Topical cartoons: A look back at 2012

I don't know about you, but I'm a little "review of the year" fatigued, so I'll spare you a look back at my cartooning highlights of 2012 and offer instead some topical gags from the past 12 months.

We had the usual winter weather ...
Followed, of course, by a hosepipe ban ...

Britain celebrated the Queen's Diamond Jubilee ...

... amid more extreme weather events in the summer ...

But the Olympics was the story of the year ...

There was a new addition to the London skyline ...


A government minister prompted a fuel panic ...

There were teething problems with technology ...

A new Archbishop of Canterbury was chosen, via a long and drawn-out process ...

We said farewell to The Dandy comic in printed form after 75 years ...


And, as ever, there was some very strange stuff that came out of nowhere ...
Have a happy 2013, everyone!


Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 24. Built to last

"Have you given any thought to legacy and sustainability?"

This is a full-colour version of a cartoon that was used as one of the 12 Private Eye Christmas cards this year.

They decided to go with my original version, which had a small amount of spot colour, applied with brush pens, and I must admit it fits more with the Eye's famed "low-fi" look. So I used this one as my Christmas e-card instead.

And on that note, have a very merry Christmas folks!


Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 23. It's the thought

"A tangerine and a packet of crisps in a shoebox? You really shouldn't have."

Today's advent cartoon appears in the Money pages of the December Reader's Digest, where it accompanies an article about making your own Christmas hampers. I can't imagine I'd get much further on that project than the bloke above.

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Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 22. Wrong turn

"I've just realised where we went wrong."

This was a Chistmas e-card this year for the Commonwealth Journalists' Association. It's actually a cartoon that I drew a few years ago which they saw online and asked to re-use for Christmas, so I added the snow, scarf and Santa hat to "festive it up" a bit.

Click here to commission cartoons by Royston


Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 21. Silent night

"We're having a quiet Christmas this year ..."

There are loads of festive gags in the Christmas issue of Private Eye, which is out now, including this one.

Click here to commission cartoons by Royston


Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 20. Now you're Tolkien

This appears on the cover of this month's issue of The Jester, monthly magazine of the Cartoonists' Club. I was asked to do it on the cartoon theme of "myths and legends" so I combined it with Christmas and came up with this. It's also topical, as the new Hobbit film is out this week. Hobbit feet are fun to draw.

Click here to commission cartoons by Royston


Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 19. Miser rate

"Apparently he's up for employee of the month."

This can be seen at a website for auditors. As I think I've mentioned here before, Scrooge seems like a man for our time in this age of austerity measures, and he's featured in a few cartoons I've drawn since the recession began.

On a related note, here's an early present for you: the full version of Richard Williams' animated short of A Christmas Carol from 1971. It's a brilliant, condensed version of the story with beautiful animation. And my friend's dad worked on it.


Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 18. Cold stare

Here's today's advent calendar cartoon. Only seven more sleeps and six more cartoons until Christmas!

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Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 17. Glory days

Here's another oldie that still feels quite topical, as there is a fair bit of looking back to the glory days of the summer as we approach the end of the year (and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, announced last night, was dominated by Olympics athletes). This was in the Christmas issue of Reader's Digest last year.

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Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 16. Freeze a jolly good fellow

"My lawyer negotiated this."

Today's advent calendar cartoon, drawn for a law firm's Christmas card.

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Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 15. Proof of the pudding

"You really shouldn't eat foods that are out of season."

Here's another that falls into the "not really a Christmas cartoon" category, particularly as it appeared in a summer edition of Reader's Digest. But it's got a Christmas pud in it and I thought it might be nice to remind us all of warmer times ahead, so there.

Click here to commission cartoons by Royston


Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 14. Winter wonderland

This is a recent cartoon drawn to illustrate a news story about a family that goes crazy for Christmas, decorating their house with £8,000 worth of lights, inflatables and all manner of festive sparkle. It's pretty much a variation on this old cartoon.

Click here to commission cartoons by Royston

Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 13. Play for today

"No, we did not book online."

Ah, the school nativity. I'm looking forward to one next week in which my son is King Herod. Everyone knows the bad guy roles are the best.

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Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 12. Snow and alcohol

"Fancy a swift one?"

Is this really a Christmas cartoon, you may ask. Look, it's got snow and alcohol in it, what more do you want?

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Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 11. Taking a break

Here's an oldie from a few years ago, when they first brought in the smoking ban in England and Wales.

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More stuff what I wrote

In non-Christmas news, I wrote another article (after writing this one) for Sabotage Times, this time about cartoonists. They wanted a list of the ten greatest, which I would find impossible to compile, so instead I wrote about ten cartoonists that I personally have found influential. Read it here


Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 10. Broken Britain

"I can't believe none of us are working this year."

Another one on a recession theme, I've been drawing those for several Christmases now!

Click here to commission cartoons by Royston

Cartoon advent calendar
Day 9: A bit flaky

I think you can be cynical in Christmas cartoons, but you can't be downright misanthropic, which is probably why nobody went for this slightly odd cartoon.

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Cartoon advent calendar
Day 8: Life's a riot

"I can assure you, officer, we are not looters."

This is one from last Christmas, when the memory of the riots across England was still fresh in the memory. I like the fact that the wise man on the left does look quite guilty.


Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 7. Board silly

"I realise that you are new to the board, but we do not refer to non-executive directors as 'little helpers' ..."

Here's todays advent cartoon, one from my series of boardroom cartoons, drawn for a business publication.

Click here to commission cartoons by Royston

Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 6. Good health

"I'm making sure I get my five daily portions."

Here's an old one that was in a Christmas issue of Reader's Digest. Slightly cheekily, it was a riff on one of my own cartoons.

The cartoon is four years old and there were a few elements I was unhappy about with the original drawing, so I have tinkered with it digitally, like a cartooning George Lucas.

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Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 5. Faking it

"Is that real or artificial?"

Here's today's advent cartoon. This one is so far unsold, but I had fun drawing the absurdly artificial Christmas tree.

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Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 4. Still hacked off

"Perhaps you could tell us how you know if we've been bad or good?"

We all like to enjoy a few old favourites at Christmas so here's one from last year. It was topical then and remains topical, as Lord Justice Leveson delivered his report on the media just last week.

It can be seen as part of a round-up of Leveson cartoons at the Procartoonists.org blog here. (And there are more Leveson cartoons here.)

Click here to commission cartoons by Royston


Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 3. Light humour

The Christmas lights and decorations in Canterbury and Herne Bay are, apparently, a bit rubbish, and lots of people have complained about them. I was asked to draw a cartoon about this to illustrate a local paper article. Bah and, indeed, humbug.

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Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 2. A stable upbringing

"It's not a stable, it's a pop-up hotel."

Here's the second entry in my cartoon advent calendar. Or, if you're on Twitter, my #Twadvent cartoon, which almost sounds a bit rude but, what the heck, let's run with it.

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Cartoon advent calendar:
Day 1. Doing it again

"Happens every year – I can never remember where I put the tree decorations."

Last December I posted a festive cartoon every day up to Christmas Eve, as  a kind of cartoon advent calendar. It proved quite popular so I'm doing it again this year.

There will be old ones and new ones, published and rejected, some from magazines and others commissioned. There might be one or two I posted last year, but we all like a few repeats of old favourites at Christmas, don't we?

Click here to commission cartoons by Royston


Family cartoon: Saving energy

"Don't disturb your father when he's in stand-by mode."

I drew the cartoons for the Money pages of the new issue of Reader's Digest. Here's one of them, which illustrated an article on energy-saving devices.

This doubles as a word of advice to my own children, who often see me on stand-by when we watch kids' films at the cinema, especially ones involving lots of CGI animals. I can feel my eyelids going heavy just talking about it.

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Not Yet Sold: Ceiling groovy

"There's an app for that."

One from my rejection pile, which I like to ironically refer to as the "Not Yet Sold" pile. You can see more NYS cartoons here.

I wrote something longer than a cartoon caption

I saw a message on Twitter last week asking if anyone wanted to write about the easiest novels to finish for Sabotage Times, the website run by James Brown, who launched and originally edited Loaded magazine. I ended up telling them about a book club I joined a few months ago: You can read it here.


Stars on Canvas charity auction starts

The Stars on Canvas 2012 charity auction begins today and runs until December 2. That's my contribution above, which is in the Illustration section. You can bid for small canvases by cartoonists and illustrators as well as dozens by famous names from the worlds of sport, music and entertainment.

It is in aid of the Willow Foundation, which works with seriously ill 16 to 40-year-olds. The charity arranges special days and experiences to allow for a break from the difficulties of diagnosis and treatment.

The canvases will be sold online and will be exhibited at Maddox Arts, a London gallery that has donated the space. For details on how the auction works, visit the Stars on Canvas website.


Fairytale cartoon: Dressing up

"Once I'd tried on those clothes at your Grandmother's, I knew there was no going back.

This cartoon is probably very "wrong" on many levels. I apologise in advance. This could be a sequel to this cartoon except Red appears to have got younger. From the current Saga magazine.

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Snow joke, it's that time of year again

I drew one of the Private Eye Christmas cards this year. You can see it by taking a magnifying glass to the bottom right-hand corner of the above promo image. Yes, it's another snowman cartoon (I'll post it here nearer the time). You get the pack of 12 cards when you subscribe, but they're also available to buy. Visit the Private Eye website.

Click here to buy Royston's cartoon book


Technology cartoon: Case closed

"It's tough to admit that now I will never own a bookcase which swings open to reveal a hidden room ..."

I'm avoiding the whole e-books revolution, primarily for this reason.

Click here to buy Royston's cartoon book


A cartoon for Halloween

"I miss the angry mob – they must be at home criticising you on Twitter again."

Click here to buy Royston's cartoon book


Law cartoon: Court and antisocial

This was drawn to accompany an article in a law magazine, one of my regular jobs. I thought I'd throw in a topical reference to Judge Dredd, as the new film had just come out, and was pleased, and a little surprised, that they went for it.

See more law cartoons here.


Film cartoon: Oompa Loompa do-ba-dee-do

This is one for fans of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the original (and best) version of Roald Dahl's much-loved story.

It was fun to draw, and the famous Oompa-Loompa song ran through my head as I did so. The cartoon appears in the current issue of Saga magazine.

I considered writing "Royston tan cartoon" as the headline for this post, because whenever I Google myself (we've all done it) I get some results for the Singaporean film-maker Royston Tan, and I thought it would be funny if people searching for him find me instead. It may happen anyway now ... so hello Royston Tan fans!

In other news, a local paper, the Isle of Thanet Gazette, wrote a profile about me this week. Here's the picture they took. As you can see, I can draw three cartoons at the same time while balancing a bookshelf on my head. Read the interview here.

In case you're wondering what that small white thing is in the top right, it's a key from an old computer keyboard. Sometimes I press it.

Click here to buy Royston's cartoon book


Cartoon postcard: How to be a carer

Sometimes my work is about cartoon illustration, rather than joke cartoons, as in this promotional postcard drawn for Crossroads Care in Greater Manchester. Click here to find out about commissioning custom-made cartoons.