You are browsing the archive for John Roberts.

Festival details released

March 6, 2014 in Events, General, News

Barry the Shrew, the festival mascot, tunes up © Roger Penwill

Barry the Shrew, the festival mascot, tunes up © Roger Penwill

The Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival takes place next month and more details of the events have been released. 

These include the title of the music-themed exhibition: With a Song in My Art – we are featuring cartoons submitted for the exhibition – and details on the live drawing events and workshops on creating strips,  mini-comics and, er, farting musical instruments. There’s also a talk by the Clare in the Community creator Harry Venning.

Head over to events page of the official festival website for more.

There’s even a fringe exhibition. Artists in Shropshire are invited to take part in a cartoon competition organised by the VAN Gallery to coincide with the festival.

The participating cartoonists are: Rupert Besley, Steve Best, Andrew Birch, Rosie Brookes, Dave Brown, Kate Charlesworth, Jonathan Cusick, Wilbur Dawbarn, Noel Ford, Alex Hughes, Tim Harries, Tim Leatherbarrow, Chichi Parish, Roger Penwill, Helen Pointer, John Roberts, Royston Robertson, Chris Ryder, Cathy Simpson, Rich Skipworth, Bill Stott, The Surreal McCoy, Harry Venning and Gerard Whyman.

Happy members of the public at Shrewsbury Cartoon festival

Happy members of the public at Shrewsbury Cartoon festival @

The writer and broadcaster Libby Purves, a patron of the festival as well as of, will also be attending.

Avatar of Royston

by Royston

Heritage exhibition: Just like that!

October 31, 2012 in Events, General, News

Tommy Cooper by John Roberts

Tommy Cooper © John Roberts

An exhibition of cartoons and caricatures by members Bill Stott, Noel Ford, Roger Penwill and John Roberts is being held at the Heritage Centre in Knutsford, Cheshire, from 6 November until 22 December.

The Cartoon Collective show is very loosely based on the theme of “heritage” and will include a collection of cartoons on imaginary old motorcycles by Roger and a series of caricatures of British comedians by John, such as Charlie Chaplin and Tommy Cooper, right.

Noel is selling some of his Punch original cartoons while displaying a couple of original full-colour Punch covers and the first two gags he sold to the magazine.

A preview evening will be held on 6 November, at which John will be drawing some live caricatures and Bill will be doing a “stand-up cartoonist” routine. For details, visit, email or call 01565-652 854.

The Round-up

July 27, 2012 in General, Links, News

© Tom Humberstone

As the 2012 Olympics get under way here in the UK, a piece of comics journalism by the cartoonist Tom Humberstone considers the negative impact that an event of this size can have on the host nation. Read the strip here.

New Olympics-themed works by Banksy have presented the London authorities with a dilemma. Meanwhile, The New Yorker offers a slideshow of its best Olympics gags.

Sticking with The New Yorker, a three-part blog entry by the cartoon editor Bob Mankoff takes a look back at a classic episode of Seinfeld – in which the characters struggle to “get” the magazine’s cartoons – to consider what’s funny and why. Read part one, part two and part three.

Terry Gilliam‘s daughter Holly is archiving her father’s work online, and has already unearthed some visual gems. Take a look here, and revisit for more treats as they are added.

As ever, please post any comments below.

© John Roberts @

Artist of the Month – John Roberts

July 31, 2009 in Events


Bloghorn asked Artist of the Month, John Roberts, if he had any tips for wannabe cartoonists?

Hmmm, well, thank goodness for the digital age because it enables me to get most of my work through my website. I think you must have a good website these days so that you can generate good commercial work. I’ve never been lucky enough to get published in Private Eye etc etc (to be honest I haven’t tried sending stuff off for many years) but I would suggest that being published in such a high profile publication would raise your profile and generate commercial work but I’m not one hundred percent sure of that!

And what is the future of cartooning in the digital age?

Goodness knows – I do get most of my work through my website and so in that respect the digital age is good for me but if I was just a gag cartoonist then I’m not sure I would still be able to survive. The thought of having to go back to posting artwork off to clients as opposed to sending it via email would fill me with dread!

Artist of the Month – John Roberts

July 24, 2009 in Events


John Roberts is our Artist of the Month for July so we asked him which other cartoonist’s work he admired.

The cartoonist whose work I most admire has to be Holte (Trevor Holder) who I understand is now fully retired. (Why does a cartoonist retire….?) His line and colour work was amazing and I think quite beautiful. Every artist I’ve met (as well as cartoonists) has said that they wished that they could draw in a more ‘loose’ style – Holte always did this quite effortlessly. Of course there are many, many more cartoonists whose work I am in awe of but Holte has to be the one whose artwork I never tire of looking at. Not the funniest cartoonist that’s ever walked the Blue Planet but gosh that artwork…

Artist of the Month – John Roberts

July 17, 2009 in Events


Bloghorn asked the our Artist of the Month for July, John Roberts, how he makes his cartoons.

Like everyone else, I have this huge old trunk of ‘cartoon ideas’ in the loft and once I’ve had a good rummage through I’ll sit down and draw them up. Until recently I would use a computer but now I have reverted back to good old pen and paper and watercolour (with a little bit of scanning in and colour enhancement using various software programs). I now realise that there is something ‘alive’ in the simple black mark of a pen that I just cannot emulate using a Wacom tablet. Drawing caricatures using a computer however is a different thing altogether and all my studio work is done this way.

Artist of the Month – John Roberts

July 10, 2009 in Events


Bloghorn’s Artist of the Month for July is John Roberts. John specialises in caricature, gag cartoons, humorous illustration and has been a highly successful on-the-spot caricaturist for the last ten years.

He is also one of the founders and organisers of the annual Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival.We asked John how he had become a cartoonist.

Believe it or not I wanted to save my sanity. In a previous life (good salary, company car, expenses etc etc) I found that if I didn’t change tack then I’d lose my marbles and so I had to have a major re-think.

I knew that I could make a living out of drawing so I decided to try to make it as a cartoonist. In the very early days I sent some caricatures to the Guardian and believe it or not they wrote back saying they’d like to use me and to ‘stand by’ for the phone call. At that time I was working flat out (24/7 as the dudes say these days) so I wrote back saying that that would be difficult in my present situation and so I turned them down! Probably the biggest mistake I have ever made in my life……

I eventually put a decent portfolio together and remember showing it to the late John Witt (cartoonist extraordinaire who used to have a cartoon studio in Chester) who took one look and said “Ever thought of doing ‘live’ caricaturing?”. Over the years I’ve often thought about John and what he had said and wondered if he suggested live caricaturing just to hack off his studio colleague and old friend Tim Leatherbarrow (caricaturist extraordinaire, of no fixed abode) but alas, caricaturing has been the mainstay of my work.

There will be another chat with John about his work next Friday.

Shrewsbury 2009 #11

April 23, 2009 in General


An evening with cartoonist Gerald Scarfe

September 18, 2008 in General

PCOers John Roberts and Steve Bright attended a recent illustrated talk given by the caricaturist at Shrewsbury. John reports for Bloghorn:

What struck me almost immediately about him is how charming and mild mannered this notoriously vicious caricaturist is . He admitted during his talk that he uses drawing as a therapy. He says he feels positively ill unless he draws everyday – much like Quentin Blake. He obviously loses his anger and frustrations during the process.

As a cartoonist, I found it fascinating that he claims that he cares little about the finished piece when he starts i.e. he feels that he HAS to get the idea down on paper as fast as possible or else he’ll succumb to some great disaster. He doesn’t really think “Gosh, this is a great idea and I must get it drawn and sold!”

He outlined the drawing process he uses – he never pre-draws in pencil (to keep the artwork “alive” and as fresh as possible) and pointed out with a great flourish of his outstretched arm, that he doesn’t draw with a constrained hand or by using his wrist but with fast and furious arm movements – he “draws from the shoulder”.

He outlined all the various illustration fields he has ploughed over the last 30 years from his famous caricature work (Sunday Times, New Yorker etc), opera designs for both scenery and costumes, animation work for Pink Floyd and his character designs for the animated Walt Disney film Hercules. I also found it very interesting that Scarfe has always been fascinated with animation claiming that it is still a greatly underrated art form which he would love to spend more time working with and developing.

One image stayed with me afterwards and that was of one of his cartoons for the Sunday Times which shows George W Bush, dressed as Superman, flying over the chokingly black smoke and flames of totally destroyed Iraq, with the caption “Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No it’s a F***ing Disaster!” Brilliant.

Further appearances at:
Sunday 21st September: Charleston Literary Festival, East Sussex: 4pm.
Friday 3rd October: Warwick Words Festival – illustrated talk and book signing: 3pm.
Saturday 11th October: illustrated talk at British Museum, London (The Big Draw): 1.30pm.
Saturday 18th October: Cheltenham Book Festival: 10am.
Monday 20th October: illustrated talk, Guildford Festival: 7.30pm. (contact venue for ticket details).
Monday 27th October: illustrated talk at British Library, London: 7pm. (contact venue for ticket details).


The BBC has an illustrated interview with Scarfe here.

The PCO: British cartoon talent

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival – The Big Boarders

April 9, 2008 in General

Kipper Williams of The Guardian is one of this year’s PCO Big Boarders at the festival. Above is one of Kipper’s submissions to the “But is it Art?” exhibition, which is already open in the town.

The full list of cartoonist Big Boarders drawing at this year’s festival, over the weekend of Friday 18th and Saturday 19th April, is:

Steve Bright, Clive Collins, Bill Stott, Ross Thomson, Martin Honeysett, Alex Hughes, Pete Dredge, John Roberts, Matt Buck (Hack), Royston Robertson, Mike Turner, Noel Ford, Steve Best (Bestie), Dave Brown, Ian Baker, Chris Burke, Andy Davey, Neil Dishington, Paul Hardman, and Andy McKay (NAF).

PCOer Pete Dredge will be blogging tomorrow about how it feels to do a big board at Shrewsbury.

British cartoon talent