Cartoon sketches

Most of my cartoons are commissioned, but sometimes I create cartoon sketches on a less formal basis, such as for friends, work colleagues or family members for example. In my earlier years drawing cartoons professionally I also donated a lot of cartoons to non-profit organisations, usually for environmental education.

Many of the cartoons on this page are far from my best work, but some of them come with an interesting story, process or anecdote, so it's worth giving them a click to find out what they are hiding!

Latest releases

Keen to ensure local wisdom is incorporated into the construction of Indonesia's Batang Toru hydrodam, the North Sumatra Hydro Beaver Company lets the Tapanuli orangutans take charge. December 2019.

Commissioned by the Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) to accompany a brilliantly satirical article that exposes blatant attempts to greenwash a planned hydrodam project in Sumatra, Indonesia.  If investment and construction goes ahead, the dam would slice open the habitat of the world's rarest great ape, the Tapanuli Orang-utan. This gentle, frizzy and fuzzy ape is already seriously threatened by local hunters and forest destruction, and there are less than 800 individuals left. Find out more by clicking here.  

Please share both the informative and satirical articles as widely as possible to support the orang-utans survival! 

client feedback

'It was fun working with Alan on this cartoon. He got the idea of the satire I had written and we worked together creatively to develop a matching cartoon. The drawing is funny. I love the stern security tigers and the nerdy mouse-deer with their goggles. Also the badger was drawn spot on - eager to please but embarrassed not to be in line. I hope the cartoon and satire will help a bit exposing the greenwashing by the hydrodam company operating in Sumatra.'

Prof. Erik Meijaard
Borneo Futures, Director, Brunei Darussalam
University of Queensland, Adjunct Professor
University of Kent, Honorary Professor
IUCN Oil Palm Task Force, Chair
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Erik_Meijaard

 

Donated to Rare Inc. Colombia, 2017.
Donated to Rare Inc, Colombia 2016
Donated to Rare Inc, Colombia 2016. The context is Rare finding ways of linking it's existing watershed conservation programme to climate change.
Donated to Rare Inc., Colombia 2016. This cartoon satirically acknowledges Rare Colombia's design of a new, remote training system for it's local partners.
Donated to Rare Inc. USA, 2016. The cartoon is of my dear friend and erstwhile colleague at Rare, Creative Director Dave Bellard. Dave took a leading role in mentoring our Colombian partners in designing their programatic logo.
Donated to Rare Inc. Global, 2015. The cartoon portrays Rare's Fish Forever programme.
Donated to Rare Inc. Colombia 2015. The cartoon refers to the ARA - a reciprocal deal made with cattle ranchers whereby they agree to protect the streams running through their lands from cattle, in exchange for technical support in cattle production.
Donated to Rare Inc. Colombia, 2015. The cartoon depicts one of Rare's top students, Monica Rivera, and her Campaign Mascot. Monica is well known for her use of motorbikes to get around her study sites.
Donated to Rare Inc. Mexico 2010. The cartoon was presented as a farewell gift to a colleague from the Latin America team she directed at the time.

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) Drylands magazine "Haramata" commissioned a cartoon to illustrate an article about cattle traders’ use of mobile phones in the remote borderlands of northern Kenya. These devices enable the traders to communicate and settle monetary transactions with buyers and dealers in Nairobi without having to risk making unsavoury encounters with bandits patrolling the main highways.

Use of cell phones to trade cattle in N Kenya. Commissioned by IIED, UK 2009.
client feedback

"This is really nice and thanks for the good job."
H.A. Mahmoud, Department of Geography, Egerton University, Njoro, Kenya

"Many thanks Alan - it looks really good in colour - I love the humour!"
N. Kenton, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London, UK

The 'F1 cow' (below), also commissioned by IIED, makes fun of misguided attempts by ill-informed development agencies to introduce highly sensitive Swiss cattle breeds to the inhospitable drylands of the Sahel in Africa.

The Formula 1 cow. Commissioned by IIED, UK 2015.
Orangutans
Donated to the Orangutan Foundation, UK & Indonesia 2006.
client feedback

"We have just received your CD and looked at the images, they are fantastic! All the images are great, we are really pleased with them, thank you so much! They illustrate the story perfectly, they could not be better. Thanks for all the hard work."
V. Smith, Orangutan Foundation UK

IFAW
EU policy brief cartoons about illegal timber. Commissioned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Belgium 2006.
Gifted to Giles Duffield, my oldest and best friend. Giles does research on the relationship between the spread of malaria and the circadian cycles of mosquitoes. See if you get the gag.
British Cave Invertebrates. Commissioned by Tony Whitten, UK 2013. Tony wanted to use this cartoon in an article documenting the threat posed by the cement industry to little-known British invertebrates found in caves.
The Lion and the Dandelion. UK, 2013.
Web sketches I did for Rare when working there. USA, 2010.
Web sketches I did for Rare when working there. USA, 2010.

These sketches below served to liven up the invitations to the otherwise very formal 20th anniversary reception of Oxford University's Wildlife  Conservation and Research Unit (WildCRU). The drawings reflect (somewhat liberally perhaps) a few of WildCRU's active projects at the time.

WildCRU
Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Oxford University, UK 2005.
'Poor Maelie'. UK 2009.
Sent to BBC Wildlife magazine, 2005. Unpublished. This cartoon was supposed to illustrate an article about an African Grey parrot able to count jelly beans. This cartoon represents a technical milestone in my use of lighting effects.
Sent to BBC Wildlife magazine, 2005. Unpublished. I have no idea what this is about, but it has to do with animals outwitting humans, a pet subject of mine.
Sent to BBC Wildlife magazine, 2005. Unpublished. Supposed to go with an article about the feeding habits of Tasmanian Devils. I gave up on finding a good punch line...
Sent to BBC Wildlife magazine, 2005. Unpublished. Supposed to go with an article about the harm to the environment caused by pharmaceutical research.
Donated to WWF Bolivia, 2007. Unpublished.
Donated to Zoological Society of London, 2006. Unpublished.
Donated to the Maned Wolf Conservation Project, Bolivia 2005. This cartoon was stuck on the doors of the 1987 Toyota Landcruiser used for fieldwork.
I have no idea! It was probably never used.

A number of years ago, my brother Larry owned a printing business, of which the shop was a busy, bustling space. One year he asked me to do a christmas card for his clients. I'm afraid I let my eye for humour get the better of me and I may have exaggerated a little, though the two versions below are based on my personal experience working there.

Process note: here again the sparse use of colour enabled me to both satisfy the client while also stay within my time / effort budget. These two cartoons also reveal one of my greatest life-long cartoonist influences: the hugely popular and prolific Daily Express cartoonist Carl Giles (1916 - 1995). 

My brother's printing shop. This is what it really looked like.
This is the edited version, showing the shop as my brother would have liked it to look.
My family visited me for a wild camping trip in Bolivia, 2005. This was to celebrate my father's 80th. There he is comfortably settled with his beer under the tree while his 3 sons respectively fix a tyre and gather firewood. This precise scene actually happened as depicted.
My father cooking. 2007. I had this cartoon printed on a kitchen apron, which he used for the next 10 years until his passing. I use it now.

These silly cartoons of my very good friend Lucho Jammes, bush pilot, artist, author, father of four, poet and founder of the Armonía Association (BirdLife International partner in Bolivia) were literally done on the back of a napkin. Probably while watching him struggle to beat me at chess. Bolivia 2006.

Central plaza, Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Guajojó magazine, Asociación Armonía, 2005.
Bird Congress.

The above are among the first cartoons I did for a nature conservation institution or project. These sketches were included in the members' bulletin, Guajojó, of the Asociación Armonía (BirdLife International, Bolivia). 2005.

Nottingham Uni expedition

I literally sketched this on a piece of note paper sitting on a log in our muddy camp in the middle of the Amazon forest of Bolivia. The scene depicts with some accuracy the team members of the Nottingham University Bolivia Expedition 1992. I graduated from that university that year, and I managed to wrangle my way into joining the said expedition. Those 3 months in the tropical jungle changed the course of my life, propelling me into a career in conservation.