Friday, December 26, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

New cartoons

This is my latest one for Private Eye, in the issue out now. To be honest I never thought this would get taken, as there were much better ones in the batch I sent off, well, probably. You can never really tell what cartoons an editor will like, ask any cartoonist. I think I'm a particularly bad judge.

One of mine is also going to be the first (I think) cartoon for Readers Digest's new caption contest. It's called 'Beat The Cartoonist', and my original caption goes up against the readers' ones. Readers vote for their favourite and see if they have 'beaten the cartoonist' about 8 months later. Bit worrying, but I'm not sure what else is possible for this one. Here it is without the caption. The full captioned one can be seen on my website in the animal cartoon section. Why not have a go yourself as you probably don't read Readers Digest. I know I don't. (Although I believe the next issue with my cartoon in it is an absolute doozy).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Shmeducation-A True Story

Here it is, my graphic short story. The winners of the Observer competition are being published this sunday. Look forward to seeing them.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I sold this cartoon a while back to Readers Digest and I imagined it would be in the next issue, but apparently not. They're probably holding on to it for another issue, but I also wouldn't be surprised if they have changed their mind. I don't think it's my best, but I was happy to sell it (of course). I've been paid, so hopefully it should appear sooner or later. It's been a fairly lean time recently in terms of placing cartoons, but the good news is that Private Eye have finally taken a couple. It's taken months and about 8 submissions, but finally I'm back in the game! I'll post them as soon as they've been printed. In other up and coming blog news, I intend to put up my full education story in the next couple of days that didn't win the Observer Graphic Short Story competition. I'd love some comments, as I am very proud of it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

King Monkey-Back!

I took a little break from drawing King Monkey to get some other bits done, but as you have already seen in the title to this post, it's back. Hooray! Break out the Aldi's own brand Cava!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I've been doing a lot of research into contemporary caricature recently in my capacity as an illustration lecturer and I was inspired to have a go myself. I haven't done any for ages, since university really, but I very much enjoyed getting back into it. Here's an illustration of Barack Obama I've just this minute finished. I'm nowhere near the league of artists like Hanoch Piven, Noma Bar or Stephen Kroninger, but I'm pretty pleased with the result.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Observer competition

Here I present the first page of my entry for the Observer Graphic Short Story competition. It's a devastating exposé of the english education system from a teacher's perspective. It should bring the government down or at the very least the crumbling and bizarre edifice that is british education. I expect no less.

I was walking home from the Metro station and the whole of the idea came into sharp focus. It happens that way sometimes, especially when walking. I find that my mind is much sharper as I walk. The artwork has been much more difficult to produce. I've tried some experimental approaches, but in the end have opted for a regular cartoony approach that I hope works as a counterpoint to some of the serious things in the story. This first page is very introductory in tone, but the other three have a definite plot and resolution. The only problem is that I've got masses to draw and the deadline is looming. Comments are very welcome.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Captain Biceps

I went to Bordeaux a few years ago and picked up a copy of tcho comic which is the kind of thing we would kill for in England. Packed with great characters and amazing art, it was a joy. The lead character is a little guy called Titeuf who also appeared in The Dandy around 2005 as Tootuff. God knows how the Dandy printed it as it's pretty near the knuckle at times. Titeuf is a prepubescent kid who is confused and obsessed by the great unknown world of girls and sex and is a little scared by it. It has a good line in toilet humour, too. In one episode I saw in the latest album he and another kid are standing next to each other at a urinal. They develop a urinating rivalry which results in them both being drenched. Can you imagine THAT in The Dandy? Or indeed in an American Newspaper?

Along with Titeuf I was totally mesmerised by a character called Captain Biceps. He's a ridiculously muscled Superhero who does battle every week with a marvel superhero, or a character from fiction, or myth, or whatever the creators Tebo and Zep can come with. (Zep is also behind Titeuf). It is simply marvelous, and drawn in a wonderfully unfussy style. The design of the pages and colouring is also brilliant. Here are the first two episodes which I found on the net:

I now have all four of the annual collections, which I ordered through The French Bookshop in South Kensington. I can't read french, but it hardly matters, most of the humour is visual anyway. In one of my favourite episodes, a superman-alike is helping Biceps every time he gets in trouble, rescuing him from being crushed by moving walls etc. At the end of the strip Biceps is caught short without any loo paper. He calls for 'Hyperman' and wipes his bottom on his cape. The last picture of his bedraggled, stinking, poo-covered cape is just great. Of course it's not all poo and wee, there are some great visual jokes and ingenious ideas in there, along with superb characterisation-Biceps little sidekicks who each get killed are a good example. I hope this stuff gets translated, but I have my doubts it ever will. We get plenty of translated french to english albums in comics shops over here, but most of it was drawn more than twenty years ago. It's a shame that the current children's comics scene in france is unaccessible to english people, as we have a lot to learn. Even, amazingly, about toilet humour.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Johnny Ryan

I'm a huge fan of Johnny Ryan. His work is the most fearless I have ever read, excluding Crumb maybe. Racism, rape, disgusting sex acts, he puts it all in. He just doesn't give a shit. Quite a while ago I drew some fan art and sent it into his website and now I re-present it to you my readers, if you still exist. For those who don't know, the guy doing the stomping is Loady McGee and the stompee is Synus O'Gynus.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hate that BA

I went back to england for 6 days last week and BA lost my baggage. My drawing equipment was in it, which was frustrating beyond belief. They have a brilliant baggage tracker on their website which just says 'no information available' so I had to repeatedly phone them and hassle them. I had to take deep breaths as the people on the phone knew nothing either. I finally got it back after 4 days. Four days! it was in the airport for two of those apparently. Anyway, the people on the phone were telling me that it was going to arrive soon, so I kept deferring my King Monkey deadline right up to the last minute. I really should be working weeks in advance, and I was when I first started posting the strip, but currently I am working only one week ahead (laziness!). So anyway, this episode was drawn with a track pad on my laptop moments before the deadline, and I had to cheat rather a lot. Just about got away with it, I think.

I am also working on a KIng Monkey website right now. It's a work in progress, but all the strips are on there. Have a look, tell me what you think:

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The one they used

Here is the cartoon they used in Prospect instead of the family one that I stuck on here a couple of posts down. Again, I am going for real simplicity, which gives the cartoon a strong graphic feel. What is weird about this one though, is trying to dress up two trees to make them look like a police officer and a plain clothes detective. I went for a kind of strange semi-jacket body stocking approach. I hope it gives the right visual information without detracting from the joke. The joke, by the way, was inspired by Dexter. Serial killers are kind of in-vogue at the moment, aren't they? Maybe this one can be re-sold to a serial-killer trade magazine. Do they have one? With articles on keeping your bone-saws sharp? Any serial killers out there, let me know.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cut 'n' paste

Here's another one I did a few years ago. This is a totally different approach to producing a comic strip - I found an old Dukes of Hazard annual in a charity shop and cut up one of the stories: Hurricane Harry. Then I rearranged it make it complete nonsense. I am particularly proud of the result, I think it worked beautifully. Tried to repeat the trick, but never got it to work as well as this.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Prospect magazine, in their infinite wisdom, have bought another of my gag cartoons. Unusually though, the editor changed his mind about the one they wanted and took another one instead. Fine by me, he could have changed his mind about using any of them. This is the one they initially wanted. I'll post the other one after it's been published.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's science

Here is a scientific diagram that clearly shows how the body of a cartoonist compares to that of the pelican.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Warning: Contains rude words

While I'm waiting for something interesting to happen to my cartoon career, here is another strip from the archives. It contains naughtiness so watch out!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mr Beeching

I used to be a secondary school teacher. So I did a cartoon series about it, 4 or 5 years ago. When I say it was about it, it wasn't really about it. The series was far too surreal to really be about teaching, but it was hellish fun creating it and it actually kept me sane at one of the lowest points of my life, which I won't go into. It was called Mr Beeching's Teachings, and here are a couple of sample strips. Most of them can be seen on the characters page of my website (link on the right).

The best idea I ever had

Last summer there were floods all over england, the worst being in the town of Tewkesbury, so I started thinking about gag cartoons on the subject of floods. I was thinking about ducks, specifically the phrase "Lovely weather for ducks", but nothing was really working. I went out for a run because, for some reason, movement and fresh air tend to clean out my brain-tubes, and it was while running that the idea hit me. Animals in a flood, hippos, bingo! I was so fantastically pleased with it that I cut my run short, went home and drew it straight away. The cartoon is a 'riff' (need a nicer word-can't think of one) on one of the most famous cartoons of all time - Paul Crum's hippos in the water, one saying "I keep thinking it's tuesday". It's strange, surreal, a beautiful idea, way ahead of it's time for 1937. Rightly regarded as one of the defining cartoons of the 20th century and one that helped to shape gag cartooning. Here it is:

Paul Crum

So my idea, as you can see, was a simple word swap. It's allowed! There is a entire genre of gag cartooning that is basically borrowing someone else's cartoon and playing with it. As long it's made obvious, most often with 'apologies to...' written somewhere on the drawing, it is considered a tribute.

Did it get published? Did it bollocks. I wonder if cartoon editors think the idea is too obscure for non cartoon fanatics, or it just isn't as good as I thought at the time. I'm secretly hoping there will be some more floods in Tewkesbury soon so I can send it out again. Apologies if you live there.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Learning a valuable lesson

Since I uploaded this King Monkey strip, which I thought was pretty funny, I have lost 12 email subscribers. 12! I can't afford to lose that many.

In Britain, the wearing of women's clothing is a comedy staple, so I can't quite believe that the addition of a bra would make 12 people cancel their subscription. It's useful, of course, to see in which direction I shouldn't take the strip, but I didn't for a moment think that a Mandrill wearing a bra would be considered unsettling. Perhaps it's because he's a soldier? Or maybe I am making a leap, here. Maybe the 12 just got bored with the strip. I did intentionally write one that I thought would be a little controversial a while ago, but nothing happened. In fact, at the time, I was continuing to pick up email subscribers. Here it is:

(You can see the changes I've made to the artwork in the recent strip at the top here, too). Just goes to show, you can't second-guess your readership.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Comic violence

This is an attempt at an ongoing kids comic strip, inspired initially by a typically controversial Johnny Ryan story on his website. The thing is, this introductory episode started off quite nicely, but then I thought, it's about a wrestler, it needs some wrestling in it. So I put in the scene towards the end. Now, I personally think it isn't too violent. There should be violence in comics, it can be funny! But there seems to have been a huge shift towards no violence whatsoever in children's comics (it's fine on TV, however). So is this strip acceptable? That's the question I want answered before I continue with other episodes. (Also-is it any good?)

It would be perfectly acceptable in France, however. Might get it translated.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Michael Kupperman

I've just found out on the fantagraphics website the magical news that Michael Kupperman has finally produced the fourth 'Tales Designed to Thrizzle' comic. He is quite simply the funniest cartoonist I have ever read. Buy it.

Tales Designed to Thrizzle #4

King Monkey

Here is little look at my recently re-designed newspaper strip, 'King Monkey', a doomed-to-fail attempt at newspaper syndication. You never know, though, I could strike it lucky. You need a bit of blind hope to be a a cartoonist. The problem for me is that there have been some terrible strips picked up for syndication in the recent past so I am clearly no judge of the qualities that a strip should have, which I always thought was to be funny, original and have good characters. The strip goes out three times a week on and is about two monkeys who work for a deranged, megalomaniac king. The stars of the strip are a green monkey who is a rectangle shape and is stupid. A blue sausage-shaped monkey who is even more stupid and the red king who is the stupidest of all. They don't have names, why should they? There's also other monkeys that appear from time to time, including the Monkey Pope!

Read this teaser from the current storyline and if you like it click on the link on the right to read a whole lot more (about 50 episodes so far). If you think it's good, get other people to read it and send me some feedback!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

In Prospect

These are the first two cartoons I've had published in Prospect Magazine. I've been experimenting with drawing objects in grey with no outlines, and I'm pleased that Prospect picked up two of the ones that I've done that with. I'm pretty satisfied with the result. The idea is basically a steal from 50's modernist cartoons and particularly from some re-released children's books from the 50's and 60's that I've been flicking through in Gosh! comics. I like the two characters in this, an evil, skeletal boss and a grinning fool. The name Simmons is the surname of my good pal Tim, who looks nothing like the drawing.

I'm always trying to simplify my cartoons and see what I can do with limited elements. I'm not quite brave enough to go down a Charles Barsotti super-simplified route yet. Maybe I will end up as a sort of Dick Bruna of gags. Only hugely less successful.

This next one features a stalactite as a character. I love cartoons with absurd inanimate objects as the protagonists, and this is my third idea using a stalactite, the first to be published. The idea is at once original and clichéd - A stalactite on a psychiatrist's couch. I'm not that happy with the structure of the drawing, but there you go. Can't change it now.