Best of the Year: Royston Robertson

Published On December 20, 2010 | By Joe Gordon | Best of the Year 2010, Comics, Film TV & Theatre

Royston Robertson is a freelance cartoonist who draws single-frame cartoons for magazines such as Reader’s Digest and Private Eye. He has also worked for BBC Magazines, the Green Party, and Oxford University Press, among others, and is no stranger to readers of the FP blog as he’s also been kind enough to update us on cartooning news and events in the UK on numerous occassions. He writes a blog on cartooning and contributes regularly to The Bloghorn, online diary of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation. Let’s see what Royston has been enjoying this year:

FPI: Can you pick three comics/webcomics/graphic novels which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?

Royston: I loved Wilson by Daniel Clowes. It’s melancholy but funny. I like the way that each page is a separate vignette, with its own heading, but it still works as a continuous story. It’s great the way the drawing styles change, so you’ll read a page where the characters are drawn in a realistic style and on the following page they are like characters from Peanuts.

(a frame from Wilson by and (c) Dan Clowes, published Cape (UK) and D&Q (North America))

I’m a fan of the strips Stephen Collins draws for Prospect magazine. I draw single-panel cartoons for them, but it’s great that they also give a platform to these very off-the-wall comic strips. In particular I enjoyed “I am the internet” but lots of them have been very funny, like the one about David Cameron making a mix-tape for his new chum Nick Clegg.

(“I am the internet”, originally published in Prospect magazine, by and (c) Stephen Collins)

I’d like to mention two others but I should point out that I know the authors of both personally … but that doesn’t mean their work is not great! The first is the mini-comic series Find Comet, Hit Comet, Watch Comet, Sleep by Hugh “Shug” Raine. It’s a great little story in which he gets an incredible range of emotion out of some very simply drawn characters.

(the collected Find Comet, Hit Comet, Watch Comet, Sleep by and (c) Hugh ‘Shug’ Raine)

The Dandy relaunch has been hit-and-miss (though it has been popular with my 8-year-old son) but I have been really enjoying Robot on the Run by Alexander Matthews. It’s very well written, laugh-out-loud funny in places, not just the usual knockabout stuff you’d expect in a kids’ comic.

(Robot on the Run, by and (c) Alexander Matthews, published in the Dandy)

FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?

Royston: Charles Addams: A Cartoonist’s Life, a biography of the New Yorker cartoonist by Linda H. Davis is fascinating, particularly from the point of view of someone who works freelance for magazines in the 21st Century. (Put it this way: unlike Addams, I won’t be buying a house in the Hamptons any time soon!) And, of course, there are tons of great “Addams Family” gags in it.

(an appropriate Addams Family cartoon for the season: how to greet Carol Singers, by Charles Addams, (c) his estate)

I enjoyed Things the Grandchildren Should Know by Mark Oliver Everett, better known as “E”, lead singer with the Eels. He’s had a fascinating life and the book is a great read whether or not you are interested in the Eels.

This is probably a terrible admission but I read Sherlock Holmes for the first time this year. Inspired by the new TV adaptation (which, unlike many people, I only thought was OK) I read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the first book of short stories. They’re brilliant, but you probably knew that.

FPI: Can you pick three TV shows and/or movies which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?

Royston: Two documentaries that stood out for me, as they did something different with the format, are the Banksy film Exit through the Gift Shop which is clever and funny, like most of his work, and American: The Bill Hicks Story, which recreates the short life of the cult comedian very effectively, often by animating family snapshots.

The Ian Dury biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll was a blast. It was a fast-moving montage, with great music, of course. Andy Serkis in the lead role was, as ever, brilliant.

As for TV, there seems to be a lot of good stuff around, where to start? Peep Show, Mad Men, Doctor Who, Being Human … the critics were sniffy about Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s The Trip but I loved it’s leisurely pace. The cartoon Phineas and Ferb, which my kids watch, was new to me. It’s hilarious and Dr Heinz Doofenschmirtz is my new favourite cartoon character!

FPI: How did 2010 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?

Royston: A lot of what I do is about constantly sending out cartoons to magazines and hoping they buy some! And I’ve done pretty well on that score, so yes, I’m happy. And because it involves constantly writing jokes and drawing you do feel as though you’re always improving.

(exsnowimate!! Festive greetings by and (c) Royston Robertson)

I’ve also been involved in cartooning events such as The Big Draw and the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival (which I previewed for the FPI blog here). These are always rewarding. And I’ve got some cartoons in an exhibitionright now called Ink and the Bottle at the Cartoon Museum in London.

FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2011?

Royston: More of the same, I hope. I also do commissioned work, but it has been harder to come by in these difficult times as publishers and companies tighten their belts. Hopefully that will pick up. We’ll keep banging on about the benefits of using cartoons on The Bloghorn to try to help that process.

FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?

Royston: I wish I was that clued-up! When I go into comic shops I often tend to look at the work of people I already know, so I rely on things like this blog to suggest alternatives. I picked up Solipsistic Pop for the first time recently and enjoyed it, so that’s one I’ll be watching out for.

You can catch up on all the Best of the Year guest posts to date here.

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About The Author

Joe Gordon
Joe Gordon is ForbiddenPlanet.co.uk's chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

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