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.

Advent 19 Little Drum and Bass Boy

Was thinking of the noisy manager and the Little Drummer boy song and came up with this.  I did a different drummer boy cartoon back in 2012.  My drum and bass knowledge is very limited and so I avoided making him say stuff like 'That is wicked' or other phrases that would advertise my lack of cultural awareness.

Advent 18 Treebeard's Christmas Revisited

Reworking a Lord of the Rings Christmas classic from 2010 for your ent-ertainment in full technicolour.

Wednesday 20 December 2017

Advent 17 Perfect Christmas Presents

Drew this cartoon for the CCGB cartoon with the caption 'It's Perfect'.

Doesn't need much explanation but I do remember making lots of fun things with boxes presents came in.

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Advent 15 Santa knows it all

Was sure I'd done a similar Santa gag to this in the past but I prefer this one done for colour collective's Venetian Red week.

You're always worried when you google 'What materials make up a nuclear reactor' you're going to end up on some government watch list as a potential terrorist making a dirty bomb.  However I think these three ingredients are pretty common knowledge.

Monday 18 December 2017

Advent 13 grumpy christmas tortoise

This advent cartoon was drawn for a shape challenge but I liked including non traditional animals in a Christmas setting and also the fact that tortoise, which are the longest living land animal in the world, would have seen Christmas change alot in their lifetimes.

Advent 10 Elf Employed

I drew this Christmas cartoon for the CCGB and my advent cartoon campaign. 

I've been quite rough on old Santa this year as an unfair employer of elves, and he's certainly not a benevolent socialist (otherwise all kids would get the same level of parents). 

The other good thing about elves is how easily you can use them in puns like low elf-esteem, self elf, and the National elf service which I cartooned about before.

Saturday 9 December 2017

Advent Day 5: Mince Pies

For advent day 5 I tackle a really controversial subject mince pies the British Christmas dessert that doesn't contain meet just dried fruit in pastry masquerading as a sweet dessert.  Yes they have plenty of fans but as I said in a Twitter rant if there was a zombie apocalypse and I was stranded in a supermarket warehouse with unlimited mince pies and water I would vote to fight my way out...

Advent Day 3: Christmas Godzilla

For advent day 3 I drew Christmas Godzilla because of a Twitter weekend challenge to draw something monster-y.

Advent 1: No Self-Control Advent Calendar (Reworked)

For this year's Christmas I'm doing another advent campaign of one Christmas-y cartoon a day.

For day 1 I redrew one of my favourite gags from way back in 2011.  That time the style was basic to convey the gag - this time I went for more of an illustration style and I quite liked the retro looking result.

I have drawn other advent calendar cartoons like this one.

Saturday 11 November 2017

Flounding Fathers

This weekend's challenge was to draw historic characters as sea creatures and I chose the US flounding fathers (you see what I did there).  Some Most of the puns are a bit tenuous but I had fun doing it.

After getting hooked on the Hamilton Musical soundtrack this year I am slightly up on my American revolutionary history so maybe I'll start writing a whole Clamilton musical.

Sunday 1 October 2017

Great Scottish Run 2017

1st October is both the Glasgow Great Scottish Run (10K and half marathon) and the start of #inktober Jake Parker's month long inky marathon.  So for Day 1 I drew this true story about how I performed well because of the fear of the orange battery bunny pacer on him trail.  For the record I did do a PB and come in under the hour.

It's fun to break out the inks (mostly fineliners) for a month but I can't give up on digital all together so I digitally annotated a photo of a superhero safety pin as I searched for our secret stash that only come out for running events and emergencies.

Wednesday 13 September 2017

Thursday 17 August 2017

I think we've got mice

Here's a winner from the CCGB caption competition with the caption 'I think we've got mice'

PortraitChallenges (2017)

Over on Twitter Thursday nights are #PortraitChallenge nights where we all do a version of a famous portrait (photograph or painting) that @StudioTeabreak tweets.  The challenge for me is to try and recreate the style and form of gorgeous pieces of art which is not only good practise but increases your appreciation for the original by forcing you to look really deep.

I've been quite pleased with recent Portrait Challenges so I thought I would share my last four challenges which are all of females.

1. Amitra Sher-Gil's 'Kara Szepessy' (1932)

2. Gerald Leslie Brockhurst's "By the Hills"

3. Sharecropper by Elizabeth Catlett

4. E.D.Schott's 'Margit' 

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Fidget Spinners

Here's one from the reject pile about fidget spinners the latest playground craze that is sweeping the country and has finally invaded my house when we exchanged a few quid for a not very rugged bit of plastic-y LED junk that will either break or get discarded once the fad disappeared.  Have to say I preferred the loom band craze of a few years back which was at least useful for making your own bracelets and clothing (I was not bad but my fingers are a bit too big).

I enjoyed trying to draw a version of the Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam fresco.  When I was in Rome I did go and see the Sistine Chapel ceiling but after a long walk through gilded corridors it was quite busy with people taking photographs and guards telling them not to.  There wasn't enough time to really study it but trying to replicate it did make me appreciate some of it's intricacies.

Thursday 11 May 2017

Cleft Awareness Week 2017

This year Cleft Awareness week is May 6th to 14th.  It's an annual national campaign from the Cleft Lip and Palate Association to raise awareness around how cleft lip and palate affects people and their families.

This is something that we know from personal experience as our now 8 year old sold was born with a unilateral cleft lip and palate.  Last year I drew a comic about our experiences as parents when our son was born with this diagnosed cleft.  I thought that as someone who loves to doodle drawing a comic would offer a different perspective on our story rather than a blog or video.

This year when CLAPA asked if I wanted to do anything I thought hard about what I could contribute when not much has moved from last year.  Indeed we are in the calm before the storm when we know we have another big surgery coming (a bone graft) and the scary letter is lying on the kitchen counter, but it will be a few weeks before the appointments and clinics for that start.

I'll admit that even though it could be a while away I am quite anxious about the bone graft.  It is a completely different kettle of fish than the two surgeries our son had in his first year.  They were stressful enough, but this time our son is old enough to be aware of what is going on as well as a potential longer absence from primary school which up to now we've avoided.  If it is not too terrible I would like to document the bone graft experience in  a future comic, but we aren't there yet.

So I went for a more general strip reflecting our experiences as a family 8 years on from my son being born with an undiagnosed cleft and also what it means for a face to be 'right'.

I love drawing and am trying to get better at drawing caricatures and part of that process is to identify what is distinctive or unique about a face, exaggerating some features in order to get a 'likeness' or something that brings out the character of the person.  However kids (and adults) don't like to be seen to be different and sometimes society isn't kind to those who look or sound a little or a lot different.  I want my son to be comfortable in who he is, but not defined by it.  I want society to accept people for who they are without judging them by their faces.

However fitting everything into one page was a stretch so there are some extra points worth making:

  • Every family's experience with a child with a cleft lip/palate is different.  I consider us to be lucky in that although it was undiagnosed we had good support almost immediately and our surgeries were successful.  Other families may take more than one surgery to repair the palate (roof of the mouth) for example.
  • Not all the difficulties are down to appearance.  The issue of cleft lip and palate is not merely cosmetic/looking different it causes lots of other problems from difficulty breast feeding (we couldn't), development of speech (we had to have speech therapy for a while), hearing issues, 'glue' ear and many more.
  • Not everyone in our family lounges round on the couch looking at tablets all the time (maybe just 80% of the time).

1 in 700 babies are born with a cleft lip and/or palate your can find our more about it here.

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Wildebeest and Vegan Lions

A recent fun cartoon for a caption competition.  It's always fun to draw new things in this case it was Wildebeest.

If you like this lion check out my Lion, Witch and the Ikea Wardrobe cartoon from 2012.

Sunday 9 April 2017

Cloud Genie

A recent Shape Challenge gave me the change to imagine the conversation between a cloud based AI genie with voice recognition technology and someone trying to get their wishes.

The Twitter challenge only really required a single panel but you could imagine a much longer conversation in a strip.

GENIE: Thank you for activating your all powerful cloud based Genie powered by the latest in voice recognition technology.  Please state your three wishes

PERSON: Please may I have unlimited wealth for my first wish

GENIE: I'm sorry I do not understand you.  Please state your wish in a clear voice using the keyword Genie.

PERSON: Genie may I have unlimited wealth

GENIE: Your order for unlimited whelks has been placed with our partner supplier.  You have two wishes remaining

PERSON: Wait thats not what I said!!!

GENIE: I'm sorry I do not understand you.  Please state your wish in a clear voice using the keyword Genie.

PERSON: Genie, thats not what I said!

GENIE: Your order for a brand new water bed has been placed with our partner supplier.  You have one single wish remaining.

PERSON:  No undo you're misinterpreting my wishes

GENIE: I'm sorry I do not understand you.  Please state your wish in a clear voice using the keyword Genie.

PERSON: (slowly) Genie. undo last two wishes

GENIE:  Your order for the unlimited whelks and a water bed have been cancelled.  You have used all your three wishes.  Thanks you for choosing our powerful cloud based Genie service.

Saturday 1 April 2017

Bob Dylan Caricature

A caricature of Bob Dylan from the a competition.  He's one of my musical heroes passed down from my dad who was into the whole 60s folk scene, but whereas I was desperate to see Paul Simon when he played Glasgow I've yet to gamble on going to see Bob Dylan as you're never quite sure what sort of concert you'll get.


For Mothers Day (UK) 2017 I drew a Pokemum trading card.  Looking back on my Mothers Day archives you can also find Batmum (2012), Iron Mum (2013), Star Wars Mum (2014), Marvel X Mums (2015) and absolutely nothing for 2016 except a Judy Murray caricature.  The good news is the cartoon will work again on US mother's day which is in May.

Monday 23 January 2017

Tom Hanks

A caricature of Tom Hanks the famous US actor for a competition.

Thursday 19 January 2017

Denis Istomin

I woke up this morning not expecting much to have happened in the Australian Open only to find Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin ranked 117 in the world going into a fourth set tie break against Novak Djokovic trying to level the match.  Not only did he take the tie break he went on to break Djokovic in the fifth set and claim a win that McEnroe called the "biggest upset in a decade".

With his matching glasses and head band he was also fun to draw so here is my caricature of Denis Istomin.

Thursday 12 January 2017


Today in East Kilbride I saw a fairly rare (in the UK at least) weather phenomena know as Thundersnow which according to Wikipedia and the Met Office is a thunderstorm where you get snow instead of rain.  The snow muffles the sound of the thunder so what you get more of is the flash reflected off the snow.  Thundersleet is also a thing when the storm can't decide whether it wants to be just a thunderstorm (the rain is apparently implied) or a cooler thundersnow.

After a heavy gray brooding storm front it really was over in a flash for me but I did draw this cartoon about how it could have been even cooler - at least in my imagination.

I have also cartooned about other extreme weather like the December when it was quite windy.

Monday 9 January 2017

Neptune's Noodles

Over on Twitter I've been doing #Mythicalmashup the subject of which today was King Neptune and Noodles.  Not an easy combination but I managed to do a six panel strip with some awful puns.

King Neptune was of course the Latin i.e. Roman version of the God of the Sea (the Greek equivalent was Poseiden).

Friday 6 January 2017

Massassi Outpost

I was thinking about the worst job in the Rebel Alliance and I thought about this guy, the lonely tower guy in Massassi Outpost on Yavin 4 during the Rogue One/A New Hope time period.

The Yavin 4 base is the jungle one with the temples that was actually filmed in the ruins of Tikal, an ancient ruined city of the Mayans, in modern day Guatemala.

In the films the lonely rebel soldier stands in what looks like a crows nest with a spear or a ray guy as some sort of lookout and you have to wonder why.  Surely they would get radar conformation of an Imperial attack before they were in visual range and if they are worried about ground attack then he isn't going to see much through that jungle canopy.  As someone pointed out on Twitter it would also be a pain if you suddenly needed the toilet.

I do of course have lots of other Star Wars cartoons for you to peruse if you're interested.

Wednesday 4 January 2017


This year we had our first ever real tree and now as we work out how to take it down I feel bad about what we put it through but I'm sure it will enact its revenge!

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