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.
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.
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.
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.