Sunday, 30 December 2018

18 cartoons from 2018

Another epic year passes with more news of inept governments and impending disasters so what better way to look back than at 18 cartoons I did this year some of which got published and some of which belonged firmly in the reject pile.  Either way I always enjoy looking back and telling the story of 12 months in topical cartoons and so here is one of those lists but without making you scroll through clickbait-y adverts.

1. Facebook all seeing Eye

I drew this cartoon at the start of the year but all year long there was a steady drip drip of stories about how much Facebook knows about it's users and who they were sharing it with and what that data could be used for.  I'm sure it's all better now.

2. Tardigrade Mum

Art challenges on social media are often good for sparking off ideas and taking you down tangents you wouldn't have thought of otherwise.  In this case it was drawing something about tardigrades the super resilient micro-animals around mothers day.
  This went about as viral as any of my comics went this year.

3. Space Force

If I were an American cartoonist I imagine I'd spent most of 2018 drawing Trump cartoons given the amount of news his behaviour and tweets generate.  I did attempt a few this year one of which about his cancelling of the Iran treaty did make it into print but I enjoyed drawing this one the most.
  The Space Force is the Trump administration's idea of allowing the US military to weaponize space with a new branch to sit alongside the Navy, Air Force and Army.

4. Duck Cluck-bait

This animal on a computer cartoon ended up in the Eye and was reprinted in the Week.  Looking at all my cartoons I've noticed I draw many many drawings of animals and people sitting in-front of screens.

5. Royal Baby

If I had to pick my favourite cartoon I drew this year it would probably bee this one about the third royal baby from Kate and William.  The news outlets do like a good story about the royals to break up all the domestic political goings on. 
  This cartoon and the next three were all in a run of three consecutive issues of Private Eye that I had cartoons in.


GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation an EU regulation on data protection and privacy which no-one who had ever worked in IT or signed up for any online service could avoid around the May 25th deadline.
  Everyone from charities, small clubs to every online shop and website had to get in touch with anyone they had details on to talk about how they were going to responsibly police their data resulting in a deluge of emails.
  This is one of those relatable topical cartoons which was perfect for the time but won't mean too much in the future.

7. Plastic Pollution

Plastic pollution was a huge topic in 2018 and an environmental issue few could argue against with lots of evidence that it was harmful to marine life.  By the end of the year my own children were quizzing us on our own use of single use plastics having been taught about it in school.
  There were lots of cartoons on the subject floating around and I was glad one of my own to the pile.

8. Robot Cat and Dog

One of the creepiest videos of 2018 was of the robot dog being developed by Boston Dynamics that could open doors.
  Sometimes you spend ages trying to come up with a gag and sometimes they just come to you quite easily like in this case.

9. Alexa

Every year there is one or two topics or ideas that come into my head over and over again when I'm thinking what to draw.  Quite often like in the case of fidget spinners and slime I never come up with a great gag and they all end up in the reject pile but it's fun trying.  Alexa was one of those topics of 2018 when I had a summer holiday, Christmas and other variants on the same theme.  However one of my older Alexa jokes was quite popular one of the days Alexa went down.

10. Luxury Cheese
You would think the omnishambles that is Brexit would be a constant source of cartooning comedy but it isn't a subject I find it easy to come up with good gags for.  For one there are already lots of cartoons out there on the subject and so another off a cliff cliche isn't going to wow anyone if you don't have a good angle.  About the best I did in 2018 was there was a story about luxury cheese being hard to find after a No Deal Brexit resulting in this cartoon.

11. VARS World Cup

With the World Cup in Russia we were expecting the main England football story to be hooliganism not that a new manager in a waistcoat would turn a decent young team into semi finalists.  Watching England not being rubbish was perhaps the closest my 2018 to a real good news story.
  The other World Cup story was VARS the video referee that they chose to trial on the biggest stage rather than perfect it in some other leagues.

12. Free Hugs

Not every cartoon has to be topical and I enjoy drawing lions

13. Parker Probe

The NASA Parker probe launched in August is on a mission to the outer corona of the Sun.  Here is my attempt at a gag about it.

14. Conservative Conference I

This topical cartoon combines two of my favourite themes the ineptness of the ruling Conservative party and technological mishaps.  It is based on the BBC's Bodyguard series which was perhaps my favourite TV drama of the year (although they wrapped it up a bit too conveniently).
  As a visual gag there was perhaps too much going on but Private Eye did use it for the basis of a (better) written joke so the idea got published even if the visuals never were seen until now.

15. Conservative Conference II

The  Conservative Conference gave us another great 2018 moment in Theresa May's speech which didn't involve cough sweets and props falling down like last year but strange dance moves as she came on.
  It gave me a chance to practise my caricaturing skills both for her and the Strictly judges.

16. Dynasties

Some of the the best BBC content is the David Attenborough nature documentaries which this years was the Dynasties series.  I drew this cartoon before I'd watched it and maybe it isn't the funniest but I did like the drawing of the elephant.

17. Rudolph's right on rant

This one is from @studioteabreak's Monday #MythicalMashup challenge which gives you two prompts one of them mythical and can lead to all sorts of unexpected places.  In this cartoon I got Rudolph to deliver some devastating social commentary on the injustice of Santa which I have tried before in other forms but this one has a certain charm about it.

18. Brexit news

And to remind it off a reminder that you just can't escape from some stories and we have months of Brexit stories to keep us going in 2019 and probably for the rest of your natural lives.

So that's my 2018 batch done - hoping you all have a good 2019 and that in twelve months time I have 19 more to share with you again (unless society has collapsed).

Monday, 11 June 2018

World Cup MIFA Project

MIFA stands for Missing In Footie Album and is Dave Will's pre-World Cup project to have artists and illustrators across the globe make football sticker designs for all the players who are in the 2018 World Cup squads but didn't make the official Panini sticker album due to squads being announced and changed after the official album is finalised.

I only discovered this fun project when Peter Rasmussen or @badlydoodled who I follow on Twitter posted his entry and so I dived in to pick a player while there were still some left.  Some furious scribbling later and messing around between multiple apps and my entry is one of the 254 on show by over 150 artists and there is a great variety of styles and some stunning artwork.

I chose Bartosz Bialkowski from the Poland Squad who plays for Ipswich Town in the English Championship.  He made his international debut aged 30 back in March although he has strong competition from the usual No.1s of Fabianski (Swansea) and Szcesny (Juventus) for a starting place in the squad.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Cleft Awareness Week (Bone Graft)

A three part comic for this year's Cleft Awareness Week based on my son recent Alveolar Bone Graft surgery back in February from a parents viewpoint.
The last two Cleft Awareness Weeks I have posted comics the first one covering the time from when my son was born with an undiagnosed unilateral cleft lip and palate (it wasn't detected on any of our pregnancy scans) through the first two surgeries to primary school.  The second comic was more of a general awareness/information comic that did touch on some of the pre-bone graft nerves.

This year we have undergone the major surgery we hinted at in the last two year's comics the Alveolar Bone Graft where they take some bone from a hip or shin to fill in the gap in the gum to allow the adult teeth to come in better without a gap.

You can read how our experience was from Pre-Op through Post-Op to Recovery.  Perhaps because it was so recent I have gone into more detail and indeed I could have added lots of extra detail but I tried to cover all the main highlights which seemed to involve me drawing a lot of people sitting or looking at tablets/phones.

Here are some other general points that may explain some things from the comic.

  • This is just our experience other parents and hospitals may do parts of this differently.  If you are looking for advice for how your bone graft will proceed your local cleft team will be able to help.  If you are looking for a way of explaining the procedure this new video from Great Ormond Street Hospital is great.
  • My son is doing great but until we get X-Rays in a few months time we won't know if it has been successful or not.
  • Our surgery took place at the recently built Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow which meant I got to draw some cool modern buildings and interiors (the Atrium of the main adult hospital next door is quite impressive).  Our earlier surgeries were at Yorkhill which while it was older did mean you were on wards with others not in your own separate room where you didn't see the nurses and doctors moving around.
  • Unusually the surgery was on Sunday and we were first up so the hospital was a bit quieter.
  • The recovery at home did involve a lot of Youtube watching but we did try and get our son to move around sometimes.  Unfortunately Scotland was hit with a big snowfall and so we were stuck in the house for the first week.  By the second weekend we did get out and about a bit.
  • You can get more information on cleft lip and palate from the Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA) website.  This is a UK based charity there may be other organisations in other parts of the world.  We have found this charity invaluable for meeting other parents going through the same experiences.  
  • This comic is one way of us trying to give back to the community that helped us through the bone graft by demonstrating how it was for us down to mundane details.  It is safe to say that from the moment our son was signed off speech therapy this surgery was on our mind.  Then when you start getting appointment letters you try and anticipate everything that is going to happen even when you don't know exactly when the actual surgery will be.  For example we booked no holidays away from the house for the whole first half of this year because we were unsure if we would be able to take them.

Finally thanks to everyone inside and outside the cleft community who has shared or commented on these comics.  It has been great speaking to others who either have gone through or are going to go through the same surgeries.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Whale or not Whale?

Over the last few years I've taken part in more and more Twitter art challenges starting with the Virtual Studio setup by Sarah McIntyre which currently does #MythicalMashup (Mon), #ShapeChallenge (Tue/Wed), #PortraitChallenge (Thurs).  If you want to have a challenge a day you can do #colour_collective on Friday which tends to have more finished pieces and #SaturdayScribbles on Saturday. 

The theme for #SaturdayScribbles was whales and I decided to draw various whales (See above), but as I searched for whales to draw I became drawn into the what is a whale and when is a whale actually a dolphin even if it still a whale.

The wikipedia entry has Whales down as an informal group within the Cetacea order usually excluding dolphin and porpoises.   If you google 'are dolphins whales' you will find the internet does not have a coherent position (quelle suprise!), and it doesn't take long to find examples of marine mammals that are called whales but are infact dolphins e.g. the killer whale or orca.  This is of course down to the way humans have named animals like when ancient Spanish mariners called orcas whale assassins which was translated into killer whale.  There are 5 other dolphins that are named whales including the False Killer Whale who must be really annoyed at not only at being mistaken for a killer whale, and being thought to be extinct, but not ever getting their own name.

Yet in the end until dolphins/whales understand English they are never going to get annoyed at what we do or don't call them. 

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Tardigrade Mum

This one did well on Twitter as part of a weekend Studio Teabreak challenge to draw a Tardigrade. The tardigrade is one resilient micro-animal that can withstand both extremes of temperature, survive in space, not have to eat or drink for long periods.  As it was Mothers Day weekend I turned it into a parenting cartoon.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

17 cartoons from 2017

2017 was a dramatic/terrifying year with inept government, threats of WW3 and robots stealing our jobs and so as we survive another year let us look with our humour glasses at  my favourite cartoons I drew in the last 12 months.  If you want you can compare it with the best 16 of 2016 and see if you think I've got better or worse.

1. Robot Jobs

This is without doubt my best cartoon I have had published (so far).  It appeared in Private Eye back in February and started out as a more boring version with the human moaning to a robot about robots coming to take their jobs, but a late caption twist worked much better.  I liked the opportunity to draw robots in a boring office environment.

2. Caligula's Horse

2017 spawned a multitude of Trump gags as the US President continued to defy all presidential conventions exiting the Paris agreement, facing up to North Korea, and using Twitter to attack the UK prime minister.  When drawing topical cartoons it was hard to come up with an angle that hadn't been covered better by a host of other cartoonists, but after reading Tom Holland's Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar I drew this one.
  The author Tom Holland himself did retweet it, which brought a few responses along the lines that Caligula wasn't really mad and didn't actually make his horse a consul which wikipedia does seem to agree.  However cartoons often work on popular misconceptions and myth as opposed to reality (for example the case of lemmings and cliffs).

3. Ed Sheeran Top of the Pops
Thanks to streaming being included in the calculation of chart positions in March Ed Sheeran had 16 songs in the UK top 20 from his divide album. This cartoon from the reject pile was intended to show how he had become the face of music in 2017.  For the record I'm fairly ambivalent about the man's music myself.

4. Plastic Oceans
Drawn for the CCGB caption cartoon it tackled one of the year's more important issues the relentless dumping of plastics in the ocean causing massive pollution and endangering marine life.

One of my favourite non-topical cartoons from the year which plays on the element of surprise where the onlooker knows the truth but the hapless cartoon character is about to be in for a fright!

5. Fidget Spinners

2017 was the year of the fidget spinner craze which did result in our household owning about half a dozen of the gadgets.  It spawned a fidget spinner magazine and a host of other fidget gadgets that did not take off.  However by the end of the summer it had been replaced by slime as the playground fad of choice.  Every so often I still come across one of our fidget spinners and give it a little twirl so it doesn't feel so abandoned.

6. May's disastrous general election

2017 was the year Theresa May ran probably the most inept out of touch election campaign of my lifetime which she didn't even have to call. Opinion polls showing huge Conservative leads over the seemingly unelectable Jeremy Corbyn lead Theresa May to gamble and call for an early general election to strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations.  Newspapers were full of early predictions of huge majorities, but May ran a robotic, ill-advised campaign and so when the exit polls came out it showed she was short of an overall majority.  I drew this cartoon as I was staying up awaiting the first election results.

7. The Queen's Kindle

Such a disastrous election performance ought to have lead to a Tory leadership challenge, and many (myself included) concluded that the government wouldn't last the year.  However the government came up with a confidence and supply agreement with the Northern Irish DUP party.
  During the negotiations the Queen's speech was delayed (allegedly because the goatskin parchment took days for the ink to dry)  and so for a Twitter Shape challenge I drew this cartoon.

8. Platonic Island
My other cartoon published in the Eye was this desert island gag.  I never actually watched Love Island even to research this, but had fun drawing the cartoon cliche stranded on a desert isle setup.

9. Driverless Cars

Driverless cars was one of the other topical tech stories of the year and for a ShapeChallenge I drew this driverless boring view of the technological near future.

10. Dolly Babe

In 2017 social media was often able to put pressure on dubious practises and advertising of big companies and get them to change course.  One example was in August when first Miranda Williams and then plenty of others took Clarks to task for having a Dolly Babe range for girls shoes but a Leaders range for boys.  The range was removed from the website by Clarks.

11. Star Trek Discovery

In October a new Star Trek series hit UK Netflix Star Trek Discovery and after a slow start, and endless Klingon monologues I found we got quite into it.  One of the best characters was the nervous science officer Lieutenant Saru.

12. Facial Recognition
The biggest phone release in 2017 was the iPhone X which rendered the iPhone 8 released only minutes before immediately obsolete.  A big deal was made of it's facial recognition technology which had been problematic for other manufacturers who had their own technology fooled by photos (not a good look for security).

13. Instagram
This year I started putting much more material on Instagram, and also started throwing occasional pictures of waffles and dogs on there as well.  This cartoon drawn won a CCGB public forum competition.

14. Blue Planet II

In 2016 Planet Earth 2 was the best program on TV and this year Blue Planet 2 the watery version was the year's most watched British TV show.  Also an excuse to draw another goldfish in a bowl (see goldfish estate agents and goldfish swimming lessons).

15 Bitcoin price
In 2017 crypto currencies like Bitcoin and it's many offspring and cousins surged in price, collapsed a little just before the Christmas holiday and Bitcoin is currently hovering at over 10x it's start of year price.  Working in IT there was plenty of debate in whether to get into Bitcoin and whether it was a bubble, Ponzi scheme or the future of money.

16. Brexit Advent
Thanks to deep cabinet splits Brexit phase 1 negotiations floundered for most of the year and so I prepared this pithy topical cartoon for the start of December which the touted final final deadline for getting agreement to move onto the next phase of talks about talks about trade talks.  Unfortunately (for me) just before the advent period there was an agreement (mainly to prop up the May government) and the cartoon didn't quite work as well.  I did see other cartoonists tackle the same Brexit advent topic in other more inventive ways.

17. Christmas Presents
This is probably the best advent cartoon I drew just before Christmas because it resonated the most with other parents.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Advent 22 Last Day Of Work

The perceived wisdom in IT is that you shouldn't release any code or generally break the systems the last day before you go on holiday (or on a Friday afternoon), because you might be coming back to a big pile of mess.

Compare this with the 2011 Santa's IT woes cartoon for a visual representation on how IT systems and my drawing style/colouring has progressed.

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