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.
Cartoon about aliens
Extraterrestrial beings are just the same as us!
An image showing creatures from other planets dressed in very mundane clothes
The point is that the inhabitants of other planets are not necessarily exotic creatures, and may be very normal, even boring
A cartoon about clothing, fashion, outer space, SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence)
Cartoon – a giant space monster is still insignificant when compared to the size of the universe
A cartoon about the importance of context to significance
The cartoon shows two astronauts about to be devoured by a huge space worm
The inspiration behind this cartoon is the assertion that people sometimes make that people are insignificance when compared to the vastness of the universe. It’s my view that the size of the universe is of no significance for all practical purposes
Cartoon reference number: a567
Cartoon – aliens trying to deduce what humans look like based on limited evidence
Aliens trying to visualise what humans look like based on their clothing – however the aliens only have a glove and a shoe with which to work
A cartoon about trying to reach conclusions when you don’t have enough evidence
In the cartoon the aliens have deduced that a human glove is a garment for the body and the (five) legs, while the shoe is an article of headgear like a hat.
The aliens have reached their conclusion due to their bias towards their own body forms.
A cartoon about cognitive limitations, cultural bias
Cartoon reference number: a565
Cartoon – an alien asking a soldier what monster he is fighting
The cartoon shows an extraterrestrial creature that has landed on earth. The alien is talking to a soldier who is dressed in fighting gear and is heavily armed. The alien is asking the soldier what sort of monster he shares his planet with that he has to be so well armed against it
The joke, of course, is that the monster is us, the human race
This cartoon makes a very negative point about the human race. Personally I think that the human race is okay, but that we tend to have too high an expectation of ourselves and an unrealistic view of the possibility that we can attain an ideal state of existence.
I drew this cartoon in the 1970s. It’s now forty years later. By coincidence I’ve just read a few articles about philosopher John Gray, who is of the opinion that the human race is not exactly the best thing to have evolved on this planet. Possibly a bit misanthropic, but not deluded in the way that some of the more shiny concepts of the nature of humanity are. John Gray’s latest book is The Silence of Animals
Cartoon reference number: a566
The first law of survival – don’t let them know you’re scared – cartoon
A cartoon showing astronauts on an alien world. One of the astronauts is being sucked into the mouth of a space monster. The other astronaut is shouting “Remember the first law of survival – don’t let it know that you’re scared!”
A cartoon about overcoming your fears and confronting your anxieties
Cartoon reference number: a563
Cartoon – will members of the general public ever be able to travel in outer space?
Public transport in outer space – exact fare please
The cartoon features a public transport bus that travels on an interstellar bus route
The woman who wants to catch the bus hasn’t got the exact fare, so she can’t get on board
This is a surreal, nonsense cartoon about an interstellar bus that has inadvertently stopped at a bus stop on earth (which isn’t on its bus route)
Cartoon reference number: a564
Aliens that look like inkblot test figures – cartoon
A cartoon showing astronauts landing on an alien planet and seeing the inhabitants there – which look like Rorschach test shapes (as in the inkblot test)
The astronauts are each seeing the Rorschach shapes as though they may be different things
One is interpreting them as flowers while the other is seeing them as monsters
A cartoon about psychiatry, psychology, psychological testing and personality profiling
Cartoon reference number: a562
The uninvention of the wheel – a nonsense cartoon
A cartoon or illustration illustrating the fanciful notion that inventions can be ‘uninvented’
Here, in an imaginary setting in a fictitious world, the inhabitants are discovering that by removing the wheels from a cart the cart becomes really hard to move. They seem to be excited by this revelation. Quite why I’m not sure. In fact, I’m not really sure what the cartoon’s about at all. Perhaps it’s about the discovery of the significance of meaninglessness.
This cartoon was drawn quite a few years ago, maybe in the 1980s. I must check.
A quite surreal cartoon, bizarre both in subject and style
Cartoon reference number: a561
From my selection of science fiction cartoons
Creatures from earth that look like aliens from another planet
A cartoon showing that life on earth is as weird as extraterrestrial life
This cartoon was drawn many years ago, but is relevant today due to the BBC series Alien Nation, about the bizarre and otherworldly appearance of insects. Fish look pretty weird too don’t you think?
Cartoon reference number: a560
Science fiction cartoon
Cartoon – an alien planet where the inhabitants are almost human
The justification of extraterrestrials appearing human in form is sometimes justified by the theory of parallel evolution or convergent evolution
Part of the joke in this cartoon is that in many science fiction stories the aliens look very similar to people (and even speak English). I’ve retained the humanoid appearance here, but made one small alteration – I’ve put the features of the head upside down.
The point of this cartoon is to show that even a small deviation from the norm can make a human-like form look very odd, due to our sensitivity to the human form
Cartoon reference number: a559
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
Cartoon about the fact that most living things are symmetrical
Most lifeforms are symmetrical about a vertical plane that bisects them
This cartoon draws attention to the fact that we rarely even notice this fact. It does this by inventing a planet inhabited by asymmetrical aliens who find the idea of symmetry bizarre in a “strange but true” or “believe it or not” way
Cartoon reference number: a557
An image of an interstellar nebula shaped like a question mark – illustration created in Photoshop.
Inspired by photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope
The “Question mark nebula” shown here is an astronomical phenomenon of my own invention. See the note below about the ‘real’ Question Mark nebula
The nebula symbolises humanity’s quest for meaning, especially when confronted by the enormity of the cosmos. (Having said that, my own opinion is that the size of the universe is irrelevant to such matters, but that’s another story).
Since creating it I’ve discovered that there is an actual nebula that goes by the same name. The ‘real’ Question Mark Nebula is an area of sky that includes parts of the nebulae NGC 7822, Ced 214, and Sh2-170
An illustration related to philosophy, astronomy, cosmology, science, the meaning of life, the nature of the universe.
Cartoon reference number: a403
Dalek hiding behind sofa while watching Dr Who, the British science fiction series, on television
Hiding behind the sofa while watching Dr Who on tv.
There is a cliche that children used to hide behind the sofa or settee when the daleks were on Dr Who.
In this cartoon the roles are reversed, and it’s a young dalek that is hiding behind the sofa when Dr Who is on the television.
Cartoon drawn: 2012
Cartoon reference number: a372
Daleks using a wheelchair access ramp instead of stairs
This dalek cartoon is based on a well known dalek cartoon by cartoonist Birkett that appeared in Punch in 1981.
In the original cartoon the daleks were thwarted in their ambition to conquer the universe by a flight of steps or stairs, as daleks are famously of limited or restricted mobility (as they are basically motorised wheelchairs).
In my updated version there is a wheelchair access ramp alongside the stairs, allowing them to now conquer the universe.
When the original Birkett cartoon was drawn there weren’t as many wheelchair ramps or as much awareness of disabled access. Part of the joke in this cartoon is that the daleks can now conquer the universe because of the well intentioned increase in handicapped or disabled access (an example of unintentional consequences).
Cartoon drawn: 2011
Cartoon reference number: a371
For daleks restricted mobility is no obstacle to trying to conquer the universe
This week on tv the daleks were in Dr Who and the paralympics were taking place.
The daleks famously have restricted mobility, as they are basically motorised wheelchairs.
The paralympics show a positive approach to disability, so it seems right to point out that the daleks are a positive role model for the disabled too, as their limited mobility is no impediment to their attempts to conquer the universe.
Cartoon reference number: a370
Dalek cartoon – a Dalek competing in the paralympics.
This week (in 2012) the daleks were in Dr Who and the paralympics were taking place.
The daleks famously have restricted mobility, as they are basically motorised wheelchairs. So it’s a short step to imaging them taking part in the paralympics.
Here a dalek is taking part in the restricted mobility archery
Cartoon drawn: 2012
Cartoon reference number: a369
Dr Who cartoon.
A dalek with a birthday present – a tardis biscuit tin
The daleks are the main enemy of Dr Who.
Dr Who travels through time and space in a machine called the tardis
The name tardis is an acronym of Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. I remember that from the first episode (or was it the second) of the original series, which I saw when it was originally broadcast.
I also remember that the tardis was meant to change shape whenever it landed on a new world so that it could camouflage itself, however it got stuck in the form of a police box due to a malfunction. Police boxes existed at the time of the first series (in the 1960s), but I think that they were going out of use even then.
Cartoon reference number: a364
Illustration: did life come to earth from outer space?
A cartoon or illustration showing the earth in space, with sperm approaching the earth
The concept that life was planted on earth by super-intelligent extraterrestrials, a concept known as directed panspermia (popularised by the question, Was God an Astronaut? as written about by Erich von Däniken, amongst others)has been revived recently with the film Prometheus by Ridley Scott, and will no doubt be aired again when the sequel is released.
Cartoon reference number: a340
Cartoon of cave painting of a ufo or flying saucer
Was God an astronaut? Cartoon
Did life reach earth from outer space?
The ufo in the cartoon is projecting a dna shaped beam of energy down into the water on earth, creating the first life on the planet.
The concept of Was God an Astronaut? (as written about by Erich von Däniken, amongst others)has been revived recently with the film Prometheus by Ridley Scott, and will no doubt be aired again when the sequel is released. In Prometheus there was a scene depicting prehistoric cave paintings, although not humorously as here.
The theory that life may have been planted on Earth billions of years ago by an advanced alien civilization is sometimes known as directed panspermia. This theory was (mischievously?) proposed by Francis Crick (of dna fame) together with biologist Leslie Orgel in 1971. Directed panspermia is sometimes evoked to solve a particular problem in the science of life – science’s current inability to explain life’s origin. Of course the theory simply puts off the explanation, very much in the way that religions do
This cartoon first appeared in BBC Knowledge magazine.
Cartoon reference number: a337
Artificial intelligence or artificial sentience cartoon
Illustration showing a robot thinking.
The robot’s thoughts are in the form of a printed circuit
The robot in the illustration is based on a toy tin robot.
A cartoon about sentience, sentient computers, artificial intelligence and the Turing test.
Cartoon reference number: a300
Dalek cartoon. Girl dalek who wants to grow up to be a ballerina.
A cartoon showing a mother dalek and a little girl dalek.
The little girl dalek wants to be a ballerina when she grows up, but her mother is trying to explain to her that daleks can’t become ballet dancers.
A cartoon about ambition, dreams, delusion, parenting skills, gender stereotypes (the pink of the girl dalek, and the fact that she wants to be a ballerina), careers advice.
The little girl dalek is ‘dressed’ in pink. Pink is the predominant fashion colour for young girls at the moment (2011) – it’s as though feminism never happened.
Daleks, by the way, are evil aliens in the popular BBC tv series, Dr Who.
You never see dalek children in the tv programme for some reason.
Cartoon reference number: a025
You don’t see many hitch-hikers any more
The hitch hiker in the cartoon is an alien from another planet, however the person in the car seems to be more surprised to see a hitch hiker than an alien
The cartoon also includes the joke that there could be a motorway or road called the M31, and M31 is also the name of the Andromeda Galaxy in the Messier catalogue.
A cartoon about extraterrestrials, flying saucers, aliens visiting earth, aliens crash landing on earth
Learner driver cartoon
Driving school cartoon
A learner driver on a driving lesson in a driving school car has pressed a button in the car and accidentally transformed the car into a transformer
Transformers is a series of Hollywood science fiction films based on the original Transformers toys, in which cars convert into robots (such as Autobots and Decepticons)
Cartoon drawn: 2008
Cartoon reference number: tran01
Dalek on skis thinking “Wow -so there is more to life than conquering the universe!”
A cartoon about ambition, enjoyment, leisure, finding your way, motivation, direction, purpose, outlook, happiness, pleasure, Dr Who, daleks, aggression, dissipation
A dalek looking at a baby dalek in a pushchair and saying “They’re so cute at that age!”
It’s about the way that all babies look cute and appealing to adults
It’s also a cartoon about Dr Who, parents, parenting, gorgeous babies, bonding with babies and parenthood