Friday, 3 February 2023

Hourly Comic Day 2023

 Every Feb 1 is hourly comic day when comic creators torture themselves by attempting to post a comic for every hour they are awake.  My hack since I have a job is to post every 2-3 hours and even then this year it was a struggle.  Still now that Twitter has withdrawn the ability to make moments I have to preserve my 1st Feb 2023 on here for all posterity.


  • I did figure out how to do the poo stick test the next day (but didn't draw a comic about it)
  • The mindful challenge continued with mindfully unlocking a door but today the challenge is to listen to new music which I do like and I found a decent new debut artist
  • The windows still work

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Caricature Resolution 2023

 A new year is full of challenges the first of which was ISCA's Caricature Resolution which this year was alternating women and men featuring actors and the characters they had played in biopics which lead to some interesting discoveries.

For example day 9 was Temple Grandin an author and speaker on autism and animal behaviour including cows.  I listened to her TED talks on visual thinking and autism while I drew this caricature of her.

However the purpose of caricature resolution is to hone your caricature skills while being able to see how many other artists approach the same subject.  In a way it's daunting to compare your own efforts with masters of their craft but it was ever thus on social media.  It's sometimes easier when you at least have some familiarity with the subject like this one of Peter 

So sometimes you'd never heard of them, sometimes they were famous actors and occasionally you had to draw someone who you'd drawn before which gives you liberty to try a different approach.  This is Jazz age belle Clara Bow

In this case I feel my previous likeness was better but often with certain folk capturing their essence even if they are well known is elusive.  Denzel Washington was one who many artists thought was tricky and so I was pleased I managed something workable with him.

So who was my favorite - it was probably Ruth Bader Ginsburg of day 17 which without striving turned out better than I was expecting.

You can go onto Instagram and find all the awesome work on this challenge which proves there's always a higher standard to aspire to!

Saturday, 31 December 2022

22 cartoons from 2022

 It’s the blogmanay end of year round-up of cartoons and caricatures and what a year it was with war, plague, royal successions and puzzle games.

1. Australian Open

It's easy to forget that at the start of 2022 we were still grappling with Covid lockdowns and rolling out the vaccines.  Christmas of 2021 was restricted but the big sporting events of this year were looking for ways to go ahead with spectators and so the first big sporting event of 2022 was the Australian Open.  To play in the Australian Open you had to be either vaccinated or have an exemption and World No.1 Novak Djokovic was keen to increase his grand slams wins.  Djokovic said he had a 'vaccine exemption' but was detained at the airport and put in quarantine while judges considered.  One judge released him but was overridden by the immigration minister, lost his appeal and was deported.

  While we detained he was in an immigration detention centre with 30 other asylum seekers while his supporters protested outside and the world media was focused on the outcome.  Nigel Farage contrarian anti-immigration ex-UKIP politician called for Djokovic to be allowed to play while also railing against small-boat immigration across the channel.  All this lead to the following cartoon that got published in Private Eye.

2. Wordle

One of the biggest stories of 2022 was the trending puzzle game Wordle developed by Welsh software developer Josh Wardle and subsequently bought by the New York Times after it had became a global sensation and it seemed like everyone on Twitter and your works Teams was sharing their Wordle scores.  The green and yellow squares of Wordle started appearing in cartoons and this is my attempt from the reject pile.

3. Putin and the Special Military Operation

After two years of pandemic we thought 2022 would be about the recovery and going on holiday but instead the biggest story was the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin and whether it would lead to WW3 and nuclear devastation.  The conflict had started in 2014 with the Russian annexation of Crimea and the Russian backed paramilitaries trying to seize the Donbass.  In February there started to be reports of build ups along the borders and in Belorussia before on 24th February Putin announced a "special military invasion" and invaded.
  A large European war was for me a hard topic to produce topical cartoons on and those I produced for the reject pile were mostly based on UK worries about nuclear Armageddon as people really were worried about the escalation.  It was hard to put yourself in the shoes of Ukrainians leaving a modern life like we do suddenly pushed into a nightmare scenario and have something funny or poignant to say about it.  The closest I got was some political caricatures of the main protagonists like this one of Vladimir Putin as a butcher.

4. Ukraine - Zelensky

The perceived wisdom at the time was given the huge material advantage that Russia had Ukrainian resistance would collapse after a few days and and they would roll into Kyiv and partition the country.  With hindsight there are lots of reasons why that didn't happen not least the terrible planning of the Russian invaders, but the other factor was the resistance of the Ukrainians lead by former comedian/TV star Volodymyr Zelenskyy who when Kyiv was threatened defiantly stayed in place to reassure the populace.  This is less caricature and more of a portrait but it captures some of that defiance I hope.

5. Heating costs

The cost of energy was an ongoing theme throughout the year as gas and electricity bills soared to the point where governments had to intervene.   While Putin did use turning off the gas taps as a way of trying to stop Europe supporting Ukraine there were other structural issues in the market that meant consumers were faced with staggering bills leading to high inflation.  This cartoon from the reject pile was drawn at the start of the year but was relevant for most of it.

6. Wim Hof Freeze the Fear

Somewhat related to heating there was a strange cult-ish show called 'Freeze the Fear with Wim Hof' that featured a bearded Dutch motivational guru who liked being called alongside Holly Willoughby (who features again later) and Lee Mack jokes who took various B-list celebrities on a journey to overcome their fears through ice baths.  I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one using this in topical cartoons but this one wasn't published.

7. Crypto crash

In the world of technology AI was beginning it's takeover of all our jobs but crypto currency the other favourite of tech-bro grifters had several crashes including later in the year the collapse of trading platform FTX.  Maybe there will be other more successful uses for the blockchain rather than endless inventions of crypto coins but 2022 wasn't a great year for those who bet on it.  Here was a cartoon from the reject pile on the subject.

8. Flight delays

After several years of thwarted international travel due to Covid there was unleashed a pent up demand for foreign holidays which involved airline travel.  Unfortunately the aviation industry had spent most of the pandemic parked on taxiways and had shed lots of stuff in order to stay afloat so when demand suddenly ramped up and with extra Brexit and Covid checks for getting various places there were long queues at airports that made the news.  This cartoon I drew in June was in Private Eye.

9. Summer holidays

We were amongst those going abroad for a bit of sun but then Covid restrictions were easing and sometimes you had to wear masks and in other occasions you were in crowds for the first time when no-one was masking.  I drew this cartoon after our holiday in Spain and it appeared in Private Eye.

10. Cost of butter

When drawing topical cartoons you're often looking for the trending topic and a different angle on a long running subject like Covid, political turmoil or in this case the cost of living crisis.  Inflation was rampant all year and people started to notice it in their grocery shops especially when butter like Lurpak had security tags because it was suddenly so expensive.   This was my cartoon from the reject pile on the subject.

11. Social housing

With people struggling the cost of rents and the availability of affordable housing was also an issue especially when house builders seemed to always prioritise luxury housing.  Government would always say they had a plan, a target or new scheme for fixing it without evidence of very much changing.  Here is a cartoon I had in Private Eye in the summer on the issue.

12. Chess robot broke fingers

Sometimes you draw topical cartoons on subjects so niche you'd be surprised if they get taken.  In July in Moscow a chess playing robot broke the finger of a 7 year old child so I drew a cartoon on the subject that didn't end up anywhere.  Later in the year there was cheating controversy in chess when world No.1 Magnus Carlsen suggested one of his opponents a 19 year old American grandmaster was probably cheating leading to all sorts of analysis of his games and bizarre theories on what methods were used.

13. Boris Johnson resigns

It was not a normal year in UK Westminster politics.  The partygate scandal that broke the previous year continued through the first half of 2022 with Boris Johnson apologising several times and endless speculation on whether his premiership would survive.  One of the crux points was when the Sue Gray investigation was paused just at the point when it would be published so the police investigation could take precedence.  Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and others got fixed penalty notices, every PMQs became a chorus of call for Boris to do the honourable thing until a day of resignations finally put an end to the delusions that Bojo could carry on.  This is an illustration I did of him hanging on for dear life.

14. Leadership Contests

In recent times there have been more Tory Leadership contests than there have been election with two alone in this year where Sir Graham Brady is the pompous ringmaster as a large gang of wannabes is gradually whittled down to a finally two who tour the Conservative countryside promising whatever their audience wants them to hear and then electing the least realistic of the two as the next PM.
  After Boris Johnson was ousted Rishi Sunak who was seen as one of the main plotters stood for the leadership but the membership seemed to want almost anyone else including lots from the right wing.  For a while it looked like Penny (I was in the Navy) Mordaunt was going to be in the last two but somehow Liz Truss managed to hang in until she got to spend the summer suggesting she could just ignore the first minister of Scotland and magically produce economic growth by going against the consensus.  She won.
  I used the leadership challenges as a time to practise drawing people who might get to be PM (and Tom Tugendhat).  This is from one of those debates and while everyone isn't perfect I like my sketchy Rishi, Liz and Penny.

15. Mini budget

One of the least funny political stories of the year was Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng's ill-conceived Mini Budget of 23rd September.  Shortly after Liz Truss became PM in a not official budget her friend the new chancellor went on a tax-slashing rampage mainly benefiting the wealthier (the abolition of the 45% high tax rate a classic example) without any OBR assessment.  Immediately the pound tanked against the dollar, the Bank of England had to intervene and Kwasi Kwarteng went on the Sunday shows to promise more fiscal surprises were coming.
  Rarely have you seen such disasterous policy deployed leading to a spectacular government implosion which lead to various row backs, Kwasi being replaced by Jeremy Hunt and eventually Liz Truss having to resign.
  This is my favourite illustrations I did of those crazy/Kwasi times.

16. Italian election

Lots of big stories broke at the same time in the Autumn and my only cartoon in Private Eye at the time was about far-right leader Giorgia Meloni winning an election in the Italy and hoping to set up a government of various right wing parties.
  This was my Private Eye cartoon from that time.

17. The queue

On the 8th September 2022 Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral and a period of national mourning began.  The queen's appearances earlier in the year had been much reduced even at her Platinum Jubilee that was labelled "platty-jubs" by some, and her son opened parliament.  I recall announcements that she wasn't well, various Twitter rumours about when Operation London Bridge would occur before a sombre Huw Edwards read out the official news.
  There was a couple of weeks of mourning with no comedy shows and various sporting and cultural events postponed.  All the documentaries and obituaries were well prepared and run on TV channels until various official lying in states occurred first in Edinburgh and then in London.
  Britons love a good queue and soon the coverage of the queue to see the queen's coffin in Westminister Hall yielded various stories to feed 24-hour news.  Every popular thing gets co-opted by celebrities and soon it was a badge of honour to be a celebrity who waited the full 20+ hours in line with the commoners like David Beckham.  Conversely Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby were vilified for appearing to jump the queue although in various apologies they tried to justify it by saying there were offical journalists for ITV This Morning.
  I drew this cartoon from this time featuring Paddington bear who somehow became the British Charon the boatman escorting the Queen across the Styx.

18. King Charles III

One wondered if Prince Charles would become King Charles III given what happened to the previous King Charles (the first was executed, the second dissolved Parliament).  Having not exactly been the hero of Netflix The Crown people wondered how King Charles would come across to a public who had only ever known his mother.
  There is however no election of monarchies and before too many republicans could protest the ascension was a done deal and Britain had a new King.  This is my caricature of King Charles III.

19. Elon Musk Twitter meltdown

This was probably my most popular caricature of 2022 drawing for one of Martin Rowson's #Draw challenges #DrawElonMusk.  Throughout 2022 there was speculation on when and if Elon Musk would buy Twitter and once the deal was done there were many staff laid off and much confusion as to whether the platform would survive and whether certain banned accounts like Donald Trump would be reinstated.  Whenever Elon Musk does something crazy this caricature seems to pop up but despite Musk banning certain accounts that criticise him I still exist on Twitter even though I now have a Mastodon lifeboat.

It remains to be seen if and how Twitter survives in 2023 with Ad revenues tumbling and the ability to buy a blue tick subscription for visibility getting mixed reviews.  So many good art challenges and communities exists that I would hate to see it go.

20. Iran protests

The Ukrainian war has the ability to knock nearly ever other foreign news story off the front page but protests in Iran that arose in Iran in September after the killing of 22 year old Mahsa Amini for wearing an "improper" hijab was a significant event this year.  Women in Iran nationwide protested without the hijab and demanded more women's rights and greater freedoms, but the government response was brutal with mass arrests, beatings, torture and death penalties.
  Martin Rowson did another challenge to draw Khameni, the supreme leader of Iran who I drew in an hourglass with bloody handprints mostly in hope as 2023 has shown just to what lengths autocratic leaders will go to cling to power.

21. World Cup

I'm a bloke so I like football and the World Cup is usually a big thing where I often do lots of illustrations of players but the 2022 World Cup was very different being in the tiny state of Qatar in the winter surrounded by controversy due to the way the tournament was awarded, their treatment of migrant workers and LGBT people.
  This cartoon from the reject pile was an attempt to show that.  I can't say that I didn't watch any of the matches and the Argentina v France final was a classic but the whole affair seemed corrupted as Salt Bae friends of Infantino wormed his way onto the pitch after the final whistle to harass Messi.

22. Christmas - strikes

After a year of eye watering inflation and huge bills the paltry wage increases offered by some employers lead to lots of industrial action from rail workers, Royal Mail posties, teachers and nurses.  The Scottish government has been slightly more inclined than Westminster to try and offer more but so far the strikes have felt like that are going to continue into a Winter of Discontent in 2023.  As a result Christmas mail took longer, trains were unavailable or unreliable for a good number of days in December.
   The whole point of industrial action is to render services unusable so there was a fair few cartoons about the Christmas impact including this one from the reject pile.  
  Unfortunately the governments wants to act tough against unions and portray workers who are asking not to effectively take a pay cut as greedy so this strife will continue.

Friday, 4 February 2022

Caricature Resolution 2022

 Every January ISCA the International Society of Caricature Artists do a social media challenge to do 31 caricatures one for each day of the month. I did the challenge for the first time in 2021 although I didn’t do them all, and did it again this year where I did complete it.  Here is my collage of finished caricatures

The time spent on each depended varied from 30 minutes to a few hours. To pick out a few of my favourites

Steve Buscemi

Chris Evans

Tom Hardy

James McAvoy

Jason Momoa


Rachel McAdams

Danny Trejo

David Spade

Friday, 31 December 2021

21 cartoons from 2021

 Its time for the end of year big blogmanay round up of cartoons I had published in Private Eye and other rejects ad notable doodles.  If 2020 was the year when I transitioned from drawing mostly Brexit to drawing Covid-19 then 2021 in terms of what got published was almost entirely pandemic related with vacations, vaccines and variants.  In my 21 cartoons I will try and sprinkle in some of the other notable events that managed to break through together with an awful lot of waffle.

1. Trump Insurrection

One of the biggest story of the year happened just days into 2021 on January 6th when a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building which was in session to formalise the Joe Biden 2020 election victory.  Trump had endlessly told his supporters the election was stolen by the Democrats and he wanted his Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the result.  When he didn't the mob descended on the building, breached the cordon and live on TV we watched them inside the building.  They didn't manage to stop the presidential transition there were causalities, injuries and damage both to the building and the idea of American democracy.

This cartoon wasn't even drawn in 2021 it was from November 2020 when Trump was fervently denying a Biden victory.  I didn't miss drawing Trump in 2021 even though I'd got used to it and Biden was harder to capture.


2. Perseverance

On February 18th there was a new NASA rover on Mars called Perseverance which had a cool landing and its own helicopter.  It was the biggest robot rover since Curiosity and so I had to mark the occasion by drawing it.

3. Perennial Potholes

Every spring just like the daffodils the pothole cartoons appear with the gaping holes in poorly maintained tarmac everywhere.  As a cartoonist its a seasonal cartoon topic and this was my first cartoon of 2021 to appear in print in Private Eye.

4. Suez Canal

In March the Suez Canal was blocked for 6 days when the container ship Ever Green got buffeted by wind and wedged across it.  Cartoonists everywhere delighted in having a new metaphor to illustrate while authorities worked out how to clear the blockage and the cope with the shipping delays.  This was my cartoon.

5. Covid Variants

The history of Covid-19 in 2021 was really a history of major variants of the disease which were the ones that took hold among many mutations. Christmas 2020 in the UK was nerfed by a variant that arose in Kent that became known as the Alpha variant when WHO wanted to stop stigmatising the places that first sequenced these variants.  Alpha caused a big wave of virus in Jan/Feb in the UK in winter and as it was subsiding there was debate about whether other significant variants would arise.

I drew this cartoon which appeared in Private Eye in April (I used Noah's flood as a metaphor for the pandemic on more than one occasion).  There were reports of variants arising in Brazil and South Africa but it was Delta detected in India that became the dominant variant worldwide in 2021 (although the new variant Omicron will probably replace it).

6. The worst word of the year 

The worst word of 2021 was woke even though it began being banded around before 2021, this was the year it really got weaponised.

It reminded me of the "politically correct" debates of my youth where opponents of some progressive ideals found it was easier to ridicule and exaggerate parts of it rather than engage on the issues.  Certain parts of the press tired of writing the same stories about case numbers relished the prospect of starting a culture war based on some story about a charity researching slavery in its past, or the perception that old white guys weren't allowed on TV anymore.

In America still smarting from an election defeat and the inquest into an insurrection, right wing Republicans also seized on the culture war and invented a bogey man of Critical Race Theory in schools to win back some seats.  There was even an attempt while the BBC was being bashed to do a UK Fox News channels with the launch of GB News which thankfully ended up being an amateur operation but may still come back to haunt us.

Comedians kept coming forward to say how concerned they were about being cancelled for their views.  As a cartoonist I don't relish the prospect of a pile-on for some perceived offense to some group or other, but freedom of speech shouldn't protect us from criticism.

My only foray into the culture war came in this cartoon that was published in the Eye in May.  The conservative war on woke often pulls in religious groups which are far too aligned to political positions.  In my reading of the gospels Jesus can be interpreted as quite left wing and certainly not a conservative in the way he challenged the wisdom of his time.  In the published version they changed nowt to nothing which is probably better.

7. Amazon vs the high street

The home delivery firms like Amazon did a lot of business in the pandemic although there were stories about the behemoth making a loss (probably funnelled into Bezos rockets) which led to this cartoon in the Eye.

8. Going on an almost holiday

This year could be split into two questions "Can we go on our summer holiday?" and "Can we have Christmas?".  When the winter wave waned hospitality and tourism were desperate for a return to foreign adventures, but the government had to do a risk assessment on what locations were safe to visit.

The resulting traffic light system resulted in this cartoon which appeared in the Eye.  While Red and Green are fairly self explanatory the existence of an Amber maybe category just led to confusion.  The bus in the cartoon is a reference to the Cliff Richard Summer Holiday movie.

9. Lilliput

My favourite pandemic cartoon of the year showed the other side of the travel restriction conundrum where foreign governments could set the rules on who was allowed in and if they had to quarantine or not.  Quarantine on arrival or when your returned was a risk you took when getting on an airplane especially when rules could change rapidly even while you were away.  Thankfully we went no further than the highlands.

This cartoon depicts Lilliput of Gulliver's Travels which is the only island I can remember him visiting (there was also the opposite one of this and a few others).


One from the reject pile shows how much more expensive everything was in 2021 with inflation starting to hit everyone in the pocket.  However if you only went on one holiday in the year you were willing to pay over the odds for the privilege.

11. England and Euro2021

This was the year of delayed sporting tournaments with the Tokyo Olympics and Euro 2020 being played in 2021.  The gimmick with this tournament (apart from Scotland qualifying) was multiple countries being the hosts which meant that England could play lots of games at home and with some Sterling performances made it all the way to the final. 

Being English and an international football fan the prospect of decent bloke Gareth Southgate winning a trophy should have been the highlight of my year, but as always the fans tried their best to ruin it.  Firstly there was the ongoing controversy with fans booing players taking the knee (see my comments on woke) and then on the day of the final despite not having ticket they tried to force their way into Wembley.  In the final Italy won 3-2 on penalties and the country went back to being grumpy.

In my cartoons for this showpiece I did not anticipate such success so I went with the delays for decisions from VAR technology which gave matches more of an American football feel with players standing around like Strictly contestants waiting to hear their fate.

12 Andy Murray's shoes

Anyone who has followed my sports illustrations know I love Andy Murray but he had a frustrating year on his come back with a bionic hip although he did take some notable scalps and got into a spat with Tsitsipas about bathroom breaks.  In the same match in the opening round of the US Open was another bizarre incident when he was sweaty from all his exertions, needed to change his shoes to stop slipping on the blue court and didn't have a spare pair.  It was like one of my boring underprepared anxiety dreams except in real life.  The Greek fought back to win prompting much Murray muttering and I sketched this as I watched.

13 Abba reform virtually

The big music story of 2021 should have been Taylor Swift's brilliant music and videos but instead was obsessed with an announcement from old Swedish pop band Abba who teased coming out of retirement for the most epic of comebacks.  Since my wife was a big Abba fan we watched the whole thing where super fans gathered in Scandinavia to not see the band just some videos, before only the Abba guys were in London declaring they had not only made a new album but were going on tour in one venue as holograms.

The whole hologram performance was not invented by Abba but they certainly are pushing it forward with a custom venue.  It made me think of other remote virtual performances and lead to this cartoon from the reject pile.

14 Raducanu

Every so often they try to make a good tennis sports movie and you end up with something like Brit rom-com Wimbledon.  If they ever wanted to make a great feel-good movie it should be about the non sweaty shoe side of the 2021 US Open where a teenager Emma Raducanu broke multiple records to win the whole thing.  As well as a final between two great teenagers it was the first time a qualifier male or female had won a grand slam without dropping a set.

How do you illustrate the most epic of underdog stories with a rejected cartoon about house prices which in the lockdown era went up and up.

15 Supermarket Shortages

If 2020 was the year of toilet roll shortages caused by panic buying there was a curious Brexit blimp in the autumn of 2021 when for about a week we had a fuel shortage followed by social media reports of supermarket empty shelves which was all down to a shortage of HGV drivers.  This was either caused by Brexit deterring EU lorry drivers coming to the UK with the new regulations, or not Brexit according to the government and something to do with pandemic stopping keen locals from taking their HGV tests to fill the worldwide gap in people who wanted to driving trucks all day with poor amenities and conditions.

It was around the time that the Great British Bake Off for 2021 was launching so I tried a pocket cartoon sized pair of caricatures of Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood.  Considering how few lines I used compared to my normal caricatures I thought it was a reasonable effort.

16 Uncontrolled migration

Another distressing news story of 2021 was the number of migrants and refugees trying to cross the dangerous straits of the English channel in dinghies aided by criminal gangs.  The visuals of this were much more impactful than the older routes of stowing on HGVs which has reduced thanks to technology or legal routes like claiming asylum which the government seems keen on making harder.

As someone who has needed the RNLI to rescue us on a yachting mishap (they are brilliant volunteers) it was frustrating to see them dragged into a political argument as to whether we should be rescuing human beings drowning or not.  The old tropes of migrants filling up the country and the French not pulling their weight seemed to drive certain portions of the populace to demand tough action be taken.

Of course we don't want folk risking their lives to get to the UK but migration isn't going to stop so there needs to be legal routes to facilitate it especially when our own actions often contribute to it like reducing foreign aid and pulling out of Afghanistan.

Here's my attempt at another view of uncontrolled migration.

17 Live with it

All through the pandemic the Eye has given a couple of pages to Dr Phil Hammond to provide his insights as to where we are and often that is where most of my cartoons have been printed this year.

By October the vaccine jabs were being rolled out across the population and faced with a tough winter politicians were saying we had to learn to live with the virus which is a phrase that is both obvious and almost meaningless.  Living with a virus could mean anything from letting it rip to taking sensible precautions to mitigate it's worse effects.

Here is a cartoon that appeared in the Eye with my view of living with the virus.

18 Cop26

In local news politicians and activists from all the over the world came to Glasgow for a few weeks to talk about fixing the environment, before saying they would work out the details in Egypt next year.

Having big events in Glasgow is fun except for the disruption.  I hadn't travelled into work that often this year but when I do I use the Clyde Expressway which was shut for the duration of the conference so no-one got near to the dignitaries.  If I still lived in the West End it was slightly worse when they used the Kelvingrove museum for an event and cut folk off from their flats for a few photo ops.

Martin Rowson has been running Draw challenges on twitter all through the pandemic and one was on Cop26 when I drew this.

19 Standards - what standards?

With a massive majority the tussled haired Boris Johnson got used to be able to get away with almost anything even when Sir Keir Starmer asked pesky questions at PMQs.  The papers tried to highlight various times he let others pay for his wallpaper or holidays, but in the end Boris was his own worst enemy when he reopened the sleaze debate by trying to rescue his pal Owen Paterson from a fairly conclusive parliamentary standards slap on the wrist for lobbying for big bacon.

Instead of a slight ban from parliament Boris tried to rig the parliamentary standards committee by whipping his backbenches to support a Leadsom amendment, which they did and then complained how dodgy it looked causing an almost immediate U-turn and apology from those involved except the PM.  The papers then went looking for more stories for MPs with extra jobs in the Caribbean or using their positions to advocate for other interests.

October was the 60th anniversary of Private Eye the satirical magazine that publishes a lot of UK cartoonists including myself from time to time.  To celebrate various cartoonists tweeted their earliest cartoons to get published in the magazine.  Mine was from 2016 about David Cameron and the Panama Papers scandal which seems quaint now.  I remember drawing it and having it accepted before a weekend where it looked like shiny Cameron would fall except he didn't.  Since then I never under estimate the ability of politicians, especially Tory ones, to brazen out uncomfortable stories. 

Thus I wasn't that excited by the steady stream of sleaze stories and the only topical (rejected) cartoon I can find from this period is below and does include a jet pack.

20 Party-gate

Just as the sleazy standards scandals were subsiding along came another story that just ran and ran due to the government continually denying what later turned out to have supporting evidence.  In 2020 when we were all deciding how little to see our relatives over the festive period, there were allegedly parties in Downing Street and government with little regard to the rules they were telling us all to keep for the good of public health.

When the Mirror and others wrote not just stories but had videos and photographs gradually there was talk of a government investigation led by Simon Case who later had to step aside due to other party allegations.  We also go a throwback to the Dominic Cummings era with a garden party picture which formed the backdrop to one of my last cartoons of the year on another of Martin Rowson's Draw challenges.

Everyone does their own parody version of the 12 days of Christmas (Martin also did an excellent version) but mine tried to hit all the lowlights of the political year with some nods to Gove's raving and Sunak's sliders.  It works as a song if you mangle the original a little.

21 Three Wise Men

In  pandemic times the build up to Christmas seems to be talked about for half the year when the first Covid to cancel Christmas stories appeared.

I have always loved drawing Christmas cartoons and when I started my cartoon blog back in 2010 I used to draw a cartoon every day of advent.  One of my first was about Three Wise Men vs Three Wise Women and since then my depiction of the three wise men has remained much the same.

So when I was drawing Christmas cartoons for the Christmas issue of Private Eye and had a wise men idea I used my favourite characters and they published it.  The other very-2021 thing about it was it was another pandemic cartoon and about travel/holidays which was a recurring theme.

There are cartoon awards for pocket cartoons and when I looked through everything I got published this year nearly everything (potholes, Amazon and woke Jesus aside) was Covid-19 related although I did draw other subjects.  My main hope for next year 2022 is the virus either disappears or gets less deadly and I can move to drawing pilfering politicians and troublesome tech and we can all live fuller lives.

Happy 2022 everyone.

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