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.