The world being destroyed by consumerism cartoon

traffic destroying environment cartoon

A cartoon showing a lorry crossing a traffic roundabout and destroying the playing arrangement on the roundabout.

The cartoon is a metaphor for the way that our consumer society and consumerism (represented by the lorryload of goods) is devastating the earth (represented by the flower planting in the form of a map of the world).

Original version created: 1991

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Genetically modified pigs will fly.

pigs will fly gmo cartoon

A cartoon showing a genetically modified pig flying.

A cartoon about gmo food and genetics.
The cartoon strip shows people talking about ‘scare stories’ about ‘Frankenstein food’, with the final frame of the strip showing a flying pig.

A cartoon about gmo, genetically modified organisms, pigs will fly.

Original version created: 2008

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Will increased gmo food yields cause human population increase?

gmo food cartoon

A cartoon dealing with the issue of genetically modified crops increasing crop yield to feed more people

The cartoon shows scientists considering the consequences of increasing food yields and the possible resulting population increase.

A cartoon about gmo, genetically modified organisms, human population increase.

Original version created: 2012

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The repatriation of artefacts from museum collections

Museum repatriate artefacts cartoon

A cartoon dealing with the issue of the repatriation of cultural artefacts

The cartoon shows the issue of the repatriation of cultural artefacts from museum collections as one about cultural identity.

The inspiration behind the cartoon was the debate about the return of the Elgin Marbles or Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum to Greece – a debate that has sometimes been used by greek politicians to bolster Greek national identity (and their own careers?).
The cartoon also looks at grievance culture – the issue of identity generated through a sense of grievance.

A cartoon about ethnology, ethnography, enthographic or enthnological museum collections.

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The Ethics of Coffee – illustration

Coffee cash crop cartoon

An illustration showing coffee beans with currency symbols on them as a symbol of the profit-motivated production

This illustration was created to depict coffee grown by multinational companies primarily for the profit.

The image is to draw attention to fair trade crops and ethically produced food products
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Atmospheric pollution cartoon. Breathing clean air in a polluted atmosphere

Oxygen cylinder tree cartoon

An environmental cartoon about air pollution

A cartoon showing a man using an oxygen cylinder to breathe fresh air in a polluted atmosphere. The oxygen cylinder contains a tree that is generating oxygen

PArt of the idea behind the illustration is to convey the concept that trees are the lungs of the world.
A cartoon about atmospheric pollution, clear air and toxic chemicals in the atmosphere, smog
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Weird illustration of a person with a padlock as a head – and the key as a pet

Surreal cartoon of a person with a padlock as a head and a key as a pet

Bizarre illustration of a padlock as a person’s head

A bizarre or surrealist image showing a person with a padlock as a head – and with the padlock’s key on a lead like a pet dog.
The image was created with no specific meaning, although it’s probably an unconscious metaphor for something as it gives the impression of aspiring to be psychologically meaningful.

Perhaps it’s meant to refer in some ways to psychology or psychological processes, the workings of the mind, the conceptualisation of ideas and such like. Perhaps it’s about the way that people become locked into particular patterns of thought and behaviour (while possessing the key to their release).
A cartoon about cognition, thought processes, psychiatry, the mind.
I think it owes a debt to surrealist art, with a touch of Rene Magritte or salvador Dali in there

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Carbon footprint cartoon

carbon footprint cartoon

A carbon footprint cartoon from my selection of environment cartoons.

The illustration shows a climate change conference, with the US delegate (Uncle Sam) wearing gigantic clown shoes. He is thinking ‘No one will take me seriously in these shoes’

A cartoon about the fact that (at the moment) the western world uses most of the world’s resources and thus is in no position to lecture about the impact of consumerism to the developing world
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The ship of fools

globe - Ship of Fools cartoon

Ship of Fools environment illustration

Is the earth, and the human race, heading for disaster (because people seem to be only capable of short term planning)?

An environmental cartoon showing the earth as a ship, represented by half a globe, with people on the deck enjoying themselves, oblivious of the fact that they are steering the world towards catastophe

The illustration shows the world’s population as the passengers and crew of the Ship of Fools (or the fools on the ship)

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Cartoon about the saying ‘To your own self be true’

criticism of excessive self fulfilment - cartoon

A cartoon about the pitfalls of ‘being yourself’ and ‘being true to yourself’

The illustration shows a guru dispensing advice to ‘Be true to yourself in all things’.

The cartoon highlights the absurdity of the expression ‘To thine own self be true’, as the expression can be taken as a license for people to do whatever they want. The expression only makes sense if you assume that everyone’s nature is essentially good.
“To thine own self be true” is a quote from Shakespeare (by Polonius in Hamlet).
The image is a criticism of philosophies and lifestyles that take concepts of self fulfilment or self actualisation to an extreme, and or the concept that it’s morally good to follow the impulses of your own personality without self-restraint.

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Introvert – extrovert cartoon

introvert extrovert cartoon

Cartoon about self-help books

An introvert reading a self-help book about how to be an extrovert

A cartoon about therapy, psychology, psychiatry, personality types
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A hammer nailed down by nails

Conceptual illustration. A hammer nailed down

Conceptual political illustration or cartoon
A hammer nailed down. Did the nails nail down the hammer to stop the hammer hitting nails?

Cartoon about overthrowing tyranny
The hammer is a metaphor for a tyrant (perhaps), or at least an oppressive force or feared presence.
The hammer seems to have been attacked by nails, perhaps because hammers normally ‘attack’ (or at least hit) nails.
Are the nails there to stop the hammer hitting more nails and thus committing more violence?
Or was the hammer nailled down by another hammer?
The hammer is leaking blood in a rather surreal and gruesome way

A cartoon about violent revenge, surrealism, dada, tools, crime, motives

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Sculpture and self portraiture cartoon – self portrait by an artist creating a self portrait of itself in infinite regression

Sculpture cartoon -  self portrait by artist creating infinite regression

Cartoon showing an artist creating a self portrait.
The self portrait looks exactly like the artist – right down to the pose.
The cartoon is partly about the self obsession of(some) artists and about the self-referencial nature of art and the introspection of artists.

Cartoon showing an artist producing a self portrait that looks exactly like him (including the pose).
The artist is a sculptor and he is carving a self portrait in stone.

The joke in the cartoon is that not only is the sculptor carving a statue, but the the sculpture (the self portrait) is also working on a self portrait too (that is just protruding into the righthand side of the cartoon).
It is a cartoon about infinite regression, where the artist is creating a self portrait that is creating a self portrait that is… and so on. Similar to a mirror reflecting a mirror that reflects the other mire that reflects the other mirror.

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Anthropology cartoon

anthropology cartoon

Cartoon – anthropologists discover “the tribe that hides from man”

Jungle explorers discovering a lost tribe

The lost tribe is selling souvenirs with messages such as “I’ve visited the tribe that hides from man!”
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Cartoon about queuing

Queue cartoon

Queuing joke
Also about slavish rule following

A comment about pointless petty officialdom

“Doing things by the book”, officious behaviour
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Self-driving cars cartoon or driverless cars cartoon

Self-driving or driverless car cartoon

A cartoon about driverless cars.
How driverless cars may affect society

Driverless cars are also known as driver-free cars, self driving cars, autonomous cars or robot cars.

This is a futurology cartoon, predicting the future when self-driving cars are ubiquitous.
My view is that people will drive round whether they need to or not, simply because they can – a bit like the way people currently spend large amounts of their time glued to mobile phones even though they don’t necessarily have anything pressing to say. You can read an article of mine on the subject of driverless cars here.


Philosophy cartoon – a philosopher talking to a man with no insight

Philosophy cartoon - men talking about the meaning of life

Philosophy cartoons
Strip cartoon about the nature of philosophy

A philosopher and a layman talk about the meaning of life

The joke in this cartoon is that the layman is intrigued about the purpose of life but the philosopher has come to the conclusion that it isn’t an important question.
It’s a cartoon that questions our assumptions of what is important

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Genetics cartoons – a big hand for genetic manipulation

genetic modification cartoon

Genetics cartoon
Genetically modified humans – who can fly

A cartoon about the idea that genetic modification can be used to alter human beings

The genetically modified people in the cartoon have had their dna altered to give them gigantic hands (maybe by altering a gene that is responsible for gigantism). Their huge hands are being used as wings to give them the power of flight.

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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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Egypt crisis cartoon

Egypt crisis - inverted pyramid

A political cartoon about the ongoing crisis in Egypt which was originally heralded by the arab spring

In this image the crisis in Egypt is symbolised by an Egyptian pyramid turned upside down (to symbolise the turning upside down of the political order)

This image was drawn at the time of the initial uprising in Tahrir Square, Cairo, which saw the overthrow of President Mubarak.
The inverted pyramid has been used as a metaphor for instability in Egypt in cartoons several times during the current crisis. The concept was conceived independently for this cartoon with no reference to other cartoons. I wouldn’t want to claim that it was the first use of the inverted pyramid though

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Atheism cartoon – an atheist at the gates of heaven

atheist at gates of heaven cartoon

Atheism cartoon

An atheist arrives at the gates of heaven (the Pearly Gates)

St Peter is pointing out to the atheist that there is a notice on the Pearly Gates declaring “No atheists”.
The atheist is thinking “I don’t believe it!”
The joke is a play on the fact that the atheist doesn’t believe in heaven rather than that he is exasperated by the fact that he isn’t allowed in.

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Chemistry cartoons – graphene

chemistry cartoon - graphene

Chemistry cartoons.
A joke about graphene.

Chemistry humour – my chemistry comic strip in Chemistry World magazine.

This cartoon is about the form of carbon known as graphene – sheets of carbon that are a single atom thick. The humour lies in the fact that it isn’t possible to create a version of an element that is thinner than a single atom of the element, so the chemist in the cartoon is trying to achieve the impossible (in the pursuit of professional prestige?).

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Bankers’ salary and bonus cartoon

banker's salaries and bonuses cartoon

Investment bankers’ bonuses and pay joke

Investment banking humour

Showing a banking job interview.

The interviewer is asking “What is it that attracts you to a career in investment banking?”
A cartoon about the bonus culture in banking and the ethics of banking

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Bankers’ bonuses cartoon

banking cartoon - bankers bonus

Cartoon about bankers’salaries

Illustrating the contempt felt by sections of the public for bankers and other workers in the financial sector who earn enormous salaries with even larger bonuses

The joke in the cartoon is the tautology or circularity in the justification by the banker of his high salary.

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Environment cartoons – polar bear and penguins marching to save the ice caps

penguins and polar bear environment cartoons

Environment cartoons – penguins marching to stop global warming

An illustration showing an environmental protest march of penguins and a polar bear

The penguins in this image are inspired by natural history documentaries about penguins that show the penguins marching in line from their nest site to their feeding ground many miles away.
This cartoon is meant to be a motivational and inspirational image, motivating people to get up and do something for the benefit of the environment (specifically in the areas of climate change and global warming).

Original version drawn: 2011

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Scottish independence referendum – opening Pandora’s box?

Scottish independence vote cartoon

Scottish referendum cartoon – has the independence campaign opened a Pandora’s box of problems?

The cartoon shows a ballot box with “Scottish referendum” written on one side and “Pandora’s box” on another.

The idea is that the independence campaign and the vote may have created divisions within Scotland and between Scotland and England.
The aftermath of the campaign may also generate problems within England as the political parties struggle to reconcile the wishes of the Scots with the wishes of the English.
There may also be resentment within England of the perceived privileges that were offered to Scotland in the closing days of the independence campaign.
On top of this, the regions of England that feel marginalised by Westminster and the south east may start agitating for more autonomy.
The whole thing is a veritable Pandora’s box.
If I’d had a vote I’d probably have voted ‘Yes’ to independence, if only to avoid all of the disruptions and uncertainties that will follow the ‘No’ victory.
Finally, I don’t think that the ‘No’ victory will settle the Scottish independence issue. Before long the independence movement may start agitating again. Alex Salmond, the SNP leader, has already accused the UK government of lying in order to secure a victory for the pro-union campaign. A divided Scotland may find that while it’s in a state of agitation it will have difficulty attracting investment and jobs, which will only make things worse.


Copyright illustration – Mickey Mouse

copyright cartoon illustration

A cartoon about copyright

A stylised Mickey Mouse symbolising the concept of copyright

Walt Disney, the creator of Mickey Mouse, was famously very enthusiastic in controlling the unauthorised use of his cartoon characters. I’m in favour of such control myself, especially when characters are appropriated for financial gain. However representations of famous cartoon characters (or any other images) in order to make a comment is a legitimate use of an image – as here!

This illustration featured in an exhibition in the Cob Gallery, London, titled Pastiche, Parody and Piracy (June/July 2014).

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What is Philosophy?

what is philosophy?logo

Philosophy cartoon or logo

Using the expression “What is philosophy?”
A talking question mark is asking the question.
My cartoons about philosophy are published in Philosophy Now magazine.

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Economics cartoon

finance or economy cartoon

Economy cartoon

A cartoon about finance and economic matters, showing a graph with a banker, businessman or entrepreneur balancing on a unicycle on the graph. The wheel is a coin, symbolising money and financial issues.

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Genetics cartoons

genetics cartoons

Genetics cartoon

This is a cartoon about genetics that I designed, to illustrate the concept of life balancing on a strand of dna, like a tightrope walker.
My cartoons on genetics have been published in magazines such as Nature and Chemistry World (the magazine of the “Royal Society of Chemistry).

Click here to see more of my genetics cartoons.

Illustration about food obsession – Magritte cartoon

food obsession cartoon - Magritte pastiche

Cartoon about food obsession
Magritte pastiche cartoon

A cartoon about eating disorders or obsessive food disorders, drawn as an editorial illustration for an article about the subject in the Guardian newspaper
The cartoon is based on Rene Magritte’s painting of a person with an apple in front of his face
The beefburger in front of the woman’s face represents obsession with food

Notice that the hills in the background are in the form of food, and the clouds in the sky are in the form of loaves of bread – a reference to Magritte
The cartoon about surrealist art, surrealism, diets, dieting

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Superorganisms – a colony of ants forming one giant ant

Ants as a superorganism

Detail of the image above: Ants in a colony forming one large ant

A magnified detail of the image above

Illustration of a superorganism – a colony of individual ants forming one giant ant

Ants are probably the best-known example of superorganisms

A superorganism is an organised colony consisting of many organisms, usually where individual organisms perform specialised functions and where individuals are incapable of survival by themselves.

The illustration could be used as a metaphor for human behaviour or of co-operation or as a literal illustration of the expression “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts”

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