Another year over: 2015 in topical cartoons

It's almost the end of 2015, must be time for the traditional look back at the past 12 months via the medium of topical cartoons.

The year was just a few days old when the first major tragic story of 2015 happened. One that had particular resonance for cartoonists ...

Free speech became a thorny issue, particularly at universities, where some student unions appeared to have a problem with it ...

Here in the UK, we had a general election ...

We saw the return of some old knitted friends ...

The demonisation of certain elements of, er, society ...

It seems we are now in an age where social-media sites introducing new buttons is news ...

... and tech company bosses are the subjects of movies.

Gadgets continued to rule our lives, of course ...

There were the usual health scares (delicious processed meats this time ...)

And -- seismic change alert -- a 5p tax on carrier bags was introduced in England ...

More tragic news from Paris almost bookended 2015 ...

But, here in the UK at least, we had some positive news as the year drew to a close ...

Have a happy 2016, all!

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Paris attacks: Cartoon déjà vu

"You hate music, football, eating out and drinking? Might as well kill yourself now."

The current Private Eye magazine features a page of cartoons headlined "After Paris..." and this is my contribution.

As with the cartoon I drew after the Charlie Hebdo attack (from the Eye in January, see below) I felt like it would be better to do the kind of joke cartoon I normally do, rather than attempt something more symbolic.

So I used a similar format to that cartoon i.e. a face-to-face encounter between terrorist and victim. Somehow imagining an actual conversation between the two makes me think about the absurdity of the attacks and allows ideas to form. Obviously neither are gag cartoons in the "laugh out loud" sense, but hopefully they still work and make a point.
"Make sure you get my funny side."

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Bookshop cartoon: Celeb culture

I can't recall what the autobiography was that I was looking for in a bookshop, but it inspired this cartoon as I remember being frustrated that all I could find was piles of books by Alan Carr, Michael McIntyre, somebody from Bake Off etc. Another inspiration was noticing that a library's Biography section had, bizarrely, been renamed People's Lives.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not totally against celeb biographies and, in fact, I'd heartily recommend Danny Baker's Going to Sea in a Sieve, which is a joy to read.

This cartoon is in the current edition of Prospect magazine. 


Private Eye cartoon: Easily distracted

Technology continues to inspire as the dominant subject matter in my cartoons these days. This is from the current Private Eye, a joke about the Steve Jobs film. No, not that one.

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Returning to work: A parody cartoon

This cartoon for the Law Society Gazette, which accompanied an article on how to return to the legal profession, typically after taking time out to raise a family, references a famous US wartime poster.

With all due apologies, of course, to the artist J. Howard Miller.

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Social-networking cartoon: Like or dislike?

Here's a gag about Facebook's recent experiments to introduce emoticons to express sadness, sympathy etc., rather than just providing the usual Like button.

I'm not sounding the death-knell of this blog with this cartoon but I think we have to accept that since the rise of the likes of Twitter and Facebook, there is more "conversation" happening on social-media than on blogs these days ... hence this is my first post of the month!

I will continue to post stuff here, seems a shame to stop after more than ten years, but you can also find me on Twitter and Facebook ...


Private Eye cartoon: What possessed me?

This is a gag that was in one of my sketchbooks for years before I drew it up, because I didn't think people would go for a joke about possessive apostrophes! I was wrong. It was in the last issue of Private Eye and I have had a very good reaction to it.

A Private Eye reader contacted the magazine to say that it reminded him of this postcard which was on sale for many years at Birling Gap, near Eastbourne. Clearly they need to read this.
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Magazine cartoon: Something to think about

"You do know you're supposed to say your Thought For the Day out loud?"

Cartoon from the current issue of Prospect magazine.

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Herne Bay Cartoon Festival 2015

Having helped organise the Herne Bay Cartoon Festival on 2 August, and having put together articles for the Procartoonists blog and the Cartoonists' Club magazine about it, I thought I should probably put something on my own blog before the month is out.

The photo above by Gerard Wyman, in which I'm contributing to one of the "communal" boards, sums up the day for me: I'm wearing a silly hat to keep off the sun and sitting on the ground, knackered after an exhausting but hugely fun day. There's a lot more on the aforementioned Procartoonists blog, but here are a few other Herne Bay bits and pieces.

There were many cartoons about nuisance seagulls -- as they have been in the news recently and this was a seaside cartoon festival -- here's one of my contributions. Pic by Karol Steele.

This photo by Kasia Kowalska was taken at the opening of the Martin Honeysett exhibition. I mentioned to Tim Harries that we look like the worst ever blues duo, so he made this. 

I'm not sure that it would be easy listening, to be honest.

Talking of easy listening ... here's a cartoon from the main festival exhibition. Yes, I am a ukulele player but I do understand that the ubiquity of ukuleles these days is, er, not appreciated by everyone.

Cuttings from the Herne Bay Gazette. Click to enlarge and read


Retirement cartoon

Cartoon from the Law Society's Gazette on the subject or retirement, or rather not quite retiring. It accompanies an article called How to plan for retirement


Magazine cartoon: Man's best friend

"Yes, we're very dog friendly! Such clever animals ..."

Here's a cartoon from the current issue of Isle Magazine, a local what's on/listings publication. It accompanied an article about dog-friendly restaurants and pubs.

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Magazine cartoons: Odd parenting

Here's a cartoon from the new issue of The Oldie. Hi-vis jackets is one of those topics I seem to go back to again and again. And here's another one about odd parenting from the last issue of Private Eye.
"You can over-encourage kids, you know."


Draw the Line Here cartoon book

I've go a couple of cartoons in Draw the Line Here, a cartoon book in aid of the families of those killed in the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Here's one of them, above left.

The book is produced by the Professional Cartoonists' Organisation in association with English Pen, which campaigns for freedom of expression, and the crowdfunding platform Crowdshed. It features a foreword by Radio 4 presenter and cartoon enthusiast Libby Purves.

You can buy the book here or at Amazon, here.


The Four Candles Guide to Brewing

This was a fun commission. Mike Beaumont, landlord of the Four Candles micropub here in Broadstairs, which is my local, asked me to come up with a large cartoon poster on the brewing process.

It was drawn to mark the fact that the pub recently started making its own beer on the premises and is now officially Britain's smallest brewpub.

The idea was to show how ale is made -- where and when the hops and barley are added, timings, temperatures etc -- in a humorous way, while including daft comments from many of the regulars. I am a regular in the pub, so I know you get a lot of daft comments in there!

Here's some detail from the board:

Once finished, we had it printed on a 107cm by 193cm Foamex board and laminated, because it has been placed by the stillage, where all the casks go, so it's sure to get splashed a lot.

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Greetings cards

Here are two new greetings cards available from Country Cards. Both are previously published magazine gags that get a second outing in card form. Which is nice.

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Election cartoons: Don't forget to vote

This looks like being the tightest general election in years, so your vote really counts folks, don't forget to use it.

I live in the South Thanet constituency, where the Ukip leader is running to try to become an MP, so I also offer this less than impartial cartoon. Click the image to enlarge.

That was drawn for a friend who got fed up of seeing all the Ukip banners around town, so he asked me to design one that he could stick on his house!


Drawing at the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival

Photos © Mike Ashton, the festival photographer. Click images to enlarge

Belatedly, here are a couple of pics from this year's Shrewsbury festival. No time for a full blog post this year, but it was all the usual fun ... see Shrewsbury posts from over the past ten years! I drew a compendium of gags on my big board, on the festival theme of "Style".


Off to the 2015 Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival

I'll be at the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival tomorrow, my tenth consecutive one, incredibly. I'll post about my exploits next week and you can follow me on Twitter.

Here are some cartoons submitted for the exhibition. The theme this year is "Style".
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