Since 2011 a large part of my life has been spent writing and drawing semi-topical comics for The Guardian and Prospect. It sends me insane in on a weekly basis but I love it too.
Mostly I don’t take on comics commissions outside these publications because I find them difficult and time-consuming to make. They’re basically miniature comedy sketches about whatever I think is ‘in the air’ at the time, and they never feature recurring characters or continuing plots.
The drawing style has changed quite a lot over the years as I learned what the hell I was doing, in public. At first I drew them with ink, or sometimes even fully painted them, but these days I do them on an iPad for the sake of meeting deadlines. The small selection below jumps about in time (and style) somewhat, so I’ve given a bit of context beneath each one.
One day I hope to publish a proper collection of them but until then, a selection of limited-edition prints is available in my shop.
November 2015. Self service checkout technology still hasn’t improved since I made this.
July 2021: the delayed 2020 Euros are on and England are actually doing quite well. The nation are ecstatic; the footballers are footballers.
March 2023. ‘Nepo baby’ discourse has taken over social media.
May 2021: a ‘green list’ of countries reopening to travel after covid is released by the UK government.
September 2021. Parking meter apps – and apps for all sorts of banal transactions – have become ubiquitous since covid.
December 2020. I don’t recall ‘elf on the shelf’ being a thing in the UK before around this time. My kids were very young at this point, so I nearly caved. Thank god I didn’t.
May 2020. Scary times. Boris Johnson is making a series of to-camera public addresses, the like of which we’ve only seen in apocalypse movies. Dominic Cummings is his chief adviser.
April 2023. The annual discussion of the ‘meaning of Easter’ comes around.
March 2022. The clocks are going forward again. Or is it back? I have never understood it and I never will.
April 2022 – St George’s Day. St George is the patron saint of England. For various reasons – mainly colonialism – the English are slightly more awkward than other countries about celebrating our ‘national day’.
December 2021: the original influencer.
December 2021. If you are reading this far in the future, know that once, Mark Zuckerberg tried to distract from accidentally-kind-of-sorta causing a bit of an insurrection by launching the metaverse with his mate and former UK deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg. The promo announcement looked something like this.
July 2021. A select band of billionaires are the first into space tourism, and the last to pay their taxes.
November 2020. I am obsessed with the US election, and have started watching the coverage. After the last four years, the ‘undecideds’ are a thing of wonder to me.
November 2016. We’re starting to think social media might be changing things.
February 2016. Beer packaging has changed in recent years.
August 2016. The coincidence of ‘both-sidesism’ in the media, particularly the BBC, and the world doing ever more stupid things has become a talking point.
April 2016. There are very few portraits of Shakespeare, the most famous (and bald) of which was chosen for posterity by his arch-enemy. So I really think the basis of this joke may be true.
October 2016.July 2016: after the Brexit referendum, but before Trump. It was quite a year.
September 2017. You kind of need to be familiar with the Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme to get this. December 2017.July 2015: the anniversary of Dylan ‘going electric’, a milestone I’ve never really understood.
June 2015. I must have been annoyed about latté art, for some reason. Got to write about something!
January 2013. I’ve been a fan of Philip Larkin’s poetry since I was at school. This is one of the comics I’m most proud of, writing-wise, as I really tried hard to capture his tone.
Sometimes I make a newspaper comic and wish I’d had more space, so I make a longer, and maybe ruder, version afterwards for fun. This, from September 2020, was made at a time when those ‘Masterclass’ ads were taking over everyone’s social media feeds, and Boris Johnson’s fuck-ups were taking over everyone’s lives.
And finally – September 2022. Liz Truss’s first week as UK Prime Minister, knocking it out the park.
It’s hard to communicate now just how extraordinary it was to see Liz Truss become UK Prime Minister and mess it up so badly, so quickly. The effects were horrendous but it was undeniably, grimly, *wretchingly* funny. And, of course, a gift for cartoonists. The metaphors just kept writing themselves. She literally told us all she was going to drive us all to glory, and then crashed into a wall the moment she touched the pedals. This comic – a modified version of a 2016 one which had, instead of Liz, the personification of that horrible year setting everything on fire – proved to be one of my most-shared. I think partly because Liz was funny, but also because it’s based on a common English fear which lurks in the cleft between our national talent for being embarrassed, and our national obsession with football: kicking a ball back to someone you don’t know in a park.
Anyway, here’s to Liz. Those golden 49 days were awful but my god, what a time to be a cartoonist.