A week of catastrophes

Cartoons, History, Soapbox

The massive earthquake off the north east coast of Japan and the ensuing apocalyptic tsunami was a double catastrophe of lost lives, lost homes and lost infrastructure.

Five days on and the relief work is hampered by the ongoing nuclear crisis at Fukushima with the threat of a radiation catastrophe.

Failsafe. There’s a word to contemplate. Are the assurances given so far about the reactors’ containment and ultimate safety hollow? When things go wrong in this industry, secrecy, half-truths, wildly optimistic pronouncements are wrapped around the feeble and often mistaken choices made to put things right.

I firmly believe that my father’s death in January 1961 from cancer (he was 40 years old) was caused by Britain’s worst nuclear event, the Windscale (Sellafield) fire and leak, three years earlier.

Needless to say, I am deeply suspicious of the nuclear industry. Nuclear Power? No thanks.

This cartoon by Low had a profound effect on me as a young nascent cartoonist. It seems appropriate this week, over 60 years on.

Baby Play With Nice Ball? Cartoon by David Low | Evening Standard, August 1945.

Mersey ferry on a foggy day

History, Photography

Ferry 'cross the Mersey | Foggy day 1969

Even more from the archives: A new scan from an old negative. A labour of love which took a lot of time ‘spotting out’ in Photoshop to lose the scratches, dust and other grot accumulated over almost 40 years. Anyway, thank goodness for the cloning and healing tools. Much easier than mixing up tints of lamp black and dabbing it on with a brush with two hairs.

The shot was taken in early 1969, the last year of my graphic design course at Liverpool College of Art, but I haven’t any record of the exact date. It looks like early afternoon, judging by the low number of people on board: well before the evening rush. I’d been photographing on the Wirral that day: by train from Liverpool to West Kirby and back to Birkenhead. Just for the hell of it, instead of staying on the train I decided to take the ferry back to Liverpool and was rewarded with the best shot of the day.

60s Liverpool | Adrian Henri

Art, History, Photography

Adrian Henri: Liverpool 1967

Last night I spent a couple of nostalgic hours scanning in old transparencies taken in the 60s in Liverpool. That’s where (and when) I spent my student days at the College of Art, studying Pre-Diploma (now called Foundation) and Diploma in Art & Design [Graphic Design].

My group tutor in my first year was the late Adrian Henri, artist and Liverpool poet*. Adjusting to life at art college with Adrian Henri was a major shock to the system after A level art in the sixth form of a Grammar School but it was fabulous to have been there at that time.

The photo of Adrian Henri (above) was taken a couple years later in April 1967 during a student collaborative film/audio/visual project. I wish I’d taken lots more. Seen from this distance it’s as precious as gold.

‘Death in the Suburbs’, Adrian Henri (audio)

* Poet Roger McGough was my ‘Liberal Studies’ tutor in that first year at the college: his classes sometimes involved improvised plays based on newspaper headlines. It was ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’ 40 years ago.

1995 revisited

Cartoons, History
Doodly doodles

1995 revisited: this was the image on the homepage of miketoons in its first incarnation.
Doodly doodles* on a spiral bound secretarial notepad, montaged in Photoshop. I still like the lettering but I’m not sure now about the fake coffee cup stain.
*My best doodles are done while talking on the phone.



miketoons¬†has been around on the web in one form or another since 1995. The word was coined at a moment’s notice when I was asked by a guy at the ISP what name I would like to give to my new website space. In 1995 it was like that. All very personal.

I blurted out “miketoons”. And so started my first website.

The domain miketoons.com followed in 1997. It’s still operational, 22 years later, as you can see.