in the frame – how to politically survive a flood

Posted in comics, in the frame, news by Tom on February 14th, 2014

60. How to Politically Survive a Flood

There’s a good piece by George Monbiot about dredging – and how it could arguably make the effects of floods worse – here. It was quite fun trying to mimic a classic, guidebook-style illustration aesthetic for this.

Someone should make a tumblr of: “Politicians in wellies, visiting flood disasters, and looking uncomfortable while waiting for their photo op.”


in the frame – punching down

Posted in comics, in the frame, news by Tom on February 7th, 2014

59. Punching Down

Here’s more of the report the comic references. It’s grim seeing the normalising use of rape in comedy routines (and elsewhere) and worse when it crudely gets defended with the “comedy is about breaking taboos” by rape joke apologists. I could probably write a very long, very boring blog expanding on all this but suffice it to say: No, I do not think any subject, rape included, should be off-limits for a comedian – but I think it’s the responsibility of the comedian to – at the very least – question what their point is, and where that joke is coming from. Film Crit Hulk wrote a very good article responding to a contrarian clickbait Slate article about rape here. Worth checking out.


projects in 2014

Posted in comics, news, other by Tom on February 6th, 2014

While working on the New Statesman comics, I’ve also been working on some other projects this past month…

1. I was commissioned by European Movement to produce a four page comic about the EU (and the UK’s part in it) which will be published online and as a physical pamphlet. It was written by Peter Luff at EM. That’s all finished and should be going to print soon I think. Here’s a small preview from page one:

2. And now that’s completed, I’ve just started work on a 48 page comic about the past, present and future of humanitarian aid – on behalf of Cordaid. The comic will be divided into 5 chapters which should be going online over the next few months. The comic is written by Tjeerd Royaards (editor and founder of Cartoon Movement) who is travelling around interviewing people and digging into archives as I type. When the chapters are finished, the comic will be printed as a physical book.

I’ll update the blog when all these go online and are available to read in their entirety. In the meantime, I’ll continue posting new NS comics here every Friday!


in the frame – lord rennard’s law

Posted in comics, in the frame, news by Tom on January 31st, 2014

58. Lord Rennard’s Law of 21st-Century Debate

If you’ve not been keeping up with the Lord Rennard scandal, there’s more here.

The whole thing has been reminding me of recent political and internet “discourse” which can quickly descend into cries of “I’m hurt” or “I’m being bullied” rather than substantive debate that involves talking about the actual issues. It’s a popular tactic in social media arguments (particularly Twitter) but seems to be a new way for politicians to avoid difficult questions. There’s a good article about the rise of “Smarm” that touches on this which can be read here.

It was difficult turning these thoughts into something visual until this popped into my head. There was something irresistible about the dinosaur metaphor and it was insanely fun to draw.


in the frame – i’ve seen things…

Posted in comics, in the frame, news by Tom on January 24th, 2014

57. I’ve Seen Things You People Wouldn’t Believe

After the righteous anger, this is always my next reaction to new GCHQ/NSA scandals. I’m sure there’s some smart software flagging things and making all this data easier to sift through, but I can’t shake the image of  a lone, poor GCHQ employee sitting there scrolling through millions of soul-destroyingly dull text messages.

If you liked the title reference, you might enjoy this. Try getting it out of your head after one listen.


in the frame – dear mr gove

Posted in comics, in the frame, news by Tom on January 17th, 2014

56. Dear Mr Gove

Ah, this was a fun one to draw and colour. All 1980s/90s pastels.

It all came out of an idea to do a comic about Michael Gove as a teacher. I started thinking about what detention with him would be like. Which got me thinking about The Breakfast Club. Because I am nothing if not a child of pop culture, unable to relate to the real world without the filter of TV/film. That final voiceover essay started going round and round my head. With just a few changes, I could make that a fun teacher call-to-arms. Subverting the original intention of the monologue.

It ran the risk of being a little too reference heavy but I liked the concept and thought it worth taking a risk on losing people who haven’t seen The Breakfast Club (if you’re one of them, this is probably all you need).

One of my other concerns when I was drawing the tired, overworked teachers (as grown-up, dishevelled versions of The Breakfast Club kids) was that the “Teachers’ Club” looked pretty white and unrepresentative. But by changing that, I might lose the clarity of a joke that’s already relying on people picking up on 1980s film references. In the end, I erred on the side of joke clarity. I still can’t decide if that was the right way to go but at the very least, it was a considered choice.


in the frame – flood

Posted in comics, in the frame, news by Tom on January 10th, 2014

55. Flood

Happy New Year!

When I sat down to write this – my first New Statesman comic of 2014 – it struck me that there wasn’t a huge amount of viable news to process yet. I decided to use the recent UK floods as a way of transitioning from Christmas and my last comic into the new year and some of the discussion points January started with. So we’ve got some silliness, some pop culture commentary, and some bigger issues all floating past us in an underwater scene.

It was actually a lot tougher than I thought it would be to illustrate the underwater stuff successfully – partly due to having had a break I think. I’m a little out of practise. But I still wanted to start the year off with more playful compositions as that’s something I’d like to do more of this year if I can. Hopefully now I’m back from the Christmas break and made a start, I can pick up where I left off and keep trying to top last week’s comic.


hostile environment

Posted in comics, news, other by Tom on December 21st, 2013

Earlier in the year, I produced a one page comic about asylum seekers and refugees in the UK for the Thought Bubble anthology. It was related to my TB residency last year when I taught comics to the community at BAfR. The comic was called “Sanctuary”, and hopefully it wasn’t too much of a tonal shift from everything else in the TB anthology! I wrote a bit more about it here. But here’s a little preview:

Working on it made me want to produce a longer comic about the far right in this country. So when Matt Bors, comics editor at NSFW Magazine, asked if I wanted to pitch anything to their December issue, I went with this. It still tries to fit too much into a 5 page comic but I’m happy with a lot of how it turned out despite that.

In-between completing the comic and it going to print, NSFW Corp sold to Pando and the issue will now be published in the December issue of Pando Quarterly. I’ll be honest and say I have no idea what this means and I had no idea who Pando Daily were but there you go. I produced the comic for one company and it’s being published by another.

Here’s a preview of the first page:


female superheroes

Posted in comics, illustrations, news, other by Tom on December 21st, 2013

Butch & Sundance Media, in association with Cartoon Movement, produced a multi-media game/story/thing that focuses on the lives of three women in difficult environments (Egypt, Sudan, and Burma).

I was asked to produce around 6-7 pages of comic art for each protagonist (written by the Butch & Sundance team) that act as informative story interludes and sometimes as prizes for getting further in the game. I also designed some of the UI elements.

This was a big project which I worked on over the summer and I’m glad to see it’s online and out there now. Proud of my work on it. You can play it here. Here’s a couple of screen-grabs of the game:

And here are the cover images I made for each story:


the last xmas artwork

Posted in illustrations, news by Tom on December 21st, 2013

Here’s an illustration I produced for The Last Xmas – a single by Steve Blood. There was a specific narrative for the illustration in the brief as Steve is planning a tie-in comic to accompany the song in 2014.