Topical cartoons: A look back at 2013

Time for a look back at some topical cartoons of 2013. Game on ...

The year always starts with those oh-so-serious Oscar contenders ...

You heard that Margaret Thatcher died, right?

The "Onesie" was everywhere (but not on me, I should add!)

There was a high-profile job vacancy ...

Mainstream media struggled to keep up with social-media ...

But many found themselves victims of verbal abuse online ...

Unbelievably, we had a long, hot summer ...

The royal birth was covered as if it was the Second Coming ...

The 3D printer went mainstream, for those that can afford them ...

At the cinema everything was also either 3D ...

... or a familiar franchise returning (or both!)

Boris Johnson faced testing times ...

MPs were told they'll get a whopping pay rise ...

There was a clear winner for word of the year ...

And finally, here's one for the NSA, in case they are reading this ...

Happy new year to you all!

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Christmas cartoon: Panic buyer

"Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, except a mouse ..."

One for any late shoppers, from the current issue of Prospect magazine.

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Christmas newspaper cartoons

Here are a couple more Christmas cartoons, both drawn to accompany articles in local papers. The subjects were the privatisation of Royal Mail, tying it in with the controversy over rising fuel bills, above, and Christmas gridlock, below.


Christmas cartoon: Strips and skips

The cartooning life is not all about the, er, glamour of Private Eye, The Spectator and the like. Here's a festive cartoon from what is referred to on Have I Got News for You (and has featured on that show) as "this week's guest publication" ... Skip Hire Magazine.
I've been drawing a strip for the monthly mag since February. People think it must be difficult to draw for specialist publications but provided the mag has a sense of humour (which Skip Hire with it's regular "skip chick" and "skip hunk" features most definitely has!) I don't find that to be the case.

This has turned out to be a fun job. It's basically a straightforward workplace strip with regular characters. Like Dilbert with skips!

Click here to buy Royston's cartoon book


Christmas cartoon: Private Eye card 2013

"I think UKIP have got to him."

This was one of the 12 Private Eye Christmas cards this year. Yes, it's another spin on the "naughty and nice" theme!

I could be wearing a look of dismay similar to that elf in 2015 as there's a real possibility that the UKIP leader Nigel Farage could become my local MP! There is also a rumour, however, that he may stand in nearby Canterbury. Here's a cartoon I drew about that earlier this year.


Christmas cartoon: Media interest

Time for another  Christmas cartoon, this time from the bumper festive issue of The Spectator, which is out now.

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Private Eye cartoon: Take the test

Breaking the run of Christmas cartoons, here's one from this week's Private Eye, focusing on the London Mayor's ill-advised speech about people with low IQs and his subsequent poor performance at answering IQ test questions.

In a somewhat different style, here's Boris Johnson vs the leader of Medway Council in a cartoon drawn to illustrate a local newspaper article about opposition to the Mayor's planned Estuary Airport.


Beat the Cartoonist Christmas Special!

This Christmas drawing is the latest Beat the Cartoonist entry in Reader's Digest. Here are the caption options:

"We broke up."
"I'm sorry, but your true love will have to return them himself."
"I'm afraid I can't do anything unless you have a receipt."
"Sorry, could you run through the list again?"

As usual, one of them is mine and the rest are by readers and the idea is that you vote for the one you think is the funniest. Click here to vote (ends December 20).

This cartoon below was in Beat the Cartoonist a couple of months ago.
As revealed in the latest mag, the vote was won by one of the reader's captions*.  So I've got my fingers crossed for the Christmas one.

*I don't have a copy of the mag so I'm not sure which one! But it's one of these.

See all previous posts on Beat the Cartoonist


Christmas cartoon: Word of the year

"Does my nose look shiny in this selfie?"

Apparently "selfie" was named as the word of the year so there expect to see a few festive twists on it from cartoonists this year. Here's one from the December issue of Saga.


Christmas cartoon: Secrets and lies

"OK fill me in – who has been naughty and who has been nice?"

Here's a Christmas cartoon from the current issue of Reader's Digest. I won't be posting a cartoon for each day of advent this year (as I did last year and the year before) but I'll feature a few throughout the month.

This is not the first time I've done a topical gag based on the "naughty and nice" idea. Or indeed the second! And it won't be the last either. It's the Christmas gift that keeps on giving.


Keeping busy

Here's me with fellow cartoonist Simon Ellinas and a wall full of cartoons at a recent live-drawing event in central London. It has been a very busy month cartoon-wise, hence I've not updated the blog for a while. I'll redress the balance next month when I post a load of Christmas cartoons. In the meantime, here's a recent one about gnomes.

"My son ran away to join the Terracotta Army."

Click here to buy Royston's cartoon book


Book illustrations: Look Who's here

This book is finally released today, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who this month. I'm a fan of the show (though nowhere in the same league as Neil, the author of the book) so it's fun to be a very small and unofficial part of the celebrations.

This is the original drawing. Faber, the publishers, added the colour. And below is the illustration I drew for the back cover, a shelf full of mundane kitchen stuff alongside Doctor Who paraphernalia.

It's a bit small to see the detail here, but I had fun coming up with the titles of the books on the shelf, such as Cybermen Behaving Badly and The Doctor's Day Off. I'd like to read that last one, though there's no sigh of him taking a break any time soon.

For more on the original Wife in Space blog cartoons click here.

Happy Birthday, Doctor Who!


Cartoons in Private Eye and Oldie books

The Christmas book-buying season is upon us, inevitably, and I have cartoons in the 2013 Private Eye Annual 2013 and The Oldie Book of Cartoons.

Here's one from the former, as described, along with my Angry Birds cartoon, by Ian Hislop in this video (24.36 minutes in. The Eye editor appears to give it a caption!)

And this, another visual joke, can be seen in the Oldie book:

My cartoons can also be seen in all good bookshops in Private Eye: A Cartoon History and the book of Adventures With the Wife in Space.

But it would be remiss of me not to mention that my own cartoon book is still available. Like Morrissey's Autobiography, it's an instant penguin classic – ahem – and it fits in a stocking better than those mentioned above. Click here to buy it


Prospect magazine cartoon: Slow day

"You work from home? Me neither."

This is not, as you may suspect, autobiographical. I do strive to avoid daytime TV and sitting around in my underwear when working from home. However there are some days that are more productive than others and this came out of an unproductive one. But it turned out OK as it led to this cartoon, which can be seen in the new issue of Prospect.

Click here to buy Royston's cartoon book


Beat the Cartoonist: Time to vote

"That may not be the best option for printing out your novel."
"I suppose we'll need 3D glasses as well?"
"Oh good! This will be the instructions."
"I told you not to print the recipe for alphabet soup!"

These are the captions for the latest Beat the Cartoonist on the Reader's Digest site. One of them is mine but the idea is pick the one you think is the funniest.

Click here to vote (ends Friday)

See all previous posts on Beat the Cartoonist


A place in A Cartoon History

I've got three cartoons in the new coffee table book Private Eye: A Cartoon History, including this lemmings joke from earlier in the year.

It's a thumping great doorstep of a book, so make sure your coffee table is sturdy.

Waterstones took a unique approach to displaying the book, above. I'm fine with the "silly drawings" bit, but Private Eye might question the "pretend newspaper" part, bearing in mind how many genuine news stories they've broken over the years.

Last week I went along to the launch of the book where they got the assembled cartoonists drunk so they could take this photo. I'm in there somewhere. At the centre are the Eye editor Ian Hislop and the cartoonist Nick Newman, who edited the book.

Click to enlarge. Photo © Philippa Gedge

We all wore name badges. Here's mine. Luckily, as a cartoonist I am only known by my first name!


Reader's Digest cartoon: Generating ideas

"Well, well ... if it ain't the Limbo Kid."

I used this cartoon in my recent talk at the Summer Squall arts festival as an example when talking about how to come up with ideas.

People often think that ideas arrive out of the blue, in some kind of lightbulb moment. That can happen, of course, but it can't be relied on. You have to generate ideas. Clearly this is a bit of an off-the-wall cartoon, so how did I arrive at the idea?

Firstly, while staring at that blank piece of paper you can just give yourself a subject. So I decided I wanted to do a cowboys cartoon, as they're fun to draw. That got me thinking about the clich├ęd saloon door entrance that we've all seen in westerns and I wondered if there could be another way for a cowboy to make an entrance.

I could have drawn him jumping, maybe pole-vaulting, over the saloon doors and that may have led to another cartoon. Instead I started to sketch him going underneath and it occurred to me that he could limbo dance under. While I was drawing that, the phrase "the Limbo Kid" came to me. That was the lightbulb moment but, as you can see, it took some time to arrive at that point.

The cartoon appears in the October issue of Reader's Digest. One of my drawings is also in this issue's Beat the Cartoonist contest. So if you can come up with a better idea than me you can win £100 and the original drawing. Click here for details on how to enter.


Drawing for Amnesty International

This was drawn for Know your Rights, an Amnesty International booklet that reprints the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
Each of the 14 cartoonists involved was asked to illustrate a clause in the UDHR. My cartoon accompanies Article 27, which is in two parts. The second is particularly relevant to working as a cartoonist. I must admit, I was ignorant of the fact that such things are included in the UDHR:

(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
Unusually, they also asked the cartoonists for some thoughts on the subject to go with it. I offered up the following:

"The right to participate in and enjoy culture and the arts may seem minor compared to some human rights. But enjoyment of the arts gets to the very heart of what it is to be human."
The booklet is available by the tills in branches of Waterstones for £2. Proceeds from it, and the sale of the original drawing, will go to Amnesty.