Friday 30 December 2016

16 cartoons from 2016

As 2016 the year everyone on social media hates draws to a close here are 16 of my favourite news cartoons of the year include one that made it to publication and plenty that didn't.  Together they tell a topical tapestry of the year of election shocks, tech and pasta sauce.

1. Error 53

In February Apple were accused of being extra evil with Error 53 that bricked iPhones if it detected the home button had been replaced by a none Apple Technician.

2. Panama Papers

I include this one because it was published in Private Eye (surely the high point of my cartooning career so far), and for a brief moment it looked like David Cameron's fathers offshore dealings might bring the PM down.

3. Pasta Sauce

In the warm afterglow of getting published I attempted to tackle the most important story of the year the advice from Mars Food that we should limit our pasta sauce intake to one a week.

4. Scottish Elections

The Scottish parliamentary elections in May seem like a more innocent time with no ridiculous candidates (except UKIP's David Coburn) and no shock results.  The debates were predictable with an angry Ruth, trying to be angry Kezia, sensible Patrick Harvie and Willie Rennie.  Infact the most entertaining part of the election was the BBC coverage when Brian Taylor got frustrated with the big screen technology at the start of the evening's coverage.

5. John Swinney and the tooth fairy

This was an off the cuff response to a John Swinney tweet about the tooth fairy which gave me a chance to caricature him.

6. Prisioners to be allowed iPads in cells

There was a story in May about proposals to allow prisoners the use of iPads in their cells which lead to this Shawshank Redemption cartoon.

7. Euro2016

I include this England cartoon from Euro2016 as the Iceland game is too traumatic to relive.  Euro2016 also gave us Rooney the midfield general and also perhaps the most boring match I've ever watched Croatia v Portugal

8. Tim Peake is home

Tim Peake the first British ESA astronaut to board the ISS came back to earth.

9. Pokemon GO

This year I drew plenty of Pokemon GO cartoons so I've picked the one I drew the day I first played it on holiday which also features a familiar lemmings gag (I go on about the lemmings myth in this blog post).

10. Brexit and Article 50

I guess the most fustrated I got in 2016 was the Brexit vote and the aftermath when clearly no-one on the Leave side had a plan for what to do if they actually won.  We were left wondering which of the unholy trinity of Gove, Johnson and Farage would enlighten us when instead they all went to ground for a few days.

11. Top Gear Tanks

The non-Jeremy Clarkson and co version of Top Gear had a ton of presenters and Chris Evans didn't last one season before stepping down.

12. Grove Betrayal

Perhaps the most stunning act of political betrayal this year was Grove's subversion of Boris Johnson's leadership bid leaving us with May vs 'I have children' Leadsom.

13. US Elections Trump v Hillary

I didn't really nail it with any of my US election cartoons but this was the most fun to draw.

14. Nissan Promises

Project Fear on the Remain side said all the car manufacturers would flee these shores if we voted Leave.  They didn't but someone in government had to give Nissan some 'assurances' to make them stay.

15. Planet Earth

The best thing on TV all year was David Attenborough's Planet Earth
16. Smart Homes 

At the start of 2016 almost no-one chatted to their tech but by the end it wasn't unusual to command your lights to switch off or dictate texts like a Star Trek commander...

Saturday 19 November 2016

Andy Murray's 2016 season in cartoons

As we get to the end of Andy Murray's most successful season to date I've been looking through the Murray-thon of 17 cartoons I've drawn to see what story they tell.

20th January - Andy Murray plays Sam Groth in the Australian Open
Murray beat Sam Groth in straight sets. 

30th January - Tartan triple in prospect at Australian Open
On this day there was an exciting prospect of Gordon Reid, Jamie Murray and Andy Murray all winning finals in Australian Open.  Unfortunately Murray lost to Djokovic in straight sets

7th February - Andy Murray becomes a father
Murray wasn't sure if he might have to leave the Australian Open early if Kim went into labour, but in the end he was able to fly home after the final.
6th March - Andy Murray defeats Kei Nishikori in Davis Cup
Tried a different style for this tough match off between Murray and Nishikori

15th May - Andy Murray wins Rome Masters on his 29th birthday
A first title in Rome for Andy Murray that was also his birthday.

5th June - Andy Murray battles to French Open final and loses to Djokovic
For the French Open I drew every one of Andy Murray's opponents. He lost to Djokovic in the final despite Murray taking the first set.

12th June - Reunited with Ivan Lendl
Lendl is famous for his stoic court side manner.

19th June - Queens final against Raonic
There was some interest in the fact that Raonic's super coach was John McEnroe vs Murray's Lendl

2nd July - Sam Querrey dumps Djokovic out of Wimbledon
Okay it's about Djokovic's suprise defeat to American Sam Querrey but it was a pivotal moment in the season when Djokovic's form started to dip giving him a shot at No.1

10th July - Andy Murray wins Wimbledon again
Due to holiday plans I was actually in the Legoland shop when Andy Murray clinched his second Wimbledon victory over Raonic.  My victory cartoon was actually one I had drawn for an expected French Open victory for which I changed the background.

5th August - Andy Murray leads out Team GB as their official flag bearer
There was an incident with a flag and a Princess which lead to this imagined duel

14th August - Andy Murray wins second Olympic Gold against Del Potro
Andy Murray gets a second Gold Medal against Del Potro.

30th August - Andy Murray plays Lucas Rosol in first round of US Open
He wins 6-2 6-3 6-3 but loses to Kei Nishikori in the quarter finals.

16th October - Andy Murray wins Shanghai
Murray beats Agut in final to narrow the gap to 915 points.  It was during Inktober so I drew this one in pen

4th November - closing in on World No.1
Drawn after Andy beat John Isner in the quarter finals needing one more victory to get about Djokovic in the rankings.

5th November - Andy Murray becomes World No.1 after Paris Masters
In the semi-finals Raonic withdrew through injury and Murray clinched the number 1 spot before going on to add the Paris Masters to his trophy cabinet.  That picture looks familiar.

Saturday 22 October 2016

Fun facts about Magenta

I enjoy learning new facts.  While researching cartoons you often learn interesting things like the origins of the lemmings myth.

The colour collective this week was using the colour magenta which a quick google revealed was named after the 1859 battle of Magenta in the Second War of Italian Independence (previously it was called fushsine).
  This lead me down the path of drawing something about the battle but given it was a pretty bloody affair it didn't seem ripe for comedy which lead me to a second fact...

Magenta isn't in the visible spectrum, it isn't there in the rainbow when we sing 'Red, Yellow, and Green and Blue...'.  It is an extra-spectral colour (together with pink, beige and anything on the greyscale).  There is no magenta light which can lead to clickbait titles like 'Magenta doesn't exist!' or 'Magenta isn't a colour', given given you can see it there is more nuance than that.

The colour magenta is composed in your brain using inputs from your eyes which have cone receptors for  Red, Blue and Green.  Magenta isn't one colour it's a mixture in our brains of Red, Blue and no Green so it really is a pigment of our imagination and only perceived psychologically.

However you can argue that all colour is perceived psychologically which explains colour blindness and animals with different perception (the Mantis Shrimp has 12 colour receptors to our 3).

All of which lead to this cartoon about camouflage.

Monday 10 October 2016

Raith Interchange Cartoon

The Raith Interchange is a nightmare labyrinth that I was stuck in the other day (even though I used it know it well from my Holytown days).  I channelled my frustration/fury into a cartoon that struck a chord and was shared a lot round my neck of the woods so much so that the Hamilton Advertiser wrote a story about it

The funny thing on reflection about the Internet world is that you can spend hours on what you think is a great masterpiece only to have it sink away unnoticed in the great stream of social media or you can doodle a lucky 15 minute sketch (it may have been even quicker than that) and it gets more attention than you imagine.

However I am still avoiding the Raith Interchange until people tell me it is all sorted.

Monday 25 July 2016

Take me to your leader

I'm quite pleased with this gag from #ShapeChallenge as it is another one done on iPad/Procreate/Pencil combo.

Saturday 11 June 2016

England v Russia (Euro 2016)

So England v Russia Euro 2016 for England in Marseille where the fans had been involved in clashes for three days, and following a victory for Wales who showed that British teams can win their opening matches the England team performed quite well.
  With the veteran Wayne Rooney now withdrawn into midfield as a midfield general (drawn above) they were making lots of chances that unfortunately no-one managed to get onto the end of.  It was all potential, pressure and no goals in the first half and in the second half Russia came more into it until Dier scored from a free kick and Roy Hodgson hauled off Rooney and Sterling for Wilshere and Milner as we looked to see out our victory.
  With Russia it is never so simple and in the 91st minute they scored an equaliser with one of their few attacks.
  In the aftermath where a draw felt like a defeat I drew this cartoon showing parallels between 1812 and now (although whether Borodino which was not the clear victory Napoleon was looking for exactly equates to a 1-1 draw is debatable).

Sunday 5 June 2016

Andy Murray's French Open 2016

For major sporting tournaments I sometimes try and give myself a challenge like drawing every member of the GB Davis Cup team last year.  Actually what really happens is I start something for fun and then find myself having to finish the set much like Novak Djokovic found himself trying to complete his set of Grand Slams at the French Open this year.

Most of the time when I follow tennis it is either Davis Cup, Andy Murray or Wimbledon but this year I could watch the French Open on TV so I thought I would keep track of how Andy Murray was doing after his impressive win in Rome over Djokovic on clay when I drew this quick cartoon (it was also his 29th birthday).

The big news going into the French Open apart from Djokovic's desire to win it, and Andy Murray's form was Federer pulling out of his first grand slam in 17 years due to injury.

The first cartoon show's Andy Murray's route to the final which at first was thought to be an easier half of the drawer since it didn't have Nadal in it (who was to pull out injured).  His progress in cartoons was:

  • Round 1 - Radek Stepanek.  An old man in tennis terms at 37 Murray was two points away from leaving the tournament in the first round before he turned it around to win in 5 sets.
  • Round 2 - Mathias Bourgue.  After the wily veteran who fought his way into the French Open through the qualifiers we thought the young wild card Frenchman Mathias Bourgue would be a much easier and he wasn't taking Andy to five sets.  I originally drew him as a Star Trek Borg so I could use the tagline 'Resistance is Futile'.
  • Round 3 - Ivo Karlovic.  Just when you began to believe all of Andy's matches would be five set rollercoasters he managed to sweep aside the big serving Ivo Karlovic (also an old man at 37) in straight sets.  Of the caricatures I drew I probably like his long drawn out face the most although I am sure he is more cheery in real life
  • Round 4 - John Isner.  The big serving American didn't give Andy Murray too many problems either and suddenly with the fixture congestion due to rain affecting Djokovic's side of the draw it was looking better for Andy.
  • Quarter Finals - Richard Gasquet.  The last remaining Frenchman Richard Gasquet looked like a tricky test and took a lead in the first set and took the second set to a tie break before collapsing quite spectacularly in the third set to get "bagelled" by Murray (6-0) before succumbing in the forth.  I was quite pleased I could make his outfit blend into the flag in the drawing.
  • Semi Finals - Stan Wawrinka.  Perhaps Andy Murray's finest hour in the tournament was to despatch reigning champion Swiss Stan Wawrinka in fours sets playing some fine tennis on clay.  I liked Stan the Man's yellow outfit and the way he was always taking selfies at the end of his matches so I tried to incorporate these into his caricature.
  • The Final - Novak Djokovic.  It was perhaps inevitable it would come down to these two and while the betting odds were clearly in Novak's favour with his experience of winning many grand slams, part of you couldn't help wonder if Andy Murray would continue the tradition of other players frustrating him at the French Open.  He lost the opening game to love, but then went on a fabulous winning streak that broke Djokovic twice and netted him the first set.  When he almost broke Djokovic in the first game of the second set it was still looking good but Djokovic stepped up a gear and won the second the third sets 6-4.  The fourth set may have been a chance for a Murray comeback but he was broken twice and his late rally only put off the inevitable when Djokovic won 6-4 to claim the only Grand Slam he hadn't won.
The other talking points that spawn cartoons were the weather and the outfits.

The lack of a roof (the Australian Open has three, Wimbledon one and the US Open will get one this year) coupled with some pretty abysmal weather for northern France meant a lot of play was rained off with one day being lost completely and other days where very little play occurred.  Despite this they did get through the schedule in time to have the men's final on the second Sunday but with some forecasts this wasn't looking likely.

Secondly Adidas players were wearing a funky black and white zebra pattern outfit based on the dazzle camouflage of WW2 allied shipping.  I drew a picture from one of the battle of the Zebras when two adidas players Thiem and Zverev were battling it out in the third round.

It even got a retweet from the Roland Garros twitter account.

So a wet French Open was good for the unstoppable Novak Djokovic and nearly great for Andy Murray.  Now the grass season is upon us and in a month or so it will be Wimbledon.  No idea if I will do anymore for that given it falls in a busier time of year for me.

Wednesday 11 May 2016

Cleft Awareness Week

The post is a bit different to my usual efforts.  Instead of the usual attempts at humor and topicality I wanted to look at something closer to home.

Seven years ago my son was born with an undiagnosed unilateral cleft lip and palate (it wasn't detected on any of our pregnancy scans) and so for Cleft Awareness Week (May 7th to 14th) I wanted to try and tell the story from my perspective (of a parent) of the first seven years.

My objective in tackling this was to raise awareness rather than sympathy.  My son is not his cleft, it does not define him, but it is part of his story and its not a very common story with only 1 in 700 births leading to some form of cleft lip and palate.  Indeed if you met him today you wouldn't know think there was anything different about him until you looked closely then you would see the scar between his lip and nose from the first surgery.

However this is only our story and while parts of it may be familiar to other families their experiences will differ depending on the what type of cleft their children had, what the outcome of their surgeries were, and what, if any, problems they had to deal with.

Condensing all that has happened into a single page can be misleading.  It can make it look like we've done nothing but hospital visits and appointments, and whereas the first year was busy with two surgeries/ hospital stays, the years since have consisted of only a few appointments a couple of times a year.  It also ignores the major portion of his life both the fun and mundane with nursery, school, hobbies, holidays, friends, families which make him the wonderful kid he is.

Finally a few notes to clarify some points from the cartoon itself:
  • Andy Murray winning Wimbledon is obviously not a big a day as any of the weddings, births, 
  • Our son was our second child and when he was born we had no idea from any previous scans or appointments that he had a cleft.  His sister does not, nor is there any history of cleft in our family.  The science of what causes clefts is not fully understood although genetic and environmental factors can play a part.
  • We were fortunate that our son was born in the Queen Mothers hospital in Glasgow (no longer there) right next door to the Yorkhill Childrens Hospital (which is also moved now), because there was a Cleft team there who could be paged and a great nurse who could come and speak to us almost immediately.  Had we been born elsewhere we may have had to wait longer to get some quick assurance about what a cleft lip and palate meant.
  • I'm sure most people know what 'Wet Burp' is a euphemism for.
  • The hearing tests really did at one stage involve being in a dark room when some sort of scary monkey would make a noise with cymbals which even adults would find terrifying.
For more information about cleft lip and palate and the charity setup to support people with clefts and their families visit

Thursday 28 April 2016

William Milkshakespeare

Terrible pun I know but since its the #Shakespeare400 celebrations and Twitter is awash with Shakespeare jokes I had to find a different angle for the Thursday #PortraitChallenge.

Tuesday 26 April 2016

R2D2 Rant

Usually it's all about the drawing but when I started this #ShapeChallenge about a ranting ageing R2D2 I almost couldn't fit everything on the one panel.  Indeed I cut entire sections in my head about how he took down two battle droids, and how Princess Leia entrusted him with the secret plans to the death star without which there wouldn't have been a Star Wars in the first place.

Sunday 3 April 2016

Party Balloon Vikings

Recently I have started taking part in Twitter #ShapeChallenge which is one of Sarah McIntyre's Virtual Studio challenges.  I quite liked this Shape and made it into a fierce Party Balloon viking.

Unfortunately we don't know much about the Party Ballon Vikings due to the way their weapons and armour were popped and flew away meaning their ancient art of balloon animal making was lost for centuries.

My very first ShapeChallenge was also a Viking I give you Hareold the Fluffy Bunny Viking

Saturday 26 March 2016

Tom Hiddleston Night Manager caricature

Really enjoying the BBC adaption of Le Carre's The Night Manager starting Tom Hiddleston as Jonathan Pine so I drew this caricature.

Monday 21 March 2016

Goldilocks and the Three Apple Devices

The Spring 2016 #AppleEvent unveiled a smaller iPhone the iPhone SE which is 4 inch screen and the smaller iPad Pro.  Last time round I really wanted a big iPad Pro now I have to avoid the temptation of the most cost effective smaller one.

Saturday 5 March 2016

Judy Murray Caricature

On Mothers Day eve I drew one of Scotland's most famous mothers Judy Murray who is a tennis coach and the team captain of the GB Fed Cup team and who also does lots of work promoting tennis in the UK as well as being the proud mum of Jamie and Andy Murray.

Monday 29 February 2016

Super Tuesday (Hillary Clinton)

Happy Super Tuesday the only famous Tuesday not about pancakes whose significant role in the presidential primaries I was unaware of until I watched later seasons of The West Wing.

The only way I could trump an earlier competition caricature of Donald was by caricaturing Hillary Clinton the most likely democratic candidate according to pollsters who are never ever wrong.

Please note that this does not represent any official endorsement of any US presidential candidate as I am still smarting from your countries rejection of over lovely monarch several centuries ago.  If I were to vote I would want Jeb Bartlett or Harrison Ford.

My spooky prediction from 2011 is that not only would Hillary win the election of 2016 but during her inauguration the aliens from Independence Day would return to ruin her big moment.

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