For an unfortunate few in the Lake District, 2012 started in the worst possible way.
Over the Christmas holidays, two students got caught out on England’s highest mountain in blizzard conditions. Scafell Pike is not an easy climb on the best of days. This was the worst of days and only one of the nineteen year-old climbers got down alive. On New Year’s Day, a 41-year old woman died whilst canoeing on Hobdale Beck, near Sedbergh.
From the point of view of the regional press, these are major stories and quite rightly featured on the front page of The Westmorland Gazette. A heavy diet of news for the start of the year and one which presents a problem when your job is to come up with a joke to lighten the page.
On occasions like this, I have to resort to stories from inside the paper. There were a few good candidates; the weather, the sighting of another Big Cat and a man who had panned Scottish rivers to glean enough gold to make a ring for his fiancé.
I get three hours to work on the cartoon, from first sight of the stories to submitting finished artwork. On the way, I show the editor sketches of my ideas and he selects the one to go on the front page. Last week he went for number 4, below. I drew it up and sent it off, just inside the three hours.
Then Phil the Sub spotted that the cartoon didn't sit well alongside the canoe story.
It’s a fine line but whereas I feel humour has no boundaries if handled correctly, I don’t propose to upset the recently bereaved.
So… hold the front page! I swiftly drew, scanned and emailed a second piece of artwork and it was on the page by 5.15.
You can see the sketches, false starts and finished cartoon below and the colour version is on my website.
"Unfortunately I only found this old tyre."
"That Big Cat must be wild - no sensible domestic cat would be out in this weather."
"As the garden is a sea of mud, we thought we'd capitalise on it."
"My fiance´made me a ring made of material he found in a river."
"My fiancé made me a ring from stuff he found in a river."
"The mystery Big Cat must be wild - no sane domestic cat would be out in this."