Friday 30 December 2011

New Years Resolutions

Happy 2012!  Hope your New Year's Resolutions last

Thursday 29 December 2011

2011 in review

This is the time of year when all the News Channels forget that they are meant to deal with the present and future tense and go into an annual nostalgia-fest for all the big stories of the year.  Following suit here at I give you a retrospective about what events I termed news worthy this year as well as a look at why cartoonists try to be topical.


Andy Gray and Richard Keyes fired from Sky for sexiest comments.
The first rule of topical cartooning is to draw what is in the news.  You may find an obscure world news item about Elephant trafficing interesting but the bigger the story the bigger the audience for it.  The story about the sky commentators is really a minor HR issue in the grand scheme of things but it filled the news cycle for several days and that made it cartoon worthy.


The Arab Spring
Generally topical cartoons take the mickey out of current events which is harder when serious issues and lives are at stake.  Often a way round that is to contrast that with events back home as I attempted to do here with this strip about democracy and Reward Stickers.


Japanese Tsunami
No other news story of 2011 affected me as much as the Japanese tsunami.  It stopped me cartooning for days as it didn't seem right to be making jokes after such a huge tragedy.  When I did try and cover it again I had to contrast it with what was happening back here.


Sometimes you just go for the obvious joke.  At the time I did this one on Super Injunctions I thought it was rather lame until I saw a similar gag got published in Private Eye.


AV referendum
I managed to get a series out of the AV referendum attempting to cover all sides which I hope to reuse when Nick Clegg becomes Prime Minister and holds another AV referendum.

Osama Bin Laden capture
Topical cartoons I like often combine two news stories in unexpected ways such as this this one on Osama's capture and the iPhone privacy issues.  Matt from the Telegraph often pulls this trick off very well.


The Rapture that wasn't
Poor Harold Camping declared the end of the world on his radio show and thanks to global media became a global figure of ridicule for several days.  However as I was to learn in this entry to the CCGB caption compedition just because something is topical doesn't make it funny.


Retirements of Space Shuttles by NASA
Talking of CCGB caption compedition entries sometimes the caption lines up so neatly with current events you have to go with it.  One of my favorites from this year (it did well but didn't get a podium place).


Start of Market Meltdown / Quantitive Easing
Another compedition entry which was the first of several economic themed cartoons.  This one predicted Quantitive Easing (QE3) was about to be announced by the US Federal Reserve - it didn't and still hasn't which just goes to show you shouldn't rely on pundits for the topical topics.

Steve Jobs steps down as Apple's CEO
I never did a tribute to Steve Jobs after his death - this was the closest I came.  Certainly his passing was big news in 2011 although the IT industry lost several other unheralded pioneers as well this year.


Satellite falling from sky doesn't hit anyone
Another topical news story about something that sort of didn't happen.  The UAR satellite had a small chance of falling on a populated area and making news but sadly for the 24 hours news machine it didn't.  You sense that every time a space agency announces a major object falling from the sky they seize on it to make us all afraid.

Carlos Tevez doesn't come on as a substitute in Bayern Munich game
My attempt at a sports story when Carlos Tevez appeared not to want to come off the bench when Mancini told him to.


Markets still in freefall
Mining the rich vein of economic gloom again with this cartoon which features two prime ministers from Greece and Italy who were removed in EU-led coups.


Euroland crashing
Perhaps my favourite economic cartoon of the year but mainly because it references another older cartoon.  It took many attempts to get Angela Merkel this wrong.


Polar Bears not born in North Pole
During advent it is all Santas and nativity but here is the closest I got with a story that TV is sometimes faked.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

One Years Manufacturer's Warranty

This year's last Santa cartoon is an opportunity to use an idea that didn't make it into the Advent countdown.  Every product (at least in the UK) has a one years manufacturer's warranty and as discussed previously Santa manufacturers everything in the North Pole (get it).

Friday 23 December 2011

It's Christmas Eve Again (Advent 24)

The last cartoon of this advent period and it's the same joke as last Christmas Eve which is itself from a joke I heard.  However it's such a good pun


No Turkey Left Behind (Advent 23)

A bit of fun that I may enter into the CCGB compedition a wordless one on 'Christmas Dinner'.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Santa's IT Woes (Advent 22)

I thought I didn't have enough geek cartoons this advent season and then on switching on my home PC it went into disk recovery mode - a frightening surprise.

Which led me to wonder how Santa would keep track of all the naughty and nice kids in the world without a North Pole IT datacentre with virtualised servers hosting a massive database.  Perhaps in the past he did use pen and paper and naughty kids were punished but I like the idea that since switching to newer technology to cope with a growing population the elf techs just haven't managed to get it to work and so Santa has had to deliver to everyone - even those who don't deserve it.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Norad vs Santa (Advent 21)

Who decided it was cuddly NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command - NAADC?) who was in charge of tracking Santa and not a civilian agency?

According to Norad Santa we are only days away from Santa's launch but the huge diversion of resources from monitoring unstable states like Iran and North Korea (minus their leader) to entertaining children with flights of fancy is surely not in the US National Interest.

It only takes one mistake and something could happen to Santa - I know I watched War Games.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Secret Santa Rerun (Advent 20)

One of my favourites from last year rehashed for 2011.  This is mainly to allow me to catch up and do another bit of work tonight.  Hopefully no more turkey reheats after this one before the big day.

Monday 19 December 2011

Michael Bauble (Advent 19)

On our new evening release cycle I offer something different a cartoon drawn with my fingers on the iPad.  I'm using a package called ArtRage and hopefully if Santa delivers me a Stylus the results will start looking more professional.

As for Michael Buble (why is is not pronounced Bubble) some of his fans at concerts have walked out because of his bad language (see BBC news story).  Personally I was going to buy his Christmas CD but now I haven't mainly because I'm avoiding the shops just now.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Super-Saver Christmas (Advent 18)

Better late than never here is Advent 18 all about Super-Saver Delivery on Amazon which must be coming to it's last day right about now...

Saturday 17 December 2011

The First Nativity (Advent 17)

Went to my first Primary School nativity play and what I saw of it was good.  What I didn't see of it was down to badly behaved parents who stood up throughout the entire performance with their camera phone or video recorder focused on their child with no thought to how many other people they were blocking.  Of course when someone starts behaving like this then unless someone stamps it out it degenerates into every parent for themselves until there was  Paparazzi scrum in the aisle and a host of people at the back loudly complaining.

ps.  If anyone wonders why this wasn't posted at the normal 7am slot it is because my office part was last night.  Indeed you are very lucky not to have another reheat today.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Revenge of the John Lewis kid (Advent 15)

The most memorable TV advent of the UK Christmas Season was the John Lewis Christmas advert which you can see on You-Tube complete with Smiths-rip off soundtrack 'Please,Please' here.  For everyone who thinks the kid is cute (and I'm sure he is in real life) just witness how much of the advert he is pulling faces and scowling.  Ok he's doing something nice for his parents but he doesn't need to make everyone's life a misery in the build up.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Christmas Organisers (Advent 14)

Quick one tonight as I'm busy (but not busy doing Christmas preparations obviously).  My wife's Christmas planning started way back in September/October, mine is barely beginning.

Monday 12 December 2011

Frozen Planet Christmas Special (Advent 13)

The BBC is currently denying misleading viewers over an episode of David Attenborough's Frozen Planet where a polar bear birth was filmed in a Dutch zoo with a voice-over that didn't make it clear it wasn't in the Artic regions (although the website does put the record straight).

Of course TV is all fakery and at least they don't lie like everyone on Strictly's results show who have to maintain the illusion their show is filmed on Sunday not on Saturday night.  Then there's wrestling...

Half way through the advent season.

Sunday 11 December 2011

Barnyard Birthday (Advent 12)

AAfter a weekend of birthday celebrations you wonder how they coped with the crowds on the first Christmas.

Saturday 10 December 2011

Snowman Clowns (Advent 11)

Quick cartoon for this week's CCGB compedition and my first proper snowman cartoon of this season.

Friday 9 December 2011

Pooh's Blustery Day Warning (Advent 10)

Today's cartoon is advent/Christmas themed only in the sense that every December Scotland has a major weather crisis (last years leading to the cartoon about Santa being stranded on the M8).

The Friedhelm storm to give it it's proper title did cause major chaos with the police advising no-one to travel for much of the day.  When I drove home from work at my usual time it was still blustery but with the roads nearly empty I got home in no time at all.

I'm not disputing the severity and potential for damage of the wind but the news/media coverage of this storm probably caused more worry than the 'hurricane' itself with those at home constantly phoning up those who hadn't been let away to tell them about some other piece of advice or crazy picture that had just appeared.

Still my today there was Youtube videos, I survived the hurricane T-shirts and who knows what other banter going on so now I know no-one was seriously injured here's my 2p.  Back to Christmas spirit tomorrow.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Twinkle - Twitter For Stars (Advent 9)

After Penguin Facebook I give you Twinkle the Twitter for stars.  I thought I had lots of starry gags until I started to make this and realised I couldn't fill an entire page.

This is obviously more of a Photoshop creation than a regular cartoon.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Empire Strikes Back Re-released (Advent 8)

Hoth Snowman Cartoon

You may remember this one from last year which betrays that for the first time this advent season I have reused an old cartoon instead of producing a new one due to lack of free time last night.

I feel a bit like a less rich George Lucas rolling out his best work again with a few tweaks and new packaging.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Little Donkey (Advent 7)

If you don't get this read on...

You have 80 miles to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, your wife is heavily pregnant so she can't walk it, you can probably afford an animal to take with you - so why would you select a Little Donkey.

There I've explained todays advent cartoon for you - the only other clue I could have given would be to sing the lyrics of Eric Boswell's song 'Little Donkey, Little Donkey on the dusty road.  Got to keep on plodding onward with your precious load...'

Eric Boswell died in 2009 and was remembered for this catchy song which was all in one octave and easy to sing for children but perhaps overshadowed all his other work (see BBC obituary).

I just can't help thinking that he's not doing Joseph any favours in saying that he couldn't pick a suitable animal for his wife, and anyway there isn't an mention in the Bible that there even was a donkey (if you don't believe me see's discussion of every donkey reference in scripture) although it isn't beyond the realms of possibility.

Monday 5 December 2011

Abominable Snowmum (Advent 6)

Today's advent cartoon has no direct link to Christmas except that it has snow in it and as we all know there was snow at the first Christmas.  Also the weather in Scotland has been wintry but not as wintry as last year when I was drawing Santa stuck on the M8 and people really did get stranded.  Instead today we had all the media hype of major weather warning snow including the minute-by-minute as-it-happens coverage from the BBC news website but disappointingly for those outlets it wasn't too bad.

Usually I like drawing snowmen at Christmas but couldn't come up with a good gag to beat last year's Empire Strikes Back cartoon and the less successful Glaswegian snowman.  Still we have plenty more days left and hopefully I will get to build a real snowman for inspiration.

Instead you have to put up with the Abominable Snowmum mother of the fabled Yeti.  In this, Big Foot and the Loch Ness monster we often forget that you need to have a population of monsters to maintain sightings as one solo Abominable Snowman or Big Foot would quickly get lonely and unable to find a mate be consigned to the pages of myth and legend.

Sunday 4 December 2011

South Pole Santa (Advent 5)

Today I went to see Arthur Christmas from great British animation company Aardman Animations who always deliver with great comedy and imagination.

All this led me to thinking about why Santa (who is obviously real) comes from the North Pole which led to another discovery about how cartoonists have shaped modern culture.

Thomas Nast (1840-1902) was born in Germany but moved to America where he drew for Harper's Weekly and other papers.  His illustrations gave us:
  • The Republican Party Elephant
  • The Democratic Party Donkey
  • The popular image of Uncle Sam
He is also famous for his Christmas drawing where taking his inspiration from 'Twas A Night Before Christmas' he was the first to produce our modern version of Santa who is fat and jolly,  Santa having a workshop and elves and Santa coming from the North Pole.

Why does Santa come from the North Pole?  Perhaps because Nash felt he shouldn't belong to any one country.  However in today's cartoon I imagine what a rival south pole Santa may look like (perhaps sponsered by Pepsi).

As well as Wikipedia this article on Thomas Nast is also interesting

Saturday 3 December 2011

Moo They Know It's Christmas (Advent 4)

I learned from a friend at work that farmer's don't get Christmas off (something to do with animals still needing looked after).  Which brought us to the pun 'Moo They Know It's Christmas'.

So being me I attempted to rewrite the lyrics of the famous 1984 charity record.  I remember my sister and I had a special EP record version of the band hit and the general satisfaction from the general population that we'd done something good through contributing to it and the Live Aid concert the following year.  Ironically Bob Dylan was critical of the other Bob's (Geldolf) effort saying some of the money could have gone to helping American farmers pay their mortgages to the bank which led to Farm Aid.  In response Geldof called him crass while saying Farm Aid wasn't a bad idea.

So I don't want to appear crass as starvation in the Horn of Africa is an ongoing disaster but I have some spare love for farmers who have to work on Christmas day so here are the lyrics I had worked out for 'Moo They Know It's Christmas'

It's Christmas Time
There's no time to have a feast
At Christmas Time
We let out lamb and battle sheep

And in our world of poultry
We can spread a bale of hay
Throw your arms around a hog
This Christmas Time

But say a prayer
Pray for the udder one
At Christmas time
when you're having
Beef Wellington

There's a world outside your window
And it's a world of hedge and field
Where the only liquid flowing
Is for butter, cream and tea

And the Christmas bells that ring there
Are the cockerel's crows of dawn
Well today thank God it's them instead of you.

And there might be snow in Archers-land this Christmas time
The greatest gift they'll get this year is light.
Where turkey stuffing grows
The eggs of egg-nog chose
Do they know it's Christmas time at all

Here's to them hay and grass for everyone
Here's to them underneath that winter sun
Do they know it's Christmas time at all

Feed the herd, let them know it's Christmas time...

Friday 2 December 2011

National Elf Service (advent 3)

It's tough doing a advent challenge and a CCGB caption compedition at the same time.  This one is on the theme of 'HEALTH'.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Alternative Advent Calendar (Advent 2)

This is the sort of advent calendars my kids would have if you didn't repeatedly tell them that it was just one chocolate a day.

Originally there was 4 cartoons on this page but the rest (Doctor Who Austerity, Lego True Builder Calendar, You Won't Get Any Chocolate Until You Finish Your Dinner Calendar) was lacking the punch of this one.

Advent Calendars were invented by Germans in the 19th century although the much improved advent calendar featuring chocolate didn't appear until after World War Two.

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