American Woman Journalist

Radio 4 Extra recently reran the BBC's most excellent radio dramatisation of Robert Harris' Fatherland, so I took the opportunity to draw Charlotte Maguire. Those darn spunky investigative female journalists, they come along and ruin everything . . .

The 2 1/2 hour dramatisation is, luckily, available for purchase, and I highly recommend it as fantastically produced and acted audio drama, much closer to a movie than to a play. Weirdly, the commercially available recording has slightly different incidental music to the radio one, but everything else is there, from the brilliantly-delivered dialogue to the masterfully atmospheric sound design to the perfect interplay of timing, acting, and editing which tell so much more story than the dialogue could do alone.

Clarisse McClellan

It's impossible to say how much Fahrenheit 451 influenced the direction my life would take, or how much I was already a dangerous nonconformist by Grade 9 when I read it, but when I revisited the book for the first time recently I was astonished at how familiar Clarisse McClellan seemed to be . . .

A Tale of Two Cities

Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities is my favourite of the books we had to read in high school. I drew a fair bit from it at the time, but who knows where those drawings are now . . . they're probably not worth sharing, anyway. BBC Radio 4 recently ran a new radio dramatisation of the story which inspired me to try my professional hand at the subject matter. Unfortunately I was short on time so didn't do due diligence in researching the costumes, but it was a bit of fun anyway.

Madame Defarge was not supposed to be a self-portrait, but she started coming out that way and eventually I gave up fighting it. Halloween 2012!

Sredni Vashtar

A reading of "Sredni Vashtar" came up again on the oft-renamed Radio 4 Extra and just as last time it caught my imagination. This time, however, I got an illustration on paper before the inspiration fled.

It is a perfect summary of why I don't belong in the Disney story department that, when I hear this story, I think, 'That would make a great animated short!' We are . . . very much not on the same page.

Les Miserables – For Once, Not the Musical

Radio 4 Extra* has just recently finished a run of their epic radio play of Les Miserables, and as I've been very busy at work lately I actually managed to listen to the whole thing.  It's the closest I've yet come to reading the book (shame, I know) and it was very exciting, particularly the part where I got introduced to a character who is entirely glossed over in the musical, to everyone's loss.

First, the usual suspects, Marius and Eponine:


. . and then my new favourite, Combeferre! Completely aside from his being just a really great character (and played by one of my favourite radio actors, no less) what I especially love about Combeferre is the fact that, on the most important day of his life, he has a cold. How brilliantly mundane! No one ever thinks of that, but it makes him and his experience so much more real. He spends a good deal of time rhapsodizing on tomatoes and how it is impossible to find good ones in Paris, which led to this variant on the drawing. 

*which I will think of as BBC7 until I die


It is pretty much impossible to overstate how much I loved the Independent Shakespeare Company's production of Hamlet, though people who have to deal with me in daily life will tell you I've been giving it a pretty good try. For everyone who wishes I would just shut up about it already . . . I will draw about it instead!

This is my best attempt to mimic the style of Tron Mai, who unfortunately doesn't seem to have a blog or website to which I can link for an example, so you'll have to take my word for it. It seemed a natural fit.

Hamlet was already my favourite Shakespeare play, so I can't say this production converted me, but it is now even more my favourite, because, and I cannot all-caps this enough, IT WAS AWESOME. I wish it weren't such a cliche so I could say 'the text came alive!' and have it actually mean something, but . . . really . . . they found so much life and humour that you would not expect in a famously long and morose play about a depressed prince taking a long time to get around to killing his uncle. I am thoroughly looking forward to anything they put on in the future.

The Men Who Weren't Thursday

BBC7 recently had a reading of G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday, which I surprised myself by enjoying quite a lot (though on reflection, 'eccentric Edwardian intellectuals go on a wacky romp/mystery' is hard not to love). Unfortunately, getting half an hour of audiobook a day makes it hard to hang onto physical descriptions, but that didn't stop me – here's a collection of doodles of the Central Anarchist Council, more or less independent of accuracy. The Secretary (top left), for example, ought to have dark hair and a beard. Pah! I like mine better.


The BBC dramatization of Robert Harris' Fatherland is one of the best radio plays I've ever heard. I'm afraid my drawing does it little justice – as usual I forsake the epic drama and get caught on an insignificant detail, in this case the way characters always seem to be bumming smokes off Inspector March.

I don't know why the incessant rain is part of the story but it gives an appropriate atmosphere. They do the sound of it very well, to the point I have fooled myself more than once into believing it was actually a rainy day outside.

I miss the rain.


Until a couple years ago, when a collection of sympathetic villains hit me like a ton of bricks, I did not think of myself as a 'villains' person. But there was one, a decade before, who stood out as appealing in some indiscernible way...

It wasn't even in the proper play that I was struck by Iago – it was in a production of Good Night, Desdemona (Good Morning, Juliet), a play about a Shakespeare scholar who finds herself inserted into Othello and Romeo and Juliet, respectively. Iago doesn't even have that big of a role, but he made an impression. I thought it was down to the actor: he had a very distinctive look and played the part with such twisted glee it was hard not to get on his side. But last week, Radio 4 aired a fantastic production of Othello, and Iago was fascinating in that as well. So there must be something to it...

Anyway, I drew this as a tribute to 'my' Iago ... various internet searches have not uncovered who he was, alas. I raise my glass to you, twisted conniving bastards of literature. As long as you don't come after me.

Words to Live By

If you are a brave man you will do nothing: if you are fearful you may do much, for none but cowards have need to prove their bravery. Some will tell you that you are mad, and nearly all will say, 'what is the use?' For we are a nation of shopkeepers... And so you will sledge nearly alone, but those with whom you sledge will not be shopkeepers: that is worth a good deal. If you march your Winter Journeys you will have your reward, so long as all you want is a penguin's egg.

– Apsley Cherry-Garrard


Every so often I am seized with the urge to caricature the cast of Lord of the Rings ... this is a good way to keep my head from swelling because it's always a painful exercise in futility. After a couple days drawing the same thing over and over, I think I managed to get Eowyn. I begrudgingly chalk up another point for the Cintiq; as soon as I tried doing it in Sketchbook it worked. (Well, on the second try, but that's close enough.) Blast.

In Watson's Kitchen

I've been listening to BBC7's run of Sherlock Holmes radio plays, which are very well done and approximately as addictive as crack. There's a scene in The Final Problem where Watson finds Holmes a nervous wreck in his kitchen, having climbed in from the back garden to avoid Moriarty's men. It's jarring to see (well, 'see': this is radio, after all) this character behave in such an out-of-character way, and the scene made quite a visual impression on me. Watson was supposed to be in this scene but, er ... he didn't turn out. (Holmes is far more interesting, anyway.) Thumbnailed at life drawing with a 4B pencil, tightened up in Sketchbook, and painted in OpenCanvas.