Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The time I drew an Aliens comic

Well, not a whole comic, just one page. The publisher had a notion to do a story where each page was drawn by a different artist. What larks, I thought, a chance to have some fun! Not as much fun as I thought though, and following their patient requests I had to relent and re-draw the above panel with no cannon, no baseball bat, no mummification, and no acrobatic attack formation. Oh well.

Due credit to the editors, they did print the original version in a ‘making of’ section at the back of the issue.

Aliens TM & © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Strike a light

A colour sketch for part of the current project. I’m working from this acrylic painting as I draw colour separations in ink.

The future

Bad as things are, let’s keep some perspective and listen to someone who takes a long view. A view so long it covers several hundred light years in distance. Here’s William Borucki, principal investigator for the Kepler Mission and a space scientist at the NASA-Ames Research Center, talking to Ira Flatow on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, from December 23rd. Asked whether he’s worried about the prospect of future missions in light of economic difficulties and budget cutbacks, Mr Borucki responded:
I believe that in Europe and the United States, we'll look seriously at our problems, and we will solve them and that we will get back to a much more productive, happy time in the future.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Blimp and the City

From The Complete Colonel Blimp, a collection of David Low’s cartoons edited by Mark Bryant and published by Bellew Publishing 1991. More of Low’s Blimp in this earlier post.

See also Francis Sedgemore on David Cameron’s recent EU performance, From Chamberlain to Churchill to Blimp. My apologies to Francis for being so slow in finding the appropriate illustration.

While we’re on that fortnight-old subject, I found the following worthwhile reading: Joe Lynam, business correspondent for BBC News, asking Is the City worse off after David Cameron’s EU veto? Chris Dillow asking Why defend the City? And Peter Ryley’s summing up:
Cameron has upset everybody by vetoing a treaty imposing the wrong remedy on the basis of a wrong diagnosis even though he agrees with the diagnosis and is busy applying the same wrong remedy to the British economy.

Cartoon copyright © Low Estate/Solo Syndication.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Somebody Else’s Christmas

John Dog - Somebody Else’s Christmas

Written and arranged by Raymond Butler and performed by John Dog.
© All rights reserved.

Hear more at

Public domain images from, specifically here and here.

Friday, 23 December 2011

‘Troops Out - Stop the War in Iraq’

News coverage of yesterday’s bombings in Baghdad, some links via Iraqi Mojo.

Los Angeles Times: Baghdad bombings leave at least 60 dead, nearly 200 injured
A string of explosions ripped through the Iraqi capital on Thursday, killing at least 60 people and injuring nearly 200 just days after the last U.S. troops left the country, police and health officials said.

The attacks came in the midst of a political standoff between the country’s main Shiite and Sunni Muslim factions, heightening fears of a return to the sectarian bloodletting that devastated the country a few years ago.

Authorities said more than a dozen bombs exploded in different parts of Baghdad in a seemingly coordinated assault during the morning rush hour. Most of the targeted neighborhoods were predominantly Shiite, but some Sunni areas were also hit.

In the deadliest attack, a suicide bomber detonated an ambulance packed with explosives in front of a government anti-corruption office in the Karada neighborhood, shattering windows and setting cars ablaze. A police officer at the scene said at least 16 people were killed and 45 injured.

Thursday, 22 December 2011


Mahanagar by Satyajit Ray, as a YouTube playlist here.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


A screen print by Bo.

At Swim Two Birds

A screen print by Peggy.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Tyrant dies in his bed shock

Rope and bullet saved for successor?

Mick Hartley has more: The Dear Departed Leader and You can hear the sound of wailing outside. Also: Death on a train? (I’m sticking with my headline for now.)

Below, Christopher Hitchens on North Korea and Orwell, Czechoslovakia and Kafka.

Added, Hitchens writing for Slate, February 2010: A Nation of Racist Dwarfs, Kim Jong-il's regime is even weirder and more despicable than you thought.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Vaclav Havel, 1989 and 2003

From the BBC World Service archive, episode 2 of the 2009 series John Simpson Returns to 1989 focuses on Czechlosovakia’s Velvet Revolution, interviewing a number of participants, the first being Vaclav Havel.

John Simpson’s TV obituary of Havel includes a little joke. “In terms of intellect, he was way ahead of most other political leaders,” says Simpson, over a shot of Havel being presented with a medal by President GW Bush.

Unlike most (all?) of the obituaries of Christopher Hitchens this week, Simpson’s obituary of Havel doesn’t mention Iraq. Nor does the BBC News website’s written obituary mention Iraq, nor their news story on his death.

The Guardian’s editorial marking Vaclav Havel’s death doesn’t mention Iraq, nor does Julian Borger’s news story on Havel’s death for the same paper. Nor does a more personal memoir by Timothy Garton Ash.

The New York Times report by Dan Bilefsky and Jane Perlez does include this penultimate paragraph:
He never stopped preaching that the fight for political freedom needed to outlive the end of the Cold War. He praised the United States’ invasion of Iraq for deposing an evil dictator, Saddam Hussein.

Perhaps this is all appropriate. Vaclav Havel’s great contribution was his part in the Velvet Revolution, an event that continues to inspire attempts at non-violent revolution worldwide. His support for action against Saddam Hussein came at the end of his political career, and can be seen as a footnote.

It’s a striking footnote all the same. A man who was justly praised for his part in a non-violent revolution, went on to support the violent overthrow of a dictator by means of an invasion that was the most criticised, the most reviled, military action in recent decades. Why did he do this? Why support war? Why not wait and hope for a peaceful revolution in Iraq?

The implication must be that, despite the success of Czechlosovakia’s Velvet Revolution, he believed there were circumstances where non-violence was unlikely to succeed. The mixed outcomes of this year’s Arab revolutions would seem to support such a view.

Here, from a 2003 article by David Remnick for The New Yorker, is Vaclav Havel’s own explanation:
A year after Havel came to power, there was a crisis in Iraq, and now, as he was leaving office, he was involved in another. Earlier in the month, he had spent hours with his aides at his country villa, discussing the problem, and that day, in the Wall Street Journal, there was a letter signed by Havel, along with seven other European leaders, which essentially agreed with the Bush Administration's position. I asked him why.

“I think it’s not by chance that the idea of confronting evil may have found more support in those countries that have had a recent experience with totalitarian systems compared with other European countries that haven’t had the same sort of recent experience,” he said. “The Czech experience with Munich, with appeasement, with yielding to evil, with demanding more and more evidence that Hitler was truly evil—that may be one reason that we look at things differently than some others. But that doesn’t mean automatically that a green light is to be given to preventive strikes. I always believed that every case has to be judged individually. The Euro-American world cannot simply declare preëmptive war on all the regimes that it doesn’t like.”

Havel coughed and took a sip of wine. I asked him why he thought a policy of containment could not work in Iraq more or less indefinitely.

He put his glass down and said, “Civilization has changed. Today, any crazy, practically any crazy person can blow up half of New York. That was hardly possible fifteen or twenty years ago. That’s not the only reason. On the whole, the world has changed. There once was a bipolar world, a balance of two great powers, who made agreements on weapons reductions, so that they were capable of destroying the world seven times instead of ten. Now we live in a multi-polar world. . . . Of course, the question is: When is the best time for action? Should it have happened a long time ago? That is a political issue, a diplomatic issue, a sociological issue. But, generally, it’s a matter of the functioning of the world’s immune system, whether the world can deal with such a case of extreme evil before it is too late.”

The tragedy is that there was justice in John Simpson’s joke at the expense of Bush. The invasion and occupation of Iraq was led by people without the intellect of Havel, and particularly without the moral intelligence of Havel.

Here is the full text of the January 2003 letter on Iraq by eight European leaders including Vaclav Havel. Here is the response at the time by then French President Chirac. He was also in the news this week.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Wealth creation and renumeration

Watching the documentary Inside Job (see previous post) put me in mind of the Lucky Luke comic album Jesse James, drawn by Morris and written by Goscinny, also writer of the original Asterix stories. In Goscinny’s version, Jesse James is inspired by reading about Robin Hood, but this inspiration creates a problem in dealing with the proceeds of his crimes. In the excerpt below, his brother Fank James has the solution. (Click to enlarge.)

The above scans are from the Brockhampton Press edition, translated by Frederick W Nolan. Cinebook are currently publishing good value paperbacks of most of the Lucky Luke stories. I recommend them for all ages.

Lucky Luke excerpts copyright © 1968 Dargaud S.A. English-language text copyright © 1972 Brockhampton Press Ltd.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Charles Ferguson on corruption in academic economics

Below, two clips from Inside Job, Charles Ferguson’s Academy Award winning documentary on the 2008 Crash, and following them, an interview with him that includes a focus on the issue of corruption in academic economics.

Christopher Hitchens completes his life

Some links, first to blogs, then to periodicals and news organisations:

Tigerloaf: Christopher Hitchens is Dead

Shiraz Socialist: Hitchens is dead, and Now That’s What I Call Hitchens! and Irreplaceable

Harry’s Place: Christopher Hitchens, 1949–2011, and Another reason why God is not great, on Jerusalem and religious obstacles to peace, and A few thoughts on Christopher Hitchens, in praise of his post September 11th arguments, and cross posted from the Huffington Post, Sohrab Ahmari: Influence and conviction: Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011

The Stark Tenet: Christopher Hitchens 1949-2011

Fat Man on a Keyboard: One hell of a writer

The Poor Mouth: Christopher Hitchens RIP

Simply Jews: Christopher Hitchens RIP

Though Cowards Flinch: Christopher Hitchens: the life of a contrarian

Francis Sedgemore: So long Dude! Also: Of slippery slopes and greasy poles

Obliged to Offend: So long, Hitch

Normblog: Christopher Hitchens 1949-2011, also A brother’s tribute and Tributes in the Times

David Aaronovitch’s tribute in the Times is included in Mick Hartley’s post: Hitch is dead

Bob from Brockley recommends two posts, by Rosie Bell: Decline and fall, and by Noga: Chistopher Hitchens and his Vocabular Cornucopia

Max Dunbar: Why writing matters (and related to Max’s piece, a post from October at Why Evolution Is True: Mason Crumpacker and the Hitchens reading list)

Gauche: Obituaries - 27: Christopher Hitchens

At The Duck of Minerva, a Realist on a revolutionary, Patrick Porter: Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)

Terry Glavin: The Lights Are On The Dunes, Comrade.

George Szires: Christopher Hitchens 13 April 1949 - 15 December 2011

More by Bob from Brockley: He was a friend of mine, and On reading obituaries of Christopher Hitchens

The Sad Red Earth: Christopher Hitchens, Glenn Greenwald, and the War of Ideas, in response to Christopher Hitchens and the protocol for public figure deaths, by Glenn Greenwald at


The Daily Mash: Hitchens cancer not intelligently designed

Salman Rushdie for Vanity Fair, February 2012 issue: Christopher Hitchens

A response to Salman Rushdie’s article by Mick Hartley, Hitchens, In Memoriam, echoed by Norman Geras, Rushdie right and wrong about Hitchens

Juli Weiner, Vanity Fair: In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens, 1949–2011, also a slideshow of photos from his life

Christopher Buckley on The New Yorker’s News Desk blog: Postscript: Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011

George Packer, also on The New Yorker’s News Desk blog: Hitchens and Iraq

William Grimes at The New York Times: Polemicist Who Slashed All, Freely, With Wit

BBC News: Christopher Hitchens dies after battle with cancer. Related on BBC News: Christopher Hitchens talks to Jeremy Paxman, and Blair v Hitchens debate: Is religion a force for good?

Last updated 8 January 2012.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Friday, 9 December 2011

The Moon on a Stick

Time for a John Dog song - The Moon on a Stick.

Written and arranged by Raymond Butler and performed by John Dog. © All rights reserved.

Download available from

Galway Super-8 by Caroline D'Souza. NASA Apollo 9 and Apollo 11 images from

Friday, 2 December 2011

Zero point zero five

Inking with a Uni Pin Fine Line 0.05 pen.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Sailor cats

. . . and a cat food catch.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Bo on guitar

Photo by Kelly Hill.

Friday, 11 November 2011

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Three clips from the silent film The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 1921, directed by Rex Ingram.

A short account of the plot, from Liam O’Leary’s excellent book, Rex Ingram, master of the silent cinema:
The story of The Four Horsemen began in the Argentine and told of the return of two branches of a wealthy family to Europe, one to Germany and the other to France. The pleasure-loving central character seduces the wife of one of his father’s friends but eventually fights for France when the war comes. His German cousins are fighting on the other side. The erring wife returns to her husband, now blinded by the war. Julio, the hero, is killed.

Julio was of course played by Rudolph Valentino in his first major role. The part of Marguerite Laurier was taken by Alice Terry, who later married Rex Ingram. Julio’s father was Joseph Swickard, and the injured husband was John Sainpolis.

Rex Ingram was born in Dublin in 1893, and went to the US in 1911. He studied sculpture, turned to acting and writing, and directed his first film aged 23. After achieving success in Hollywood, he eventually relocated to Nice where he had his own film studio, and where a young Michael Powell worked as his assistant.

Below, a sketch by Ingram for The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, along with photographs from the production, all taken from Liam O’Leary’s book.

Above: Alice Terry and Rudolph Valentino rehearse the tango.
Below: Rex Ingram instructs Valentino.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Three Strøms

My grandfather Alfred Charles Strøm, his brother Clarence Victor
Christian Strøm, and their sister Helen Gerda Strøm.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Playing exquisite corpse with Peggy

From the summer - Peggy aimed to make her contributions as monstrous as possible.

Foxes and cloxes

It’s that hand drawn CMYK colour separation trickery again.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

One thing and another

Switching between drawing savage slimy sea serpents, then drawing sweet little foxes, then back to the monsters.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Barnaby Rudge illustrations, chapters 4 to 11

Continuing on from the previous post, here are some more illustrations for Charles Dickens’s Barnaby Rudge, drawn by Hablot Knight Browne, also known as Phiz.

Above, from Chapter Four, the table of the locksmith Gabriel Varden, seated centre, with his apprentice Sim Tappertit on one side and his daughter Dolly Varden on the other.

Again from Chapter Four, the apprentice Mr Tappertit in the locksmith’s workhop.

Chapter Five has no illustration in this edition. This drawing is from Chapter Six and shows Gabriel Varden visiting the Rudge household, where Edward Chester is recovering from being attacked in the street. Barnaby Rudge sits in the other chair, and Barnaby’s raven Grip is perched above Mr Edward.

Chapter Seven ends with mention of Barnaby’s phantom-haunted dreams.

Chapter Eight reveals Simon Tappertit’s night-time identity as leader of the secret society of ’Prentice Knights.

Chapter Nine, and Miss Miggs, servant to Mrs Varden the locksmith’s wife, watches to catch out Sim Tappertit sneaking home to his master’s house.

Chapter Ten. Mr Chester, Edward Chester’s father, takes a room for a night at the Maypole.

Chapter Eleven. Hugh, servant at the Maypole, asleep by the fire.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Barnaby Rudge illustrations, chapters 1 to 3

I have been reading a worn old copy of Charles Dickens’s Barnaby Rudge, and though the type is squintily proportioned, the pleasure has been greatly enhanced by the many illustrations. The drawings are by Hablot Knight Browne, also known as Phiz. Above, from Chapter One, the Maypole Inn.

Here, again from Chapter the First, John Willet, landlord of the Maypole, by the fire with guests.

From Chapter Two, the landlord’s son Joe Willet and the strange traveller.

Chapter Three, Barnaby Rudge and the locksmith Gabriel Varden, with young Mr Chester found wounded in the street.

Click the images to enlarge. More in the next post.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Paintings at the Affordable Art Fair, Amsterdam

Four of my paintings for the picture book, Sadie the Air Mail Pilot, or Loes de Luchtpostpoes in Dutch, will be on sale from the KochxBos Gallery at the Affordable Art Fair in Amsterdam this year.

The fair will run from the 27th to the 30th of October at WesterGasFabriek, Amsterdam.

The Dutch edition of the book, Loes de Luchtpostpoes, can be found here.

Signed English editions of the book are available from me here.

Back in London, The Illustration Cupboard, a gallery specialising in book illustration, has some other paintings from the book for sale. Two can be seen on their site, but more are available.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The sail in shreds

It feels like I've been doing everything but draw in the past few weeks. Back to it again, then.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Maspero massacre

Ahram Online: Protest against persecution of Copts in Egypt attacked with bloody force

Ahram Online: Egyptian Military attacks Alhurra TV

BBC News: Cairo clashes leave 24 dead after Coptic church protest

EA WorldView: Egypt Latest - At Least 19 Killed in Clashes Over Christian March

Issandr El Amrani at The Arabist blog: Maspero and sectarianism in Egypt

Zeinobia at the Egyptian Chronicles blog: Black Sunday - 1954 Redux

Some Twitter reports and reactions this evening.

Why viewers will like PBS UK

A reader writes:
Just saw this, had to send...

PBS (the US public service broadcaster) is launching a UK channel on Virgin Media and Sky in the next week or two. From the Indie’s report:

“Richard Kingsbury, PBS UK's general manager, said: "Viewers are used to seeing US drama and comedy but... there are high quality factual programmes coming out of the US that criticise the Government."

No..really, Europe-folks, they criticise the government! Seriously! You’ll love it!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The goldeniest Little Golden Book

Here’s a first look at the cover of Het Zeemans-ABC, a Dutch Little Golden Book, written by Nienke Denekamp, with art by me, and the shiniest gold by publisher Rubinstein. The book launches at Het Scheepvaartmuseum, Amsterdam, at 2pm on the 5th of October. Read more here.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

A ship for Odysseus

Still struggling to draw Scylla. A job for Max Ernst maybe.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Twit Archive - 1-20 March 2011

Tweets below the fold, on intervention in Libya, UNSC Resolution 1973, and more.

Above, Chemical Warfare board game, art by AV Kuklin, USSR 1925, from Dieselpunk via @brendankoerner.

Twit Archive - 17-28 February 2011

Tweets below the fold, overwhelmingly on Libya, from #Feb17 to UNSC Resolution 1970.

Outside the Libyan Embassy in Mauritania, a sketch by Isabel Fiadeiro of a demonstration by the Mauritanian RFD opposition party and students against Gadafi. Via @themoornextdoor on February 22nd.

Art copyright © Isabel Fiadeiro.

Twit Archive - 1-16 February 2011

Tweets below the fold on Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Iran, and Libya . . . with a short musical interlude from Gonzo the Great, via Kevin Gendreau.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Twit Archive - January 2011

Tweets below the fold from Tunisia to Tahrir.

Also, art links to Norman Saunders (above) at Monster Brains, Olga Dugina and Andrej Dugin at Lines and Colors, Kate Beaton draws The Adventures of Sexy Batman, while Michael Sporn serves a feast of Feininger in parts one, two, three, and continued later in four, five, and six. Sweeter still, Stephen Kroninger scans Magic in Frosting by John McNamara.