How boring would this page look if there were no cartoon illustrations to bring life, colour, interest and humour? When we read a newspaper or magazine – in print or on screen, what a relief to find an illustration to break up the long columns of type. Maybe this is where left and right brain activity meet up. The left-brain, which is language oriented can interact with the right, creative side of the brain. Usually the most compelling element which draws your eye to the page is the editorial illustration. Next it's a photo, then the clever headline. The smart art director will know how to create the most effective use of these graphic components. In today's sophisticated media world, we still have a need for the picture, the drawing.
Most publications these days are produced in full colour, so we now have so much to feast or eyes on, all sumptuously presented to us through good typographic design and superb photography. Within this context the judiciously positioned illustration or cartoon adds the human touch to the high-tech page. The hand drawn lines when skilfully employed always enhance the page bringing that extra spark to the reading experience.
The freelance illustrator and cartoonist Richard Deverell has produced a series of editorial illustrations for the magazine PC Business World. The subject matter of the articles was describing the delights of new developments in the hardware and software for the business PC. That means lots of words about technical, geeky stuff! The commissioning editors always came up with wacky, funny, pun-filled ideas for the cartoonist to accompany these articles. They had a special affection for drawings of little people interacting busily with the technology. If the reader is "glazing over" through reading the article, they can always shift their gaze to the illustration for light relief.
The Economist magazine carries fairly heavyweight commentary on situations around the world, but it still uses a lot of editorial illustration. I was regularly commissioned as a cartoonist to provide illustrations for the articles. Usually three of four pictures per issue. Sometimes the editor would have a clear idea of the picture content. At other times they would send the text to inspire Richard's imagination and come up with an eye-catching graphic illustration. Usually these had to be turned around within a few days, so the first task was to get a rough pencil sketch through to the editor as quickly as possible and to get their approval pretty sharpish. These were all black and white cartoon illustrations. Everything he did for the Economist was black and white except for a super Christmas edition cover art.
Nobody would describe FHM magazine as a heavyweight title. More of a "lad's mag". Richard has created double page colour spreads for this magazine working to their art editor's brief. One turned out to be so funny Richard found himself laughing out loud in the middle of the night at his own illustration, the middle of the night being the time that any freelance illustrator working for a magazine or newspaper will be found at their desk, with deadline looming.
For some reason the publication Radio Times has always been a very prestigious journal in which to have one's illustrations featured. The Radio Times contacted Richard for an illustration job just as he was about to go on a camping holiday with his family. Normally you would just turn down such a request, saying, "Sorry, I'm not available". But this was the Radio Times! So he took on the job. He started drawing the illustration before leaving for Wales, and then completed the job sitting at the table inside the tent, with the children running amok while he worked. This included airbrushing some of the tones by connecting the airbrush hose to a can of compressed air. Fortunately it was not raining while he was working. It arrived just in time at the BBC and the art editor was delighted.