Editorial Illustration

(Part 5/Words and pictures/Editorial illustration)

Exercise – Editorial Illustration

At home we get ‘the Week’ every Friday. This is an excellent ‘supplement’ to all the news of the week extracted from all the other leading news papers. It claims to report ‘The best of the British and International Media’.
Every edition has a currently relevant hand drawn cartoon illustration on the front page. I have been keeping these for many months for just such an exercise as this.
So, rather than extracting illustration from a single weekend supplement, I will use the front page with the related article from several editions of the same magazine.
Here are seven examples colledcted from random dates.


Above is an image from Howard McWilliam’s home page, it shows the huge  variety of work he does and all the well-known publications which use his work.
I am a great admirer of his satirical cartoon images of which I have a collection.

Below is a collection of his commercial and concept work. His style is very recognisable. The visual literacy is very crisp and polished .

His interpretation of incidents is pronounced and his expectations of his audience interaction is evident. He is funny and perceptive.

He does not really keep his website or blog up to date which I find mildly amusing. He hasn’t said much for the last 5 years as far as I can see. However, he keeps producing his cartoons etc so must be up and running.

He is a gifted illustrator able to deconstruct political moments and give validity to the scorn he draws with brilliant metaphorical astuteness. His artwork appears to be entirely subjective, his editorial illustration is narrative and informational while using entertaining concepts in a semirealistic style. A man to admire.

Analysis of 7 satirical cartoons from front pages of The Week.

The chart  above summarises aspects of the 7 cartoons I included earlier.

These are all satirical pictures depicting a very current item from the news of the week. All are decorative in the sense that they are on full colour and are a ‘complete picture’. They could be used as individual ‘works of art’ should anyone wish to frame them.

They are all conceptual as they are all satirical as is the house style of that magazine. Because they comment on a very specific aspect of the week’s news they are informational, often having hidden bits of information not necessarily immediately apparent., For example the fallen ‘rocket’ setting fire to the papers next to President Trump in ‘The West Divided’. Metaphors abound in these cartoons, the rockets for candles in The West Divided, the Wooden Horse itself in The Huawei deal, The tired, (EU) horse with divided colours in The Final Furlong, etc. These are cartoon drawings so not totally representational but almost. None of them are abstract or diagrammatic.

I have chosen to illustrate an article by Tom Welsh of the Telegraph called ‘If you lose your cash, you lose your discipline’ quoted in The Week 07/03/20. It fits the title ‘Throwing your Money Away’, almost exactly.

I have boxed the most significant phrases a I see them and which will lend themselves to some satirical drawing in the style of the publication.

I will do a spider diagram using CASH as the starting point and see what ideas evolve.

Some interesting thoughts came out of this and maybe some ideas.

However, it is the word Prudence which I feel I need to explore. That has so many connotations, not least a person called Prudence, who, of course, is now dead. So, having given the subject a considerable amount of thought, I will concentrate on the death of Prudence.

The image is going to be about Throwing your money away, however, if Prudence is already dead then what I am portraying is the final effect of ‘throwing your money away’, ie you have killed Prudence.

So, I am looking at graves, and graveyards and a way to portray the foolishness of man in throwing away his/her money.

This is a ‘grown up’ publication so a reasonable level of intelligence can be expected from its readers. Satire is the order of the day with as many metaphors as may be included. There is rarely lettering.

I am thinking a military style grave yard with just headstones in endless rows and the word CASH written on one.

The image needs to be square, with sides the same as the narrow edge of A4.

These graves are all in rows with people’s names on them then CASH. I need to get Prudence in there but if I put her name on that would be just another woman. I have to get a sense of Cash AND Prudence.

This is a better idea. I have the graveyard with the ranks of graves but one is still open and in it lies the coffin of Prudence. On the gravestone, however, is the word Cash – then to tie this is with the theme I have put other cash-related names on the other graves, ATM, High Street Bank, P.O. Charity Box. These all tie in with the death of cash.

Then on rows behind, other thins which could be said to be dying or disappearing. These are included as the front page cartoon is usually political in some way. So, I have included, Ash Trees, Permanent Jobs, Trains, Hard Shoulder, Amazon Forest, Eco World, then beyond that, Dodo, Coral, White Rhino, Glaciers, Elm trees etc.

Having these items and concepts in the background can also reference the lack or loss of Prudence so the throwing away of Physical money becomes the last straw (or grave) and makes it all the more poignant.

Perhaps I should try to include the idea that the loss of cash is somehow the last nail in the coffin.


I have mapped out my idea with the graves in lines and the open grave for Prudence.

I have then added a large hand offering a tin of coffin nails. There is just one left – the last nail – and it is labelled ‘cash’.

I am very pleased with this idea! I will photocopy this sketch then use it to make an outline pen drawing.

Here is the drawing progressing. I cant decide whether to put a wreath made of bank notes in the corner. It is appropriate and would be one of those little additions favoured by the cartoonist. However, I am not sure how to tackle it without getting into detailed drawing.

I am pleased with this line visual and am of the opinion it just needs painting. However, I am not very confident that I can imitate the style of the usual Week front pages.

Below is a front cover mock-up of The Week with my picture on it and text added in the house style. My artwork has been translated into this convincing visual for an editorial illustration.