting to people (there were more cartoonists there than I've ever seen in one place before) that I didn't get to see much of the show. I'll have a proper look next time I'm in London.

I did spot the above cartoon though. It's from 2007, before Twitter even took off. The guy here is probably still using MySpace. It can be seen in a glass case, rather than on the wall! That's because it's part of a mock-up of a messy Private Eye production table, which features cartoons, pages, cuttings and associated paraphernalia.

For more on the exhibition generally, head over to the PCO's Bloghorn, where I've put together a longer piece about the opening.
"I don't believe it, man -- my mum has taped EastEnders over my martyrdom video."

Meanwhile, the Chris Beetles Gallery in St James's, London, has an online selling exhibition of Private Eye artwork to coincide with the V&A event. I've got three for sale, including the above.

Royston's portfolio website


Restaurant cartoon: Crowdsourcing ideas

"Don't fill up with bread."

I'm always reluctant to use hip, techie words -- largely because you never know if they're still going to be around next week -- but this cartoon, which is in the current Private Eye, was the result of an experiment in "crowdsourcing".

OK, crowd is probably putting it a bit strongly, but a handful of people responded when I put the following message on Twitter a couple of weeks ago.
"Gag cartoon writing session: throw some random themes/ideas at me!"

I've done this before, and sometimes people don't quite get it, and give me over-specific scenarios (with hindsight, I should have stuck with just themes, not ideas) and sometimes they do. The US cartoonist Mark Anderson did and simply said "French bread", so off I went to brainstorm on that. I came up with this fairly quickly. And it sold to the first mag. So thanks, Twitter, and thanks, Mark!

Thinking up themes for cartoons can be difficult. I've tried picking out words in dictionaries, using online "random idea generators" etc, but there's no substitute for getting topics from other people because then you have someone to show the result. I often ask those around me, mostly my long-suffering wife.

But after this success, you can expect to hear from me again, Tweeps. Damn, there's one of those words again ...

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Weather cartoon: Forever autumn

Here's a cartoon I drew for a newspaper article about the unseasonably hot autumn weather we had recently. Normally these cartoons are black and white but sometimes it's nice to add  some colour, and those autumnal shades are rather nice, I think.

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TV cartoon: Careful what you wish for

Fans of Doctor Who will know that the current series has been leading up to death of the Doctor tonight. Sounds unlikely that they would kill off a much-loved franchise, er, character, but unlikely things do happen: it's October 1 and it's hot and sunny.

Click play

For some though, you should be careful what you wish for ...

"Do you ever get a hollow feeling when you've looked forward to something for ages and then it finally happens?"

You know you want to see more Doctor Who/Dalek cartoons ...