Air pollution cartoon

Air pollution cartoon

An environmental cartoon about air pollution

Showing a man using breathing apparatus to breathe fresh air in a polluted atmosphere. The oxygen cylinder contains a plant that is generating oxygen

Part of the idea behind the cartoon is to convey the concept that plants are the lungs of the world, liberating oxygen from carbon dioxide via photosynthesis.
A cartoon about clear air, atmospheric pollution and toxic chemicals, smoke and smog
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People immersed in their smart phones unaware of events in the real world

people engrossed in their smart phones unaware of events in the real world

A problem of immersive technology – smart phone users oblivious to events round them

This cartoon is about the way that the use of smart phones encourages people to withdraw from the real world and to become totally immersed in their phones.

In the cartoon the two young people in the foreground are completely unaware that the city behind them is being destroyed by an alien invasion by flying saucers or ufos (and that this is the reason that their phones have lost their signal). The only thing that they notice is that the signal to their phones has gone.
The cartoon is an illustration of the potential dangers of immersive technology.
It was first published in Prospect magazine, April 2016.
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Gender stereotypes in art

feminist art cartoon - gender in art

Cartoon showing a controversial depiction of gender differences in contemporary art

Depiction of gender in modern art.
Sculpture titled “Man and Woman” where the woman is a washing-up brush and the man is a hammer.

The cartoon is an illustration of the staereotypical male and female gender roles, where men perform hard physical tasks and women perform ‘soft’ domestic chores such as washing up.
Part of the joke is that the male and female roles depicted in the sculpture are extremely conservative, so this particular work of contemporary art is controversial because of its conservatism rather than (more usually with contemporary art) because of radicalism.
Of course the art work may be a piece of feminist art which is ironically pointing out and questioning the standard gender roles in society.
The sculpture depicted owes something to Marcel Duchamp, Dada and the use of ‘ready-mades’ in works of art.
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The End is Nigh cartoon

Cartoon - the end is nigh crank

A cartoon showing a man with an “End is Nigh” placard.

A passing woman is saying “There was a time when I’d have dismissed him as a crank”.

A cartoon about the current feeling of pessimism about the state of the world and about its future.
This could refer to climate change, global warming, or the election of Donald Trump as president of the USA!
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Anthropomorphism

anthropomorphic animals cartoon

A joke about anthropomorphic animals

Anthropomorphism is defined as the giving of human characteristics to animals and other non-human entities.

The humour is in the fact that the rhino reading a book is an anthropomorphic animal, and is reading a book about anthropomorphism
Anthropomorphism is the projection of human characteristics onto animals

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Museum and art gallery merchandising cartoon – fridge magnets of exhibits

museum merchandising cartoon - fridge magnets of artworks

Cartoon about art gallery and museum mechandising and funding.
Which works of art would look good on fridge magnets?

Cartoon showing artworks being considered for use in merchandising

Cartoon showing a meeting of staff responsible for acquiring artworks in an art gallery considering which works of art to buy, including evaluating the commercial, marketing and merchandising potential of the works of art under consideration.
The cartoon’s caption reads:
“It may indeed be a pivotially significant example of early 18th century Flemish art, but as head of merchandising I have to ask ‘What would it look like on a fridge magnet?’”
It is a cartoon about the commercialisation and commodification of artworks such as paintings and of museum artefacts. The cartoon illustrates the problem of funding art galleries and museums, and the increased reliance on museum gift shops and cafes.
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Science fiction cartoon

alien science fiction fans

Science fiction cartoon
Cartoon of alien science fiction fans

Aliens at a science fiction convention

One of the extraterrestrials in the cartoon is wearing a sci-fi tee shirt with the face of an alien on it.
The joke is that here on earth scifi fans would be wearing T-shirts with pictures of “greys” on them (Greys – grey hairless creatures with big eyes – being the standard contemporary image of an alien, a successor to the ‘little green men’ of the mid to late 20th century). On the aliens’ planet the tee shirt has a picture of a human on it, because to the aliens humans are the aliens
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Socialism and the Labour Party illustration – based on a Walter Crane illustration

The Labour left - based on a Walter Crane illustration

Socialism and the Labour Party illustration – based on a Walter Crane illustration

An illustration or political cartoon originally drawn for the Guardian newspaper, based on a Walter Crane political illustration

The cartoon illustrated an article about the Labour left in the mid 1980s, and whether it was becoming viewed as populated by leftwing extremists. This illustration is completely drawn in dip pen and ink, with the parts based on the Walter Crane original being redrawn on tracing paper (rather than being mechanically or electronically reproduced).
The pen and ink version of this illustration featured in an exhibition of Walter Crane’s work at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester.
Although the illustration was drawn in the 1980s it may equally well apply to some views of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn in the mid 2010s.
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Science cartoons: creating mathematical order out of chaos

mathematical order out of chaos cartoon

Science cartoons – mathematics
Creating mathematical order out of chaos

A cartoon showing mathematicians or scientists writing mathematical equations on a blackboard.
One scientist is saying “At last – we’ve created mathematical order in a chaotic universe!”

Part of the joke is that the maths on the blackboard look totally chaotic and incomprehensible, illustrating the common opinion that maths is a difficult subject
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Big game hunters cartoon – hunting endangered species

 big game hunters hunting butterfly cartoon

Endangered species cartoon

Cartoon of big game hunters shooting a butterfly because other species of animal are going extinct due to human pressure and lack of conservation measures

A humorous illustration about endangered species, conservation, species extinction, extinct species
An previous version of this cartoon was published in my environmental cartoon book, When Humans Roamed the Earth, published by WWF/Earthscan

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Contemporary art cartoon. Curator’s egg – based on the curate’s egg cartoon

contemporary art cartoon - curates egg cartoon

Contemporary art cartoon – based on the curate’s egg

The term “the curate’s egg” comes from the cartoon titled “True Humility” by George du Maurier, first published in Punch, 1895.

The term “curate’ egg” is applied to something that is not very good but that you deliberately find something to be positive about.
It is sometimes used to describe something that is generally good in parts but bad in others.

My cartoon treats contemporary or modern art as a curate’s egg – good and bad in parts.
Part of the joke is that the artwork in the cartoon is a modernist sculpture that looks like an egg.
The title of the sculpture is “The Curator’s Egg” (the curator being the person who organises an art exhibition), a pun on the word curate.

a376b

Cartoon – interlocking garden tools

interlocked garden tools cartoon

Gardening cartoon. Garden tools interlocked in a puzzling way

Cartoon showing a man puzzling over interlocked garden tools

An absurdist cartoon showing a garden fork and a garden spade with the shaft of one passing through the handle of the other, similar to children’s interlocking nail puzzles.

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Art criticism cartoon. “Don’t judge art unless you know who the artist is”

don't judge art unless you know who the artist is - cartoon

Art cartoon. Don’t judge art until you know who it’s by

Art appreciation cartoon. Should you know who created a work of art before you judge it?

Cartoon showing a man in an art gallery looking at a painting.
He’s reading the label to see who the painting was painted by before deciding what to think about it.
A cartoon illustrating points about art appreciation, art history, what is a masterpiece, how to judge art, artistic expression, modern art, art education.
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The green man – cartoon

Cartoon - the green man (as a tree)

The green man.

The concept of the green man stretches back to antiquity, and is usually depicted as a head covered in leaves and foliage.
In this cartoon version, the green man is depicted as a tree, where the only evidence of a human link is the man’s legs protruding below the tree’s foliage and forming the tree trunk.

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Cell phone dependency (or mobile phone dependency) cartoon

Cartoon - cell phone dependency

Dependency on mobile phones – cartoon.

People are beginning to rely to an excessive extent on their mobile phone (cell phone) and on digital electronic technology.
This cartoon illustrates this by depicting tourists who are using the sat-nav function of their mobile phones to navigate to a hotel. The gps has stopped working and they don’t know how to find the hotel, even though it’s plainly in full view.

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Ignore the facts – the “post truth” society

Cartoon about ignoring the truth in favour of prejudice

Post truth cartoon.
Truth and facts being ignored in favour of emotional or prejudiced viewpoints.

The concept of ignoring the facts when reaching a decision about something, and letting the heart rather than the head rule, seems to be a phenomenon that’s on the rise. It has recently been labelled ‘post truth’.
In the cartoon I’ve linked it to the phenomenon of conspiracy theories, which are frequently used as a way of justifying irrational or unproven ideas.
The rise of post truth tendencies is said to be linked to people’s increasing use of social media via phones and electronic media and the tendency for internet algorithms to send people only information that they already agree with – however the tendency has always been there in the way that people purchase newspapers that agree with their political and other views.
It may also be linked to the current mistrust of experts.

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Super moons are not as super as the media make out

Cartoon about the media coverage of supermoons

Cartoon about the media’s distortion of the visual impact of a super moon

Super moons were unheard of in the media until the last few years. Now every time the moon gets close to the earth in its orbit the press is full of it, with misleading photographs to make the moon look huge and spectacular (taken with telephoto lenses so that the moon looks large compared to objects such as people or buildings in the distance).

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Donald Trump elected president of the United States – the future looks grim.

do you remember where you were when trump was first elected?

“Do you remember where you were when trump was first elected?”

A cartoon showing two people in a devastated landscape, with a tattered stars and stripes flag.
One of the people is asking the other if he remembers the time when Donald Trump was first elected as president of the United States (implying that the degraded landscape in which they are sitting is a result of the Trump presidency).

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The Grim Reaper with a baby Grim Reaper

grim reaper and baby grim reaper in pushchair

The grim reaper with a baby grim reaper in a pushchair

The personification of death in the form of the grim reaper pushing a pushchair or baby buggy in which sits an infant grim reaper.
Part of the concept behind the cartoon is to show a link between birth and death.
It’s also meant to be humorous because it humanises the grim reaper.

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The grim reaper upgrades from a scythe to a combine harvester

grim reaper buys a combine harvester

The grim reaper buys a combine harvester

The personification of death in the form of the grim reaper upgrades from his scythe to a combine harvester. The harvester is here a symbol of much greater ‘harvesting’ power than the scythe – in other words a means of achieving a much greater death toll, similar to a weapon of mass destruction.

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A tribute to William Heath Robinson

Tribute to William Heath Robinson cartoon

Heath Robinson style cartoon - detail

Detail

This cartoon was drawn as a tribute to William Heath Robinson on the occasion of the opening of the new Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner (where Heath Robinson lived).

This cartoon shows a Heath Robinson style contraption and is captioned “A contraption for capturing unusually shaped clouds”.

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A common view of modern art – the Emperor’s New Clothes

emperor's new clothes modern art cartoon

Jokes about art gallery goers admiring blank canvases are a staple for cartoonists who want to satirise modern art.
Here’s one of my contributions (although I like this sort of art).

Interestingly, the abstract expressionist painter Ad Reinhardt, who painted canvases that were uniformly black, also worked as a cartoonist who satirised modern art.

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How social media confirms your prejudiced – creating a ‘phoney’ world view

phone filter bubble algorithm

How social media in phones filter information – giving the user a ‘phoney’ (or phony) world view

How social media etc via phones and other digital devices reinforce prejudices by filtering information so that the user only sees information that conforms to the user’s existing biases.

The ‘filter bubble’ of social media and other digital technology is similar to the ‘culture bubble’ of real-world travel and peer group opinions and attitudes.
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How did you vote in the Brexit referendum, Daddy?

Brexit cartoon - How did you vote daddy?

A cartoon showing a man who is regretting voting for Britain to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.

The image is partly a comment on the extreme criticism of ‘leave’ voters by those who voted to stay in the EU.

Based on the WW1 recruitment poster “Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?”
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Brexit referendum cartoon – Britain votes to leave the EU

Brexit cartoon Union flag in person's face

Brexit cartoon – the winds of change.

The cartoon shows a British person with a British flag (union jack) blown into his face so that he can’t see where he’s going.

The image may show a person who can’t see the future ahead now that Britain has voted to leave the EU, with the flag representing Britain.
Alternatively, it may show a person who was blinded by patriotism before the referendum and thus voted to leave the EU on those grounds. This doesn’t imply that everyone who voted to leave the EU in the referendum are blinkered nationalists, just that blinkered nationalists probably voted for Brexit and thus managed to get many other Leave voters tarred with the same brush.
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The following version, without the word Brexit in the caption, can be ordered instead, on request.
Brexit cartoon Union flag in person's face

The phone filter bubble effect – creating a ‘phoney’ world view

filter bubble computer algorithm

How algorithms in phones filter information, thus giving the user a ‘phoney’ (or phony) world view

How the use of phones and other digital devices reinforce prejudices by filtering information so that the user tends to see only information that conforms to the user’s biases.

The ‘filter bubble’ of social media and other digital technology is similar to the ‘culture bubble’ in which travellers and tourists surround themselves with their own culture when abroad.
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Driving into a worrying future

driving to the future - the collapse of civilisation

A car driving off the end of a road – symbolising the human race hurtling towards an uncertain future of its own making.

The car driver is following the sat-nav (GPS) unquestioningly as the car drives off the edge of the precipice (which metaphorically signifies the collapse of civilisation).

The road in this cartoon symbolises the human race’s road into the future, while the car is a metaphor for the human race itself, accompanied by its technological ‘life support system’.
The message is meant to be that if we’re not careful it will all end very badly.
This isn’t an anti-technology or anti-progress cartoon by the way – it’s just a view of how things might go if we aren’t careful.
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Burdened down by money worries

man burdened down by financial problems

A man carrying a giant coin – burdened down by financial problems.
Also a metaphor for the burden of living within a society in which the acquisition of financial wealth is seen as a primary goal above all others.

The giant coin (here a British pound coin) is a symbol of finance in general, and of people’s dependence on the financial system.

A cartoon about money, finance, capital, capitalism, pursuit of wealth, the economy.
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Blindly following progress (a metaphor)

blindly driving to the future - and over a cliff

A car driving off the end of a road and over a cliff – with the car driver still unquestioningly following the sat-nav.

The scene is a metaphor for what may happen if the human race unquestioningly and uncritically follows technological progress. Not that I think that technological progress is bad – we just need to watch where it’s going.

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A car driving into the future – and plunging off the end of the road

driving to the future - the collapse of civilisation

A car driving into the future – and plunging off the end of the road

The car driver is following the sat-nav (GPS) unquestioningly as the car drives off the edge of the precipice (which metaphorically signifies the collapse of civilisation).

This cartoon is about the inherent danger in the advance of technology (here symbolised by cars, transport systems sat-nav) and other aspects of human progress. The further we progress, the greater the consequences of anything going wrong, especially if we put too much faith in technology and, as here, follow it uncritically.
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Contemporary baby name cartoon

modern baby's names cartoon

A cartoon about modern baby names and old-fashioned baby names.

A cartoon about the trend for unusual and non-traditional names for babies.

The fashion for non-traditional names for babies may be a symptom of the current trend towards hyper individualism, which may mean that ‘ordinary’ names are viewed as being too conformist.
The trend may also be linked to the rise of celebrity culture where such names are more commonplace
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Student grievance cartoon

student protest cartoon

A cartoon about hypercritical student attitudes.

A cartoon about the trend for students’ grievances and dissatisfactions to be translated into action, such as in the form no platforming or the demands for objectionable artefacts to be removed.

The action is often seen by some as self righteous, self indulgent, censorious and intolerant (ironically, as the students often think that they are acting for the greater benefit of others).
The cartoon shows the danger of the students adopting a feeling of over entitlement and thus taking their attitudes out into the wider world beyond their colleges.
The inspiration for this image was a news story about students disapproving of a sculpture by Henry Moore, and demanding that it wasn’t displayed on their university campus.

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We didn’t do anything illegal – corporate morality

We didn't do anything illegal

A cartoon about corporate morals and the moral corporate stance of stating that “We never did anything illegal” as a justification for using devious or evasive financial practices.

This cartoon is partly inspired by the news story about money laundering through Panama legal/financial firm Mossack Fonseca

A cartoon about corporate morality, the spirit of the law, money laundering leaks, tax evasion, tax avoidance, tax havens.
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Vinyl records – a fashionable music format for the 21st century.

music formats - vinyl - hipsters

A hipster explaining to his father that modern young people listen to music on vinyl – as though it’s a new format that older people wouldn’t understand.

This cartoon is about the way that young people often feel superior to older people because older people aren’t necessarily up to date with technology.

The cartoon is about the psychology of youth – about the way that young people often fail to appreciate the fact that their modern world was created by people who went before them.
The fact that the music format being used is an old fashioned or retro format, while the young person in the cartoon still feels superior to the man who grew up with the technology, is part of the joke about youth setting itself up as superior to age.
The young person in the cartoon is a hipster – a youth sub-culture of the 2010s.
It’s a cartoon about the generation gap.

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“But is it art?”

but is it art cartoon mona lisa

Cartoon: “But is it art?”

A cartoon showing visitors to an art gallery looking at a painting and asking But is it art?”, the cliche expression used when the definition of art is brought into question.

The joke is that the painting that is being questioned is the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.
What would these gallery goers consider to be ‘proper’ art. Maybe ultracontemporary art?

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Truth drugs – a cartoon from Chemistry World magazine

chemistry cartoon - truth drug

A cartoon about the potential use of truth drugs by repressive political regimes.

In the cartoon the truth drugs are not designed to make people tell the truth, but to make them believe in lies.

An example from my cartoon strip published in Chemistry World, the magazine of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Here are more of my chemistry cartoons from Chemistry World magazine.

A cartoon about espionage, spying, subversion, secret police, state repression.

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Personality profiling for job applicants – cartoon from Chemistry World

chemistry cartoon - rorschach test

A cartoon about the use of personality profiling in job interviews.

The use of Rorscharch tests for assessing people’s personalities.

The interviewee is interpreting an X-ray crystallography image that resembles a spider
An example from my cartoon strip published in Chemistry World, the magazine of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Here are more of my chemistry cartoons from Chemistry World magazine.

A cartoon about espionage, spying, subversion, secret police, state repression.

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Praying mantis transgender cartoon

transgender praying mantis

Transgender cartoon – a praying mantis seeking a sex change operation

In the world of the paying mantis, the female mantis eats the male mantis following mating.
The theory is that this means that the female gets a good protein meal that will help the development of the resulting next generation. It all seems unnecessarily excessive to me though.

In the cartoon a male praying mantis is seeking gender realignment surgery or sex change surgery so that he becomes a female and thus avoids death at the hands of his/her mate.
The cartoon is inspired by the high profile of transgender and sexual realignment issues in the current personal identity and lifestyle culture.
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