The joys of collaborating with an illustrator – cartoonification, dammit!

One of the real joys of writing is that you sometimes get to collaboration a project with people with a completely different skill set to yourself.

My last real conversation with an art teacher was when I was asked why I’d drawn machine guns on a seagull. ‘Obvious, isn’t it?’ I answered. ‘So it can shoot stuff.’

Aside from being perturbed by my potentially unhealthy (though latterly useful, career-wise, I reckon) preoccupation with weaponry and destruction, it was clear to me even from this early age that I was not destined to join the ranks of Matisse, Chagall, Monet, or even Tony Hart.

And wisely I’ve since then left that to the professionals – real artists like Gillian Johnson, who illustrated the recent parody I wrote with Josie Lloyd, We’re Going on a Bar Hunt.

Not only did we have a great laugh planning it, writing it and matching up the pictures and words, but the Rees family got ‘cartoonified’ for the bio bit at the back of the book. Even better, the ever generous Gillian sent us a copy of the original artwork for this today, and here it is.


The bald one next to the curly ones is me, and looking at it now reminds me how much more a painting or drawing can capture than the iPhone snaps we more often than not settle for these days.

It might even encourage me to pick up a paintbrush myself. (Though I still can’t help feeling that the above picture might look even better with an AK-47 or two.)

About Emlyn Rees

Copywriter, crime writer, comedy writer and editor. We're Going on a Bar Hunt, The Very Hungover Caterpillar, The Teenager Who Came to Tea, The Fight Before Christmas, Come Together, Shabby, Hunted, Wanted, Switch It Off! and Shabby - A Very British Lifestyle, out now.
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