WRITER, POET, PERFORMER AND AWARD-WINNING 'PRIVATE EYE' CARTOONIST Shortlisted for the Royal Society Young People's Book Prize 2019. Shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2019 for Best Book with Facts. Shortlisted (twice) for the DeBary Book Awards. Shortlisted (twice) for the ASE Book of the Year. Cartoon Art Trust Strip Cartoonist of the Year 2013. DBS Checked.


My Apparently... cartoon has been appearing in the pages of Private Eye, Britain's premier fortnightly satirical journal (Stop fawning, Ed.) since January 1996. Prior to this I had drawn and sold just one cartoon, to The Oldie, and had never really considered trying to produce drawings on a more regular basis.


Apparently... was the consequence of a lull in my writing work. I have always loved comics and cartooning and I've always enjoyed drawing, so when I read that the great Gary Larson had declared he was retiring from producing The Far Side, I modestly decided to have a go at coming up with a replacement. My plan was to bag his daily spot in the London Evening Standard.


There were two problems with this. One, I wasn't known as a cartoonist and hadn't done any sustained drawing since my days of sketching things down microscopes during my time at university. Two, Larson had created so many great cartoons that the Standard simply carried on running the old ones in rotation.


Naively, I overlooked all this to come up with a batch of twenty cartoons drawn to the exact same dimensions of Larson's Far Side (to make it easier for the Standard to simply switch to my own work instead!) I was living in Earls Court, west London at the time, and I roughed out those first cartoons in a number of cafes around the area: a process that has pretty much continued ever since only in different parts of the country.


These first cartoons had the working title Life Made Stupid, though I photocopied several batches with alternative names more suited to the magazines and newspapers to which I was sending them. And I sent to them to everyone I could think of. Not just the Standard, but also History Today, Nursing Times, and - of course - Private Eye.


And then I waited. And waited. And waited.


Finally someone from the Standard got in touch. I had a lovely letter from the Standard's then editorial cartoonist Stan McMurtry saying that he liked my cartoons but had no way of getting them into the paper. After that, all the other letters - from those that bothered to reply - were to say pretty much the same thing, Thanks, but no thanks.


As you can imagine, I thought this was another idea that would have to go on the Shelf of Rejected ideas until one morning, when my then girlfriend (now wife) and I were assembling some bookshelves from IKEA, the phone rang and it was Ian Hislop. He liked them, and he wanted to start running them in the New Year. But he didn't like the title. No matter. I was cock-a-hoop.


I offered Ian several alternative titles and, as I recall, Apparently... was the one he disliked the least. For me, it is meant to be a tee-up to the descriptive label at the top of the cartoon e.g. 'Apparently... A RARE FULL SET OF LADYBIRD BEETLES'. Though I'm probably the only person that knows or cares about this.


Ian took about three-quarters of my original drawings, a strike rate that I have never since managed to repeat. It also meant that I didn't actually have to draw another cartoon for a good six months.


Over the years Apparently... has moved about a bit within the Eye and has changed its proportions to fit its location. I'm just delighted - and more than a little bit honoured - that it's there.


The cartoons shown on this page are just a selection from fifteen years of work. These are some more recent drawings, again slightly different in proportion, but hopefully still as entertaining.


The original drawings from the very early years were all stolen from a gallery by a very misguided thief, but I have many of the later ones still in my possession. They are all available for sale and, for those who to like to know these things, they are drawn on Bristol board (actually a thin smooth card) using Pilot drawing pens and, occasionally, a bucketload of Tippex.

Private Eye remains Britain's foremost funny satirical magazine, packed full of great cartoons by many hands, and if you want to subscribe or just find out more more, you can do so